Please let me introduce myself. My name is Adia Callahan. The professional bio reads something like: wife and mother, business owner, and fitness professional. In real life, my bio is more like: the keeper of all household bathrooms, a person who is desperately seeking balance, and a believer in the power of movement. Add in a woman who is deathly afraid of writing anything for public consumption, and you can tie a bow around me.
With that said, let’s talk about diversity.
When an organization talks about diversity, most will think Race – Black, Sex – “Oh My!” But I’d like to change this conversation to include Pilates and teaching styles. Coming into the Pilates universe, diversity of teaching styles can be a hot topic and not welcoming to potential instructors. It can feel close-minded and “judgey.” That “this is the way we have always done it” vibe.
I am relatively new to Pilates, both as a practitioner and instructor, but I am a vet at movement, and I am proud to announce that I cut my teeth in the gyms. That is my foundation. I embrace that some people move to become stronger or look good as part of their training or all of the above. One is not necessarily better than the other. It is just the reason someone chooses to work out. And because of my foundation in movement, my teaching style reflects such.
So what does my contemporary Pilates teaching style look like? Simply put, it is practical, safety and purpose-focused, plus it has to be a workout.
Practical: I am not/was not a dancer, nor are most of my clients. Dancing has a strong anchor in Pilates which I do respect. However, I am looking at Pilates from a more practical point of view. To be frank, many of my clients ride a desk during their waking hours, and having them point their toes is probably the most plantar flexion they have experienced all week. As a non-dancer Pilates instructor, I am looking for/observing imbalances, triggering movement patterns, and strength/mobility/stability through breathing, core engagement, and focus. Aren’t most instructors doing the same?
Safety & Purpose: Is it safe, and does it make sense? That is my checklist for all movements, not just Pilates. In that order. I coach the heck out of safety, and no matter how interesting the exercise, I have to feel good about putting you into it. And does it make sense? Yes, because there is a purpose to the movement. I can understand that it may not be the way another instructor might “do it,” but I am committed to the purpose of what I am asking my client to do.
Workout: I do believe that Pilates can be a workout. I want most of my clients to leave their sessions feeling good, worked out, and wanting to come back for more. My clients sweat, they get stronger, and they improve their overall balance. My sessions are getting logged in the fitness app for sure!
That is my teaching style, which I do believe my clients benefit from and appreciate. Like most instructors, I work on my continuing education to enhance my knowledge, try very hard to take other instructor classes to expand my personal practice, (and to freshen up sequencing), and remind myself to be open to different teaching styles as I want to continue improving my own. Why? Because I too, am serious about my craft and my profession. Although my teaching style might not be your cup of tea, the good news is that’s ok. Instructors attract clients who are attracted to their teaching style. As instructors, we must remind ourselves that diversity in movement truly is not a one size fits all approach, and Pilates is a form of movement.
Next time you enter a gym or studio, find the class, instructor, and modality that brings you joy from the inside out, and don’t worry if you’re making the right “shape” or pointing your toes hard enough.