Blues Schmooze

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Happy New Year!!! What are your 2015 resolutions? To workout more? To eat better? To get a new job, a new boyfriend, a new life? Oh the pressure. Of a resolution. All this, New Year, New You bullshit stresses us to pull new habits out of our ass like a rabbit out of a hat. Look — don’t get me wrong: I’m all for improvement and betterment of self. Hell, it’s what I do all day between teaching people Pilates and motivating others to create the businesses and lives of their dreams. My issue lies not with the good intention but instead with the peer pressure from society. Such constant nagging to make giant grandiose plans of improvement only lead us down the path of good intentions with no result which only makes you bury your head in shame for giving up just weeks later.

There’s an actual phenomenon, coined by a British doctor for travel firm in hopes of selling vacation packages to Bora Bora and other sunny locales, called Blue Monday. Since its inception in 2005 the concept has been debunked, even by the good doctor himself, but Blue Monday, or the last Monday in January, is supposed to be THE most depressing day of the year. Despite being bogus, it still resonates. This time of year the weather is crap-tacular, the lack of sunshine and vitamin D starts to take it’s toll, you’ve been eating like a bear preparing to hibernate, and you just got your credit card bills from the holiday. Basically, January is one big Christmas hangover.

So, while all of those facts may be true, so many of us still try to make resolutions each year with renewed hope that somehow this year they’ll stick. Years ago I swore off resolutions myself in favor or creating words that set a tone for how I want to feel all year. I find it helpful to keep looking back at them when I feel lost or frustrated by the way my life is muddling along, and use them as redirection back to where I want to be. And while my strategy is good for not setting oneself up for failure with dreaded resolutions or empty goals, it’s not really a roadmap on how to get from New Year hope to real results.
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One of my favorite business strategists, Derek Halpern, just released a series of blogs titled, Be The Exception. Derek’s mother was on welfare, married to a drug addict, and had never been to college. Derek’s grandmother gave his mom a second chance by sending her back to school. Despite the odds his mom turned things around — going to school, working full time, and raising two kids, bringing them up to a comfy middle class existence without drugs and poverty, but she is the exception. How many times have you heard sad stories of people who have had terrible things happen to them, or maybe those terrible things have happened to you, but they just can’t pull themselves up to the challenge. What is it that separates those who rise above and those who just sink lower?

 

Well, desire for change is first and foremost. Hitting bottom with your situation or finally getting fed up enough to do something about it is key. Do you want change bad enough? Change is never the easy road so you have to want it. The first part originates within, second part is the external pressure. How many times have you had a great idea or even a deep dark dream that you choose excitedly to share only to be poo poo-ed by some well meaning friend or family member with a pat on the hand and a little, “When are you going to get a real job?” Same goes for big lifestyle changes like curbing your drinking or choosing kale over Kobe beef. Your peers who want change too but aren’t really willing to work for it. Your change threatens their lack of motivation. They will try to coerce you to stay back down at their level and “Just have just one,” or “come on! you only live once!” Misery loves company.

The thing is that the real hurdle to your dreams and realized resolutions is not the advertising industry, society, circumstances, or even your friends and family, but you. YOU are the biggest obstacle to your dreams. So stop the excuses and get your butt in gear. Want to workout more, just do it. Don’t lament about last week when you ate a whole box of Ho Ho’s with your butt glued to your couch. Today is a new day and a new chance to be the exception to the rule. Get up get moving and walk confidently in the direction of your dreams. The road to being a bad ass is not a straight one without any hills. Climb that shit and remember that anything worth having is worth working for.

 

JAY_SULLIVAN_PHOTOGRAPHER-3613Lindsay Lopez is a dynamic force of nature. Years in tutus and tights paid off with wild success as a dancer and actress. Years in the “biz” taught her that dreams can come true, with plenty of planning and TONS of action to back them up. With a vision of helping her fellow instructors make what they deserve and live a life they love, Lindsay created FORM Pilates Union Square to focus on trainers rather than the clientele. The result was a workspace for teachers who love to teach and clients love to learn. Although Lindsay teachers less and less, she is breathing new life into a stale industry. Her wish is to provide her peers with the business training they so desperately need. As a positive coach and gutsy mentor, Lindsay Lopez is changing the Pilates business for the better.

