The Pilates Journey

Everyone has their own path to Pilates.  My path was indirect.  I was doing Iyengar yoga ten years ago, and kept falling over due to an inner ear infection.  I asked about the course where students spent most of their time on a mat and was told it was Pilates. I figured I wouldn’t fall over as much and decided to give Pilates a chance.

I  had only been sporadically practicing Iynegar yoga. I initially tried it after my daughter was born, 20 years ago, to re-acquaint myself with my body after childbirth.  My corporate career then took off and required me to work long hours and to work abroad for extended time periods.   My body was burning itself out.  It was sending me messages to slow down: anxiety, an ulcer and IBS.  I ignored it until I completely broke down.

Shortly after I left the corporate world, I started attending local Pilate courses regularly.  The instructor was excellent but taught up to 25 people in a single class.  There was no time for individual instruction, the priority was to keep everyone safe while doing the exercises.  My progress stalled as there were no intermediate  classes offered locally.  I decided to try the Body Control Pilates Studio in London.  They were often in the press and very well respected.

My first Body Control Pilates class was an intermediate lunchtime class.  I could see a much faster and in-depth improvement after a few sessions.  I liked it so much I decided to try a Pilates machine class, the Beginner’s Reformer class.  I’ve been doing both mat and machine classes regularly since then.

Eventually I had to consider what my next career would be.   I wanted to find a role that would not only financially support me, but also support me physically and emotionally.  I decided to become a sports coach.

I qualified as a Badminton England Coach and built up a portfolio of courses.  I realised that it would be very difficult to survive on only badminton coaching revenues.  Then I had the bright idea of becoming a Pilates instructor and I eventually earned my Body Control Pilates Mat Instructor award.

I’ve taken Pilates classes in London and New York City.  Sometimes the classes were in leisure centres and other times in specialised Pilates studios.  People naturally start chatting about why they came to Pilates.

Most people, in my experience, come to Pilates because they are broken.  They have back problems, injuries or are unfit.  Many are trying to undo the decades of damage due to dance problems, overwhelming family responsibilities, or stressful office environments.  Many others have back pain and are referred by their GPs to start a Pilates regime.  Nearly everyone, though, is surprised at the additional benefits of Pilates.

Not only do our broken parts begin to heal, but we find ourselves calmer, healthier and happier with our bodies.  You can see and feel how Pilates is acting on students and clients by observing them during class.  They seem focused and in their own internal world, aligning their body and mind.

As Joseph Pilates said, “Through the Pilates Method of Body Condition this unique trinity of balanced body, mind and spirit can ever be attained. Self confidence follows.”

Many of my fellow instructors, including myself, chose to become teachers because we experienced the transformative benefits of Pilates.  Teaching Pilates becomes a vocation for us to help others achieve the benefits that we have experienced..

I’ve met hundreds of Pilates practitioners.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who said that they came to Pilates for appearance’s sake or to acquire a celebrity “Pilates’ bum.”  People come to Pilates to heal.  What brought you to Pilates?

Post Author: Marie Benedict

Marie Benedict is an experienced sports instructor who is a certified Body Control Pilates Mat Instructor and Badminton England Level 2 Coach. She is currently developing Pilates for Racquets and other specialised Pilates courses in partnership with Wimbledon Racquets and Fitness Club. She was honoured as Epsom and Ewell’s “Coach of the Year 2011,” and was short-listed for Active Surrey’s “Coach of the Year 2011.” www.calmandstrongpilates.co.uk

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