This April I made my way back to LA to study the mat portion with my mentor, first-generation teacher Jay Grimes, and owner Sandy Shimoda of Vintage Pilates in the graduate program THE WORK. In January I completed the reformer portion of the program. To say I was “matified” before I even left for my training is an understatement! I had practised my mat to the point that it came almost without thinking. We were all well prepared so our time was not wasted worrying about order, choreography, and repetitions. Instead, we were able to receive those subtle corrections from Jay and the other teachers that would fine tune our pilates during the lessons.
Jay has us practising how Joseph Pilates trained his students. Like the good old days of Joe, there is no time for hand holding, or coddling. You just do the work. You practise regularly, and when a correction is given, you’re able to hear it, assimilate the information, and make a change.
I am learning as a teacher that I must let my students practise too, which means allowing them to be responsible for their own practice while in the studio and at home. Don’t get me wrong! I still catch myself being the enabler, control freak, and know it all, but as I grow deeper in the work I am starting to sit back and let the students experience their pilates. It’s not my job to entertain, hand hold, or do the work for them. Instead, I am learning what Jay Grimes means when he says, “To know pilates you must do pilates. There are no short cuts.” I need to get out of the way, let the students experience the movements, and learn for themselves how to control their own bodies.
A good practitioner of pilates will have a consistent practice, an open mind, and loads of patience. I cannot force or coerce pilates into myself or my students for that matter. Instead, as a practitioner of pilates, our thoughts or preconceived notions of what a movement is "suppose to feel like" will eventually melt away and intuitively we’ll begin to know just what is needed from the body in that moment.
Doing the THE WORK has been such an amazing journey for me so far. It has opened my mind, transformed my practice, and most importantly taught me to trust my body. I will not break, nor falter, but I may go to places I didn’t know I was capable of going to. Thanks Joseph Pilates for believing in me!