Continuing Education: Helen New

In early June, renowned Scoliosis specialist Helen New paid a visit to PilatesITC HQ in Perth to deliver a series of Studio sessions and the main event, Curvy Bodies: A Scoliosis Workshop, for WA Instructors and Students.

Pilates is an intelligent system and PilatesITC has the academic edge in vocational training and continuing education, attracting high-profile local and international “movers” to ensure our Pilates family is always learning, in all ways – no matter where you are in your career!

Continuing Ed isn’t “just for” qualified, experienced Instructors; to illustrate this point we sat down with PilatesITC WA Educator and Pilates Practitioner, Lora Rainey and PilatesITC Diploma Student, Nikki Ramm to reflect on their continuing education experience with Helen New.

First thing is first: which events did you attend with Helen New?

Lora: I had a Studio Duet with Helen, and went to the Scoliosis Workshop.

Nikki: I did the Scoliosis Workshop, and was lucky enough to be a body for most of it.

For those who haven’t worked with Helen before, how would you describe her?

Lora: Helen is lovely! She’s warm and approachable. Not surprisingly given her background, she’s a wealth of knowledge and presents very well. I enjoyed her style of delivery: she’s practical and clear.

Nikki: I agree, she was relaxed, very clear, easy to understand and happy to answer questions.

What was your experience with Scoliosis prior to your session(s)?

Lora: My Diploma and Advanced Diploma studies equipped me with a solid base of knowledge; what Helen does is next level and added a whole new practical dimension to working with Scoliosis clients.

Nikki: We’ve covered Scoliosis in our coursework, and I have experience the condition in my own body and how that affects my comfort and functionality. 

Did you have any “lightbulb” moments working with Helen?

Lora: Multiple “Ah-ha” moments! The Duet was particularly valuable for me in terms of my own self-mastery. Under Helen’s direction I found myself able achieve techniques I typically find challenging; a testament to her communication style and smart, intuitive cueing. She’s great at breaking it down and building it up again. Sometimes as Instructors our self-mastery becomes an after-thought, so a Duet like this is useful for reconnecting with our own bodies.

The central theme of the workshop was “de-rotating” people and being able to make strategic corrections on a variety of bodies in motion. It’s a big, complex topic: there was lots of information to absorb and process on the day. When I was in the Studio the following day I felt a bit like a mad scientist because it all clicked into place mentally!

Nikki: I have Scoliosis myself, so the “prop what’s dropped” technique was a revelation! Such a smart way to assist a client with imbalance by propping the body with pads to help realign and provide some relief from that awful, heavy tension.

It’s “Rose and Thorn” time: what was your highlight?

Lora: That next day when the content all clicked into place in my mind. I felt really empowered by everything we learned with Helen.

Nikki: It was a pretty unique situation to be a Scoliosis body for the workshop and a Student simultaneously; so, for me the highlight was gaining a deeper understanding of Scoliosis as an Instructor and in my own body.

Thorn: something you’ve taken away from your session(s) with Helen that you find challenging/you’ll continue to work on?

Lora: It’s not a case of now I know it and pack it away as “done”. Helen has equipped us with fantastic new skills and intelligence, but now the real work begins – identifying opportunities to apply it responsively for clients. That in itself is challenging: understanding this complex condition and applying it safely in the real world.

Nikki: As Lora said, it’s a complex condition and unique to the individual. Learning how to assess other Scoliosis bodies – everyone is different – and understanding how to help them is a big practical challenge. It’s a bit daunting but something I now have a frame of reference for and a place to start, thanks to Helen.

What was your favourite skill/tip/trick for working with Scoliosis clients?

Lora: Even for someone with mild scoliosis, I found some of Helen’s techniques extremely effective in addressing my own neck and back pain. It’s hard for people without Scoliosis to understand, but the element of relief for these clients cannot be underestimated. It’s a game changer for me, I can only imagine how relieving that would be for someone with Scoli more serious than my own!

Nikki: Again, the propping: so simple and effective!

For Instructor Students: a good piece of advice about Scoliosis?

Lora: It’s a 3D posture/condition, so it’s not a one size fits all type deal – that’s why it is so difficult to understand in the context of our undergraduate course work. It’s a LOT to fit into your course.

These are skills we all need, but they need to be applied intelligently. Don’t do something if you don’t fully understand it: especially where it concerns a condition like Scoliosis, you will likely make it worse for the client.

Nikki: The information you take away can be overwhelming, but the best way to understand it and retain it is to put it into practice ASAP. Apply it on friends, family, other students; talk it over and practice and it’ll stick.

Favourite Helen-quote or anecdote?

Lora: I loved her analogies. Especially “the bossy side” as a playful way to reference the imbalance in the Scoli body.

Nikki: I agree! Her analogies were so fun and useful and have stuck in my mind! “Prop what’s dropped!”

Why is it important to do Continuing Education with people like Helen New?

Lora: The learning doesn’t, or shouldn’t, stop when you graduate. We need to invest in this type of learning to protect ourselves, our clients and the reputation of the industry.

Students, don’t be afraid to yourself to throw yourself into it! Instructors who haven’t done Continuing Ed for a while, get back to it!

