Teaching Teachers, Who Am I Kidding?!

My teaching career has had many firsts.

When I was still in my cert programs and taught as an apprentice/student teacher, where if I’m honest, I admit that I both hoped I was being watched and it was duly noted somewhere how genius I was, how well I understood my student’s bodies and how to inspire them to create the ultimate brilliance of a move at their appropriate level and at the same time, I was praying that no one was watching, because I had clearly lost my mind and have no business teaching anyone anything… not yet anyway.

Then as a fully certified teacher in the early years, I went from being competent and safe to getting a bit more brave, realizing I’m now seen as the expert and so I answered questions and taught with more confidence. There was the validation that I had begun to achieve ‘professional status’, that I knew what I knew, didn’t feel like a fraud standing in front of a class or a private client giving instructions and making corrections… I wasn’t faking it till I made it in my Pilates knowledge dept. (at the time), just in the ohmygosh I’m standing in front of the class and they’re waiting for me to tell them what to do. I had to fake the ‘teacher’ mindset.

I have never stopped learning, in all the years that I have been teaching, I have remained a student. What I have noticed though, are all the new ‘master teachers’ popping up all over the place. Teachers who have been teaching far fewer years than I have, have found their own niche to make a buck in this industry… good for them, I’m sure not gonna tell someone they can’t make a living. I kinda want to learn from them, dip into the chutzpah well of self confidence. Join the world of teacher trainers.

Well, before that happens as I weirdly watched my scheduler fill with familiar names from our own Pilates community, as they intermixed with my regular folk clients, I have that moment of insecurity again, that one where now that I have enough confidence to teach regular people and I know what I’m doing there, do I know enough to teach other teachers?

When I had my 1st referral from a well respected teacher I was blown away, when I had my first referral from a well respected teacher to a teacher of another style of Pilates who is bridging to classical, I was actually afraid, I studied up, I took more lessons myself, I studied Pilatesology and Pilates Anytime, just to reassure myself that I knew what I knew. I was more than prepared, I studied as if I was going through another cert myself. Turns out I still knew more than my student, but I’d rather err on the side of over preparing.

The universe has apparently been grooming me for this by having my days booked with more and more teachers that are traveling a similar Pilates path as I am.
Starting the FB group Going More Joe was blindly the tipping point that put me in touch with more #GMJers. Who knew we were out there?!?! I can totally teach the teacher who has been contemporary trained and wants to taste classical, I’m actually perfect for that. I can totally give you the try before you buy, or the ‘we used to do it this way, and now with the transition, you can teaser up, turn to the side, drop to one spring, keep spinning around until you can stretch your legs long, cross your ankles in the headrest and start the rowing series’.

I remember when I first saw transitions on the reformer and mat, I know what it’s like for the teacher who has years in, but has been apprehensive about tasting the other treats out there because of shyness and what we’ve been fed about classical teachers and the classical work, how different the apparatus is as well as being so similar, how to get the stuff you have to work similarly to the stuff with the G or B or T names, etc…

Teaching workshops is also new to me, apparently I’m a great liaison between Classical and Contemporary, since I’ve had years of training in both styles, and a myriad of offshoots & varieties of both. There are the individual contemporary styles to ‘which lineage’ classical. I am fairly fluent in all those languages where most Pilates teachers are truer to one or another. That makes me unique, in that I know what one has to forget in order to make room for the new/old info.

So in just trying to keep my small home studio busy (by finding clientele by jabbering on the Facebook local pages and word of mouth), I’ve also inadvertently opened myself up to this whole other realm of teaching. By writing articles and hosting so many workshops and opening them up to Skype and private video link, I have been blessed with making many friends globally in our industry and have got myself on the ‘if you’re ever passing through Las Vegas’ it’s really great to have the opportunity to meet so many of the teachers I ‘talk’ with regularly on the forums, I’m always a bit starstruck and humbled that they chose me.

Teachers are the people that will drive to work with a good teacher. I do.

