Discussion #5231

30 Years of Polestar Pilates

65 min - Discussion


Join Brent Anderson, Shelly Power, and Kristi Cooper as they celebrate 30 years of Polestar Pilates. They will discuss the history of the program and how it has evolved over the years.

Links and Resources

- Pilates Pioneers

- Brent Teaching Kristi

- Polestar Pilates

What You'll Need: No props needed

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Nov 25, 2022
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(mellow music) Welcome, everyone. Kristi Cooper here from Pilates Anytime. And I am here to celebrate yet another remarkable event, which is the 30 year anniversary of Polestar Pilates. My guests today are Brent Anderson and Shelly Power. Brent being the CEO and founder of Polestar Pilates 30 years ago.

And also Shelly Power, who's the vice president and been working with Brent all along. So the point of these pilates reports, first and foremost, are to celebrate the accomplishments that this organization has had, a couple other organizations are having. And I think it's just really worth investigating how they did it, what was their plan, what was the landscape like, because I find it very inspiring. And I think certainly they'll be able to tell us how the times have changed over the last 30 years. And so with gratitude, I have Brent Anderson and Shelly Power here with me today.

Welcome. Well, thank you. Yes, so good to be here. I like to say I'm not on social media a lot, but sometimes I am and I see things that are so notable and worthwhile talking more about. And one of them is the fact that you've had Polestar Pilates for 30 years or maybe it's a little over 30 years, I'm not sure.

But I wanted to acknowledge that because I think in the last few years several people have opted out of teaching and training. And then, some are opting in. And I think the value add for just having a conversation with two of you that have been here much longer than many, maybe most. So I really appreciate the conversation. Thank you for being here.

And I wanna start with how are you gonna celebrate or have you already celebrated your 30 year anniversary? Well, we did have a big celebration. Yeah, we did have a big celebration. And I say big because it was so heartfelt. We invited all of our licensees from around the world and our senior educators to come to the farm, which I'll talk about probably a little bit later.

But they came to the farm in North Carolina and we all got together. And it was filled with hugs and kisses and long talks and walks that were amazing. And we had about 60, 70 people here for that particular event. We decided to keep it just to our licensees and senior educators. And we did just celebrate.

We just hung out and we ate and we had fun. We danced. We had live music. And really enjoyed and embraced the fact that many of us have been together for well over 25 years. I mean, that's to me the most amazing thing is being surrounded by people for, Shelly, 32 years and some of our licensees over 25 years that have been with us. What was the quality, like what were you celebrating, the sheer longevity, or were you celebrating that pilates has been pushed forward?

I'm just curious. Or was it the relationships? Yeah, the relationships for sure. For, you know, being around this so long, I mean, as Brent said, a lot of the licensees and our educators, we've been teaching together for well over 20 years. And that is, I mean that's remarkable too that the retention and the, as people talk about, the stickiness.

So we have the stickiness of pilates, we also have the stickiness of Polestar. And a lot of, like I said, a lot of the people have been around forever. And so to be able to, especially with my job of traveling so much for the last 10 years, and then not getting to travel for the last three or so, it was just, you know, celebrating our family. And family is, you know, it's a word that, you know, not everybody likes 'cause not everybody has a wonderful family life. But it really is like a family for us.

And it was just wonderful to be together. And it is good to celebrate. That pilates is still sticky and people still want to do it. And we still have jobs as pilates teachers and as teacher trainers. I was gonna say we had a couple friends that also joined us at the event that just randomly showed up from here in North Carolina.

And at the end of it, they were so impressed with the energy and the, just the vibe I guess is what you would say. They came up and he just like, "Gimme a big hug." And he says, "I don't know what I have to do, but I want to be part of Polestar, you know." So, I think there was just, it was so inviting. It was so friendly. It was filled with love and kindness and just gratitude that we could be together again after those couple years Shelly talked about and it just was a great time to be together. Yeah, I completely understand that.