 

 

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What the Fuck is Pilates Anyway?

In a conversation with a couple of clients over brunch, I realized how little people know about what Pilates is — even those who actually practice it.

As I took the time to ponder this anomaly, I started wonder what is Pilates anyway?

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There’s the textbook answer: Joe Pilates was an actual man. A boxer, gymnast, movement enthusiast. He was an inventor, an innovator. A man’s man. A beer-drinking, cigar-smoking German. My clients all have that basic knowledge, and maybe some of the New York lineage. “Yes, Romana, she’s the Pilates guru,” but that’s really it. As I sat explaining the roots of Pilates, its foundation, family tree, and my line, I realized that it still doesn’t really explain what it actually is. SO, if Pilates isn’t the people that created it or teach it, what the fuck is Pilates anyway?

 

It might be easiest to start with what Pilates isn’t. It’s not yoga, or ballet-based. It’s not weight training, or just mat work. Pilates falls somewhere between mind/body modalities and cross fit. It’s not extreme or passive. It stretches, strengthens, energizes, relaxes, and heals all at the same time. There’s equipment involved, and while it’s most beneficial if you use it, you don’t have to if you want to do some Pilates.

 

No wonder Pilates is confuIMG_4501sing to most people — even to it’s instructors. We come from all different backgrounds — from dancers to dog trainers — and hold certifications from different schools in over 20 states and 24 international countries. It was Joe’s dream to have a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, in every country. The thing with expansion is that the more hands you have on something the more it morphs and changes, and some say, mutates. Joe used to give each person their own personal workout and then let them loose in the studio nudging and elbowing them into correct form. So whatever Pilates was for the business man that came to the studio, it may not be the same for the ballerina next to him. The definition of Pilates wasn’t the same for him as it was for her.

 

Here’s where the family tree grows branches and spreads it’s seeds across the world, making Joe’s dream come true. Many hands, many amalgamations. But isn’t that what their experience warranted? The industry gets bogged down with arguments and “discussions” on who’s actually teaching the true work of Joe, but really who the heck knows what Joe would do if he were alive today? He would probably be sitting back, sipping a cold one, and laughing at all the money in the bank.

 

 

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Guest Post: I AM a Pilates Nerd. (The one who created the brand)

If you would have told me two years ago that I would create a ‘brand’ that would be distributed and wholesaled internationally, get picked up by a major Pilates retailer, and make people smile with knowing enthusiasm, I never would have believed you.

In fact, I would have been really scared to try.

 

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It all started with a logo, a blog idea, and one t-shirt. But even before that, it began with a declaration I read in a blog:

“Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself”.     – Seth Godin

Pick yourself.  What?

I’d have to say this idea of picking myself – of creating my own path, changed my thinking and how I see myself in the Pilates world.  Beyond teaching my own students, I hadn’t allowed myself to think I could offer more to the Pilates community.  But if you’ve ever sat down with a copy of Return to Life, you know that Joe Pilates’ discipline was all about pushing yourself.

I’ve been teaching Pilates for 16 years. Some of those years in the trenches were admittedly not my best work. I spent too much time comparing my teaching skills with others and defending my philosophies.

Now I think I wasted so much time not allowing other facets of my creativity come to light.

It turns out it was the shirt, especially the logo, that made an impact on people. What’s surprising is I wasn’t expecting to build a small apparel brand, but that’s what happened. Ultimately, connecting people who feel as passionate about Pilates I do, is the most satisfying part of Pilates Nerd.

While I write this I am knee deep in online orders, preparing another wholesale order, and getting ready for my first big Pilates conference as an exhibitor.  It’s overwhelming not just because of the crazy workload in addition to my teaching, but because there is so much about the apparel business I am still learning!

