The third in a series of blogs by our Pilates instructor, Matthew Atwell, exploring The Pilates Education's particular, focussed approach to teaching Pilates
This is the third in a series of blogs where I explore my ethos, looking at some of the personal and professional values that inform how I teach Pilates in my work at The Pilates Education.
A commitment to continued growth
This instalment will consider my commitment to continued growth in the practice and study of Pilates. I will explore the importance of this pursuit, as well as sharing experiences from my own Pilates journey and training.
As it is such an important area, I will continue to share more experiences relating to this in the next blog.
Nurturing passion impacts lives
Effective Pilates practice positively impacts a person's life, and the primary job of the Pilates teacher is to experience this impact firsthand. The deeper the teacher is able to immerse themselves in personal practice and study, the stronger the impact for the student.
My Pilates journey started in 1992 where it was part of the training I received at ballet school. At the time, I found the approach very dull, but the techniques accompanied me through my performing career in musical theatre, with the most direct impact seen in my work teaching dance which I did from the age of 19. However, it wasn't until I came back to Pilates in June 2012 that I saw quite how strong its influence had been in my teaching work.
Prior to embarking on my training, I came back to Pilates with a strong desire to prioritise its place in my own life; seeking to experience its benefits for myself first and foremost, and to cultivate its significance to me.
To mention just a few aspects, I experienced a mental focusing, physical strengthening and psychological rest through the practice of Pilates, while reconnecting with the athletic quality of work that I experienced as a young dancer. When I practiced, a deep part of me felt unified, which led to many transforming changes taking place in my life.
Through my performing career and subsequent work as a school teacher, I learnt that passion can die through lack of growth or input. As a teacher, I also saw that the learning outcome was more effective the further I developed my skills and knowledge.
This backdrop established a cornerstone value in my work, where my personal commitment to continued growth in the practice and study of Pilates is highly prioritised - a value I intend to model in the team that may develop as time unfolds.
In summary, the more I nurture my passion for Pilates, and the deeper I experience its benefits, the more likely my students will experience their own transformation.
The tip of the Pilates iceberg
My commitment to Pilates took an important turn in May 2013 when I decided to undergo my teacher training. At the time, I was still teaching in the musical theatre department at the BRIT School, and initially enrolled to learn the method more deeply for myself, rather than to teach it to others.
In many senses, the training I did stands out as superior to other courses on offer, delivering a comprehensive course that prepared me to teach mat and equipment repertoire up to an advanced level.
However, I now see substantial flaws in this type of modern training which rushes through repertoire and anatomy study in months rather than years. Life circumstances meant the process took me almost two years, but even then, the biggest thing I lacked through this kind of training was an experienced mentor to show me the way.
I feel the current day model is barely even a springboard into the true nature of becoming a teacher, and can fail to adequately support the student in grasping the tip of the Pilates iceberg.
I have since come to prefer an alternative approach in developing new teachers, more like that used by Joseph Pilates - the original inventor. When passing his method on to others, he taught with more of an apprentice/mentor approach. This echoes an idea mentioned in an earlier blog in this series, that one who has mastered an art passes it on.
While I believe that modern approaches aim to incorporate some qualities from this original method - such as the need to cover a certain number of personal practice hours, teaching observation hours, and teaching hours - they fail to recreate the depth of support and input afforded over time through a serious apprenticeship model.
Join me next time as I begin to unfold my own experiences of apprenticing; establishing support that has deepened my personal growth, and the effectiveness of my work with students.