The question I was gonna ask, I think you just addressed, so I'm gonna move on. Except to say that I agree with the fact that the relationships matter to my mind way more than I even knew, just from a personal perspective. It's been like, God, I really do need people and I really do need my network and I really do need more than Zoom. And no offense to Zoom 'cause thank goodness, right? We all got to do it that way.

But I guess I was about to ask was there just a relief in making it through. But I'll come to that later and lemme go to this. Start with 30 years ago, I guess that's 1992 or around 30 years ago in 1990, how did the two of you come together? I know Brent, you started. You're the founder. You started it and I wanna know how Shelly comes into it.

So, that might be two different questions. I'm gonna let Shelly tell her story. Yeah, I met Brent as part of the dance community in Sacramento. And he had graduated from PT school, came back to Sacramento, and came to a lot of the different schools and dance companies and really promoted pilates. Most of us didn't know anything about it.

And he would come and do in-services and teach us about cross training and injury prevention and all these, you know, wonderful attributes to pilates. And because we didn't really know much about it, we all went, "Yeah, that's interesting, okay." And then we went back to doing what we were doing. Until I had an injury and it was like, "Uh-uh, now what do I do?" And I, you know, it was like the only thing to do was to call this physical therapist who worked with dancers. And I remember calling and saying, you know, "I need an appointment. I have this injury." And, you know, that's where it really started. And as being a client or a patient there, I remember when Brent said to me, he says, "Well, I need teachers.

Would you like to teach pilates for me?" And I remember thinking, "I don't know, what's pilates?" you know. And I did know what it was, but I really didn't know what it was. I had a teaching background though and it was like, "Yeah, okay. I'll do that." And that started it. I mean we were talking in 1990, 1991, somewhere in there. For sure.

Way before we organized Polestar. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, Brent then let me back up one step for people.

Where did you learn? You were a physical therapist already. You were at St. Francis Medical Center. Medical hospital? Yeah, it was actually before that.

It was before that. So, I was in PT school in San Francisco and I was taking just a recreational ballet class. And she asked me, the teacher asked me, "Hey, have you heard about pilates yet?" And she told me about St. Francis. And that's when I went to St. Francis, probably like '88, '89, somewhere in there, just before graduating. And that's where I met Elizabeth Larkam and Patrice Whiteside.

And that's when, you know, my world turned, you know, into a pilates world very quickly, especially pilates for rehabilitation. Okay, I have to dive in deeper there. So, you learn from, you're taking the ballet class. You learn there. I need to know when did Polestar start?

When did and how and who was with you? So, I'll give you the quick, yeah. I mean that whole story. I'll give you the quick rundown. So when I graduated in October of 1989, I had already been turned on to pilates at the St. Francis Hospital and Center for Dance Medicine with Dr. James Garrick and with Elizabeth.

And at that time, I took a job in Sacramento immediately out. And then I finished going through the training that Elizabeth and Patrice had put together at St. Francis. And in that loop, there was all of a sudden this plethora of opportunities to meet with Romana, Alan Herdman, Carola Trier down in LA. We started going and meeting all the elders that we had a chance to work with in that year, like '89 to '91. And by 1989, also the very end of it, in the beginning of '90, I met Ken Endelman in Sacramento when I relocated to Sacramento from San Francisco.

And I already was very heavily into dance medicine. My head was set in the idea that I was gonna work with dancers. I was gonna, you know, take care of the dance community. And so, there was this nice mixture of working in the dance world and dance medicine. And I was working for a company called Bertolucci Physical Therapy.

And he bought all of the equipment for me. And about six months into my stay there, he basically said to me, he said, "You know what, you're gonna be so much happier on your own and you need that freedom." And he was very generous and he gave me, you know, a check. And he said, "Go out on your own." And I went to a sort of dangerous part of town and opened up a practice. And that's actually where I met Shelly. So, it was that year in 1990, I'm assuming, or '91 that I met Shelly.

