Posts Tagged ‘ Coursework ’

Schedule Changes

June 1, 2013

Hello all!

Please note that my schedule has changed slightly. I now have a Sunday CoreAlign class at Pilates on Fifth. I’ll be teaching pretty steady through September with a few days off in August.

I’m talking about:




See Video for more:


A Lifelong Study

January 28, 2012

My test is in 3 days. I’ve been studying my glutes off!

My biggest lesson is that the learning NEVER stops. I have a study buddy who I meet with once a week to prepare for the test and discuss Pilates. We come up with tons of questions. When I ask the teachers of our course, they have great answers, but sometimes respond with, “You don’t need to know that for the test.” One said, “Most people don’t even come up with these kind of questions before the test.”

It’s appalling, but it’s true. There’s SO MUCH information, they couldn’t possibly cram it all into one little test. I’m learning selective material–stuff to get the ball rolling–but the learning will not stop when I pass a silly test. It’s like TAAS, TAKS, SATs, Regents…they can’t possibly measure and test students on everything.

Pilates will be a lifelong study, like almost everything in my life. The good news is that it so directly pertains to my life as an artist. I’m looking forward to being an eternal student of the human body as a means of creating and communicating stories.

Wish me luck!


The Soles of Your Hands

January 15, 2012

It’s been a few years since I confused the soles of my feet with the palms of my hands. It’s been even longer since I got my right side and my left side confused. But, alas, in the past few months, there have been times I can’t get these simple things straight.

My greatest challenge when practice teaching Pilates is cueing coordination. There are SO many details. “Sit with your knees bent” seems like the simplest instruction, but there are at least five different ways you can do it. And after you figure out the outline of the position, it’s time to focus on the shape of the spine, the pelvis, the neck, the shoulders, the toes and hands.

One time I stuttered to someone to “put the soles of the feet on the mat” when they were on their stomach. Ouch!

My only remedy so far for this issue is a three step process: RECITE, ASSESS, CORRECT/CHALLENGE.

The first thing I had to do when I started teaching was memorize the coordination cues like a script and repeat them over and over. It’s great to think through the exercise and try to casually cue it as it happens in your head, but there’s likely to be a delay, folks. How often do you tell someone a descriptive, complicated story without pausing at some point to process the words you want to use?

So, first I RECITE the (memorized) basics of the exercise.

This gives me time to ASSESS the situation during the first 1-2 reps. Are the shoulders crawling up? Is he/she really rotating the whole upper body, not just the arms? By memorizing the first few lines of each exercise, hopefully you give your brain time to scan the body for any problems.

Lastly, you have (somewhat memorized) CORRECTION and CHALLENGE cues. Once you know how to make the exercise more correct or harder, it’s simple enough to pull from a vast list of imagery or muscular engagement cues. Of course it doesn’t end there. This “step” has to be repeated as the reps add up, hopefully continually changing the way the person does the exercise.

It’s similar to performing. There’s a prepared aspect and an improvised aspect. With 80+ exercises (not including all modifications) that I’ll be tested on for my certification, the preparation is hugely time-consuming, but the improvisation is the most rewarding part. There’s nothing like finding a cue that works well for someone and really making a change in their bodies. That’s why I do what I do!

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

December 29, 2011
In my last blog, I outlined the two main tasks I have before being able to pass my test and get my Pilates certification. The most difficult task is learning anatomy. We are complicated! Having never studied (detailed) anatomy (unlike the physical therapists in my class), it’s been a huge challenge to navigate muscles, bones, joints and actions. While I am still solidifying how I will memorize this material, here are some tips I have found helpful for committing human anatomy to your memory.
  1. Learn the actions. If you will be teaching Pilates, or movement of any kind, focus on joint actions first. Rather than trying to memorize origin, insertion and action for each individual muscle, group the muscles by joint action. For example, shoulder abduction (raising your arm out to the side) involves the supraspinatus and deltoid; hip flexion involves (mainly) iliopsoas, and rec fem. This gives you a great start and you will learn how muscles move the body, which is our most fundamental need as teachers.
  2. Make it a part of your life. When I first started studying Pilates, I did a few hours of work-study each week in studio maintenance to help pay for the classes. It was…boring, mindless. While mopping, I would think “I’m using my anterior deltoid and pec major  mopping forward and my lats then anterior deltoid bringing the arm down and back.” It ‘s nerdy, but it’s helpful. Think about what’s going on as you climb up five flights of stairs to your apartment. If you have a hard workout and are sore, figure out exactly what muscle is sore and what movement made it that way. Living and breathing this stuff is the only way to make it second nature.
  3. Touch yourself. What kind of a learner are you? If you are  a doer, find these muscles on yourself (or a touchy-feely friend). Visual learners can gather pictures and watch Youtube videos. Some people find that drawing pictures helps them (mine came out looking like wild hair and/or grass, but I tried).
  4. Use your resources. Don’t rely on one book to teach you everything that happens in the body. Go to the library, get online, watch videos. There are a ton of resources (even free ones) that may connect the dots for you.

How did you learn anatomy? I’m still open for suggestions…My grasp on the shoulder is still questionable at best, despite all these efforts. But slowly, I’m learning how the body moves and it gives me power!

The First Day of Pilates School

November 1, 2011

I spent 30 minutes picking out my outfit for the first day of Pilates teacher training. I had an idea about what kind of teacher I was going to be and how “she” looked. The varying assembly of distinctive characters gathered that day humbled and surprised me. Everyone came from different backgrounds and had incredible reasons for wanting to study Pilates.

I was most affected by the fact that there were so many physical therapists there. Why? Those are basically doctors, right?

It was immediately overwhelming to realize the kind of learning we’d be doing. This is not your grandmama’s aerobics program. This is your body and how it should be moving. Weekly, daily, hourly. Walking, sitting, standing, sleeping. This is bones, muscles, biomechanics, joints, organs and every other fiber that makes us living. This is science.

Ready or not, here I go!