Pilates

My Immersion into Pilates

What I Learned about Classical Pilates through the PPS Teacher Training Program of Lifetime Academy in Reston, Virginia

Earlier this year, I decided to take a leap of faith into learning a different type of movement system: Pilates. Peak Pilates Level 1 to be precise. As a yoga teacher in Maryland, I would constantly have employers and clients ask me “Do you teach Pilates too?” when I told them I taught yoga. I’ll admit, it really annoyed me at first. In my mind, yoga was the total package to me.

Sure, I did other things that I was passionate about as well: rock climbing, weight lifting, and hiking. Even with the other hobbies I always grounded, amplified, and uplifted my spirit with my yoga practice. When I delved deeper into yoga by becoming a teacher, I deepened my practice. Back to Pilates. Looking back, I realize I went into the Peak Pilates Teacher Training through Lifetime Academy in Reston, VA (Part of Lifetime Fitness, one of the gyms I work for currently) with an inflated sense of ego and accomplishment along with the misconception of what exactly Pilates was all about.

Here are some things I learned:

Pilates is not a flexibility centered system. I’ll relate this back to yoga first. When people ask me what yoga is all about, because they heard you can get flexible doing yoga, I try to tell them that flexibility is just ONE slice of the pie. It’s another slice of the Pilates pie as well. Now, instead of thinking of it as a slice, think more about flexibility within Pilates as an ingredient. Yes, you will increase flexibility with Pilates. No, that is not the goal of Pilates. Just like it is not the goal of yoga. However, it CAN be your personal goal!

Pilates is harder than it looks. Way harder if you go in with an ego. Yeah, I lift weights, practice (and teach) yoga, climb rocks, practice brazilian jiu jitsu and test my body limits as much as possible. Consider Pilates another great test of the ability to learn and adapt to a total body movement system. It’s tough to admit, but I went in thinking Pilates, the actual exercise, not the learning process, was going to be easy to grasp for me. I know my body, I’ve embarked on a lifelong quest to pursue, use and practice the knowledge and techniques I’ve learned about how the body and exercise or movement relate to one another. I felt pretty aware of my body in space (spatial awareness) and knew my current limits. That’s why I push myself and always delve deeper into learning. On the flip side, the more you do something, the easier it becomes, so as I progressed during my teacher training I was happy to see the results of activating muscle groups in a new way and getting a better understanding of my body and mind.

There is no music played in a classical Pilates session. I resonate very well with this concept as I love teaching traditional Ashtanga yoga, in which music is not played as well. Music can be distracting to the mind and take the focus of where you need to be….here in the moment. It also competes with the teacher’s voice and we’re not paying for the music as a student, we’re paying for the teacher’s knowledge, guidance and time. Especially if you’re trying to learn something new. Imagine trying to learn another language and music is playing with the native language in the background, creating fuzz in your mind and possibly distracting you. Yes, I will teach you yoga with music if need be, and some times music is really helpful in yoga where it is more forgiving on the amount of time spent in an posture. In Pilates, you are constantly moving and some exercises are different tempos than another. Finding a teacher you resonate with will make the absent of music not seem like such an… absence.

Now what?

I’m excited to begin the pathway of teaching Pilates and continue my path to bringing myself to a healthier version of me, so I can then in turn help others be a healthier version of themselves. With the Pilates teacher training course done, I still have a few more hours to make up before I can begin teaching. I can tell you this: feeling like a beginner again, the late nights reading my coursework, practicing, practice teaching, traveling the 3 hours per day to get to and from training, the tolls, and gas costs were definitely worth it all. I met an amazing group of ladies (my classmates) and found inspiration within the teachers that ran the courses. Here’s the last day of training group picture:

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Stay with me for future blog posts as I try to make updating this a more regular occurrence now that I have a few learning experiences under my belt.

About Jen Allen

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