The many blessings.

December is when I like to reflect and feel gratitude for the many blessings I have experienced over the past year. With my Pilates, there have been many. I successfully graduated from The Work with Jay Grimes and Sandy Shimoda. From this experience, I gained many new relationships with pilates friends from all over the world. And, right here in our own studio, we added an amazing new teacher, French-born, Julie Fontana-Giusti from Sydney, Australia.

I interviewed Julie for some Q & A to find out more about this awesome gal and pilates teacher who, by the way, thinks Edmonton is exotic!

Carmen Lanteigne: Where did you train?

Julie Fontana-Giusti: I first trained at Authentic Pilates in Sydney (Australia). I also completed the certificate of anatomy and physiology and the bridging diploma which is an accreditation of Pilates in Australia aligned with the health industry. A year later, I decided to further my training with Cynthia Lochard, a level 1 teacher with Romana’s Pilates program. I completed two-thirds of the training before I moved to Edmonton. I plan to finish my advanced training in the summer of 2018. 

CL: What is your favourite piece of apparatus? 

JFG: I love the reformer! On the reformer, I get a great workout without stopping in a progression of exercises perfectly designed by Joseph Pilates. I feel so good after!

CL: What is your favourite Pilates exercise?

JFG: My favourite exercise is the shoulder bridge on the cadillac. I love exercises where I articulate my spine and I love to be "in the air.”

CL: What is your least favourite Pilates exercise?

JFG: Crisscross and tictoc! My legs are very long and they feel heavy so it’s work for me to hold them upright without using my hip flexors.

CL: How have you benefited from Pilates?

JFG: Before practicing Pilates I didn't have any pain in my body, nor did I really pay any attention to my body’s position. But, now I stand significantly straighter and have a better silhouette. Furthermore, I noticed when I train in other sports I love such as tennis, windsurfing, and skiing, my performance is much stronger. Pilates has helped me to find my centre and understand that every movement comes from that strong torso.

CL: What do your students love about you?

JFG: First, I was mentored by excellent teachers in Australia which gave me a good base for the teacher I am today. I am passionate about Pilates, and I believe in what I teach. I guide my students with a calm,  encouraging voice, and if necessary I will guide their movement with my hands.

CL: What do you love about teaching?

JFG: I love passing on my passion, guiding and accompanying people in their movements. I find it very satisfying to help them feel better in their bodies. It is very rewarding to hear feedback from my students that since practising Pilates they do not have anymore pain. I feel like I am doing something very useful.

CL: You are new in Edmonton. How do you like it so far?

JFG: Yes, I arrived in Edmonton last spring after a few years in Australia with my husband and our three daughters. I am French born and lived in France up until our time in Australia. My husband, who is Italian and who was born in the US, has lived in six different countries so we wanted to give the same multicultural experience to our girls. When the opportunity came up to come to Canada we located to Edmonton.

CL: What do you like about Edmonton?

JFG: For me, it's totally exotic, totally different than I am used to! I am very excited being here! I love the snow... so far. I am pleased to swap out my swimsuit for skis, ice skates, and snow boots. As for the people, we have had a wonderful welcoming from our neighbours like we’ve never felt before. And most people in Edmonton we meet are very nice. 

To find out more about Julie, you can find her teaching private, semi-private lessons, and guiding students in our AP classes.

Until next year, keep moving!

Peace and love,

Carmen Lanteigne

Julie Fontana-Giusti, our Senior Instructor at Aligned Pilates.

Julie Fontana-Giusti, our Senior Instructor at Aligned Pilates.

#Pilateseverydamnday. Really?

This year May 6th came and went like any other day, except that in my world May 6th is my mother-in-law's birthday and International Pilates Day.  And, guess what?! I forgot both! Lucky for me my sister-in-law saved the day and hosted a great family gathering to celebrate my mother-in-law (phew). 

As for International Pilates Day, I thought, "shoot, I missed a perfect opportunity to do something special with my pilates peeps!”

The best conclusion as to how I could possibly let International Pilates Day slip by without so much as a celebratory #internationalpilatesday post on Instagram is that I celebrate the genius work of Joseph Pilates every day. I am either training my own pilates, teaching pilates, or incorporating pilates in my day to day activities. To set aside one day to make it special I guess yes, I did forget. As for forgetting about my mother-in-law's birthday, well there's no excuse (sigh).

Our family with my lovely 82-year-old mom-in-law.

Our family with my lovely 82-year-old mom-in-law.

Pilates is something I do every day for the most part. Nothing keeps me from my pilates - not even my holidays, being tied to my desk, or coming off a long day of teaching. I always try to find the time and do something from his work. I may not train a full on reformer workout, but there's always something from his amazing system of exercise that I can practise. Take the mat, for instance. You can do the mat anywhere, anytime. Or, how about the wall exercises?! The wall exercises require no equipment, just a wall. And let's not forget the towel, marbles, and 2x4 exercises. Think bottom rung on your staircase and viola, you've got your 2X4 exercises!

I get that not everyone has the luxury to train every day at their local pilates studio to experience the amazing work of Joseph Pilates, so I’ve come up with a few ideas to keep you practising in between your sessions (and these are not original).

YouTube.  Now a days you can pretty much YouTube how to do anything and pilates is no exception. You can check out my YouTube channel for free home videos. Note the quality is just that -- home video! 

Professional on-line pilates videos. My go to is Pilatesology.  As an on-line pilates resource for classical pilates workouts, I can always find something on Pilatesology to keep me motivated and practising.

Skype lessons. I take Skype lessons from teachers twice, and sometimes three times a month. Skype lessons are a great way to keep me motivated and accountable with professional pilates teachers. If you have pilates apparatus at home doubling as a drying rack time to fold up the clothes and book a Skype lesson today!

Much like the trending hashtag #pilateseverydamnday, Joseph Pilates' desire was that we practise his work so that we can have strong bodies to go out and play. Pilates is not my whole life (well, maybe), but with a consistent practice I have a strong body and focused mind to try other incredible things in life.

Last year I took my street bike to the track. What an invigorating yet demanding experience. Thank you Joseph Pilates!

Last year I took my street bike to the track. What an invigorating yet demanding experience. Thank you Joseph Pilates!

Keep practising!

Carmen Lanteigne

The Work: What is it really worth to me?

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!

Keep practising.

Carmen Lanteigne

The Work Program with Jay Grimes 2017

The Work Program with Jay Grimes 2017