What is the goal of our experience in the studio? Conscious movement vs Animal Movement- are they exclusive?Read More
My musings on the last day or so away on the trip of a lifetime!Read More
After two days of inspiration and learning it was time to let our hair down and 'Party Like a Rock Star" with the awesome Pilates Anytime crew. We were so lucky with the weather as the party was out on the lawn at the resort. With Halloween just around the corner the theme was to dress up as your favourite music star. Not having gone to a fancy dress party for a few years, I was super excited. Put it this way, I had decided on my party outfit before I even knew what I was going to wear for my filming! I've always been pretty inspired by the resilience of Cher to really succeed in her field. Coupled with my hairdresser's inclination to tease my hair to make me look like Cher from Moonstruck it was an easy choice. Thanks to my lovely client June, I got to rock out in a vintage outfit by renowned Australian designer Carla Zampatti. In combination with my column heel suede platforms (that I actually wear quite often), false eyelashes, a ton of eye shadow and my wig I was all set.
I got to see the party set up for the first time alongside Kristi and Amy and I was blown away. The hard work that this team had put in was so evident- the place looked amazing. On arrival there was of course a red carpet (very much befitting the music theme) and the famous Pilates Anytime media wall. It was such fun to see all of the different groups posing together. I actually ran into Madonna at the party too (or is that Amy Havens?)There were inflatables that looked a little like a garden, a huge PILATES sign, a silent disco (that I very much enjoyed alongside Victoria Becka and Lanette Gavran) and glow sticks. You could really feel the excitement in the air. Everyone was so happy to be there.
As people started to arrive the effort put in to the costumes soon became very apparent. Personal favourites were Rebekah Rotsein as Bjork, Madeline Black as Amy Winehouse and Benjamin Degenhardt as Annie Lennox. As for the group costumes I couldn't go past Devo and the GoGo's. Those who know me are aware of my fondness for Pilates elder Mary Bowen. I was lucky enough to meet her at the APMA conference in Melbourne Australia last September. Imagine my delight when she agreed to pose for a photo with me in costume! I love Mary (she even had back up wigs).
After the announcement of best costume and best air bands it was time for me to be announced as the 2017 Pilates Anytime Winner. John Marston the CEO of Pilates Anytime (and an awesome guy) let me know that it would be up to me as to whether or not I should make a speech. I don't have a problem with public speaking at all (I actually really loved it as a teenager) but the prospect of saying something relating to such an emotional achievement initially seemed like it would be too much. I didn't want to get emotional up on the stage so I thought it would be best just to graciously accept my flowers, wave and step off. I was so glad that I changed my mind and got to say a public thank you to the other finalists, the judges, those who voted, Pilates Nerd and of course to Pilates Anytime for holding the competition. It allowed me to really be in the moment and acknowledge the journey that I had been on. When I got off the stage who did I see but the beautiful Carrie Pages- beaming at me before giving me the biggest hug ever. It made me certain that I want to be there to do the same for next year's winner. That was a special moment.
The party changed location from the lawn to the resort nightclub- if anyone understands noise restrictions compromises it's a Sydney sider! I knew that the nightclub was going to look awesome but it was a shame to have to relocate. Ever the introvert I felt I needed a moment in time before the venue change. Tasked with the need to put my beautiful bouquet somewhere safe (and to have another slice of the pizza that I had ordered earlier) I popped up to my room briefly to gather my thoughts. I was determined to stay until the end of the party so I wanted to make sure I still looked the part (no panda eyes please) and could handle staying up until the wee hours.
While I reapplied my eyeshadow I looked in the mirror and saw a person who had grown a lot. Two years ago I was so paralysed by anxiety I couldn't bring myself to step outside the familiar despite wanting to. Back then I wouldn't have known what to do with myself at this party. Now here I was accepting the congratulations with gratitude and looking for more challenges with genuine confidence and excitement. This was the real win!
After all the excitement of presenting at Pilates Anytime it was time to be the student and soak up as much of the amazing knowledge at this gathering of the PMA conference as I could. I had a later start than I originally realised and was able to relax on the lawn for breakfast before the Opening General Session. This was a great introduction to the conference with a welcome to all delegates and an individual mention of all the countries represented. It was wonderful to hear places from all over the world mentioned- I am pretty sure all continents (other than Antarctica) were mentioned which is so amazing. Fifty years after Mr Pilates anniversary of death his method is practiced in places so far and wide. It's really something special to have a visual representation of that.
