By Nicole Rogers
Continuing education workshops are something I go back and forth on. Don’t get me wrong; they are absolutely essential to high quality teaching. Yet, sadly, I often zone out at some point. Sitting on the floor for eight hours makes me want to jump out the window and I don’t like eating raisins out of my purse for “lunch.” But if I learn even one good cue or variation from a workshop, it makes all of the discomfort worth it. The infusion of knowledge enriches my teaching and gets me excited about the process all over again.
Jillian Hessel’s new DVD, Learning From Two Masters, basically solves my problems with workshops since I can watch and review at my own pace. And there is a bounty of information to review. No matter what your background, you would be hard-pressed not to find something of interest here. Though Hessel started her Pilates education in New York, plenty of variations have found their way into her work. And I think there is something here for everyone with an open mind. Hessel trained with many of the elders, and most intensively with Kathy Grant and Carola Trier. Here, she teaches a workshop sharing her vast knowledge as an instructor, specifically as influenced by Grant and Trier.
The DVD is a remastered video-taped instructor workshop Hessel taught in San Francisco, edited to a three hour and 45 minute run-time. Participants are used as models and the video quality and sound are what you might expect from this type of set-up—not bad, necessarily, but documentary-style.
Hessel begins with the “Postural Analysis” Trier was so fond of. Hessel’s postural analysis is more in-depth than what I have seen before, and a great review. She moves on to “Fundamentals,” like breathing. This was also a review of concepts I have learned in the past, but an excellent one. I even used one of her breathing demonstrations in a class that very day. The sections that follow are a Mat Class in four parts, and a Universal Reformer section, also in four parts.
For $50, Learning From Two Masters delivers a great workshop from an incredibly experienced instructor, along with a 52-page teacher’s manual, with illustrations and a concise overview of each exercise. Plus, you can review at your own pace. The one drawback is, of course, that you are not really with Hessel. You can’t ask questions, and at times the camera isn’t in the perfect place to see how someone’s foot is aligned, for example. Then again, an in-person workshop usually costs much more, and I personally would be sleepy or wiggling around on the floor for half of it.
Nicole Rogers is a Pilates instructor and writer. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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