Leaders In Fitness

Entries in Career Development (48)

Pilates for Skiers

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By Lauri Stricker

The exhilaration of soaring down a mountainside over a blanket of sparkling white snow, surrounded by pristine evergreens and an endless blue sky inspires millions of people to ski every year. It’s no small reward for countless hours spent in the car, in lift lines, and on bristling cold lift rides to the top of the mountain.

In the Colorado Rockies, where I live, I have cross-trained skiers with Pilates from October to March for the past seven years. My sessions often start with snow reports, gear reviews, and tales of anticipated heli trips and back-country hut adventures. I’ve worked with all kinds of skiers, from strictly downhill resort skiers to purist tele-skiers (who make use of a style of cross country ski that leaves the heel free). Whether they prefer groomers, moguls, or powder, they all want to be in top form for skiing. Many of my skiing clients can only make time for Pilates workouts midweek because of their weekend skiing excursions. They might range in age, fitness level or ski preference, but they train with me religiously every winter for the same reasons: to get strong, stay injury free, and enjoy winter fun in the mountains. A client with a goal is a motivated client, and skiers are both. Pilates is an excellent way to keep skiers fit and coming back to your studio season after season.

Pilates and Fall Line Fitness
If you made a snow ball and let it roll down the side of a mountain, the path it rolls down is called the fall line. To ski the fall line with finesse and control requires flowing motion, rhythm, and precision. This agility on the slopes is what I call “Fall Line Fitness.” A strong core, muscle balance, and flexibility are essential elements of Fall Line Fitness. You do not have to be a ski instructor to make a direct impact on your client’s ski fitness. However, you do have to be an alignment specialist skilled at teaching high quality movement.

Pilates Method Alliance Teacher Training Summit Report

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By Lauren Charlip

Pilates-Pro.com was unable to attend the Pilates Method Alliance’s Teacher Training Summit in Dallas on November 7-8, and we’ve been eager for information about the event. This week the PMA released a report on the meeting that’s now available here. We also spoke to PMA Executive Director Elizabeth Anderson and summit attendees for a closer look at the outcome.

The summit, which drew nearly 80 teacher trainers and program administrators from a range of Pilates backgrounds, was organized to “try to build consensus about how to move forward as an industry in terms of professionalizing,” Anderson said. At issue, according to the PMA, is the use of the word “certification” and the need to differentiate between the completion of a comprehensive teacher-training program and an industry-wide third-party credential. Currently, the word “certification” is used to denote both.

After many hours of group discussion, all but a handful of attendees left the summit agreeing to cease usage of the word “certification” to signify completion of their training programs, and signed a public commitment to change the terminology they’re using by July 1, 2010. Several well-known Pilates brands signed on, including Balanced Body, BASI Pilates, Fletcher Pilates, Polestar Pilates Education, Power Pilates and The Pilates Center of Boulder. Read the full list here, on the PMA report.

In 2005, the PMA launched an industry-wide third-party comprehen­sive Pilates certification exam (which, to date, is the only industry-wide exam). As a third party, the PMA has no commercial rela­tionship to the exam candidate or the training provider. This independence distinguishes a third-party credentialed certification from a “diploma” or a “certificate” earned at the end of a teacher training program, much like passing a state bar exam is different than graduating from a law school. Many people believe that adopting a third-party credentialing process is important for the Pilates industry as it professionalizes, and believe that professionalization is important because of the level of growth Pilates has experienced in recent years.

The PMA suggests in the report that schools replace the word “certification” with either “diploma,” “assessment-based certificate” (ABC) or “graduate.” “We recommend people do it in the name of self-regulation, so that the Pilates industry can get in line with ways that other professions behave and operate that are much more established than us,” Anderson said.

Pilates Ranks High in 2010 Fitness Forecast

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The American College of Sports Medicine released a fitness trends forecast for 2010 last week, and based on its list of projected top 10 trends, the outlook is great for Pilates instructors next year.

Pilates itself was ranked No. 9 as a standalone category, and two more of the ACSM’s top 10 trends have a direct connection to the work of Pilates professionals; core training and functional fitness were ranked No. 5 and No. 9 respectively. The ACSM’s No. 1 trend was ‘Educated and experienced fitness professionals,’ making this the third year in a row that trend tops the list. Other strongly Pilates-related trends on the list were personal training and strength training, though a Pilates connection could easily be drawn to any of the top 10 items.

The top trends were assembled from the results of a worldwide survey with nearly 1,500 respondents. Surveyors gave 37 potential trends as choices and then ranked returns, formulating a report on the top 20 that was initially published in the November/December issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®

The full top 10 list, with descriptions, is available after the jump.