Teachers are the ones that will never try and negotiate your fee, they KNOW the value of your expertise and how much time, energy and money you spend on running a studio. They value your commitment to the craft. Aside from the injured or people that are dealing with a challenge in some way, teachers are my favorite clients, they have each made me grow and rise to the occasion, so ultimately I’ve had to become a better teacher.

Now that I’m more comfortable teaching teachers as private clients, I’ve also had the opportunity to start teaching workshops. I didn’t just wake up one day thinking I’m the next big thing and start pimping myself out and arranging big conferences, I got asked by a studio owner who had taken several privates from me and asked if I would consider teaching at her studio. I wasn’t quite sure where to start, so we started with mat, and I forgot how different just doing the mat repertoire is when you 1st learn it, and how different some of the exercises are when you translate them from one method to the other, it was remarkably easy to just do what I do, once I got over the speaking in front of strangers thing as they’re staring you down wanting you to impart some brilliance they’ve never heard before into their minds and bodies while giving them cues to use for clients that’ll make their teaching exponentially better right out of the gate. ROI for their workshop $$.

Never thought I would be lucky enough to be in this position, it is a great privilege to get to be the introduction into the classical world for those who are trepidatiously exploring further than their initial studies.

Just know if you’re headed this way, you will be invited to go fly with me at the wind tunnel. So work on your wings~

Originally published at PilatesBridge

I no longer experience neck pain or feel frustrated during a Pilates class

I have been going to Pilates on and off for more than 10 years. I started with a group mat class and have worked in both private and group reformer classes over the years. I was most recently attending a fairly large group reformer class where I would typically leave class with a sore neck and other aches and pains that I just chocked up to completing a rigorous workout. I mean, no pain, no gain, right?

Being new to the area, I wanted to try another studio and see if there was a difference. To say I found a difference in training with Sunni is a huge understatement. Even though I have been doing some form of Pilates for more than a decade, it was evident to me in the first 5 minutes of our first session that I had never been truly introduced to classical, Joseph Pilates-style training.

At first, I felt a little frustrated, like I have to learn everything I thought I knew all over again. Sunni takes the time to explain the theory behind the classical Pilates workout, the way Joseph taught it in his own studio. Sunni teaches on classical equipment, and while it may all look similar to equipment you’ve been on in other studios, her equipment is designed in true Joseph style with springs that don’t do all the work for you.

Sunni teaches you how take control of each exercise, and not let the machines do the work for you. This was a big change for me since all of previous experience was working on equipment designed for the masses.

My neck actually felt better after our very first session. I no longer experience neck pain during my Pilates workouts and I’m no longer feeling frustrated because I trust that Sunni is teaching me the way it was meant to be taught. Even though I’m moving more slowly in my new training with Sunni, I’m feeling muscles that I haven’t felt in a very long time. If I do have any soreness, it’s the good kind of muscle fatigue.

If you’re attending a modern Pilates studio, most likely, you’re doing it all wrong and don’t even know it. I was for more than 10 years! Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and do yourself a favor. Book a session with Sunni and decide for yourself.

~Danielle S.

Sunni is THE go-to person in this area for Pilates, especially classical

Sunni is THE go-to person in this area for Pilates, especially classical. She lives and breathes the method…she is so up to date with everything Pilates it simply amazes me. She writes for several Pilates blogs and knows hundreds of Pilates teachers and students all over the world via strong social media connections. She was my original Pilates teacher about 10 years ago and although I am also a teacher now, she is still my go-to person. I recently visited her for instruction on Classical Pilates and came away with so much info my head is still spinning. She also has strong morales and great integrity and can put a smile on anyone’s face! Thanks Sunni!

~ Annette Holladay, Pilates teacher

Did You KNOW You Don’t Have To Belong?

