Discussion #5073

Phases of Your Practice

55 min - Discussion


Join Debora Kolwey and Gia Calhoun as they discuss the different phases of your Pilates practice as both a student and a teacher. They will talk about finding satisfaction with your practice as your body changes over time in addition to accepting where you are in the moment.
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Jul 01, 2022
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(upbeat music) Hi, I'm Gia, and I'm here with The Pilates Report. I'm really excited about my guest today. She's joining from Colorado, and it's Debora Kolwey. Welcome, Debora. It's so wonderful to have you here. Thank you, Gia.

I'm really happy to be here too. So we're just gonna jump right into it, and my first question is just about your Pilates career, and I just wanna know how you got started in Pilates. Yeah, well, I was living in Boulder. I had moved from New York to be in a dance company, and I was working at a gym teaching aerobics. I hadn't done Pilates myself at this point, so we're talking the early months of 1985, and one day the owner of the gym kinda casually walked by and he said to me, "You know I have this friend who teaches this stuff that you might like, because you're a dancer," and I said, "What is this stuff?" And he said, "It's Pilates." And as I said, I hadn't actually done Pilates.

I lived in New York for almost 10 years. I had some friends who, as injured dancers, would go to Pilates. I had a couple of other friends who worked at the Pilates studio, but they hardly made any money, and I was making very good money in the restaurant industry, so that wasn't appealing to me. I said to him, "Well, you know, can you get 'em out here? Can I be trained?" It was just this random moment, teaching aerobics, dancing in Boulder, and I just had a little flash.

I said, well, maybe I could learn Pilates. Oh, that's amazing. What ended, do you wanna know how it went down? Yeah, definitely. Well, so the owner of the gym had been childhood friends with, it was Stephan, Stephan Frease, whom some people will know about and some people won't.

He had grown up in Boulder. He had been married. He had a son. At this point he was living in Beverly Hills, teaching Pilates to the movie stars, but he would come back to Boulder. Unfortunately his son was very ill, and so he did come back to Boulder regularly to visit him, and we had dinner together, and the director, the owner of the gym wanted Stephan to teach the whole staff, the whole aerobics staff, and it all kind of happened pretty quickly. Stephan decided that he would teach me and this one other young woman, and then the two of them went into a business deal where 10 reformers were purchased.

There was a beautiful little room on the second floor of the gym with a gorgeous window overlooking the foothills, and one thing led to another and I spent one month in 1985, April I believe, of 1985 having daily lessons with Allison and Stephan. He worked with us in the mornings, and then we had lunch and then in the afternoon Allison and I worked on our own. I'm really cutting to the chase here, and after a month we opened the Pilates studio here in Boulder at this little gym in town, so basically my learning of Pilates and my becoming a teacher of Pilates was at the same time only one month (both laugh) of teacher training. It was a different time. It was a different time.

One month of teacher training I was put on the floor as an assistant, and I joked that I was a spring changer, because basically, (Gia laughs) when we first opened Stephan stayed in Boulder, I can't remember exactly for how long. He was very attractive and he attracted a lot of people to come to the gym, so the program took off pretty quickly, and Allison and I were his assistants, so we ran around and changed springs, sometimes assisted people. The equipment at the time was before. Before Balanced Body was Balanced Body it was Current Concepts, and so Ken Edelman's reformers, they were quite large, and there were five springs, different colors, and not only did we change the springs for resistance, but we would move the gears in and out. I had a notebook with all of the gear changes and the spring colors, and I think I had nightmares, worrying (Gia laughs) that I would mess up the spring, so that's a lot of what we did.

We literally just ran around to the 10 reformers, moving the gears and changing the springs and helping people with the equipment. Wow. That's amazing. Yeah. It's pretty amazing. So when you first started practicing and teaching, since they were pretty much around the same time, what was your practice like? Was it pretty rigorous or was it more deep?

