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How I Discovered Pilates

by: Ariel Hernandez

“How did I discover Pilates?” My clients often ask me this question.

I took my first Pilates class on a dare when I was 17. I had a friend who was in the Miami ballet company, and he was in great shape. He dared me and I said, “Okay, I’ll try it.”

At the time, I was nursing a mild back injury, and I was told that Pilates was very good for your back. I didn’t know what to expect, so I got to class a little early to “make nice” with the instructor. I thought that if I was terrible at it, at least she might not call me out.

At the beginning of the class, I was completely lost. The instructor was throwing out terms such as neutral spine, neutral pelvis, sacrum, triangle—I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! Get me out of here, I will never understand this.’

Now, I was a weight trainer with a gymnastics background and fairly flexible for a guy, so even with all of my trepidation, I thought the instructor might be impressed. However, after the class ended, she said that I needed some private Reformer classes. I had no idea what a Reformer was, but I was still game to give it a try.

I loved my first Reformer class, even though I was still completely clueless about what was happening. Because I could not afford the Reformer private classes for very long, I purchased a one-month pass for a Level I mat Pilates class.

By the end of that month, I had fallen in love with this weird thing called Pilates. They asked if I wanted to try an intermediate class, and I jumped at the opportunity. Of course, it wasn’t easy, but I had decided to try to become an instructor, so I stuck with it and moved on to the advanced class. I believe that to be a really great instructor, you have to experience the work.

I started taking a certification program with one of the Pilates schools, and became more fascinated with the moves. “You’re telling me that you shouldn’t just kick super high or do a huge split?” “I have to keep thinking about keeping my pelvis steady and staying in alignment?”

Wow…cool…I love this!

Once I had completed all of the levels at one Pilates school, I went to another. It was amazing to me that Pilates had different styles and that they were all right as long as you worked within the Pilates principles.

Soon, my dream was to own a Pilates and personal training studio, so I continued to pursue as much information and experience possible. I opened my first studio in 2002 and have had one ever since.

I feel so blessed to do what I love, and to love what I do. I try never to be complacent and I try to inspire my staff to do the same—continue to learn and train.

I truly believe Pilates instructors change the lives they touch in many ways. Whether it’s the pro athlete that needs to be at the top of his game, parents with children, the 65 year old who needs help with balance, or the high school student who does not get enough exercise, we can help them all.

If you are an instructor, I encourage you to see every client as special and give them all you have. Never just go through the motions. (I see that so often in my travels with 50 people in a huge room and the instructor just trying to get through the class.)

Learn well and teach well.


Ariel is the owner and director of Fusion Fitness USA Pilates. Born in South Miami Beach, Florida Ariel has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years. As soon as he was old enough, Ariel became a personal trainer and within 2 years he was running the personal training and aerobic dance programs of several gyms in Miami. With experience in dance and gymnastics and over 10 years tenure as a PHI Master Pilates Teacher, Ariel has expanded his certifications and training methods to include all forms of corrective modalities. Ariel is a PMA certified Pilates Teacher.

Posted on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 02:25PM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

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