4246285Not to any Pilates organization. You can if you chose too, but it isn’t necessary, and doesn’t get you more clients. Are you shocked?!?!?!
I was too when I found that out. You mean I don’t need to empty my pockets of all that hard-earned money and hop a plane to the nearest conference to get my CEC’s so I could belong? Belong to what? Yes, the parties are amazing, and yes, the camaraderie is great, while the workshops and classes may be a mixed bag. But let’s look at the costs…. Membership fee + Conference fee + Hotel + Travel + Food can easily total $2000 per event. What I do love about conferences is the exhibit halls where everyone hangs out, and you can buy cool stuff for less than the usual advertised prices and meet people in person you might have met via Facebook.
But could you get a better return on your investment by buying more apparatus, lessons for yourself, etc.? Organizations and brands are an option, not a necessity. Even the non-profits end up profiting someone … it just isn’t us.

I find organizations can be a problem in that they’re divisive when they use “us vs them” positioning. I think those that constantly hound you and push their brand in lieu of another approach are akin to religious door knockers selling a new package of beliefs to the already-spiritual, discounting all other options. This “fear-based” selling strikes a dissonant chord in me like a used car salesman or nails on a chalkboard.

4246302I think large Pilates organizations aggressively sell to serious students who have already spent significant resources on their certification, but feel compelled to add more to their tool belt with big, pricey, travel-laden programs. This leads ultimately to the certification machine being the biggest benefactor, keeping those students hooked into that program with no practical opportunity to easily and freely try others.

Staying a student, no matter how advanced one becomes, is a marker of being a great teacher. I advocate researching closest to the source – the least diluted form of Pilates you can afford – and to be true to yourself. Try to avoid any money making machinery churning out certs. Consider taking lessons from a teacher you find great without regard to CEC’s. It should be doable for your wallet and personal situation.

I wish to lessen the infighting in the Pilates community, bringing more of a sense of goodwill where teachers teach teachers, and then teachers teach their students quality work. A statement I’ve read in many Pilates forums that exist to answer teacher questions is, “Didn’t you learn that in your training?” I find such an answer to a sincere question to be rude, and it aggravates the crap out of me. I really want a place where we accept where people are and bring the best one has to the person they are teaching.

ALL of this, and the knowledge that the only people who will ever ask you for your certifications are other Pilates teachers, brought me to my version of a solution.
Pilates Intel subscribers, I cordially invite you to join my Facebook Group, Going More Joe. Any Pilates teacher is welcome, but it is specifically geared towards the contemporary teacher who wants to add elements of the classical/authentic/traditional style of Pilates to their repertoire.

Asking a question there will get a helpful answer. There are goal guides you may choose to aspire to. I hope you will choose a teacher to work with in-person, but if that isn’t possible, you will still have access to a lot of useable information as well as educational materials (some for free, some for a fee that isn’t “break the bank” pricey).

I also present workshop offerings, that are in $-$$ range instead of the $$-$$$ range. For example, workshops introducing pieces of apparatus that do not exist in the contemporary studio (arm chair, pedi-pole, guillotine, foot, toe and neck exercisers and stretchers). The workshops are often available via Skype or private video links.
I love presenting tips and tricks on The Secret Sauce of classical Pilates.
And I invite ‘Classical’ teachers to join me as a part of Going More Joe – to offer constructive answers to teachers of other styles and perhaps to study with you for a deeper understanding.
Please join me at Going More Joe

Originally published on Pilates Intel

Loving my private sessions of Classical Pilates

Am loving my private sessions of classical pilates instruction with Sunni every Saturday, She is doing a fabulous job of helping me take my pilates ability and understanding to another level.

Sunni is well informed in the classical Pilates method. Her studio is equipped with only Joe’s original format apparatuses and gizmos. He had a lot of them (not only the reformer). So if you want the real deal and a serious Pilates workout try one of Sunni’s solo sessions. $ well spent!!

~Lore Miller

Bridge Teacher Training Programs: Should You “Cross” This Bridge?


To bridge or not to bridge?