The keynote speaker was Jon Sciambi which might have seemed like a strange choice for those who knew of him- Jon is a baseball sportscaster for ESPN. We learned that Jon attends Pilates classes regularly under the supervision of someone I admire so much- Kim Gibilisco in New York. Jon's other connection to Pilates (and I dare say the reason he was asked to present) is his philanthropic work for those suffering from the awful disease ALS through his charity Project Main Street. This subject touches a lot of people's hearts in the Pilates industry since ALS has affected an amazing instructor Mari Winsor. Jon's message of banding together and helping out those in need was wonderful and he delivered his message with such humility.
After the welcome, the first of my sessions for the day was an exploration of the Pilates Archival Exercises on the Trapeze Table with Amy Taylor Alpers. This was so great for me as I'm a massive history buff. Learning about the early exercises is always fascinating. It was also great to spend time in the presence of our educator Amy. I'm very much intrigued by the classical work but I've never spent any time with her in her studio in Boulder. This is mainly due to my obsession with New York City- it lures me in to the exclusion of other cities (California has totally made my to visit list in the future though). I loved Amy's enthusiasm not only for the work but also in encouraging a curiosity of movement. We so often in Pilates look for perfection at the expense of movement (the whole point!) something I will be mindful of in the future.
Every presenter is a hard act to follow- but the awesome thing about the PMA conference is that everyone has a perspective slightly different as well as their personality to offer. I continued the day with a mat class led by the wonderful Benjamin Degenhardt who awakened a love of the original mat work on social media through his March Matness initiative. Benjamin's class was based on the traditional order and he presents it with such a freshness and enthusiasm. His energy can be felt through the room but unfortunately for me- reality was setting in. All that excitement in the lead up to the filming made me realise how exhausted I actually was. I tried very hard not to be reeled in by my ego and just to do what I could. It is so tempting to do everything with full effort but this is hard to maintain in a three day event- especially when we keep meeting at the bar in the evenings! I was so grateful for the supporting energy in the room and Benjamin's encouragement to give only what was available. I finished the class but with extra little breaks.
My final session of the day was with the effervescent John Garey. This guy is so enthusiastic and energetic- you would be hard pressed to find another Pilates instructor with more animation than this man. His depth of knowledge is huge. John's workshop was based on programming for triathletes. I was devastated to realise that I had reached my capacity during this workshop. I was able to stick around for half of the session before excusing myself. I figure that if I can't listen to my own advice of doing what feels right for the body and mind on any given day, how could I expect my clients to. I was so glad that I was able to meet John later and tell him how much I enjoyed what I did see. He even gave me a FUN t-shirt!
So I did what any girl would do when you need to re-energise. I went shopping!
I came to the PMA conference with one very important item in mind. When I entered that exhibition hall I made a bee line for Mr I.C. Rapoport- or Chuck as he is very affectionately known. This man is the photographer responsible for the beautiful photos we have of Joseph Pilates and his book "Joe" is a collection of them all. I was so happy to finally meet Chuck and his lovely wife Mary- Chuck even signed my book!
After all my chatting to other instructors that I admire and buying the studio more gifts, I was surprisingly recharged and ready for more party time- this team with team Polestar!
Before we set off to the party we were treated to a beautiful display of movement in the Dancing through Contrology performance. It was a wonderful combination of contemporary ballet intertwined with music that changed to reflect the passage of time that Pilates has been practiced. There was some awesome video content where some of the instructors for Pilates Anytime reflected on their first experience of Pilates. The highlight was a segment of Brett Howard on the wunda chair moving with such exquisite grace that you could hear gasps nearby. The whole presentation was emotional and so well done.
The other Pilates family that I am so lucky to be a part of is the Polestar Pilates family. Brent was very generous and invited us all to the house nearby that everyone from Polestar HQ was staying up. It was great to sit and talk to some of the international members of this special organisation. Here we are posing for Lisa Anthony back home inspired by her imagery relating to the Australian bird the Kookaburra... It might not look like it but Pilates is never far from the conversation- promise.
It's amazing how productive you can be in a mat class with only five and a half hours sleep...
A mat class on the lawn of the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort was the perfect way to start the day. A Mini- Matapalooza with Valerie Grant, Cara Reeser and Brett Howard was exactly what I needed. I realised that I could sleep on the plane ride home and to just lap up everything I could today- also I didn't want to do any more shopping! The thing that is always reiterated at conferences for me is that mat classes are a special thing. Movement in unison with others generates an amazing energy. To see over one hundred people all working together towards a common goal is awesome and to be part of it is even better. It was a real reminder of Joseph Pilates intention for his method to be unification of body, mind and spirit. It's not just about how the exercises feel in your body that makes Pilates special it's the feeling of being uplifted while also releasing all the swirling thoughts. Special stuff.
