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Graduate Spotlight

1.) What are three main things that stand out to you from your training experience?

The first main thing that stands out to me from my training experience is the positive and supportive learning environment created by Excel. I did some of my apprenticeship as an independent study and often had the luxury of working one-on-one with Kerry or Lesa as I progressed through my year of training. Lesa and Kerry strive to create excellence in their teaching and they demand a lot from you but they are also patient, nurturing, and kind.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the second thing that stands out to me about Excel is that they deliver a training program that is Pilates in its purest form. They encourage you to look deep within the traditional method itself for skills and connections in the system. Oh yeah, they know how to teach that whole “system” thing: where to get skills in the fundamentals and how to prepare students to progress and challenge their skills in challenging and complex exercises.

Thirdly, I felt prepared by Excel’s training program as I finished my training and began to teach clients at Excel and beyond. I was just beginning my Pilates career and while I had much to learn, I was confident in my approach with regard to safety protocols and being conservative in assessing and progressing beginning students.

2.) How are you using your training currently today?

Lesa and Kerry always emphasized a positive approach when instructing clients. Pilates is hard, sweaty work and clients need to know what they do well and also of course what they can improve. Creating a successful learning environment is definitely something I learned from my time at Excel.

3.) Name a funny moment from your training experience

Oh my there are so many… from Kerry’s explanation early on that the size of my butt had nothing to do with why I was bad at the Wall exercises – oh yes, Kerry also had me calm down before my practical exams by doing the Wall exercises (it worked).
But perhaps what I remember most are Kerry’s “therapy” sessions with me after I taught my husband as my practice student. Please know that my husband was a wonderful practice student, but he would often tell me what I was asking him to do “defied the laws of physics” or some other zinger which an actual client would never be so cheeky to comment. So, Kerry would take me for a drive for some I’m-married-to-my-Pilates-practice-student therapy time. It was really helpful LOL.
Today, I teach my husband by handing him a list of exercises and trying not to watch too much.

4.) What inspires you about teaching Pilates?

Gosh, there is just so much in this method! The more you do, teach, and learn about the Pilates Method, the more richness is revealed to you. Also, I love to teach students that are super smart in their minds but don’t feel confident in their bodies or in a movement discipline. They always love to discover that your mind is really what we are training!

5.) What advice would you give someone beginning the training program or interested in the program?

My advice for someone beginning the training program or interested in applying is to immerse yourself in learning your workout. Take lessons, work independently in the studio if you can, and observe all the great teachers at Excel as they teach all kinds of bodies. The more you can have the exercises in your own body, the more you will get out of all the training seminars. I took a really long time to commit to the program and I had been doing many of the advanced exercises by the time we got to the advanced training seminars. To not have to learn to do the exercises while you are learning to teach them was very helpful to me. Also, as a new teacher one of your primary teaching skills is your own experience of doing the exercises.

6.) What attracted you to Excel’s program?

I was a client at Excel and had become the Studio Manager before I seriously entertained entering Excel’s training program. It took me a long time to decide I was ready to do it. I loved Pilates and I wanted so badly to learn more about the method. I wasn’t sure I would like to teach people so I originally started the training program to better my own workout. But as I began to teach others, I found I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I really had never had a job where I told people what to do…

7.) How often do you reference your training manual?

I actually am just referencing it now as I am preparing to teach a workshop on the Guillotine. We were fortunate to have the Guillotine apparatus when I did my training and I got to review my notes and remember that Excel was where I had heard the Guillotine first described as “a workout in a doorway.”

8.) What inspired you to become a Pilates teacher?

Each time I would visit the studio for my workouts I would learn so much more than I could ever anticipate. The depth of the Pilates Method is continually inspiring to me. Also, in my first Mat class with Lesa there were so many basic exercises I really couldn’t do very well or at all. They made my mind ask questions: “Why can’t I roll up?” “Why is it so hard to circle one leg at a time?” “Is this something I should be able to do?” I felt myself to be young and fit – and I was – but Pilates was asking me to look more closely at my body’s strengths and weaknesses. It seemed to know I could ask more of myself, that I could do things in a better way, the Pilates Method wanted me to know more about the intricacies of my body. It always makes me think “hmmm… that’s interesting. I’ll keep an eye on that.” Pilates is really the gift that keeps on giving if you pay attention.