Muscle Madness: designing the Pilates body
I swear, it seems like the more you know... the more you realize you don't know. I dive into continuing education with so much excitement but always leave workshops feeling the same... like I don't know what I'm doing. Before I ever feel empowered by the new information overwhelming my brain, I get so filled with self-doubt. The worst is feeling as if I've been cheating my clients! Ughh... the guilt!
But then, clarity steps in and I see the bright side.
- I'm reminded that I've chosen a really exciting career that keeps me constantly challenged and constantly evolving into a better and more effective teacher.
- It makes me more appreciative of the brilliance of the Pilates Method.
- It makes me marvel at the human body, it's intelligent design and it's ability to heal itself .
- It makes me value the information I do have because it creates the foundation for a deeper understanding of Pilates and how the body works.
- It enhances my own personal Pilates practice and, ultimately, the way I feel in my body.
So, what humbling workshop did I take recently? I took another workshop in Active Isolated Stretching. I previously trained with Jim and Phil Wharton in NYC but this workshop was led by Marjorie Brook who is a protegee of Aaron Mattes, the creator and developer of AIS. WOW! It's amazing how you can practice something for years and realize you've only scratched the surface of truly understanding it.
Perhaps you're wondering why I keep blogging about Active Isolated Stretching on my Pilates blog. Well, AIS, like Pilates, is an intelligent and comprehensive system of work designed to restore postural balance. And without using the exact same terminology it, too, is guided by principles of precision, flow, breath, centering, concentration and control. I also believe that flexibility training is the most neglected component of fitness and it's impossible for muscles to be strong when they're not also flexible. Plus, AIS trains your eye to find muscular imbalances, faulty muscle recruitment and identify the exact muscles that are implicated. That kind of understanding helps you to make more informed choices about which Pilates exercise might benefit you or your client. Or, which muscles to avoid training because it might exacerbate chronic pain patterns or pre-existing conditions. To me, AIS is the perfect adjunct to Pilates just as cardiovascular exercise is important.
Anyway, next on my continuing education list is a chair workshop with Ana Caban at In & Up Pilates here in Los Angeles. I can't wait! You may know of Ana as one of GAIAM's Pilates Video Stars. But, I've know her since we were about 6 years old. We grew up together and, after all these years, I've never taken a Pilates session with her. I can't wait! And I'm already prepared to feel dumb... but not for long.
Like most Pilates Instructors I feel like a constant work in progress; always looking to learn and grow more. Growth sometimes includes the pain of challenging what we already know and understand to be true. It may mean humbling ourselves to expand our mind to new ideas and perhaps making shifts in the way we teach. But this process of learning, exchanging ideas, and exposing ourselves to different approaches to teaching will help mold us into the effective teachers we strive to be.
Rock Your Powerhouse!