Believe it or not, I have yet to assert myself and make it widely known that I am, in fact the face behind the brand.

It’s daunting to admit that I created every shirt, every post, and every item.  Mainly because it’s scary to fail, scary to be judged, and scary not to have control. (Insert Contrology joke).

I think we were born to create, to move people and to connect with people. The challenge is finding our niche and following through. Part of the bigger picture is this: we get on the mat and apparatus week after week and you never know what you can do until you try…that’s half the fun of it. So, be patient and move through the fear.

“…Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

Thanks Mr. Pilates, that’s a quote to live by – body, mind and spirit – for sure!

image1Raised in upstate NY and now a Southern California local, Karen Ellis is the owner and director of Prana Pilates in Costa Mesa. She began her journey of movement in ballet, earned a BS from Indiana University and received an MFA from the University of California Irvine. After a professional ballet career in Boston concluded with injuries, a passion for healing the body and new career in Pilates was born.

In 2013 Karen created Pilates Nerd®, a company designed to celebrate Pilates through apparel, accessories and shared sentiments.  The simple goal of her idea is to generate enthusiasm for the benefits of Pilates and help connect people.

 

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Surprise, I’m Not Perfect!

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In business like in life, shit happens to remind you that you are human, fallible, and destructible. The roads of failure and success intertwine. So there is bound to be a little collision here and there. Typically, there’s no celebration or party for our faux pas, but there should be. See, without falling there can be no getting up…and it’s the getting up that makes all the difference.

I have been running my own business now for just over 3 years, and have had more slip-ups than an entire summer on a slip-n-slide. I didn’t go to a college, earn a fancy MBA, or start my business with unlimited capital. No ma’am. My journey into entrepreneurial-ship was purely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants predicament. In my insecurity I did the research, read the books, and joined the business clubs to boost my mastery of business ownership. Being surrounded by fabulous women (some with degrees and success, some without) I quickly learned that no matter how much you hit the books there’s no replacement for being kicked in the ass by your business itself. The first time it happens you feel like the wind has been knocked out of you and that you may just be down for the count, but you get back up and keep on punching.

So if failing is inevitable and mistakes are unpreventable, why don’t we just learn to embrace it? Can you ride the wave of fuck-ups and still bring home a success of a business? When the shit hits the fan and you’re the one that was responsible for throwing it, can you forgive, forget, and move on? Certainly. And the health of your business depends on it.

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  • Reflect, Review, and Redo

In my case, I wasn’t completely aware of my mess up until it was the size of the Sierra Mountain range. By the time I was busted on my goof, it was too late to fix it. While you can’t take back the missteps, you can choose to do better now that you know better. Take the time to reflect on the situation. Can you see what your part in the debacle was? If your mess up included other people take a second to feel what they feel, empathize with how being on the back-end of the blow out must feel. Then, make a plan to do a reboot next time. Learn from your mistakes but never regret. One day you will realize that sometimes the wrong choices bring us to just the right places.

  • Bury the hatchet

In my journey to forgive myself, I have realized the importance of letting myself off the hook. Look, if you’ve done the damage either to yourself and/or to others punching yourself in the gut over it will just well, causes more hurt. Take some time to let bygones be bygones and heal so you can learn and grow. Be careful not to make this one failure bleed into the entirety of your being. Sure, you had a fuck-up on this particular day, in this particular situation, with this particular person. Does it mean you are utterly inept and should just throw in the towel? No way! Step away from the edge and give yourself a big “I’m sorry” hug.

  • Throw a Screw-up Soiree

So once you’ve learned the lesson and then forgave the offender, aka you, it’s time to shake that shit off! Put on some rockin’ tunes and shake your bootie! Treat yourself to a healthy homemade meal. Celebrate that you are SO self-aware, SO sorry that you messed up, and SO sure that you will make mistakes again. The most important difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people never interpret failure as the last word on the subject. Reward yourself for putting it out there and trying. Next time, and there will be a next time, remember a failure is just a try that didn’t work.