What kind of, what did you feel when you were practicing Pilates? Well, it was all new. It was absolutely new to me, and it was not what we would call classical. We kind of, in those days we had sort of what we called the East Coast and the West Coast. This was definitely West Coast Pilates.

Sure, very much a product of Stephan's exploration, which is a whole other story, and I was just trying to learn it and memorize it, and so honestly at that time it was very, it was very intriguing, but it was a bunch of exercises, and it was in a gym and so it had more of a gym environment and feel to it. Although we were separate, the studio was upstairs, and I was still very much in training mode, so in terms of my physical practice, I hadn't been in Colorado for very long, so I was starting things like learning how to rock climb and run and ski, and all the things that I did when I left New York city and came out here, so it was, I mean, I definitely looked at it as a way to have a more interesting work life than teaching aerobics, and it was regular income where the dancing wasn't. But I can't say that in that moment, those first few months, there was nothing very profound about it. I have one wonderful memory of working with Stephan himself, with a client, with a student, and was sort of a, we both had our hands on the person and we were talking to them and it was, this never happened again, but it was a really beautiful experience to be working together with Stephan on this person, and that might have been, at that time, sort of the most esoteric, kind of deep relationship to the work, but that wasn't what we did regularly. Mostly we were just putting people through the routine on the reformers.

Yeah, I can relate to that, 'cause I know when I first started taking Pilates, I was in high school and I was very much, let me just get through this as fast as I can and it was all just about the physical part, and there was no connection to anything, probably but my legs, and then I did another, like I started taking it again while I was in college and did my teacher training then, and I was like, oh, this is different than what I remember doing in high school. It was not, I mean, there was still the physical part of it, but it was not just getting through the exercises. I was starting to understand it a little bit more, but I know that definitely changed for me over time too, and that's actually my next question for you. How has your practice and your thoughts about Pilates changed over time, just within your practice? Not even with clients.

Yeah, well, just to kind of finish up that last bit a little bit too, is that the style of Pilates that I was originally introduced to was very much, and I could tell just from hanging out at the gym that a lot of more gym equipment style exercises was just taken and put on the reformers, and it was more the, today we're doing legs. It was like, we're doing legs. Okay. We're doing upper body. We're doing abs. What I originally got to, of course, when I learned more, was the methodology and the fact that it's a system, but I didn't know that for a while, so I would say how it changed for me didn't really happen until I went to New York for the first time, so of course, in terms of my relationship to Pilates, I did that Pilates for the first several months, and then I ended up getting fired from my job there, which is a whole other story (Gia laughs), and I ended up purchasing two of the reformers. If we have time and you want me to give you the backstory on that, I can, but basically I had to leave the gym, and my mother fronted me the money to buy two of the reformers and bring them to my apartment, and so I had them in this little back bedroom and I didn't really know what I was gonna do, but I ended up going to New York and finding the Pilates studio in New York and signing up for lessons there, and as soon as I had that experience, I realized that I was up against something that was much larger than what I had realized.

Oh, that's amazing. Is that when you met Eve, or did you meet her later on? No, that's when I met Ramana, so it was in, I think it was October of 1985. I had started teaching out of my house, and I found the Richard Freeman, not Richard Freeman, Philip Friedman, "The Pilates Method of Mental and Physical Conditioning." I had found it in a used bookstore, and so I brought that book home and I taught myself the mat work, 'cause I hadn't been introduced to anything except this style of working on the reformer, so I taught myself the mat work out of the book, and in the back of the book, there was a mention of the Pilates Studio in New York City and an address, so I went and found it, and I just, I went up there and I said hello, and can I take some lessons? And they, I don't even remember who I talked to.

I just found the place, I went in, and they said, well, you can't just take one lesson. You have to sign up for five, and I think it was a hundred bucks, for five lessons. That's amazing (laughs). Yeah, right, so I did that and I stayed for a week, and I just went on the floor and whoever was there at the time, you sort of signed up for a time slot, but you didn't sign up to be with anybody in particular, so whoever was there. They knew I was a dancer.

