Pilates Training and the Pilates Police

This is a topic that comes up from time to time in the studio and runs rampant online. The question may be “Who trained you?” or “Where did you get your credentials?” These are fair questions … but the answer doesn’t really tell you everything you need to know as a potential student or fellow teacher. Many of us, myself included, received one form of Pilates training … possibly what was most convenient, affordable or available for us. But, many of us, myself included, have continued to pursue additional training, work with different instructors or schools of thought and practice. If you simply ask where did you study or who was your original teacher, you would miss learning about all the additional scope and expertise gained post initial training.

A family friend used to ask of each of his doctors, “What number where you in your graduating class?” His theory – in any given class there is the best of the best and the last place person who may have just barely passed. He wanted the best handling his health. While I’m sure this question was quite obnoxious to his doctors, he had a point. Two people with the same degree don’t necessarily have the same skill level. I am sure the same can be said in Pilates – not all graduates are the same and equally qualified.

This brings me to my next topic – the Pilates Police. As a student, you are probably fairly immune to this but as an instructor it does rear it’s ugly head from time to time. It’s any number of other Pilates instructors judging or looking down on another’s approach and practice. At times it’s an instructor holding tightly to the classical Pilates teachings and leaving no room for growth and expansion to accommodate the body at hand. Or it’s a teacher silo’d in their own school of teaching and unwilling to see the beauty of other schools of thought and approaches.

I can say when I first become a certified teacher, I believed the way I learned Pilates was the right way. Period. Upon my travels, I’d take other classes and see Pilates being done ‘wrong’. Now as a more seasoned Teacher, I am able to see different isn’t wrong. There is often more than one way to accomplish the desired result and one size certainly does not fit all. The only time Pilates is taught wrong in my opinion is when it puts students at risk for injury or worsens a condition already existing. It makes sense in the beginning that we cling to what we know. It’s our safety net. But once we learn to challenge the work, experience the work … the real learning beginnings!  For me – it is less about you looking perfect in a movement and more about finding the perfect movements for your body.

Why all the questions about schools, training, and the policing of each other? I honestly believe it comes from a place of insecurity and a lack of experience. The more I’ve learned the more I have evolved. I’ve changed how I do certain movements. I’ve added to what I teach. I’ve tailored and broken down movements for specific students. Am I doing some movements that maybe Joe did not do? Most certainly! But I have a hunch if presented with the same student and asked to address the same issues – Joe would approve of what I am doing. I have the benefit of more years of science and discoveries about the body than Joe did … I’d be foolish to turn my back on that. And I’m still very much a student… learning myself. I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes and may make some more. The key is I don’t think I know it all – none of us do! I haven’t finished my education – none of us should!

So yes you should ask if your instructor is certified and well trained but then let the experience you have tell you the rest!

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