It is no secret that I have been on a path not to isolate my past contemporary style, but to honor it as well as delve deeper into “truer Pilates”, just makes my toolbox fuller. Although for the last few years I’ve been fairly hellbent on ‘getting’ classical/authentic/true … anyway, today I’m going more Joe.

I threw this question out on a couple of the better attended FB forums, and here’s some thoughts from all sides of the coin.

Here are the questions that spared discussion in those forums:

  1. If you are contemporary, have you dabbled in classical?
  2. Would you consider exploration?
  3. It has been stated both ways, that a Bridge program is the absolute necessity and that the “learn-as-you-g”o method can also work…But then is ‘the secret sauce’ still missing?
  4. Do you agree that it is not about the exercises per se, but about the layering and melding of skills to advance or deal with situations, not to mention all the new toys you get when you go classical?

Read the answers to these and more questions in my new article on PilatesBridge.

If Bridge program is somethings that you are currently considering or you simply got intrigued by the thoughts published above then I invite you to join a FREE collaborative facebook group called Going More Joe. It details a Thomas Guide style map of a journey about adding more classical/authentic/ Joe style to your work. You can pick and choose a teacher for Q&A, or just throw it out there and you will be answered kindly, honestly and professionally.

There are options for every price range starting with a plethora of free advice, good reads, and videos…to stuff you gotta pay for. Choose your own path, add what you want. It in no way replaces a Full Bridge program, but it also doesn’t involve the cost, time and travel…just an option for those who are interested. There will be ‘in person’ workshops as well as options for Skype and private video link offered here and there, this is a go-at-your-own-pace type of thing, it can take months or years. Enjoy your journey and remember the destination is the journey.

For the New Teacher – Thoughts from Auntie Sunni

sunni2As I browse the various Pilates forums, I always see questions about how to handle thistemperamental client, or what to do about that injury, or the group class pressure to “bring it”, or how to fit in with the other teachers – all because now you’re the FNG (Friggin’ New Guy).  Depending on the Pilates experience you had before your teacher training and the school you went to, you may have learned choreography or you may have learned how to teach. These are two COMPLETELY different things.

In my experience with contemporary technique training, there was a lot of “learning exercises” and there was choreography tossed in to make the exercises more ‘fun’. From there, we learned to add flourishes to “make it your own” as a way to give your teaching a certain “curb appeal” — to make your group classes the ones that people flock to and have you become the “Energizer Bunny” that students love to get their Pilates ON with. I learned add-ons, modifications & variations, as well as beginner, intermediate, advanced, and super advanced levels of work. I was given a toolbox of ideas for working with different populations and that’s what I used for my privates and semi-privates.

In my more recent classical trainings, I learned HOW to teach each exercise including the goal for the exercise and how to find the best spot in the studio to make the exercise fit the client (the client never has to fit the exercise). I also discovered that my new objective was to learn Pilates as a system. This required that I learn/relearn many exercises, because what I thought I knew and thought I was stellar at, was exactly alike and yet completely different all at the same time. Frustrating? Oh yeah!!

Read full article on PilatesIntel

Defy Aging! No Money, No Injections, No Pills, No Powders

Originally published in Me Time Journal

Do you look in the mirror? Really look? Do you people watch, even YOUR people? Your spouse or partner, your children, grandchildren. How do you/they stand, sit, walk?
Forward head and neck, rounded shoulders, looking down or up and leading with that appendage the chin, yes it is an appendage.

Children now have Forward Head Posture due to not enough outdoor play and too many electronics in their life.

FHP used to belong mostly to the elderly and was an earmark of age.
Everyone knows posture is important for relief of body and muscle aches, did you know that strengthening your posture can improve sports performance, and even help people age well.

Your posture is HOW you balance your body. How the HEAD balances on the TORSO which balances on the PELVIS which balances on the LEGS.

Like Lego’s for example~the alignment of each one affects how the entire body balances and moves. Poor posture and uneven motion contribute to stress on the body.