They put me on the reformer and just started teaching me, and I just did what they told me to do, and then at the end of the amount of time we had, they would send me over, there'd be a group doing some mats, so they'd send me over and I'd do my mat work, and then if somebody was available, they would show me a couple of things on the Cadillac in the chair, and it was all kind of like, oh, well you're a dancer, so this'll be good for you and this'll be good for you, and during that week I did end up talking to Ramana, and I did not tell her that I was already teaching. I tried to stay very anonymous. I had a feeling that that might not have been good, so anyway, but it was cool. She brought me in the back and she told me all kinds of stories and showed me some amazing pictures. What I remember being really struck by was the similarity to the, what she said Pilates was good for, really reminded me a lot of the, I had been a student of yoga my whole life, and it was very, very similar.

She didn't talk very much about hamstrings (laughs). She talked about conditions and your heart and your lungs and breath and circulation and organs. That was really what we talked about more, and just wonderful stories, so it was super inspiring, and she was around, she didn't teach me directly that week, but she invited me to stay. She said, well, why don't you just stay and hang out at the studio and take a lot of lessons and watch, and I couldn't admit to her, I said, well, I'm so sorry. I have family back in Colorado. I can't stay.

I didn't wanna admit to her that I was going home to teach. Yeah, so that was the beginning. That was the first, yeah, that was the first big shift, yeah. Did you notice that when you had that first shift in your training that your clientele started to change, or did they respond differently to how you were teaching, or did that kinda stay the same? It didn't change for a while, because I didn't really know enough.

What it did was it woke me up seriously to the fact that I had very little training and I needed a lot more, and this was the tip of the iceberg. I was so naive. I had no idea what was going on. And so then I woke up and started to pay attention to the industry such as it was at the time, and I went back and forth to New York a few times. I went out to California a few times. I ended up meeting Jillian Hessel, and I went to her studio.

I went to the Fletcher studio. I went to Stephan's studio in Beverly Hills a few times, so I started moving around and getting a lot more training, and that went on for two or three years. The next kind of huge turn, well, I mean, there was just this moment where I would come back from New York and I wouldn't understand why I couldn't do the work. Like, I had all these notes, and what I finally realized was that the equipment was so different. That was another kind of big wake up.

I had current concepts, old equipment, which was very large. The box was huge and the handles didn't swivel, and the dimensions were just so different, and I just remember a couple things coming home and trying to recreate the rowing series, and all of a sudden Short Box just felt horrible, and so it was getting uncomfortable for me personally, like I knew there was this thing that I really wanted to be practicing on my own and sharing, and yet I couldn't really, because the equipment was just all wrong, and so let's just say I was a bit stuck. It wasn't like I made some decision to buy new equipment at that point. I didn't really know what I was doing. I just kept going, and my clients were fine.

They liked the work. It was just starting to be uncomfortable for me, so the next big shift was when I went to the conference at St. Francis Memorial hospital, and that's where I met Eve. Oh, okay, I wanna go to that in a second, but I wanna start, talk a little bit more about the shift in mindset that you had. Did you find that was difficult for you to accept, or was it more just like part of your evolution as a teacher? Well, like I said, at that point, I don't think I was consciously having a shift in mindset.

I was just sort of bumbling along. I knew that there was something bigger, and I wanted to get involved, but I was living in Colorado. It was like I was kind of in this place where I'm not really sure what to do now, and somewhat frustrated about the work and the equipment that I had, but I still had plenty of work, and I was running around doing lecture demos at the Ralph Institute and at certain chiropractor's offices, and I just taught what I knew. That's all I could do, while kind of aware. Huh? How am I gonna get from here to there?

So it wasn't really difficult. I just was in it. I was just in it. Yeah, you're just going through it. Okay, so I wanted to go back. You know, later it gets more difficult (both laugh).