And so already, Elizabeth, Ken and myself were sort of formulating things, doing things together. Ken started coming in doing pilates at Anderson Physical Therapy at that time in Sacramento. And that's where Shelly came into the picture. And then, it became the four of us and we started going to conferences and to dance medicine. IDMS was the main one.

The first one was actually here in North Carolina that we went to at the American Dance Festival out at Duke. So, funny enough, here I am back in the same neighborhood, you know, 32 years later. Sort of interesting, right? I didn't even put it together until somebody said, "Oh yeah, we had the, you know, the dance festival here in North Carolina in outside of Durham at Duke." And I said, "Oh my goodness, we went to that IDMS conference." And so we started just going to every conference there. It was physical therapy, dance medicine.

We went all over the world for the next, you know, 10 years plus. But it wasn't until 1992 that we got together and decided to organize a company. And again, we were sitting around and it was was also sort of timed with the lawsuit. So, the lawsuit was also there and we couldn't really use the word pilates the way we wanted to. And so, we were literally looking for a word that had a P, an L, a T, and S, something like that in it.

And Ken Endelman came up with the name Polestar and that's where Polestar began. And I dunno if you knew that or not- That's so cool. He come up with the name. If I did, I've forgotten it. That's very, very cool.

And I wanna refer because Ken, Elizabeth and you, and I know Shelly was meant to be there that day too, but you all, we do have a video that really goes into this, so I must have known it at one point, but I think it's very, very interesting. 'Cause I was part of, you know, coming up in pilates when you all of a sudden couldn't say it and we had to change what the name of our studio was at the time. So I- It was about this time of the year in 1992. So it was like October, maybe around a conference or something that we were all together, I think. I mean, I don't, it was fall. I don't remember.

It was fall of '92 that we formally organized. So we literally are in our 30 year anniversary and that was what the celebration was about. Yeah. So, okay, I have to take it a step further again, like how, why? I mean you already were a physical therapist, I don't think Shelly was.

What made you want to, yeah, I know. I do know that. But what prompted you to go, "Oh, we need to do this, you know, create Polestar." Like why did you do it back then? Because what I haven't asked you is what was the landscape like? You know, we were in a time where there was really no formal education in pilates.

It was all authoritative. You would go study with Eve Gentry. You'd go study with Romana. You'd go study with Carola. Maybe some of the second generation was already working on that.

But it was very like apprenticeship. You'd go work with somebody and when they felt you were ready, "Hey, can you take this person and do, you know, the basic workout with them on the reformer?" There was really no formal education. And at that time, the St. Francis Hospital had put together a basic curriculum that we were sort of doing in 1990, 1989. And we just felt driven. And I would say that we, being Elizabeth Larkam and myself, we were driven to find better evidence in pilates and we were driven to organize a more formal education.

And a few years later, by 1995, we were now looking at competencies and starting to think about things like examination, which I think finally, I don't know when like '99 or '98 we started doing exams. Yeah. But we were looking to be able to really solidify it 'cause we were working, we were presenting all these medical conferences. And you know, the words we were using that we were trained in in pilates were very difficult to gain respect in the medical world. Now, it's funny- Such as?

The medical world really wants those words What's that? Such as? Oh, such as. Such as, like. Flow, connectivity, you know, breath.

I mean, it's like, come on, gimme something more solid. Like, you know, spine articulation- Powerhouse? Yeah. And powerhouse means nothing to them, right? Right, right. So, those are the exact

kind of words that would, core control or other things, that we were using back in the '90s to be able to increase the validity of what we were doing. And then Paul Hodges came out with a study in 1996 that really sort of set the tone for us to just ramp up the application of pilates for rehabilitation. And that was really a big turning point for us in the late '90s. I mean I remember going to parties and people be like, "What do you do?" Right? We all know that, you know, people couldn't say it.

They thought it was something else. But I'm still curious, why did you think pilates itself, and whether it's with rehabilitation or not, was so important to keep going and form an organization around? Because here you are successfully 30 years later. That's really what I'm trying to get at. You know, the, the opportunity that I had, Kristi, was when I had gone into the physical therapy practice and I thought basically pilates was just for dancers.

