Excitement levels were high as five local Tahoe women, including myself, wrapped up Pilates Apparatus 1 training. We were all looking forward to seeing each other again and accomplishing the next phase of our coursework, Reformer 2 training, the following weekend.
That didn’t happen for us, at least not in the traditional sense as the unprecedented novel virus swept our globe. Before I had been able to give much thought to what would happen next, how I would finish my training, and how I could maintain my connection with the Pilates instruction world, Balanced Body acclimated to the worlds current affairs and enabled us to continue our training, with a spin.
Undoubtedly, we’ve all made adaptations recently in response to a decision many of us didn’t think we’d ever have to make, and that has tested our ability to respond, a theme I find common in Pilates. I was on track to finish my comprehensive Pilates training by August, just in time to move to Oregon to start school at the National University of Natural Medicine. With slight disappointment, I realized that I would not finish Pilates training in time to move, and accepted the World’s terms that I would have to find a studio in Oregon to finish my training.
About one week later I received an email from Natalie Garcia at Purely Pilates saying that they were working closely with Balanced Body to find ideas and solutions to continuing trainings online. I was ecstatic! By the first week of May I started Mat 1 training virtually with Master Instructor Taylor Lamanna. I was apprehensive to doing my trainings via Zoom. Admittedly, I am not a very tech savvy person and part of what I love about in-person trainings is the hands-on instruction and feedback from the teachers. However, after day 1 of zoom mat training I completely changed my mind and will continue to do any trainings that don’t involve equipment virtually.
I have now completed my Mat 1 and 2 trainings via zoom and cannot say enough positive things about them. First of all, in those 2 trainings I have worked with women of such diverse backgrounds from all over the world. I have worked with women from Wisconsin, Vermont, New York, Florida, even a woman from Pakistan who stayed up and sacrificed her nights to be able to attend the trainings with a difference in time zones. Some of these women were professional dancers, physical therapists, prior fitness instructors or studio owners who were motivated to go through training for personal accomplishment. Nonetheless, A POWERHOUSE OF WOMEN!
I felt so inspired after both of my trainings. Being able to share knowledge and learn from each other, especially with everyone’s backgrounds, was a unique experience. Ultimately, I believe this untraditional training and diverse group of pupils will make us all better instructors as we move through our trainings. The format of the virtual trainings is much like that of in person trainings. We arrive (from the comfort of your own home) at 8am and go through our introductions, review our principles and dive right into learning exercises. Going into the virtual training aspect of the course is something that I was unclear about how to do. How would we practice teaching to each other?
During the main Introduction and while learning the new exercises we can all see each other on the main screen. The instructor can screen share so we can see the notes and pages that she is referring to. After learning 3-4 new exercises we split off into what is referred to as “breakout rooms”. The instructor anonymously splits us off into groups of 2 or 3 where we take turns teaching to one another and sharing feedback. Before starting virtual trainings I thought that my teaching practice would not be as pure if I couldn’t touch the person in front of me. In reality the hardest part about teaching is the cueing and verbal aspect of it. I have heard many advanced teachers say that when they began teaching they would do all the movements with their students so they could feel the nature of movement to better explain them.
Well, when you take away the pressure of manually correcting a student or being in person to do the movement with them, you are left with only cues. How you explain and cue the movements is the bread and butter of teaching and I noticed myself getting a lot of great practice with this throughout my virtual trainings. Overall, I cannot wait to get back into the studio and use the skills provided through virtual training, but once again I have been astonished by the Pilates community to persevere through adversity without missing the heartbeat of world as it continues to orbit unchanged by our human condition.