So now back to, you were at St. Francis Hospital and that's where you met Eve, and so that was probably the next big shift in your teaching career? Yeah, yeah, yeah, that was huge, because, I feel like I've told this story so many times, but I was still pretty young and I was pretty cocky. I knew I could teach people to move. I had been teaching dance since I was in high school, and I had a lot of confidence in a certain way, and you don't know what you don't know, and things were going well for me, but, when I watched Eve work with the women that she demonstrated on, it was like nothing I'd ever seen before, so I was aware that there was something else going on that I wanted, and I didn't know what that was. It was a moment. Eve wasn't teaching.

It was Mariana Amacarello, and she was teaching her the side-lying imprinting, so it wasn't a Pilates lesson as you might think, but it was just, for me, it was amazing, and I watched Eve put her hands on this woman, and I watched her speaking very quietly and calmly, and I watched Mariana's body just open and move and change in these subtle ways with very little intervention that I could tell, not a lot of correcting, and I just thought, what the hell is happening here? And whatever that is, whatever that is, it was really like a shock. It was like, I want that, which is hugely different than, teach me a bunch of more exercises on the reformer. No, that's a huge shift, and something you just said too about like when you're younger, usually you tend to be a little bit more cocky, like "I know it all," but then I know I had that experience where I was like, oh, I've been teaching for a while. I know what I'm doing, and then as I started teaching more, I was like, oh no, there's so much I don't know, and then I meet new teachers and learn new concepts, and I was like, yeah, I'm like the very beginning of my knowledge, whereas there's so much more out there, and when I talk to teachers who, some have been teaching for 30 plus years, they're like, I feel like I know nothing still, and I feel like that's a big change in people that I see, whereas when you're young, you're like, I know it all.

And then as you get older you're like, I know nothing, and that's just something I've noticed in people and in myself as well. Yeah, I mean, I can't believe, when I think back, just like get a friend with a pickup truck and we'd throw the reformer in the back of the pickup truck and bring it over to the chiropractor's office. I can't believe I had the nerve to go talk to these people, but I did. So the thing that happened after I met Eve was that I was probably at least a year before I actually was able to make the move happen. I spent a lot, like at first I just kind of freaked out, you know, what am I gonna do?

'Cause I had an apartment and I had a pretty good clientele, and all of that, so I started to investigate what it would take to see if she would even be willing to take me on as a student, as an apprentice, and that process took over a year, till I actually managed to get things lined up so that I could leave town and go to Santa Fe from Boulder. So I know in working with Eve, like your teaching style and just how you approached the method changed, but how did your practice, your personal practice change when you started working with Eve? I allowed myself to kind of go back to a more improvisational, exploratory mode, so very much out of the gym. The work that I did with Eve was not always classical Pilates either. We had our lessons set up so that they were, sometimes they were, and she would very much, we'd have our list of exercises that we needed to get through that day, but that was often not the case, because whatever it was that I showed up with on the days of our lessons, she would drop everything and just work with me, and what ended up happening initially was that she, I mean, she brought me to my knees (laughs), literally, because I was young and flexible and had a lot of range and didn't know what I didn't know, as you say, and she was unwilling to let me just do the movement.

She brought me down to this really deep, deep place where she was asking me to explore myself and discover and not just kinda clunk around, and I use the word clunk because one of my memories is I was doing mat work with her and the clunk in the hip, so I was doing single leg circle, and she wouldn't let me continue, and I didn't know why my hip clunked at that time, and next thing you know, she's got me over the spine corrector and I'm just doing breath work and spinal wave, and then the biggest movement I ended up doing that day was knee stirs, and she literally would not let me progress until my knee stir was completely smooth. She used to say, "Stir the lumps out of the gruel," and it was exhausting, 'cause you were doing this deep, deep little work, so once my knee stir was completely smooth and even and circular, then I could start to straighten my leg maybe, and then I had to get to where that was completely smooth and easeful. She took me way back, way back, and so I started to learn about myself and my habits and my body in a way that I hadn't really had to, 'cause nobody ever stopped me before. They're just like, "Get your leg higher." Nobody ever said, "Why are you doing it like that (laughs)?" Did you notice that thing, your mindset was changing, or were you just kind of, again, going through it like you were before? No, no, oh man, God, I loved it. I loved it.