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Three Reasons People Are Afraid To Try Pilates — And Why You Shouldn’t Be

I’m not gonna lie. Pilates is hard. I was a professional dancer before I came to Pilates and I still thought it damn hard when I started. Sure, I had the coordination thing down already but I still had to re-learn how to move the Pilates way and that, my friend, was not easy. From a teaching stand-point, I try to convey this struggle to my clients. They will merely roll their eyes in disbelief and say, “Sure, your teaser looks like you have been doing it since you came out of the womb.” Not the case. When I started taking lessons I couldn’t do a roll-up to save my life because my lower back was locked solid from years of butt-clenching at the ballet barre. I find it particularly irritating to dispel all of the Pilates rumors and try to convince men that there really was a man who created the work and it was not a flouncy ballerina in a tutu. So, if you’ve been interested in trying that thing called Pilates this article is for you. Pilates is a challenge, but anything worth having is always worth working for isn’t it?

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  • Reason #1 – Pilates is just for dancers and women

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the method. To dispel the rumors correctly let me give you a quick history lesson. Joe Pilates was an actual person who was very much a manly man. He was a boxer and a gymnast who smoked cigars and drank beer. There was nothing girly about this German powerhouse. The first studio in the US was opened in NYC, and just happened to be in the same building as two of the biggest dance companies. When dancers heard that Uncle Joe on the 5th floor was helping heal injuries and strengthen weak muscles, they jumped right on that. Dancers became some of his biggest devotees not because the work was dance-like, but instead because they danced better and healed themselves with the work. When your body is your source of income, it is indispensable. In the modern Pilates studio, men may feel intimidated by all the ladies in the house. They shouldn’t. In that very first Pilates studio, business men were sweating it out right next to the dancers under Joe’s watchful eye. Remember, this was the 1920s and most women were home with the babies and didn’t seem concerned with working out. Men dominated the studio and Joe knew just how to work with them since he created the method for himself and well, he is the man.

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  • Reason #2 – I’ll look stupid/awkward/feel embarrassed/or won’t be good at it

Ok, let’s just say that anytime you try to learn a new skill there’s going to be a learning curve. No one jumps on a bike for the first time and pedals away. Sure, some of us pick up certain things faster than others but we’ve all fallen, stumbled, or tripped along the way so you’re not alone. Learning Pilates is no different. It’s something you have NEVER done and it’s NOT like anything else so duh, it’s going to be a challenge. The thing is, it’s not about getting somewhere or reaching some illusive Pilates level. No way, Jose! It’s about the movement, and in that moment, being present with each muscle and sensation. Learning to coordinate those movements together to work your body (the only one you’ll have in this lifetime btw), to its most efficient, healthiest self. Plus, Pilates instructors don’t see all of those so-called missteps. We’re trained to be so focused on what YOU need as the individual and how to give you that. We aren’t really paying attention to nervousness. We just want you to work hard no matter how it looks. So, feel a little awkward. Maybe even be a little embarrassed. But don’t give up because Pilates is one of the BEST things you can do for your self.

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  • Reason #3 – I don’t have the right body type or I’m too old

Joe’s biggest dream was that there would be a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, all over the world. What he didn’t envision, was that only skinny, anorexic-looking women would be doing his method. Nuh uh. He had fantasies of kids doing Pilates in school, elderly men standing tall for the first time in years, and sedentary office workers getting color in their cheeks from finally getting their blood pumping. Pilates is for everyone and every body. It is safe enough for the 80 year old or the injured; it is challenging enough for those pro-dancers and athletes. In archival documents and interviews Joe Pilates never talks about muscles or bones but rather breath and blood. He wasn’t promising flat abs or a perky ass, but optimal health and space for your organs to do their thing without obstacles. Feeling good was waaaay more important than looking it. So, whether you’re a super model or a just the average Joe — Pilates IS right for you!

