There’s a first for everything and last week I did my first podcast with the wonderful Joel B. New on his podcast, Something New. We discussed what it’s like to be a singing, dancing, acting, Pilates instructor and then sang one of Joel’s songs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!