Issues from chronic muscle and joint aches and pains from the feet to the neck can result in premature joint breakdown (i.e. osteoarthritis).
Bettering your posture reduces bio-mechanical stress to help back pain, sciatica, tension headaches, and improves athletic performance.

So, how do you look to the world? Old before your time? As the body adapts to muscular imbalances on the joints there are increases in low back and neck pain, including headaches, bursitis, arthritis etc..
Great posture results in better balance, alignment, ease of movement, and a more youthful appearance.

Check it out:
Head/neck tilt– If the cervical vertebrae are laterally (to a side) tilted, this can cause neck and upper back pain or strain

Shoulder bulk– People who do 1 sided sports like tennis or golf, often have one sided increase in the upper back due to moving, swinging, twisting/rotating, carrying or lifting heavy objects on one side. Is one shoulder higher or more forward than the other?

Thigh/calf bulk– Is this equal? Greater bulk suggests greater weight bearing on that side.

Bow legged or knock knees– This may explain knee pain as joints wear differently in these conditions.

Foot position. This can tell you about hip rotation as people often stand like ballet dancers with their feet turned out, or stand pigeon toed. Is parallel comfortable, does just one foot turn out a bit?

Side view Goal: Ears over shoulders over hips over knees over that little ankle bone that sticks out.

Forward head posture– ears should be over the shoulders

Are the shoulders rounded forward? They should be wide, shoulder blades drawn towards each other, down from the ears, giving the appearance of a long neck as opposed to the old Ed Sullivan, or gym rat ‘no neck’ look (Neanderthal, lol)
A rounded upper back squashes the ability to take nice deep, full oxygenated breaths. Your breathing parts need room to expand.

Swayback type curves are associated with lumbar pain, send your tailbone down towards the earth.

Knee position. Are the knees normal, flexed or hyperextended? Flexed (slightly bent)= tight hamstrings, hyperextended (knees that seem to lock with a double jointed appearance) = tight quadriceps.

We want a balanced stance. Walking should be a smooth gait, not a military, chest high & abs sucked in look, or chest forward and your buttocks out behind you as if you’re leaning forward, and we definitely don’t want ‘text neck’. An elbow height desk/chair situation is best, so you don’t have to lean forward to read and type…extending your neck and training your muscles that way. It’s hard to undo the damage. But you can, and the kids can. Here’s how:

Find a wall and stand against it, how far away from it do you need to place your feet so that your head, shoulders, and back are completely flat against it. All those parts should be able to touch, and you shouldn’t be able to place a fist between the wall and your low back, a supple spine should be able to do this. Open your shoulders wide against the wall, the back of your head should easily touch.
Lift both arms up to touch the wall overhead with the back of your hands, it should be able to happen, if it can’t here’s where the work starts.

Raise your arms & touch the wall, lower them again and press into the wall, repeat press high, press low, daily, several times. Then scissor your arms, 1 high, 1 low. Do this lying down supine, add a 1 or 2 lb dumbbell as you raise and lower your arms from overhead to past your hips. the back of the neck should lengthen, shoulders broaden, chest widen, back working to keep all this together.

Stand in the middle of the room,feet parallel, hip distance (4-6 inches) pretend your feet are each on it’s own scale, weight the scales evenly. Check foot position, knees, hips, shoulders, head and neck. Stack your body upright bit by bit. This should be improved posture. Keep working on it until it’s the norm. Lift your penthouse away from your lobby as it were, you will look more in control, charismatic, friendly, younger, more lifted, and your body will feel better, so you won’t be in pain and therefore happier.

Of course size matters!

measuring tape
I was just at at workshop where we had taken my classical reformer and used it side by side a contemporary model reformer, no I’m not going to go there and bag on other manufacturers designs, as a matter of fact, I’m friends with manufacturers of both types of apparatus, and I have owned and worked on several pieces from different manufacturers and have settled on what feels best for my body.

Read full article on PilatesGlossy