And we not only had lessons, but I mean the apprenticeship was incredible. She was 80 when I went down there, and she wasn't healthy. She wasn't well. She had worked out a very specific program with me, and often she couldn't meet that, so I did a lot of reading. I did an awful lot of time by myself, just kind of rolling around on the floor.

If Michele Larsson was there, she would help me out, but then she left for Europe and I was literally by myself, actually lived in Michele's house, but it was oddly like a retreat in a way. I was on my own a lot. I took copious notes and I would have these lessons. When Shelly was still there I could go back for clarification, and then once a week I went down to work with Suzanne Gutterson, honestly because Eve realized that she couldn't work with me as much as she had originally wanted to, and she felt responsible for me and the money and everything, so I went down to Suzanne once a week, and I read the books that she wanted me to read. I started reading all about Feldenkrais and Alexander.

It was all this somatic stuff, so I very quickly went into the inner body from the outer body, and I loved it. It was incredibly nourishing and reawakened something that had been, I don't know, unrecognized but there. Like I said, I started doing yoga really young, and I did yoga by myself. I would take classes, but then I would do yoga by myself at home, and also just being a choreographer and doing a lot of improvisation in my dance career. There's just a lot of time spent exploring movement, putting movement together.

I don't know. Is that answering your questions (laughs)? Yeah, yeah it is. I wanna shift a little bit into, still in like shifts in the practice and teaching, but wanna move into a topic that sometimes is taboo, but aging and how your practice kind of can transform as we age, 'cause I know for me, my practice when I was 15 and then when I was 21 is not the same as what I'm doing now. Physically I can probably still do all those same exercises, but I don't necessarily want to or feel the need to do all of those like really advanced or more acrobatic exercises, and I just wanted to get your opinion on how do you accept, like maybe when you need to shift your mindset in how you're practicing, and how do you know when you're doing enough or that it's okay? Well, I think I knew you were gonna ask me this question, and so I've thought about it, is that it's a bit, I dunno if it's ironic, it's funny.

It's like, as I've gotten older, I've had to, or have wanted, to almost go back into a more muscular, like I still love what I just described to you, and it's the thing that keeps me excited as a teacher, but personally, over the past several years, I've also had to, I've noticed that if I don't do a certain kind of work, I'm losing tone and it's easy to lose tone, and then the clunks come back, as it were, so it's funny. It's not a linear process. It's not like you do one thing and then as you age you do something else. I think the question that you're asking has a lot of facets to it, but on a very simple level, I find that I actually crave a little bit more strong work too, and what I have to do is, again, decide how much of that is enough and when am I pushing too hard. I have to adjust the springs, relative to my size.

I'm never really interested in pushing for pushing's sake, so I think what I have found is that I bring the internal body or the inner body approach to a more external practice. I think it does change day by day, 'cause some days I'm really energized and wanna actually push myself a little harder, and some days I'm like, I just need to decompress and stretch and do a little bit more of a restorative class, or some days I just need to rest and maybe just go on a walk, so it does change day by day. I agree with you on that completely, and it's definitely kind of like some days you're up, some days you're down, some days it's straight, so you just have to kind of pay attention to how you're feeling in that given moment. Is that correct? Yeah.

I need to practice in order to teach. I have a varied clientele, but I also have several elderly people, even older than I am, in my practice. Some of them, though, have been doing Pilates for a very, very long time, and that is a different experience than somebody who's coming newly to work with me who's older, because what's amazing is to work with my clients who have been doing Pilates for 25 years with me and it's in them, it's in their body, and so it's just a question of, again, adjusting pacing, springs. They definitely, it's more of a mental thing, where they can't take in as much information quickly. Sometimes they need permission or that it's okay to stop in between, so we chat a little.