And Larry Bertolucci had me working with some of these chronic pain patients that did not have, you know, real strong positive test scores and things like their MRIs or their tests back then. It was a spinal tap and different things like that that they were doing. But it was interesting that we started seeing incredible outcomes with regular people with injuries. And we started realizing that the whole body approach and the ability to use graded load, some of the work of Peter O. Sullivan out of Australia also in the 1990s, we started realizing that this was an incredible playground for rehabilitation. And the outcomes we were having far exceeded a lot of the passive interventions that we were doing at that time and still do to this day in physical therapy, we noticed that being able to give somebody a positive movement experience made a big difference.

And that's really where it just was so powerful and we wanted the world to know it. And you're right, like we would go places and they're like, "What is pilates? I mean, I have no idea what this is. What do you guys do?" You know, and it's like, you know, well, let me tell you about it, right? And so we had to have a language that would work in the rehabilitation industry.

And that really sort of started separating, you know, Polestar from some of the other schools was that we were really trying to introduce pilates into the medical world. And we did it. I mean we didn't try, we did it. I mean, we now know that, you know, hundreds and hundreds of good juried articles and great evidence-based meta-analysis later and many hospitals and universities and clinics that are all now embracing pilates. It's in every software in physical therapy for documentation.

And that was just unheard of in the '90s. Sure. Thank you. I haven't heard you say it quite that way and it makes a lot of sense to me. I'm now I'm gonna ask you, Shelly, like when you come in as an injured dancer prior to Polestar actually starting, what makes you, I mean you've committed your life to this as well and also, you know, other roles in pilates.

So like what made you decide this was the way to go? Yeah, I mean, I didn't, at the time it was an opportunity to learn something new. I actually did wanna go to PT school, but actually before I met Brent. And I don't know that I even really understood what a physical therapist was, but that was what I wanted to do. My- Me too.

Degree at Sac State was pre-physical therapy, even though I was a dancer and I was devoting 99% of my time to all of my dance companies and dance work. And it just happened to have the same core curriculum. So, I actually have a Bachelor of Science in Dance, which is kind of strange. Usually, it's an arts degree. But that set me up to be able to go to do this pre-physical therapy program that they had.

Now, of course, Sac State has a physical therapy program. But it was one of those things where I didn't plan it and I just took the opportunity to learn and go forward. And at some point, I talked about it a lot, met all these people who were physical therapist. Everybody would help me out. People would write me letter.

You know, write letters for me and get me into school and all these things. And I realized one day, you know, I'm really doing what I wanna do and I don't need A, to go into debt. But B I don't really need to go into a full physical therapy program to do what I wanna do, which is to help people move better. And that was kind of a wow, aha moment. And it also made me realize that, hey, I'm a pretty good movement teacher.

I can do this. You know, I'm not an apprentice level teacher anymore. And I mean, growing up following in the footsteps of Brent and Elizabeth, I mean that's a big (laughs), those are big shoes to fill. It's a big weight. A big weight. A big shadow, you know,

to come from. But they were both really gracious with their teaching and you know, it just became, you know, all right, I'm doing this, I can do this. And one of the things that I remember, which Brent didn't mention was people came to both Brent and Elizabeth and said, "You know, we wanna do pilates with our such and such population, our orthopedic patients, or somebody with an injury, or a head trauma, or whatever, and can you help us?" And because the only way I had learned to teach was through modifying things and trying to figure out how could you get the essence of the movement to this person, even though it didn't really look like the exercise, you know, but you got the point across. And I just thought, "Well, how come people don't know how to do this?" But they just didn't because it was so authoritative. You did the hundred like this, it was the first exercise of the mat work and you didn't vary from that.