In short there is really no good reasons not to be doing Pilates, so get over yourself and get into the studio. I promise you’ll thank me. If you’re in New York, schedule your New Client Special here at FORM Pilates USQ here!

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Teacher Focus Feature ~ Jamie Graham

Last night, Jamie and I sat sharing a cocktail and trying to determine how long we’ve actually known each other. Although we couldn’t decide on the exact number, we agreed that we’ve shared most of our time here in the Big Apple together, working in the Pilates industry. Jamie was once my boss, and now she’s working out of my space. Jamie is the perfect mix of ball-buster and cheerleader as a Pilates instructor. If only I could be so lucky as to spend the next 6, 7, or infinite years teaching next to this amazing woman! Here’s Jamie’s story…

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Jamie first encountered Pilates when she was trying to get ahead in ballet school at Virginia School of the Arts. She remembers sweating it out on the reformer, under the eagle-eye of Gayla Zukovich, with her long finger nails poking her in the stomach demanding her abs pull in and up! Pilates was the perfect supplement to her dance training. It helped her better understand how her body worked and build strength and flexibility. When Jamie was doing a year of post-graduate study at CODARTS/Rotterdamse Dansacedmie she had the honor to study with master instructor, Marjorie Oron, and it was then that she decided to get certified and complete the certification program with Romana’s Pilates.

As a dedicated devotee, Jamie practices Pilates weekly and also studies Alexander technique with Jean McClelland and Klein technique with Barbara Mahler. Her favorite thing about the Pilates method is being able to help her clients experience the joy and benefits of movement within the safety of the Pilates work. She is especially good at getting her clients to work deeply while continuing to move and experience the flow of one exercise leading into the next.

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When Jamie isn’t in the Pilates studio, you can find her in the dance studio. She’s part of a dance/comedy improv duo called The Raving Jaynes. The Jaynes, Amy Larimer and Ms. Graham, create shows based on audience suggestion using improvised dance and theater. For more info on where you can catch their show click here. Jamie also works with Jenny Rocha & her painted ladies, a dance company that fuses dance, theater, physical comedy, and burlesque. They shimmy and shake every Saturday at the Galapagos Art Space’s Floating Kabarette. Shameless plugs aside, Jamie can usually be found catching a show, tossing a frisbee at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, or sneaking off to the Hudson Valley for a little R&R.

Here’s four fun facts you may not know about Jamie:

  1. She grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, so she has a soft spot for anything country.
  2. She loves catching NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!
  3. She shares a birthday with her grandfather who just turned 100!
  4. National Parks are her favorite thing about the United States, but if a bee or spider approaches, she turns into a flailing yelping six year old!

For more info about Jamie click here and to schedule a session in our NYC with Ms. Graham email us studio [at] formpilates [dot] com

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What Is A Cooperative?

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Three years ago I took over a little Pilates studio in Union Square, called Union Square Pilates. I painted the walls, changed the name, and hung some art, and voila- FORM Pilates Union Square was born. I had absolutely no idea how things would evolve, butI wasn’t worried. I knew what I didn’t want- a factory like studio pumping out clients and controlling  what other teachers taught. I was clear on what I DID want- a studio to bring my clients to that was clean, happy, had a wonderful vibe, as well as a place where the Pilates community could come together instead of pushing each other apart.  So like one of my favorite quotes, “I dream because there is no other way I can see it happen” I dreamed big and boom- I saw it happen.

 

I first heard of the concept of a cooperative in the context of the grocery store, the Park Slope Coop. Members agree to work once every month in exchange for discounts on healthy fare. Very cool I thought and that planted a seed. Then through a woman’s networking group I heard about a shared workspace in the city called In Good Company. It was a place female entrepreneurs come to work, meet, and learn. Cut to two years into my owning FORM USQ and it kind of sounded like what I was inadvertently doing- renting out my space so other instructors could build and incubate their businesses under mine. I wanted a place we could be a community, so like they say, “your dream job does not exist you must create it”, and I did.