The Pilates Bookshelf: Curves, Twists and Bends: A Practical Guide to Pilates for Scoliosis

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By Alexa Thorson

Curves, Twists and Bends: A Practical Guide to Pilates for Scoliosis is a useful introduction to the topic from Annette Wellings, a Pilates instructor with major scoliosis, and U.K. master Pilates teacher Alan Herdman. The book is a useful tool for addressing scoliosis through exercise, both for those who have the condition and for Pilates instructors with scoliotic clients. Wellings makes it clear in her introduction that the exercises in this book “are not designed to restructure the curve,” but to enable the spine to be “as healthy and supple as possible.”

Wellings and Herdman have assembled a set of 34 exercises primarily focused on stretching and lengthening, that are appropriate for people with symptoms ranging from mild to severe scoliosis, and even for the general population. I often incorporate similar exercises in my mat classes to warm people up before harder Pilates choreography. This book does not address Pilates equipment or even the classic Pilates mat choreography.

Curves, Twists and Bends is structured in three parts. The first, called  ‘Understanding and Awareness’ is a straightforward, uncomplicated overview of the condition of scoliosis, and a discussion of curve patterns, with an explanation of how to identify different types of scoliotic curves, complete with drawings. It even includes a section on “the psychology of scoliosis.”

The second, called ‘Exercises for Flexibility and Posture’ establishes a set of exercise principles that Pilates instructors will find familiar, such as pelvic stability, balancing dominant and weak sides of the body, and de-rotation of the pelvis, ribs and spine.

The Growth of Pilates Collectives

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By Nicole Rogers

It’s been a little more than a year since Pilates-Pro.com reported on a Pilates collective forming in the San Francisco Bay Area in August 2008, but in that short span, something seems to have taken hold. Other regional collectives have surfaced across the country, and the Bay Area group—which quickly ballooned to the state level—is now taking its program national. These collectives were inspired by a desire to build Pilates community spirit or a local Pilates network, and some, on a more pragmatic level, organized for a shared business advantage. For all, the rewards of sharing information, comparing notes and pooling resources are only beginning. There is, after all, strength in numbers.

We were able to catch up with a few of these groups to bring you this update on grassroots-style Pilates organizing. Read on to find out what the various Pilates collectives are up to now. 

Support for the Business of Pilates
The Bay Area Pilates Collective, now known as the United Pilates Collective, was one of the first to materialize. It started in 2008 when Tracey Sylvester and Nancy Myers, owners of EHS Pilates in San Francisco, thought to hold a mixer for Pilates studios in the Bay Area. “We invited trainers and studio owners within a 25 mile radius to chat about business, and it was immediately obvious that there was a need in the community for this kind of support network,” Sylvester says. She and Myers, as business owners, saw a need for studio owners and independent contractors to share information, such as where to find a lawyer who understood the Pilates business or where to get good liability insurance.

Pilates & Breast Cancer Recovery: Q&A with Pink Ribbon Program Founder Doreen Puglisi

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We caught up with Doreen Puglisi, founder of the Pink Ribbon Program, a Pilates-based rehabilitation program for post-operative breast cancer survivors, who explained why Pilates is such an effective form of exercise for this group. Doreen, a survivor herself, holds a master’s in exercise science, and is a Pilates instructor, certified personal trainer and chairperson of the health and exercise science department at Morris County College. Read on for a closer look at what Pink Ribbon provides—for the Pilates community and for breast cancer patients—and a taste of what’s ahead for the program.

Doreen PuglisiHow did you create the Pink Ribbon Program?
I started working with breast cancer patients around 2002. At the time I owned a small wellness studio, and when clients filled out a health history form, I would check the contraindications for programming. That’s when I found out there was no true rehabilitation program for breast cancer patients. Because I’m a physiologist, I looked at the research and at the time, there was nothing. Really, it was astonishing.

Then, in 2004 I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself, and I used my program for my own rehabilitation after a mastectomy. I did have a Pilates background before I was diagnosed. (I was actually trained through Stott.) I truly do feel lucky–I was diagnosed early and had this knowledge base before. It was so scary. None of my surgeons asked me if I needed physical therapy. I thought ‘How am I going to get my range of motion back?’ I had a dorky revelation moment [about creating the Pink Ribbon Program]. I realized that I needed to do something to reach more survivors. I realized I needed to get this out there, and help women who don’t have a rehab or movement background. If it’s hard for me, what are they doing?

Pilates was a great fit for this population: it worked in terms of full range of motion, integrated movement, proper breathing. A lot of what we work with is scapular stability and shoulder range of motion. And in the Pilates world, this was very welcome.

How does Pink Ribbon work?
Well, there are two programs really, for survivors/patients and for instructors. The first is designed as a six-week rehabilitative movement program. The goal is to get them to move beyond Pink Ribbon to a mainstream form of exercise and move forward.

A Pilates for Pink Collaboration

By Lauren Charlip

Not only is Pilates for Pink a way to raise money for a great cause, but it has given two Los Angeles studio owners—with studios mere blocks away from each other—a reason to come together and put a new spin on the program.      