You can tell, you can tell when that chatting thing starts to happen and it's just a way of taking a needed rest, but that is fascinating. I know this isn't exactly the question we're asking, but it is, it's really, really interesting to work with someone who's 84 who's been doing Pilates for 25 years and someone who's 80 and walks in the door and wants to start for the first time. The thing that I said though about needing to do my own practice to teach is that, not only in the sense that it energizes me every day when I do my own practice, no matter what it is, whether it's 15 minutes lying on the floor doing fundamentals, or I try to get to the studio before I need to start and do a reformer workout, or chair, whatever it is, I'm looking to how it is today, that how it was different yesterday or last week, and so I'm always charting those subtle shifts, and that's what keeps me going, because, or keeps me available to teach ongoingly, because nothing stays the same and nothing is solid, and it's good to realize that, and then to be able to share that with people who may be suffering from that feeling of loss, like I can't do what I used to do, or I'm in pain or I have this injury or I have this setback, so to be the, to hold that space for somebody, not just intellectually, not just be like, oh, you're gonna be fine, or this is gonna work, or if you just do these exercises you're gonna be fine, but to actually, from a knowing in myself of what is possible, that's good. Yeah, I think that's really important what you just said too about making space for them, 'cause we're not trying to heal anybody or fix anybody, but we're there for them as support and just kind of guiding them through movement, and we're there for them. It's not anything more or less than that.

We're just, yeah, I think that that was just really important, what you just said. I used to think that Pilates was everything from, I've always kind of felt like it's what you want it. It can be just, it can be just exercise, which is incredibly important, and it can be everything from that to an entire, you know, what they say, body, mind, spirit awakening. I mean, it's how you approach. It's how you approach yourself and your relationship to your body, and it's not the same all the time.

Yeah. I agree with that. Something else that you said, and I know this wasn't the topic, but that you have to move every day to kind of feel what it feels like today. Is that kind of how you avoided burnout? 'Cause I know a lot of teachers experience burnout in their day to day career, so is that what you've kind of done to keep yourself going and just make it exciting for you? Absolutely.

And if I only had, if it was just a workout, like get through it, get the endorphins, be done with it, that I don't think would have the same support or the same effect. I think I mentioned, my happy place is rolling around on the floor, feeling all the fluids and the joints and everything moving through my body, and like I said, never is there a morning when I don't notice something, and as long as you can keep noticing something, then you're awake, and if you're awake and you're alive, that's what you, that's what I, that's what keeps me going. I feel too, like at this point, before we get too far somewhere else, you asked about the shifts. I wanna mention that another huge shift was after I came back from Santa Fe, about a year after that, was when I ended up meeting Amy and Rachel, who had moved to Colorado at that point and had opened up the Pilates Center, because it was through that relationship, I mean, I am so incredibly fortunate in terms of when I got exposed to Pilates, the timing of things, and who I got to work with, and then the timing of this was incredible. They had just opened up their studio, and Steve Giordano was the person who made their equipment and he encouraged them to have a teacher training program, and I was moving where I was teaching and needed a place to go, and ended up meeting them and going to work at their studio, and if I hadn't done that, I would've never gotten to go through the teacher training program with Ramana, so I did end up, six, seven years into my teaching career, getting to participate in the full, classical, comprehensive teacher training program, and was introduced to so, so, so, so, so much more than when I just would go back and forth to New York.

