Interview With A Pilates Instructor: Benjamin Degenhardt

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Benjamin and I met on Twitter. Yes, that’s right Twitter. Turns out that the twiter-sphere is a great way to connect to our community and this time it lead me right to Mr. Degenhardt. There are so many things that I love about Benjamin, but what first drew me to him was his enthusiasm for the history of Pilates. His passion to know how Joe lived, thought, and  intended his method to be is inspirational. I’ve nick-named him the Pilates anthropologist.

Benjamin will be visiting my little NYC studio this month. He’s presenting an amalgamation of two great seminars. His 4-hour workshop starts with an exciting journey into the past. We’ll look at rare archival writings, discover what Joe Pilates was looking to achieve, the philosophy behind his method, as well as his plans for the future of Contrology. Next, his ‘Upright Pilates’ will focus on the essence of the Pilates method – transferring the results of the work into our everyday activities and achieving functional strength. Click here to get more info on the workshop and to register. Ben will also be available for private, duet, and semi-private sessions at the studio. Don’t miss this chance to see all his research and Pilates artifacts as well as be touched by his teaching. Now onto the interview…

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Please make sure to include where you currently teach.

My name is Benjamin Degenhardt and I currently reside in Boston, MA. I have been involved in the Pilates world since 1999 in addition to an extensive dance and movement teaching background. I created 360° Pilates, a continuing education program designed to reconnect instructors to the original teachings of Joseph Pilates, with a keen eye on modern knowledge of functional movement. Most recently I initiated a campaign called March MATness to inspire people to incorporate Pilates into their everyday lives. You can find me online at benjamindegenhardt.com

2. How did you find Pilates (or your area of expertise)?

Pilates Mat classes were part of my dance training about 15 years ago. Needless to say, it was a complete game-changer! It helped me stay strong and healthy through several dance-related injuries, and I never lost Pilates out of my sight throughout my dance career.

 3. What was your inspiration in the path you chose?

In addition to the amazement about the impact Pilates had on my physical health and life in general, I remember being completely in awe of the wealth of knowledge my teachers had about human movement, and their passion for teaching. They are still my biggest inspiration, and it fulfills me to be able to pass some of their generosity on to other teachers now.

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 4. What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?

If I had to pick one, it would have to be The Hundred. While it seems to be so different from all the other exercises, I find that it truly packs the challenge of the entire Pilates repertoire into one simple move. In less than a minute it warms you up and tells you more about your body than most other exercise ever could.

5. Do you have a motto, a favorite quote, or mission statement that you live by?

Communicate selflessly. Teach generously. And move scrumptiously.

6. What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?

I’m a true Pilates geek, so much of my spare time goes into continuing my education, as well as researching the history of Contrology. I managed to collect well over 200 pages of original writings by and about Joe Pilates, as well as over 4 hours of video footage. It fascinates me how clear Joe was in his trajectory, yet how lost we are as an industry when it comes to pinning down what Pilates actually is. I am hoping to shed some light on just that with my work. But when I am really away from the studio and my materials, I enjoy movement of any kind (and try to immerse myself in a new physical activity every year), traveling, and I’m a bit of a foodie – good thing I love to exercise!

Benjamin Degenhardt is the mastermind behind 360° Pilates, a continuing education program for Pilates teachers. He has been involved in the Pilates world for over a decade in addition to his extensive dance and movement teaching background. While performing as a dancer he found a passion for teaching movement and, inspired by Joe Pilates, immersed himself in the study of injury prevention and body mechanics. With his expertise in historical Pilates and modern fitness he established himself as a “teacher of teachers” and conducts workshops around the globe. He has maintained a true passion for the Pilates method and its ability to improve people’s lives. You can find him and his articles for Pilates teachers on his website at benjamindegenhardt.com

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