And that was really interesting to see people's eyes, you know, it's that head, you know, head explodes of, "Oh, I could teach the hundreds sitting in a chair or, you know, whatever it was." So, that was a big thing in the beginning too. That people came to Brent and Elizabeth, as well as coming to Kenny for, you know, "Hey, can we change the equipment a little bit for this population of people?" So I don't know that everybody knows that part of the story too. That's how Polestar grew. I mean people came to us and they would have these questions or wanting to bring it into a new city or a new country. And, you know, they would ask us questions and pretty soon we developed relationships.

And they had, you know, really positive experience. And next thing you know, all of a sudden we have a licensee in Hong Kong, or a licensee in Germany, or different countries or different cities, or as Shelly mentioned, different specialties. We started attracting people who were specialists in neuro, specialists in rehabilitation for children, specialists in rehabilitation for geriatrics. And so, it just continued to grow from there. So much was just said.

Starting with the word authoritative. I guess that's probably an educational, like declaration, but I do understand what you mean. In other words, it was, this is what we know, this is what he or she said, and you'll do it this way and that's the right way. And then, so to deviate from that at all is, it's a risk in and of itself, but it's also suggest that you understand the importance of the overall method. I might be stretching that a little bit, but I that's what I'm taking away from that.

Still with you, Shelly. Like your vice president, like how does this grow in that way? How do you both just keep working together? I know Elizabeth went off on her own at a certain point. And there is a video, I don't know if I've already said it, but it's pioneers of pilates if you search on Pilates Anytime, you can see it there, where Elizabeth, Ken, and Brent speak.

And it tells a little bit of the story, but it, because Shelly couldn't be there that day, it doesn't tell me like why or how that manifested. And I'm just curious, you know, this is "The Pilates Report," a lot of times we speak business. But I'm curious about like how you keep moving on. You know, is it just because you want to? Is it because that's the way the industry is going?

So Shelly, how did you become vice president? Was it really early and you've been there all along in terms of helping Brent and the rest build this organization? Or was it something that was handed to you later? Sorry, is that a weird question? No.

(all laughing) No, it- Leave it to me. It is recent as far as the title. And I think we're, I think we're laughing at the same thing is that Brent loves to have titles for people. And I, you know, being around for 30 years, I've had a lot of different titles. And what's funny is that the job really doesn't change.

So early on, I was allowed to be part of the curriculum in the sense that I helped make edits to the manuals. I didn't come up with what was going to be changed, but I was given the documents and said, "Okay, let's edit this. Let's change that. We're gonna put, you know, this exercise before that exercise." And within that, in this, again, this apprentice model, I was, you know, part of it, even though I wasn't making the decisions to it. And just naturally, it grew into, "Okay, now I have a little bit of say in something along with a big team of people." We're gonna revamp the curriculum, we're gonna change from, you know, three modules to six modules, and we're going to do all these different things. And the one thing that's been really wonderful the entire time is that Brent doesn't work in that authoritative way.

He very much likes to have people around him helping to make decisions on things, whether it's in the business part of the business, or the curriculum, or examination, or whatever it is. It's not ever really been Brent saying, "This is what we're gonna teach and this is how we're going to teach it." So that I've just been able to be part of that for so long. And then it was, you know, we need you to go to these different countries. And because I had some longevity and I knew the curriculum well, "Okay, will you go and you travel to all these countries and do all of these trainings for the educators, exams, and to have some quality assurance to make sure that what everybody internationally is doing and teaching and the students that we are turning out who are graduates of Polestar are all meeting the same standards." And so, that was my job for a long time. And I wanna know what the Polestar difference is in education.

And you might have covered a little bit of this already, but we'll see what you say. And also after that, maybe you both can answer the difference in community Polestar and difference in community. And I was just talking the other day and saying that I don't like wasting time with superficial conversations. I like conversations to be meaningful. I like to understand and know people, to seek to understand.

So I think from a leadership standpoint and an organization standpoint, the idea of collaboration, and the idea of respect, and the idea of communication, to be able to bring about great products has been huge. We've been able to, you know, take advantage of some of the best minds in the industry that have really contributed beautiful concepts that have helped us build our philosophy over the 30 years. And, you know, when we think of what really makes the difference is Polestar is not a company that is built on the pilates repertoire, that we teach people to do the repertoire as much as it is. We teach people, the individual, and we use the pilates repertoire and philosophy to create the successful movement experience. And there really is a huge difference in that.