And again, up against a lot of my stubbornness and a lot of the things that I thought I knew that I didn't know, and my resources were just expanded hugely, and then to get to the point where I was invited to teach the teacher training program through the Pilates center, I've had multiple, multiple seismic shifts in my relationship to teaching and my relationship to the industry, so that was totally huge, and when you asked the question about, did you ask me the question about (laughs), did my clients wanna shift or did I shift with my clients? Yeah. I asked you that. Okay, so the first big one was when I came back from Santa Fe, because I could no longer just run people through their paces. I had to figure out how to get people enrolled with me to do this deep work, and that was just a, that was a lot of touch and go for me, but then when I got exposed to the entire repertoire, I mean, on the one hand, it pulled me away from that for a while, it pulled me away from the inner, more inner, but I mean, I was just thrilled. It was, you know, it was amazing to be taught all this stuff and to be really a student again in that way and to feel what was possible in my body in a whole other way, and honestly, it was kind of nice to not, I didn't have to go in there and say, well, what do I do today?

There was this structure. Suddenly I went from being like queen of improvisation to, wow, what's it like if I don't actually have to make it up all the time? What happens if I just stick with this structure? That was a whole other awakening for me. It kind of like pushed my buttons a little, in terms of my stubborn, know-it-all self, but in a way it was hugely freeing.

So, I mean, I'm so lucky. I've had both (laughs). And then have you been able to blend it all together now? Yeah, like 75 years later, I think (both laugh). I think maybe I'm finding a good blend, yeah. Yeah, I know when I've worked with you, it feels like you have your structure, but then you have played with like the stuff you've learned with Eve.

I remember you just getting me to do single leg kick 'cause my knees click, and so we spent a long time trying to figure out how to get my knees to stop clicking and you did it, and I was like, oh, I've never done this before without it clicking. It was amazing, so I could see the Eve influence in there, just in like, I think it was just one session even. Yeah, well that's partly, the Eve influence isn't just, it's not a technique, it's an approach, to sort of watching bodies and understanding what's happening here and why is that like that. That doesn't look like it feels very good, or whatever it is, and then a lot of exploring. Yeah, that's all we did.

We just explored like, what if we try this? But it's not blind. The exploring isn't blind. It's based on very sound mechanics and the way of the body, but it's a willingness to not know. See, I think that that's one of the things that keeps me going. You go through, it's scary sometimes, because you're supposed to know what you're talking about when you teach.

There's that ego and the front that you wanna be able to present, and some of that, in my experience anyway, that loosens up as you get older. Yeah, oh, I agree, and I think that cockiness that we have when we're younger too usually comes from like a fear of being found out, like I don't know at all, or it's just, definitely just a defense mechanism, and then as you do get older, you're just more open to exploring other ideas or just admitting like, oh, I don't know. Let me find out, or let me ask this person, 'cause there's no shame in not knowing, 'cause no one knows it all. Yeah, 'cause there's huge shame in not knowing when there is (Debora laughs), like immobilizing shame sometimes. What other external or even internal factors do you think kind of keeps people from transforming or shifting in their mindset with their practice or their teaching?

That's a lot. That's a really big question. I know it is. Sorry (laughs). No, it's a really good question. It could go in some different directions. I think for me, and then I'll try to say what I've noticed in others, one of the things that I think has kept me from being as free to just really, like I'm always developing, but do I express that?

Do I live it live it? Live, space, it, not livid. I feel this huge responsibility to be a good example of something, and so if I'm teaching at the Pilates Center and the trainees are there, I have felt I have to set a good example, and also I have to represent the Pilates Center properly. I don't necessarily, when you work for someone else and you're working in a particular brand, even, I don't know, maybe this is my kind of New England upbringing, but you don't just get to do whatever you want, say whatever you want, and I think there's value in that. I think it's a good kind of constraint.

You learn a lot about yourself. You get creative in a different way within constraints, but I do think that on a very personal level, one of the things that I've had to work with over the years is that. What that thing inside me is is that I feel responsible. I need to set a good example, et cetera, and I think that's a good thing. I think that's okay, and then there's just the different phases of life.

