Pandemic Pilates

Summary: Laura Gunder reflects on how connections made during the pandemic helped her focus on her Pilates practice and deepen her understanding of the system, ultimately improving both her own physicality and her teaching skills.

 

Teaching Pilates during a Pandemic

Covid-19 threw us challenges that none of us ever imagined. But paradoxically, this crazy time also gave me the opportunity to focus on my Pilates practice and truly deepen my understanding of the work!

I received my classical Pilates certification through Jennifer Deluca, owner of BodyTonic Gymnasium in Brooklyn, NY, and finished my apprenticeship in the midst of the pandemic. This presented many challenges in terms of digesting the materials and putting them into practice, as studios shut down and clients stayed home. In my search for an online Pilates community and new clients to teach, I met Katie Yip, owner of Paradigm Studio in NYC, who quickly became my friend and mentor. If it weren’t for the pandemic and social media, we might never have met!

Katie’s love for the Pilates method is infectious and inspired me to go much deeper into Joe’s work. Throughout the pandemic, Katie and her community of teachers helped me develop my curiosity about the Pilates method and learn so much more, working together online and in the studio.

The constraints of the pandemic helped me build a consistent Pilates practice for myself, with daily workouts in addition to my teaching. Following a regular physical and mental routine helped me feel more grounded. Doing the work more consistently myself deepened my understanding of the exercises and the method, which in turn helped me make more thoughtful exercise choices for my clients.

One client in particular really challenged me to think beyond the cookie-cutter order of reformer and mat workouts. My work with this client showed me that Pilates is so much more than a list of exercises and that each exercise has its place in the overall system. Once you understand the framework, you can work within the system to fit the needs of the specific body in front of you. The system suits everybody, and with the correct exercise selection, every client can achieve success.

Pandemic Pilates

For example, my client could not execute Short Box in the traditional way. From my understanding of the system as long as you fulfill the purpose of the exercise, it can be executed on another apparatus. Instead of using the Short Box, I had my client use the Ladder Barrel. She faced the ladder with her feet on the frame and her back against the barrel. This set her up for success, giving her the ability to execute the articulation, flat back, side to side, and rotation needed for the Short Box. She then proceeded with her Tree, holding onto the Ladder Barrel handles and executing Leg Stretch Front, which fulfilled the stretch and balance aspect of the Tree. Once she built the length in her back and openness in her hips and lower back, she progressed to using the Short Box longways and is now able to execute the short box series short ways. Seeing firsthand how the Pilates system can be adapted to the individual client was a game-changer for me.

The Pilates community that sustained me through this pandemic has been incredibly kind, smart, curious, and hard-working. Pilates is an endless endeavor, and I am constantly learning and being challenged to think critically by my teachers and clients. The pandemic may have disrupted our lives, but it also brought us together in new ways.

My advice is to invest in continuing in your Pilates education because there are so many talented teachers willing to share their knowledge and love for the work. I am so grateful to be a part of this strong community – we uplift and push each other to be better every day!


Laura Gunder is a classically trained Pilates instructor based in New York City. Always a student, Laura continues her training/education under Enja Schenck and the close mentorship of Katie Yip. Laura completed her 500 hours of comprehensive training under the guidance of Jennifer Deluca. Laura’s introduction to Pilates comes from her experience and history as a professional ballet dancer — searching for a complimentary cross-training method to supplement her dancing. Trained in the Balanchine method at the School of American Ballet in NYC, Laura went on to dance professionally with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Kansas City Ballet before transitioning her focus to Pilates education. Laura also earned her BA from The New School with a concentration in global studies, race and ethnicity, and sociology. Laura is passionate about helping her clients - of all ages and experience levels - deepen their understanding and connection to their bodies and physical selves. Using the classical Pilates method, Laura tailors each session to the body in front of her, learning as much from them as they do from her. Laura is currently teaching privately at Equinox Dumbo and Paradigm Studio located on the Upper Eastside.

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