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The true definition of a cooperative is an autonomous group of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. People have been cooperating since the beginning of time. Tribes were organized as cooperative structures, allocating jobs and resources among each other. Bottom line is that cooperatives are a good thing, but why weren’t there any for Pilates instructors? Why were we being left out?

 

The daunting costs of NYC commercial rent, equipment prices, and the shear need for space to house a proper studio keeps wannabe Pilates soloprenuers from branching out on their own. In a sprawling metropolis like New York my colleagues needed a place to bring their clients and work out of. Notoriously divided, Pilates people can be snotty and pretentious. They can be afraid of sharing and living in a world of lack instead of embracing abundance. I refused to believe that’s all there is. What if you could come as you are, with the type of clients that “get” your style, and build a thriving business without going into a mountain of debt. No reason why not so, after months of building our new structure with my team, the FORM Pilates Cooperative was born.

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At FORM you can join our cooperative at one of two levels. As a Drop-In member who sees less than 10 clients a week but is looking to build, or as a Subscriber who already has a full practice, 15+ clients a week, but wants to maximize their time, profit, and diversify their revenue streams. As their fearless leader, I offer office hours, group coaching, and one-on-one consultations to help supplement the practical training we received in our certifications with business savvy. As a fully functioning Pilates studio, we also receive inquiries from potential clients and match them with their ideal Pilates instructor. The client can continue to shop around and work with several cooperative members or if it’s a match made in heaven, the teacher can take on the client as their own. This approach makes for both happy clients AND teachers.

 

We are excited to be the first Pilates Cooperative in NYC!

Want more info on how our cooperative works or an application to join our team? Email us studio [at] formpilates [dot] com today!

 

The Dog Whisperer’s Guide To Fitness

 

Me and the man himself

Me and the man himself

 

Her name was Bella, but we renamed her Frida. Her original family decided they couldn’t keep her so in lieu they dropped her at a horse ranch. All dogs love the outdoors so any four legged friend would love to live on a ranch, right? Wrong. Frida was the opposite of a ranch dog. She was terrified of horses, people, and just about everything. She hid under a porch morning to evening shivering and shaking trying to disappear. It wasn’t long before the ranch owners decided Frida had to go. Things just weren’t working out. A friend of a friend worked part-time with the horses and knew I was looking to adopt a dog. My boyfriend drove his Audi up the winding Hollywood Hills to ranch-land and brought Frida home in the backseat with us.

We noticed right away that she was very damaged. She couldn’t walk a straight line while on a leash, darting and cowering like a PTSD’d casualty of war. Whatever trauma she endured she carried it with her in every situation dodging and weaving away from an invisible enemy. She just needs time to adjust and get comfortable, we thought. We had no idea how serious her wounds were and what was entailed in her healing. A month into her adoption we stupidly took her to a 4th of July party and she lost her shit. A little boy with a giant water gun spooked her and she went for him, drawing blood.

I was devastated. I never had a dog that was aggressive or violent. People’s advice was to put her down or give her away but I believed in her sweet face and searched for other options. A Pilates client of mine who had dogs suggested I reach out to this guy who was known as the “Dog Whisper” who had an unusual way of training dogs with issues. Two weeks later Ceasar Milan showed up to our Venice apartment to assess Frida. Terrified she lunged at him right as he crossed the threshold but he didn’t flinch. “Her problem is not that she’s a ‘bad dog’ but rather that her psyche needs a tune up” he said, “but she’s a red-zone case and won’t get better without help”. She needed to go to his center in a compound tucked away in East LA for doggie misfits, STAT.

