HKI > RA > PAR > LDN > SYD > BALI
Six weeks, six cities and a blistering schedule: it reads like a Pilates rock tour (coincidentally, the trip was informally called “The Pilates Rockstar Tour”). But for PilatesITC Faculty Mentor Jessica Romano, it was all business assisting Anula Maiberg on her European tour.
We sat down with Jess to chat about her trip, “thinking big” and more:
Welcome back to Perth! How are you feeling after such a marathon trip?
Pretty good! It’s good to be home and reset for a minute*; see the family, catch up with Students, (my clients are my students) and the team.
It was an intense experience, super tightly scheduled and there wasn’t much time for rest but we had such good momentum so we just worked through it.
*Jess is off for an eight-week, US tour with Anula in early June.
What exactly did you get up to?
Worked hard! Travelled and assisted Anula with professional development workshops and masterclasses for Pilates Teachers. Drank a lot of coffee. Laughed heaps. Made new friends. Saw rad places. Every minute was full. It was a great time!
For those who aren’t across your friendship “origin story”; you and Anula met after her visit to Perth with Pilates Training Institute in February 2018 and started working together following this.
This was your second tour with Anula, how have you found your friendship and working relationship has evolved?
We speak between visits so when we get the opportunity to see each other in person we work well. Our friendship goes from strength to strength every trip.
I have worked hard to contribute to and be a part of sessions on this tour. Talking to and working with an international audience of Pilates Teachers is a big deal for me personally and for my career. It means a lot to be given the opportunity to travel and learn from someone who’s opinion I respect and care about.
The learning from Anula never stops. There’s always so much and then so much more. Touring with her has reminded me of the power of observation and how to be a student. Watching someone like Anula is quite a learning opportunity.
Participating myself is an added bonus. I’m always wide-eyed and ready to play ball. I was given the opportunity to teach a few exercises throughout the tour which culminated in teaching a full class during our time in Bali. It’s always a daunting experience when you’re putting your skills on the line, but it’s the only way to learn, reflect and improve.
Being in each other’s pocket all day every day for six weeks would be challenging for any strong relationship, did you ever fight or get sick of each other?
I think when you’re around someone 24/7 and within five inches of them at all times, you learn to respect each other’s space and when they (or you) need time out. We didn’t kill each other so I take that as a good sign!
Let’s play “thorn and rose”. What was the thorn of your trip?
This is a tough question! There wasn’t one stand out low light: every day had its own challenge. Anything from the travel logistics to scheduling, self-care or just navigating cultural differences in the Pilates Studio.
If you were following my or Anula’s social media during the trip you might have seen the clip of Vito – he’s a legend, on the Swedish Bars when we were in Italy and how difficult the language barrier could be.
However, as we are teachers of movement skills and a method of exercise, there is a universal non-verbal understanding of how to try to participate in what is being taught. Relying on a translator had difficult moments for everyone involved. Disruption of communication flow is inevitable but it also made it equally tough for the person doing Pilates. Laura, our translator, was such a good help!
If I was to summarise I would have to say that a trip like this is wholly positive because it challenges your perspective and makes you have to think a lot about why, what and how you are teaching. This kind of thinking applies equally to teaching in a small studio to a conference, and even the state of the industry. Lots of productive thinking and some not-so, but it’s all relevant in the end.
Actually, one stand out was teaching Pilates gymnastics on the Mat and apparatus. Swedish Legs, handstands and backbends all the way!
Biggest take away from the trip?
It has made me think deeply about what our job is. More specifically, where Pilates stands as a Method and in what context. What are we teaching people to do?
At the beginning of nearly every session Anula will ask a group of teachers “What is your job?” and for some people it is a tough question to answer. It’s ok to not have an answer straight away – but this should spark your curiosity to find out why you don’t have one!
I’m interested in the evolution of the Pilates Method from what Mr Pilates created to what we have today and where it will go from here.
What about two pieces of advice for PilatesITC Student Instructors?
- Self-practice. Do it. Do Pilates and be ready to move in other ways.
Pilates is an exercise methodology. The best way to learn and learn to teach is to try something out in your own body. Even if you try and potentially fail. It gives you something to work for. As Teachers, it is easy to become caught up in only teaching and participating in what we enjoy. Get uncomfortable sometimes and be ok with it.
- Ask questions and be curious: of yourself, peers and Mentors.
Challenge yourself in the process to find out why. After all, becoming a Teacher isn’t about teaching a bunch of Pilates-type exercises, anyone can do that. Quality education is about understanding the systems, knowing the Method and teaching with that in mind.
Thanks for your time Jess. Safe travels for the US leg, we can’t wait to see what you guys get up to!
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