My Week with Alan Herdman - Day 4
Reflection Sunday, I taught my third day for Pilates Umbrella. It was a day off with Alan. I had dinner with Janie Miklaunus, who works with me at Studio M and her niece. Janie came to London to visit her family and assist me during the workshop. Her niece asked me what the difference is between an American Pilates and European Pilates. That was hard to answer in a brief way and to someone who is not familiar with Pilates, she practices yoga. I began to think of my conversation with Sarah and Alan about trainings the night before. I do find in Europe, mat only teachers showing up to my workshops. They ask me, how can I do this in my mat class. I simply say you cannot because the mat is only a part of Pilates. To answer her question, I thought of an image. I compared a mat only teacher to a yoga teacher. Would a yoga teacher only learn standing poses and not the seated poses? Would a yoga teacher only trained in standing poses be qualified to be a yoga teacher? Of course, she agreed that would be weird if a yoga teacher was only qualified to teach standing poses and nothing else. This may be reaching for a comparison, but I strongly feel a Pilates teacher is comprehensively trained.
Joseph Pilates was known for his innovations and ability to change people's bodies. He was a problem solver using his apparatus, and all the skills that Alan and I discussed the day before, listening, critical thinking, knowledge and intuition. The mat only phenomenon is also present in the US. However, in my workshops throughout the US, I have not had one teacher ask me how an apparatus exercise be done without the apparatus. In my conversations with European mat only teachers, it sounds as if they have no intention of being fully trained. I know there are many reasons for being mat only trained, the expenses of training, and access to working on equipment. Plus, the cost difference for the client. A mat class is cheaper than attending a full Pilates session.
I believe, even if a teacher only has access to mats or just one piece of apparatus, studying the body of work of Pilates enhances your teaching. The movements are interrelated. The knowledge of the repertoire and movement science deepens the understanding, all making teaching a mat class have depth and clarity. Then, when a student walks in with their preconceived idea of their movements, you can offer them a different choice that can really shift them into a healthier place in their body.