I recently got a huge opportunity to travel to the UK to teach Pilates. Scotland boasts some really amazing views and loads of fascinating history. Not that living at the beach is anything but epic, but what a change from everyday life for me in the city of San Diego! Life is definitely different—like taking a short walk to the neighborhood egg shed to leave some change and pick up fresh eggs and grocery stores that are the size of our 7/11 convenient stores. I could ride a bicycle to the studio and not even have to lock it up outside! My 3 weeks in this place were nothing short of magical. It took me back to my rural upbringing and proved to be the perfect combination of keeping busy with teaching and site-seeing and relaxing time out from my busy life.
I’ve been teaching Pilates for a little while. I’ve worked at more studios than I can count on two hands in a city of 1.4 million (and surrounding areas). Pilates has taught me so many things about myself and about helping others. This was my first experience teaching Pilates abroad. I was welcomed with open arms at Bälans Pilates in Scotland and would love to share my experience.
Here’s what I learned as an International Pilates Educator:
1) Pilates is universal
Even though the students are different, the space is different, the teachers are different—Pilates is a universal language. And guess what? We are all the same. We have the same challenges, the same goals. My students of Pilates want to be stronger, more flexible, and successful. Is the Roll Up super hard for you? It’s hard for lots of us! Is your back tight? Mine is too! You are not alone in this Pilates journey and sometimes it’s really nice to know that we all have things we struggle with, we are all fighting to find that perfect Teaser, and we are all in this together. Joseph Pilates said, “Change happens through movement, and movement heals.” How beautiful it is to see this work and consequent change in people across the world!
2) Love your mat
To see everyone’s enthusiasm for mat classes in Scotland was inspiring. In the city of San Diego that is saturated with fitness enthusiasts and hard-core work out junkies, it’s nice to see that droves of people are drawn to their mat every week in the UK. Sometimes our students just want to be on the shiny equipment with the fancy springs, resistance, and support. But how hard is it to have only the floor and your own body? I think that embracing the mat takes us back to the true essence of the Pilates Method—”No man-no machine can correct or create vitality, power, or health for you; everything comes from within, you have to unfold it.”(-JP) Mat can be the most challenging and the most rewarding part of your Pilates journey. It shows you how strong you really are. It shows you your improvement in concrete ways. And it really gives you a sense of what Mr. Pilates wanted his method to be, and how he expected all of our bodies to move. The mat came first—everything else was created to help us achieve success in those mat exercises.
3) Be yourself
There were moments when I was teaching that I felt totally out of place. I felt like a crazy person, even. In these moments I have to admit, I felt a little insecure. Those of you that know me know my personality. You know I like to tell jokes and I get really excited when I see your bodies changing. You know I am passionate about movement and that movement can give you so many things that nothing else can. In those insecure moments I had to remind myself that even though sometimes I felt “different” or “weird” I had to be myself and hope that I didn’t scare anyone off (or offend anyone). And at the end of the day, or the end of the class, I at least had one person smiling (and on board with my crazy), and hopefully taught them something new.
4) Everyone has something to teach you
I’m not sure who learned more, my students at Bälans Pilates or myself. New bodies and new people teach us so much as Pilates educators. Everyone has something to give. My Lolita’s Legacy students impressed me with their improvements in such little time and with their growing confidence in their journey as Pilates teachers. My workshop students taught me the joy of Pilates that is found in simple movements and that a helping hand from a friend or Pilates teacher can change the way we approach each exercise. My class students taught me that no matter where you are in your Pilates journey (just beginning, or working through some injuries, or seasoned Pilates practitioner), we are all speaking the same language and in this together. They all really reminded me of the Pilates principles of breath, concentration, control, centering, precision, and flow.
I am happy to be home in San Diego and back in the studio. I love that you all are interested in hearing about the trip and I’m happy to share pictures and stories (after class, of course). I am beyond grateful for the experience that Bälans, Joakim, and Lolita San Miguel have provided for me. Lolita brought us together, and I hope through the sharing of her Legacy and the legacy of Joseph Pilates himself, we will stay connected for a very long time. Pilates has created such a rich community of people in my life and I am eager to continue growing this community for all.
If you find yourself in Scotland, please take class at Bälans Pilates and tell everyone I say, “Hi-ya!”
By Brittany Taylor