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In my work as a Pilates instructor I have lots of opportunity to observe what make people tick. Sure, they’re taking Pilates to improve their posture, get stronger or more flexible, maybe even heal from an injury but what they don’t realize is they also get an attitude adjustment. Our body and psyche are not separate and unconnected. On the contrary. According to my friend and Pilates anthropologist, Benjamin Degenhardt, Joe Pilates was adamant about Contrology’s original trifecta: body, mind, and spirit – not just body. Benjamin tells me that he believed exercises alone won’t do much if you are not present in your practice and don’t bring the willingness to take control of yourself. His idea of mindfulness and spirituality was straightforward: “it is the spirit which builds the body”. We see it everywhere in the Pilates studio. The lack of music to aid in concentration, the specificity of the movements, the use of visual cues bring us into harmony with the whole of us. When we change our mindset we change how we feel inside and out. We literally change our body by focusing our mind on muscle, bone, and breath.

Frida spent 3 weeks at the Dog Psychology Center and when we went to visit her we saw a completely different dog. She was present and bold, with snout and tail lifted high, a doggy smile on her lips. I was amazed to see her playing with other dogs and strutting around without a care in the world. We brought her home with lots of advice from the master- “you have to change your energy to keep her like this. I train humans, and rehabilitate dogs,” he said. We got this I thought.
Turns out it was harder to do the work we had to do. Frida instinctual by nature, was always in the moment, but it was us humans who live with one foot still in the past. See, while behavior may be easy to change, mindset is not. It takes daily practice and determination to “train” the muscle that is our brain. Benjamin says of Joe’s work that “if willpower was a muscle, it’d be the single-most important one in the practice of Joe Pilates’ work”. If Joe was alive today I believe he and Ceasar would be buds. If we want to change and grow we can,we just need to meet the way with the will. We are not slaves to our genius, species, or our mind.

Interested in seeing what your mind can build with your body? Join us for the Pilates goodness in our NYC studio today! Click here for more info!

 

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Teacher Focus Feature~ Monica Delgado

When you first meet Ms. Delgado, you are literally transfixed by her beauty. The thing is, she is SO much more than just her looks. Besides being stunning, Monica is an accomplished artist, phenomenal Pilates instructor, and all around inspiring person. I am truly blessed to have her kind, soothing energy in my studio. Here’s all about the woman behind that face…

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Unlike the majority of the Pilates community, Monica did not come to Pilates through dance. She did however find the method through healing an injury, as many instructors do. While weight lifting one day she injured her back and when rehabbing, her Physical Therapist introduced “pilates-based exercises” into her sessions. After doing them religiously for three weeks she was able to function normally again and she was hooked. That was ten years ago. After realizing the benefits of Pilates, Monica continued her practice and eventually became certified in the classical style through Peak Pilates.

Monica is most impressed with how Pilates is applicable to everything we do. Whether it’s sitting in a chair at your desk, climbing up or down the stairs, picking up a bag of groceries, throwing a football, or surfing some waves- Pilates is present. It’s the efficiency of movement that keeps her coming back, and while she looks “small and sweet” she’s not. Her sessions tend to be quite challenging but fun. She likes to give tons of “cookies”. Not the ones you eat…the Pilates ones. You’ll have to try a session with her to get your treat.

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When Monica is not in the Pilates studio putting her clients through their paces, she is at her art studio in Long Island City. She’s a visual artist, with a degree in painting but the work she’s doing now questions the conventional notions of what a painting is. Monica pushes boundaries not only in her teaching but with her art as well.

Here’s 5 fun facts about Monica:

1) I have a baby pillow I still sleep with, and can’t sleep without.
2) I was a cheerleader in middle school and high school.
3) I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.
4) I have 200 something cousins, I think.
5) I was voted Teacher of the Year when I was an inner city middle school art teacher in Texas. Did that for 4 years.

For more information about Monica Delgado or to schedule a session email us studio [at] formpilates [dot] com at FORM Pilates today!

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Guest Post: Pilates is Optional

Oh hey! Pilates is Optional. Ways I Make Myself Indispensable to My Business and Students

The author, Anula doing kneeling side kicks

The author, Anula doing kneeling side kicks

My mother always told me: "make yourself indispensable". She had a lot more motherly advice like "don't wear a shirt with a stain" or "its never too late to write a Thank You note", but being indispensable stuck with me with me over the years.