The idea of experiential learning and being able to create an internal locus of control for students as well as for our clients is tremendous. Shelly and I both work a lot on this and we read a lot of books and we study a lot of things, looking at how do we optimize learning. How do we optimize learning movement, and learning to teach, and learning to communicate, and learning how to feel and to be aware of your own body. So you might hear different language in Polestar. You might hear things like, you know, Shelly would say something, "What do you feel?" Versus us telling them, "You should feel it in your glutes." Language is huge in this. Yeah.

I agree. You know, catastrophization sensationalization. Oh my gosh, you have a pelvic torsion and you have a scoliosis. This kind of language is exhausting in both the physical therapy and the pilates profession, and the medical profession. We use it to justify our ability to work with somebody and it's a very harmful language.

And so, this is the kind of thing we're talking about. We go back and we study. We look. We want to know how do we remove things like words like but or don't, you know. Don't put beans up your nose. Don't think about pink elephants.

You're going to do whatever that topic is, right? So linguistics, we've studied neurolinguistics and NLP. And you know, it's like trying to incorporate that into the learning experience for the learner. And a lot of times people understand how big of a difference that's gonna make in your experience of learning to be a successful pilates teacher or a movement professional. Yeah, the inclusivity there is huge.

How do you think that relates, Shelly, to the community of Polestar? The way that you've, it sounds like you've taught or maybe through osmosis or just repetition that you all have chosen words carefully. Do you wanna speak to that Shelly? Sure, it is like the je ne sais quoi. It's like the things you know, but you don't, you know, you can't always explain.

And you know, we really pride ourselves as Brent said in going that next step of seeking. Well one of, you know, our tenets is seek first to understand. That's something really big. I don't know what you're going through, I don't know as a student, as my client, as my colleague, you know, things like that of really treasuring the individual and figuring out what do they want or what do they need, but then also creating independence. And this goes and I think back, not just to our clients, but I think back when I was being put forward to be an educator for Polestar.

Scared the living daylights out of me. Sure. How do I teach like Brent and Elizabeth? Until I realize, okay, I actually can't teach like Brent and Elizabeth. I've gotta develop my own way.

And I was given, you know, the means to do that, to explain the concept the way I understand it. And then, we go forth and do that for every different one of our educators. And that's really important because so many different cultures around the world have a different relationship to movement, to queuing, to communication. And we can't say this is the way you do it. We have to say this is the result that we want and here's, you know, go do that.

And we also have to know, you know, what do they want in their countries? And this is the same for a client. I need to know what my client wants and then I can speak to that. I need to know the different cultures around the world and how they work. And you know, I can speak to that.

And so really it's, I think, you know, it is a lot about the individual. And Brent talks a lot about that in terms of client care and patient care. But it really is, even though, you know, we're a huge company around the world, it really is about the individual and how do we empower them, how do we make them independent. And that's a, you know, that's another point that's important for our clients too. As Brent was, you mentioned, you know, locus of control earlier.

It's like, who's in charge of me? Well, I'm in charge of me. You're in charge of you. But if you're suffering from pain or you've, you know, I mean even just, you're changing jobs and you now wanna be a pilates teacher, and you know, we have to take the individual really into consideration. And make it so that they are empowered to then go on and do whatever that next step is.

And a lot of time as pilates teachers, you know, you need me as your teacher 'cause I'm gonna tell you how to do it. And, you know, now, I want you to be independent. I'd love to be your pilates teacher forever, but I want you to be able to go forward and do that. So whether it's a client or our teachers or whatever so. When we think of the idea of sort of uniqueness in Polestar and you think of sort of the conversation that always has existed between, oh, are you classical pilates or are you, you know, more contemporary pilates, are you authentic.