After breakfast it was time to spend some time listening to Lolita San Miguel. Lolita started Pilates initially with Carola Trier in 1959! Along with Kathy Grant, Lolita was certified by Joseph Pilates to teach his method (Joseph did not certify any of the other elders). Lolita told us some beautiful stories about her time with Joseph and Clara and the way they complemented one another in the studio. It was also interesting to hear about how many of the elders worked together. In the second hour we did a movement class that was really interesting- I expected it to be very 'classical' but it felt very contemporary with a focus on creating smaller movements in the limbs and with a very generous opportunity to warm every body part up. I loved the way Lolita took gentle command of the room. Understandably Lolita was not so keen to have a photo with everyone individually but I'm hoping that the group photo will be shared sometime in the near future- it would be lovely to have that momento.
Those of you who know me may have an understanding regarding my area of irritation- hip mobility especially in flexion. Every time I see a body perform amazing high kicks I look on in equal parts admiration and envy. The thing I have wondered for a long time now though has been "how much am I getting in my own way?" The next workshop was so valuable to me in addressing this very issue. My admiration of Cara Reeser (and her hamstrings) was the main reason I chose to attend her workshop. It was such a wonderful bonus that the content she presented with Jeremy Laverdure really stuck with me. The reminder that our utmost goal is to maximise mobility really hit home. Of course, we are not inviting uncontrolled movement, but we want people to MOVE. So refreshing. I think this workshop had the most profound effect on me as an individual (as opposed to a teacher) than any other. I am so grateful and I am already looking forward to the time to practice my own movement.
My schedule was finished off with a final mat class with Elizabeth Larkam. Elizabeth took us through the work by involving our minds very strongly. It was wonderful for someone like me who is mostly a visual learner to really have to tune in to my body and connect through the auditory cues. Not only did we change our orientation on the mat multiple times but we were challenged with patterns of internal and external rotation of the limbs during movement, changing head positions and changing rhythms. It was one of the most interesting classes I have done. Elizabeth's sense of humour of course added further depth to the experience. The class definitely had elements of the exercises as we know them from Return to Life but with so much creativity included as well. We finished with some partner work with the push up- lots of fun!
Such a great day of learning from such a fantastic group of teachers. The day was inspiring and challenging, exactly what you want from a conference... the cherry on top was coming. The Pilates Anytime Party! I can't wait to tell you all about it in my next post!
After completing my filming for Pilates Anytime the next phase of this adventure was commencing- the 2017 Pilates Method Alliance Conference. I was so lucky to spend some more time with Kristi Cooper and Amy Havens going on a road trip. The Drive from Santa Barbara/ Montecito/ Carpinteria was going to be at least three and a half hours. As you can see on the map, we had to pass through LA to get there and that means traffic. I think we were on the road by 11:30am and arrived around 5:30pm (with a lunch stop at Wholefoods).
We had some fun conversation in the car, some laughs and some chair dancing all while taking in the changing landscape. It is really interesting getting closer and closer to the desert. One of the really interesting sights to see while on the road were all of the wind farms. I found them so cool to look at:
As we got closer and closer to the resort, I introduced the ladies to a little bit of Chet Faker (Nick Murphy) while we settled on our "approach soundtrack" which was a combination of early Janet Jackson and Madonna. I felt like it was quite the start to the weekend.
I was feeling very spoiled when I checked into my room. It has an amazing view over the golf course and beyond that to the southern border of the Joshua Tree National Park. I just wished that I could have some more time to explore this amazing landscape some more. We are definitely going to have to revisit California- it's so interesting to feel the combination of familiarity of the USA (because of the media exposure) and at the same time feel the newness of it all. Once we settled in to our rooms it was time to hit the Exhibition Hall for the Sip and Shop (a concept I can totally get behind).
The first night at the sip and shop gave me a glimpse of the magnitude of it all. There were at least 1000 delegates at the conference and when you also add to exhibitors to the mix that is a lot of energy in the room- but it is really positive. It was a lovely sense of togetherness which I really loved.
I was so grateful to be included in the Pilates Anytime dinner on this first night and to be able to spend some time with John the CEO of the company. From the moment I walked in to the studio at Padaro Beach I could feel that sense of family and it was reflected here at dinner too.
The first night finished as the following nights were destined to finish... at the lobby bar. I have had the best three nights hanging out and getting to know fellow finalists from this year's Pilates Anytime Next Instructor Contest. I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with Victoria Becka, Juan Estrada, Trina Altman and Delia Buckmaster (who is likely to be one of the funniest people at this whole event).
What an introduction to an event I have wanted to attend for year- I have realised that I will be making this a stand out of my calendar for years to come already! Bring on the conference!
The day I had been waiting for has finally arrived- Pilates Anytime here I come!Read More