I came to Pilates from the Art world where fashion is fickle and a lowly assistant or a mega star can be replaced at a moment's notice. Its the typical NYC high anxiety, cut throat, competition one would find in any field. Lots of big fish in a small pond. The Pilates landscape can feel that way sometimes. But unlike opening a gallery in Chelsea opening a studio or working for one is more about knowing who you are and sticking to it. After all: teaching others to move well never goes out of style.

Here are some ways, in my opinion, to make sure I can't be easily replaced.

  • Remember: Pilates is optional!

There are millions of people who have lived full and rewarding lives without ever doing the Hundred not even once. So when someone comes to me, an "expert" on movement, I owe them something: honesty. Not only can clients go to dozens of other studios they can go to dozens of other fitness modalities (spinning, under water spinning, just jumping up and down in their living room...). Why am I stating the obvious? because even though I do believe Pilates can be for everyone, I, ME personally, am not. I am never afraid to tell a student who isn't "buying" the Method that seeing me is optional. I also don't like to miss represent my skill set. I am not a healer. I often say "sometimes Pilates will help with pain or discomfort and sometimes it won't" and that's OK.

  • Friendship Re-Defined

Am I friends with all my students? It feels that way sometimes. I check in periodically and ask: did I leave that session totally drained or did I leave rejuvenated and ready for the next? A draining dynamic can be "deadly". You know that friend who shows up and sucks all your energy and leaves? Yeah... No. If boundaries got blurred I am not afraid to re-set them. I don't shy away from asking my client to remind me of their goals or re-define those goals together as we go. That usually brings derailed sessions back on track. Same with personal friendships that may have lost their thread. Are we friends because we are helping each other grow or are we friends because we can't remember a time where we weren't? I learn something new from my students every day and I try to make sure they know that. No one likes to be taken for granted.

  • Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself - in group class

We all have off days and off classes. But overall, seeing me isn't a chore, teaching can't be either. For example: when an instructor walks into a group class and announces its their tenth class of the day and they are beat I kinda want to leave. The odds of me returning are slim even if the class was great. I try to watch why I say and the tone I use. I have a sarcastic personality which sometimes does not translate to all students especially in a group setting. But being bland isn't the answer either. Not everyone is going to "get" me so I try to be myself to a point. I am the first to admit sometimes I cross that point and am maybe too cheeky. Its good to remember that there is a section of the population who will go to any class because it fits their schedule and then there are those who make a special trip to MY class. 80/20 rule applies here. 80% be myself. 20% try to be normal.

  • The Rock Star Effect (you win some you lose some but try to win some)

The last and most important point: if my students do not leave classes/sessions feeling like rock stars I should have my Pilates badge taken away. I want to set people up for success however we decide to define it. If I don't hear the words "I feel so much better!" at the end of an hour, at least most of the time, I lost. I don't know how all instructors operate but I find myself walking down the street thinking of my students and what they came to me with. Fitness goals, aches and pains, serious injuries, pregnancies... all that "stuff". My students need someone to really hear them. That means knowing when to push harder and when to back off. When to introduce new concepts or exercises. And when to stop being nice and start getting real: the Real World - Pilates Edition.

 

10527594_10203606678301143_2643539730946280733_nAnula Maiberg was born in Israel and moved to NYC in 2001 in order to pursue a career in photography. While finishing her
degree at the School of Visual Arts she fell in love with Pilates through the classes and private sessions she took at Sixth Street Pilates. After college and a few years at a "desk" job she realized happiness wasn't in front of the computer screen. She decided to attended the Kane School for Core Integration to become fully certified on Pilates apparatus. After a few years of teaching she is now the co-owner (with Jeremy Laverdure) of Sixth Street Pilates where it all began. Anula also recently graduated the Kathy Grant Heritage Training in Denver led by Cara Reeser of Pilates Aligned.

 

 

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