We want different things at different times. And then you talked about external. Things happen. We might set ourselves on a course, have our goals all in a row, and then circumstances happen, and I think, again, one of the things I've grappled with for a long time is how much am I obligated to separate what you might call my professional life, your professional life from your personal life, and again, I was brought up at a certain time and a certain culture that said separate those. "Nobody wants to hear about that," so I worked very hard to keep my professional life and my personal life separate, and it was exhausting (both laugh), but also I didn't let myself attend to certain things, whether it was family or other things that came along, because I felt this work ethic, this really strong responsibility to what I said I would do, and again, as I've gotten older, I've played with that a little bit, and I've been very fortunate, I guess, to have built up enough trust, and I've been able to, whether it was take time off for my health or family members' needs, so I've had to explore that and find that yes, in fact, you can do that and still come back and do a good job. Yeah, I relate to that completely, that responsibility.

I'm in the same way, and something I also think notice externally from other people is there's a fear of judgment, 'cause I think as an industry we can be a little judgemental of what other people are doing, and so then people are afraid to put themselves out there or to do things that maybe are a little bit outside of the box or even within the box, and they're just afraid that, oh, this person's gonna think this or they're gonna say that about me, so I think that's something as an industry we can all work on, being less judgemental and being a little bit more open-minded, 'cause I think that's a common thing I see in a lot of teachers. I agree, I agree, and the irony of that, again, to go back to the question about what makes it difficult for people to allow themselves to shift, or forget how you put it exactly. I'm looking at my notes. What makes it difficult for people? One of the strongest things that I've seen is this concept that we, when we get derailed, whether it's a life experience or an accident or an injury or whatever it is, people always come back to me with the same thing.

"I just wanna get back to where I was. I wanna get back to where I was," and that, I understand that, but I also feel like, A, it's impossible, you actually never go back to where you were, and B, if that's your driving force, if that's the driving motivation in whatever you're doing, I mean, this is me talking, I feel like you're robbing yourself of so much potential personal growth and life, 'cause you miss what's actually happening now. You're gonna miss the possibility of what comes of your experiences if you just, okay, "I'm done with that. Now I gotta get back to where I was," which is a very different way to approach growing. You gotta bring it all with you.

You gotta bring it all with you, and let yourself feel it and make choices from that, and I know that we're not, I'm not just talking about let's say a knee injury that then I need to get my tone back or my balances or my function, but it's the mental attitude that I think is what blocks people and is so painful for me to witness. Everybody is just so incredibly hard on themselves, and then they're expecting everybody else to be so hard on themselves, on them. It's rampant, that thing. It's really, really rampant. Yeah, this has been such a great conversation, and I just have one last question for you, Debora.

Do you have any last pieces of advice for people who are wanting to change their mindset or are struggling with going through a shift in their practice or their teaching? Just any last piece of advice for people? You know, it's funny, giving advice (both laugh). I know what you mean. You're asking me, so I'll answer you.

Usually I don't give too much advice, unless there's a direct invitation, so I'll just pretend it's just you. I would say, what do you want? Like what do you want? And then see what happens. So beautiful.

It's like what, the thing is we say we're afraid to change or shift. We can't stop it. It's happening. It's scary to ask what you want, right? I think for a lot of us.

I mean I've, it's like, well, if I ask, if I say it to myself, if I admit it, if I even know how to know, I'm not necessarily gonna get it. You don't always get what you want, but it's incredibly powerful and enlivening to be supported in finding out what you do want, because there's the feeling of that, of the desire. You don't always get what you want, right? But if you don't even let yourself explore what that might be, (Debora laughs) I think it's good. Does that answer your question?

That's amazing. Thank you. I feel so uplifted right now just listening to you. I could listen to you all day, but we are sadly out of time, but thank you so much, Debora, for joining me for this Pilates Report, and for everyone watching at home, we are recording this, so this will be on the site in a few days, and if you have any questions for Debora, you can feel free to leave comments in the forum for the video once it's on the site, and we'll see you next time. Thank you again, and I'll see you next month.


Mary Jo K
2 people like this.
Thank you for this conversation, loved it!
Caroline Close
Great advice at the end. Simple yet profound. Thankyou : )

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