And I think that, you know, when we look at what we've delved into, we went and studied with all of the elders, Elizabeth and I did, that were living at the time and we look for the commonalities. And then reading through Evan Joseph's, you know, memoirs and things that he wrote, it's like I think that Polestar embodies the philosophy of Joseph Pilates incredibly well. The idea of whole body health being defined by, you know, healthy movement and nutrition, and sleep hygiene and body hygiene and fresh air and sunshine. It's like we embody that and we try to embody that in everything we do with the idea of restoring people's ability. And he talked about being able to perform your mini, very daily task naturally and spontaneously and full of vigor and zest.

And so for us, that really has been, that stuck with me very deep early on with the idea of it's not about repertoire. It's not about the perfect hundred. It's about the perfect experience of movement for that individual in that moment that makes them go, "Oh, I'm connecting with my body. I'm starting to know who I am a little bit more." And anytime there's increased awareness of the body, another fundamental philosophy is you're gonna have increased awareness of your mind, and your spirit, and your emotion, and you're gonna be a better person. And our goal is to impact global wellbeing through intelligent movement.

Movement is our tool, but the goal is to really impact wellbeing in individuals. And we love Joseph's philosophy of whole body health and whole body discipline. Even the second part or the third principle of his was whole body discipline, right? It was being able to have an attitude of embodying whole body health and being disciplined enough to be able to do that. And, you know, when he says participate, you know, those who could participate, if everybody participated in pilates or (indistinct) he said it back then, every day, there'd be no need for these different services like prisons, hospitals and insane asylums.

And its quite a broad statement, but what he wasn't saying is that if everybody went to their private pilates teacher and paid a lot of money to have a private session every day, there'd be no need for this. Well, if that was the case, pilates would never impact the people that are suffering the most with mental health and physical health and being in prison. And so, what we're looking at is how do we make, and I'll finish with this thought, pilates available to everyone. Now in the beginning for us, it was making available to everybody, every kind of disease and pathology. And now, we're looking at it over the last 10 years of how do we make it available to every socioeconomic, every diverse population to be able to get pilates into their life, so that they can independently practice contrology or those 9 essential of Joe's in their life.

And I think that's a very important distinguisher that we're looking at the philosophy and restoring that movement health and impacting the world in that way. Again, you've said so much. But it seems like the people who have been doing pilates the longest in whatever way, shape, or form, talk about world peace almost. You know, Amy and Rachel, I spoke with them a little bit. They're 32 years into this as well on their own anyway.

And both teachers of movement prior to that. And they talk about world peace. You talked about global health, I forget the exact word, but it's interesting. Like the deeper the dive to me personally, it also seems that way. It's like, well, shoot if we all just did this, you know, or practiced any kind of movement really, but this is a really decent one to do in my opinion.

So, I really appreciate everything you've said there. I have questions now 'cause it's a perfect segue for, I think, you know, there's body, mind, spirit, whole body health. Like those are terms, at least body, mind, spirit, that's get, that's we all go. "Oh, yeah. Uh-uh" But what about the spirituality that I feel is also a distinguisher that comes through Polestar education and Polestar training and you know, whether you take a workshop or class or, you know, you end up dancing at the end of one of your classes when you didn't know that's where you were taking it. What about the spirituality that is included?

Can you speak to that and was it always an important part of the education or is that just you, Brent, or is that what you're taking away from the philosophy of Joe? What about the spirituality or am I making that up? No. You wanna speak about a little bit and then pass the baton or? No, you start.

Okay. You start and I'll fill in if there's one key moment that I'm not sure if you'll bring up or not, but I will fill that in if you don't. So it's a good question. (Kristi laughing) I've been writing a book of my memoirs, particularly those that have to do with spirituality. So you'll probably get me a little emotional on this part, Kristi, which is not atypical in a Polestar event.