Maria Leone and Shari Berkowitz both own studios with teacher-training programs, a rare occurence in any neighborhood. Leone owns Bodyline, a PhysicalMind Institute certification studio, and Berkowitz owns The Vertical Workshop, and directs Power Pilates’ West Coast teacher-training program. Together they’re putting on programming for Pilates teachers that will raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Pilates for Pink this Sunday, October 18.

Each will be teaching a professionals-only mat class at Bodyline (which will also sponsor its own Pilates for Pink class for clients). Leone, ruminating on how she’d make her third year as a Pilates for Pink host different, came up with the idea of having a guest teacher.

Find a Pilates Mentor With Balanced Body's 'Passing the Torch' Program

The Pilates industry has a long tradition of passing on knowledge through mentorship. “Passing the Torch,” recently launched by Balanced Body University (BBU), is expanding that tradition with a formal program featuring a list of mentors that reads like a who’s who of the Pilates industry.

In the program, a small cohort of mentees works with a designated mentor for 12 to 18 months, spending three separate weeks alongside them, in addition to other curriculum. Signed on to mentor are Pilates elders Mary Bowen, Ron Fletcher and Lolita San Miguel, along with masters like Amy Taylor Alpers, Rael Isacowitz, Julian Littleford, Michele Larsson. Read the full list here.

“These teachers helped create the modern Pilates industry,” says Al Harrison, Director of Education for Balanced Body University. “A light went off for us—why don’t we ask all these people if they’d work together under a common banner to create this mentor program?”

Why We Need Pilates Mentors


By Nicole Rogers

Mentorship is extremely important to the Pilates community, as Pilates elder Mary Bowen so eloquently demonstrated here. If Joseph Pilates hadn’t passed his knowledge on to the first generation of teachers, and if they, the Pilates elders, had not passed their knowledge on to the next generation, Pilates simply would not exist. The tradition of mentorship is part of our foundation and our history.

Over the years, Pilates mentor/mentee relationships were rarely formal, yet were profound and long-lasting. The glue of these relationships has always been passion: for the work, for movement, for health, and for improving the lives of others with Pilates. This passion doesn’t fade, rather it’s the fuel that drives Pilates masters to explore throughout their lifetimes and to build on each other’s work. We all learned from someone, and hopefully we all continue to learn every day. Mentorship is important all the way through our careers, not just at the beginning.

When I asked some prominent Pilates personalities about their own mentors, past and present, I was not surprised to hear that their answers were as diverse as the Pilates world itself. (From what they’ve said, it appears that everyone who was taught by Mr. Pilates received a different workout, so it makes sense that no two teachers are the same to this day.) Each mentor/mentee relationship is unique. Nonetheless, a few general themes about the value of mentorship emerged from these conversations.

Mary Bowen on Pilates Mentorship

Pilates Elder Mary BowenMary BowenYou’d think someone like Mary Bowen, a Pilates elder who is in demand to teach teachers around the world, would be done with the “learning” part of her 50-plus-year Pilates career by now. It’s just the opposite—one of the most inspiring things about her, and many others at the top of the field, is her never-ending thirst for more learning. Here she explains the importance of the many personal mentors she’s had over the years and why she’ll never stop being a mentee. Stay tuned for more on mentorship this month.

I have had many mentors in my 51 years in Pilates. For me, it all began in 1959 with visits to Joe and Clara Pilates twice a week for six and a half years. Joe and Clara have always remained alive in me. I came out of back pain with them, rapidly, and ate up the whole experience of being close in with their life commitment to total health, breath and their method of exercise. What Joe and Clara gave me was more than a mentorship. They gave me “a way of life” that freed my body, making it strong, flexible and enduring enough for any exploration and development I needed to undertake. Not knowing it at the time, it was turning me into a Pilates teacher myself, by 1975.

From there, I spent 7 years with Bob Seed, which underlined the experience of Joe and Clara, and then 7 years with Romana Kryzanowska, which expanded the movement repertoire for my body and cemented the importance of Pilates in my life, then 7 years with Kathy Grant, which instilled a kind of toughness into the work and yet a freedom to be creative in it at the same time, then 5 years with Bruce King, until he died, which was the closest to what is called “classical Pilates” and a great teacher of the value and lack of boredom in repetition.

With Bruce it was always the same way, the same forms in the same order. I was 50 when I started with him. I had the patience by then for his kind of quest for perfection through repetition. I could always find newness in it. Concurrent with Bruce and beyond his life span were 7 years with Jean Claude West, who had learned Pilates at my studio, Your Own Gym, in Northampton, Mass., and had gone on to study biomechanics and kinesiology at universities in New York City. Jean Claude was on the cutting edge of integrating Pilates with physical therapy techniques and knowledge. This expansion has continued deepening the experience of Pilates and the knowledge that one can attain as a teacher of Pilates. It has advanced the practice of Pilates for oneself and for the teaching of others. From 1995 and continuing into the present, my mentor is Christine Wright, a former professional dancer, student and gifted teacher of the body and how we can better live in it using Pilates as a fundamental grid. With my weekly lessons and my mentors I am just short of 80 and still coming into my body.