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Entries in Education (65)

Working With Multiple Sclerosis on the Pilates Reformer

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by Mary Kay Hausladen Foley, PT, GCFP

Foley (r.) with a patientPilates instructors know well that the Reformer is an excellent tool to work on strength, flexibility, motor control and balance. For these reasons, the Reformer is also an extremely useful tool for working with people with multiple sclerosis. I have worked with a wide variety of MS patients over the last 23 years, as a physical therapist and as a Pilates Reformer instructor, in association with The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis (the mission of which is to empower MS patients; its motto is “Can Do”). Some patients have such mild symptoms that an outsider would never guess that they have the disease, while others can be quite debilitated it. For the MS population, the Reformer can be invaluable for work on functional changes in areas where motor control or muscle function is compromised.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It is a chronic and usually progressive disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin—the layer of insulation around nerve fibers—in the brain and spinal cord. This leads to a decrease in nerve function, which causes symptoms that vary from patient to patient and in severity, such as weakness, fatigue, spasticity (a condition we’ll discuss later on in this article), bladder dysfunction, pain, vertigo, decreased balance, cognitive deficits and speech and swallowing difficulties. Because multiple sclerosis affects motor control, the majority of people diagnosed with the disease experience walking difficulty at some point. Research indicates that number is somewhere between 64 and 85 percent. In fact, 70 percent of MS patients report that walking is the most challenging aspect of their disease. Within 15 years of diagnosis, 50 percent of multiple sclerosis patients require assistance walking and, in later stages, up to a third of patients are completely unable to walk. More than 400,000 Americans have multliple sclerosis: most are between the ages of 20 and 50, and women are twice to three times as likely to be affected than men. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.

Though Pilates exercise will not change the disease process, it can help people maintain strength and function longer than would otherwise be possible. There are, however, special considerations that a Pilates instructor should be aware of when working with someone with MS.

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.

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.

STOTT Pilates Expands Conference

STOTT Pilates Conference logoBy Lauren Charlip, Managing Editor

STOTT PILATES® will hold its biennial conference for its global Licensed Training Centers in Toronto Oct. 21–24, 2009, but this year’s gathering has a new twist. Named Community of Excellence 09, the event was expanded to include STOTT PILATES equipment distributors, all Instructor Trainers and a final day of programming open to all fitness professionals. 

This year’s gathering is the first to be called Community of Excellence, though according to STOTT PILATES president and CEO Lindsay G. Merrithew, that “has been a living organic philosophy for about 10 years or so” for the company.

“We’ve grown tremendously in the past couple of years, and want to focus on the STOTT brand and what it means and how we can all work together,” he said. “This is a time for all of our business partners to come together and share best practices and experiences.”

The conference will feature updated Pilates programming for rehabilitative and aging populations, both growing sectors of the STOTT PILATES client base, among other Pilates workshops. One of the event’s featured speakers is Colin Milner, founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging, who will discuss business ideas for that market. There will also be plenty of business-building sessions, and new STOTT PILATES equipment will be introduced, though the specifics are still under wraps.

There will also be a lot of exchange about the economy this year, Merrithew predicts. Enrollment hasn’t dropped, she said, but there is continuing conversation about how to draw people into studios and how to establish Pilates as something other than a luxury.

“This an opportunity to connect and take advantage of the fact that Pilates keeps growing and growing,” he said. “The economy may not be ideal, but the industry is growing.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 02:00PM by Registered CommenterLauren Charlip in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Continuing Ed: Yamuna Body Rolling

Yamuna Zake, creator of Yamuna Body RollingYamuna Zake, creator of Yamuna Body RollingBy Nicole Rogers

Yamuna Body Rolling™ (YBR) is named after its creator, Yamuna Zake, who developed the technique about 16 years ago as a way to reach more people with her bodywork practice and theories. Her technique uses a small, firm ball and your own body weight to release and align different areas of the body.

A jack-of-all-trades in the world of bodywork, Yamuna was a certified hatha yoga teacher by the age of 16, and as time went on she incorporated herbology and aromatherapy into her yoga practice. With the birth of her daughter in 1979, Yamuna experienced an injury to her hip. She worked hard and experimented to eventually heal herself and create Yamuna Body Logic – a hands-on treatment. For 30 years, people have flocked to her from all over the world to consult her expertise in solving structural issues.

Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 12:01PM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , | Comments1 Comment | References11 References

Minnesota Pays for Pilates Job Retraining

A recent Star Tribune article—Will Pilates Pull Us Through the Recession?—declared Pilates “recession proof,” highlighting the shortage of trained Pilates teachers and continued demand for the method. What’s most interesting is that the state of Minnesota is paying for laid-off workers to get retrained as Pilates teachers. One instructor, who was already trained under a different method, was reimbursed for the cost of taking a STOTT Pilates training course because the studio that was hiring required it. (Read more about the studio.)

Has anyone heard of this happening in other states? It may be worth looking into in your area if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 01:26PM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

PMA Cancels 2009 Pilates Conference

The Pilates Method Alliance released news today that its board members have made the tough decision to cancel its 2009 International Education Conference. In March, they noticed that sales patterns were down compared to years past, and an online survey conducted in April showed that many regular conference attendees weren’t planning to come this year. Overall, sales were down 70 percent, according to the PMA, which they credit to the global economic downturn. “We decided that we couldn’t go forward with the conference without destabilizing the organization,” said PMA Executive Director Elizabeth Anderson.

In an announcement on its Web site, the PMA board—which voted on the decision just two business days ago—said, “As a not-for-profit organization, we must be responsible to our alliance members, certificants, delegates, sponsors and exhibitors, to ensure that we do not operate the conference at a loss, as this would draw away funds that are needed to continue other essential functions of the PMA.” For those who have already paid for the 2009 conference, the PMA is offering a refund or an open credit, which can be applied to the 2010 conference, membership, merchandise or any of its other offerings.

The 2010 PMA conference is still in the works, and Anderson is confident it will be a success. Its location—Long Beach, CA—is one reason: she says PMA delegates love visiting California. It will also be the event’s 10th anniversary, and she thinks that after two years off, attendees will be more than ready to learn and connect with colleagues. As for the economy, she’s also hopeful it will be in better shape.

In the meantime, Anderson says the PMA is looking into offering Webinars, especially on business topics. The organization will also have more time to “focus on internal things that can strengthen what we’re doing for members,” said Anderson, including health, vision and dental benefits and help for members who need Websites. The lack of conference revenue this year will be challenging, said Anderson, but she’s confident the organization can compensate in other areas.

For attendees who were planning on fulfilling their CECs at the conference, the PMA is recommending other conferences and workshops, including the Pilates Round Table, Inner IDEA, Pilates on Tour and Power Pilates offerings.

The 2010 PMA conference will take place Nov. 4-7, 2010, in Long Beach, CA.


Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 01:08PM by Registered CommenterAmy Leibrock in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Pilate Poll: How much did you spend on continuing ed in '08?

Answer should include tuition fees only, not travel expenses. Thanks!

Posted on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 12:01PM by Registered CommenterAmy Leibrock in , | CommentsPost a Comment