Invest in learning and understanding from people like Helen, arm yourself with the proper tools and feel powerful for doing so! These sessions are a great way to enhance your learning mix no matter where you are in your career.

Nikki: From a Student’s perspective, the more tools in the Pilates tool box the better! It gives us a competitive edge, makes us more employable and more competent going into the work force. At the end of the day, having these skills will help to attract, retain and make a difference in the lives of a broader range of clients.

Jess The Bird: Pilates Touring + “thinking big”

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!

Your rose?

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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

We’ll keep you up to date on Jess’ travels via @pilatesitc. Or, follow Jess and Anula’s progress direct on Instagram @jessthebirdpilates and @anulamaiberg.

For more information on Pilates Instructor training with PilatesITC in your State or Territory, contact our Student Admin team on (08) 9330 4570 or drop us a line at info@pilatesitc.edu.au.

Anula, Anula, Anula: Why we love her so

Anula, Anula, Anula: Why we love her so

Philosophical, intelligent, and funny: safe to say, we love Anula so we’re thrilled to be the first stop on her first ever visit down under, from 15 – 18 February.

While WA’s, nay Australia’s, Pilates community is buzzing from her imminent arrival, her visit isn’t to solely serve up professional development to WA pros: she’s here for everyone!

But who is Anula Maiberg and why is she so special?

Anula was born in Israel and relocated to New York City in 2001 to pursue photography, but soon experienced a change in professional trajectory, as her interest in and enthusiasm for Pilates morphed into something: a game changer.

Unlike many of those who have come before her, Anula’s Pilates CV reads like holy scripture for Pilates nerds. On paper and in person Anula’s professional experience is enviable and admirable in equal measure, as she’s trained in the most prestigious Pilates lineages (Kathy Grant) and under the biggest names in the business.

Anula graduated from the Kane School for Core Integration (Kinected) in NYC in 2009; the Kathy Grant Heritage Training Program in 2014 and has worked with American Pilates Masters and wisdom keepers, including but not limited to Cara Reeser, Kelly Kane and Deborah Lessen.

Nothing short of amazing.

But a couple of lines in a professional blurb doesn’t do Anula justice!

There’s something transfixing about the way she brings together the traditional elements of Pilates method with modern approaches to movement. She challenges us to question everything about our practice and our bodies, and wraps it all up in a lovely, inclusive package.

She’s of the people, for the people: and we love it. Pilates is, after all, for every body, and this is exactly how she approaches it: as a lifestyle, as a culture, and a method of movement.

Anula is myth-busting and coming in hot with all the big, loaded questions that we need to be asking in order to be better as an industry, as practitioners, and in our own practice:

Where should I be feeling it?

Let’s look at the language we use to discuss our bodies: pain, activation, harm, sensation.

How can we improve our delivery for our clients?

How can we tailor more to their needs so every body really benefits?

And more.

Over three days, Anula will be running workshops, some open to both Pilates Instructors and Clients (general population) including:

 

DAY ONE | Friday 16th Feb. 2017

SESSION ONE: Matwork Masterclass

Clientele: General population and Instructors.
SESSION TWO: Reformer Masterclass

Clientele: General population and Instructors.
SESSION THREE: Workshop

Topic: Where Should I Be Feeling This? Reformer class for uncertain times.

Clientele: Instructors only.

 

DAY TWO | Saturday 17th Feb. 2017

SESSION ONE: Marathon Matwork Masterclass
Clientele: General Population and Pilates Instructors
SESSION TWO: Workshop

Topic: Mythbusting Your Pilates Practice: how to gain or regain confidence on and off the Mat and apparatus. 

Clientele: Pilates Instructors only

 

DAY THREE | Sunday 18th Feb. 2017

SESSION ONE: Reformer Masterclass
Clientele: General Population and Pilates Instructors
SESSION TWO: Workshop

Topic: Thoroughly Modern Mat
Clientele: Pilates Instructors only.

Learn more about available sessions on the PTI website; but hurry, spaces are limited. Studio appointments and observations hours are sold out! Contact Jackie to be placed on the waitlist.

If you would like to learn more about Anula, you can find her work on the Balanced Body blog, and featured on sites like Pilates Glossy International, Pilates Style, and of course her own Sixth Street blog.

She’s a podcast regular too; catch her on What’s Going on With Dance & Stuff, Moving Well, Thinking Pilates Podcast and Pilates Unfiltered, to name a few. Search “Anula Maiberg” or “the potato method”, and there’s no shortage of great, engaging content to enjoy.

Want even more? Check out the following links:

Mr. Pilates:

https://www.facebook.com/orpresmanpilates/videos/1798079126886856/

Marth Graham:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFTNmGBKC2Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA91fGV9LEo

Interview with Deborah Lessen:

https://www.pilatesanytime.com/workshop-view/3252/video/Pilates-Pilates-Industry-Questions-by-Deborah-Lessen

Skillful Teaching Podcast:

http://skillfulteaching.com/ep_43_where_history_art_and_potatoes_collide_a_lesson_anula_maiberg/

Kathy Grant and Ron Fletcher:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2BSt3zjdxs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNvOkoZ5D8o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU75SbVOCYM

Letter to Eva Hesse from Sol LeWitt:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTGvbhqWoFI