Marcia and Kristin, educators at Centerspace, were recently interviewed for an article on Ottobock’s blog for tips on how to choose a Pilates studio and instructor for those seeking adaptive Pilates. While written for those who have survived limb-loss, these tips are good for anyone looking for a good Pilates experience. And since we think Marcia and Kristin are pretty great, we wanted to share their internet fame! Good work ladies!
Considering Adaptive Pilates?
Have you heard of Pilates but not sure exactly what it is? Ottobock asked three Pilates experts in the Minneapolis area, Emily Easton, owner of Align Pilates and Kristin Wallner, Instructor & Marcia Svaleson, Manager, of Centerspace Studio, to share their professional Pilates expertise and tips when considering an adaptive Pilates experience.
The Origins of Pilates
Pronounced pee la teas, Pilates is named after the German physical fitness specialist, Joseph Pilates ( 1880 -1967). Pilates created a system of exercises using special equipment designed to improve strength, flexibility and posture. In fact Pilates was devised as a form of adaptive exercise for people injured by accidents or the affects of World War I as he sought to devise ways to help them restore their mobility and health. Pilates cleverly created exercise apparatus out of their hospital beds and using the frame and springs and created exercises to address the needs of the bedridden. Much of the modern exercises used today came from the background of rehabilitation.
Today, Pilates is done in a studio with an instructor in private or small group class. It is an exercise that is highly adaptable to meet the needs of almost any level of fitness.
Pilates makes use of spring loaded equipment designed to support the body even while providing challenge to the muscles. It also increases our body awareness through feedback delivered from the equipment and springs. The majority of the work is done lying down or seated. There is some call for standing or arm bearing, but it is easily modified. Pilates is generally more active, and is focused on improving your posture, alignment, breath, and use of the body.
Is Pilates Right For You?
Pilates is a great choice for someone who wants to learn how to use their body well, to correct the misalignments, strains and painful patterns that keep us from enjoying our bodies fully, and achieve vitality, strength and flexibility to do more in their daily life with greater ease and enjoyment. Many people living with limb-loss or mobility challenges find that Pilates allows them to reconnect to their body as a whole on a physical and mental basis.
5 Tips to Selecting a Pilates Studio & Instructor
Visit. Schedule a time to come in with either an owner, or an upper level instructor to discuss your needs and goals. This gives you an opportunity to get a tour, meet other instructors, and see if the studio is a good feel/fit for your needs.
Training. Start with reading the instructor’s bio. If you can’t find it on the studio website ask for it to be send to you prior to your visit. How comprehensive was their training? A reputable training program is a course with at least 600 hours of study and teaching. A very extensive training can be well over 900 hours with 250 hour of teaching prior to certification.
Ask if he or she has been certified on all the equipment, or just one or two? Pilates is a very expansive system and makes use of several different pieces of equipment, each with its own strengths. If the instructor has experience with only one or two, they will be unable to provide you with a varied, adaptable experience. They should have a Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Mat, and Barrels and be qualified and experienced teaching them all.
In addition to initial training, find a studio that has committed to ongoing instructor education and inquire about the instructor’s recent Continuing Ed course. A reputable instructor will be registered and certified with the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) and have logged at least 16 hours a year of continuing education credits.
Chemistry. When you meet with your potential instructor, do they take the time to talk with you and learn about your expectations, needs, and concerns? Pilates is a wonderfully adaptive system, and can easily accommodate to almost any situation. The best lessons are when the instructor really applies what you want and need and helps you find the exercises that serve you best. Each lesson should be crafted to address YOU, and should be as unique as you are! Can they adapt if something isn’t working for you? Do they work with you to have a successful experience? If you’re getting the feeling you’re being expected to conform to a standard set of rules and exercises, this instructor may not be for you.
Even the best instructor may not be the one for you if there just isn’t that chemistry between you. Can he or she really relate to you and give you instruction you understand, or do you find yourself scratching your head and wondering if you’re doing it right? A good instructor is clear, concise, and knows how to explain things so you get it.
Empathy. Does the instructor have experience with injury, trauma, or limb loss; either personal experience or with a client? Having an ability to empathize with a clients’ limb loss is important. Does their personality make you comfortable? If you’re going to be working closely with someone, you may as well like them, right? It’ll make the lesson that much more enjoyable.
Equipment. Does the studio have access to a variety of equipment? In particular a Cadillac is a table like piece of equipment that extremely versatile for people with limb loss. Full studios have Reformers, Chairs, Cadillac, High Barrel, Small Barrels, Tower Stations and a variety of props at hand.
Amenities. Does the studio have accessibility to restrooms? Private changing rooms? Identify the areas that are must haves for you and ask to see those things on your tour.
As always we recommend that you please consult your physician or health care professional prior to beginning any fitness regimen.