My Week with Alan Herdman - Final Day
Shamanic StudioMonday is my day off. I made plans with Alan to meet him at his main studio near Marble Arch. I jumped on the tube and disembarked at Oxford Circle and walked in the direction of Alan’s studio. I arrived at the studio where there were many clients busy working on their bodies. As I looked around, the clients were confident in their movements, obviously focused on the precision of the exercises. The studio’s energy was one that grounded but light. There was very little interaction, meaning talking between clients, and the sound level was low but not hushed like a library. It had a comfortable and friendly feel.
Alan and I traded sessions again. We both repeated our techniques on each other, because we needed it. I showed Alan a single leg pump on the Wunda Chair that specifically targets the medial line of the leg, the line I am working on for my knee. It engages the VMO/adductor and medial hamstring in knee flexion. Alan was focusing on my knee extension to activate this line. Alan and I discussed the need to also feel it working when the knee is flexed with the lower leg pressing downward.
We went for a salad nearby. Alan explained to me his model of the studio. It is a cross between a private session and a class really. He has two to three teachers on the floor. Each client has their specific program that changes regularly depending on what their need is when they arrive, similar to a private session. Each client is not doing the same program. The clients have been taught how to work well for themselves, what they need to concentrate on, and of course the Pilates exercises that are best for their body. The clients come in, are supervised but also independent. If a teacher is working with another client, the other clients in the room are busy setting up their next movement and working. I never saw any one person idle, not knowing what to do next, or waiting for assistance. I also never saw a client calling a teacher over to help. It seems to just flow.
The teachers on the floor have a keen eye for seeing all of the clients and stepping in to assist or change the exercise. No one is talking loudly or being demanding wanting to be waited on. Alan tells me he has no tolerance for people who are loud and unconscious of others in the room. He has told three clients that they could no longer come to his studio for this very reason. Alan said, if he doesn’t like them, then he doesn’t accept them into his studio. I interpret Alan’s word “like” to mean that he resonates with the person and they with him. He said it has to work this way. It clearly does. The energy in the room is like no other studio I have been in.
At dinner, I commented on the feel of his studio. He said he likes to be the first person at the studio because he sets the feel. On Tuesdays, he starts in the early afternoon and works later. Alan tells me he can feel the difference in the studio on this day when he is not setting the day. I told Alan I sense his ability to work with energy and we call it energy work or energy medicine. I called him a shaman! I reminded him of how on my arrival he created the energy field for me to ground and be in my body. He laughed at me but I think deep down inside that English way, he knows he is a shaman, an Englishman one.
Tuesday, my last day in London before heading off to Florence to teach for four days. Alan instructs me to get some culture and recommends two museums to go to. Tuesday is his late day at the studio. My plan is to experience culture and then meet Alan at the studio for another session. Then we will have dinner together again for the final time.