But you know, from the time, as long as I can remember, I have always felt a draw or a, you know, a connection with spirit. And you know, I've always been able to appreciate things like, you know, people's soul and seeing people that are hurting, or seeing an animal that's in pain, or those kind of things. And just feeling it or appreciating things like appreciating nature, appreciating sunrise, appreciating a meaningful conversation with another individual. And so that has always, always been part of my life. When I was 19, I went on a mission for my church to Spain for two years, had an amazing experience.

I tell people I went there thinking I was gonna convert a whole bunch of people to my faith. And I came back with three incredibly powerful lessons. One was that Brent Anderson was not the center of the world. That the United States was not the center of the world. And that I was happiest when I was helping other people.

And it was a major paradigm shift for me to think of having a life that is built on helping and helping others and teaching people to help themselves. What an incredible blessing and realizing that all of it is spiritual. So saying, it's not my saying, but I love it. It says we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. The tool that I have a gift of is using movement, that physical experience, to tap in to the spiritual being.

And I truly do believe that. We're not talking religiosity. We're talking about the fact that we as humans, part of humanity, are connected by spirit. And spirit becomes incredibly important to me when I realize that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. So can we control our physicality and our physical needs, spiritually and mentally?

Are we empowered that way? And I think this is what Joseph Pilate's talked a lot about it. I never met Joe. I was four or five years old when he passed away. But the idea of having that control, having the ability to control appetites and passions, and I think those are really powerful tools in a world that is so upside down and so confusing right now for so many people is to have a compass.

And you know, it's funny that when we chose the word Polestar, we were looking for a P and L and S and T to match with pilates, but we didn't realize how prophetic it was that Polestar is the north star. And now that I love looking at stars, it's like how does a sun, a completely different constellation, remain constant for us here on earth that is revolving continually and moving around our sun, but it is always true north for us. How is that possible? So, the idea of Polestar now going back 30 plus years and going like, oh my goodness, we have a responsibility to help people find their true north and that is spiritual. Yeah, well said.

it's like I know it when you say it and I wish I could say it as well. But I wanna know, Shelly, did he miss the thing you thought you would? Was there something he had to say in that story? I know what she was gonna say. I just wanted her to say it.

(Shelly laughing) Thank you. We can finish each other's stories for sure. Although I have to say our stories have, they've morphed over the years. They get better and better. They do. No, what I was gonna just recall, what I recall and because Brent has talked about it, is for the first many years, he really did try to separate and distance his faith from our pilates education because at the time we, you know, those things just weren't talked about together necessarily.

And how do I do that? How do I, you know, I, you know, I have my faith on one side and I have my business on the other side. And there was a really profound moment and I don't remember exactly what year. Dove Cohen. Yeah.

And Dove Cohen, one of our educators here in the US who is now in Australia, you know, said, you know, "Basically it's like you can't separate them like this is you and you know, it'll be okay." You can be spiritual and you can also have your religion and the way that you combine those two is, you know, it's okay. And, you know, stop separating them because it's like you're trying to separate some part of your personality from another part of your personality. And that's really where the spirituality came from. And I think Brent is very respectful that, you know, there are a lot of people who, you know, who don't share his faith, who don't certainly don't share religion. And it doesn't really matter because it is a, it's more about the humanity of it and the connection as he was saying of this, the spirituality and spiritual beings.

We're energetic beings. And you know, that's a good connection point for everybody. I wholeheartedly agree and I don't, when I say spirituality even, I don't really, I do know that you're a bishop and I, Brent, but I don't think of it as religion. I do think of it as somehow you found the way to naturally and easily, probably because of your religion I'm not sure, but to speak and teach and remind. It might be the remind part that got me.

That you can, there's moves, there's a method, his mind, but there's spirit too. And it'd be very easy for me to say the moves, the method, the mind creates spirit. When I take from you, it gets mixed up in there. It's like spirit move channel. I don't know what the words would be, but it somehow it becomes a vehicle for the truth of just like we are energetic beings and that if there is a connotation of religion, I don't usually get that.

So thank you- No. Yeah. For explaining that 'cause I do think it's a marker. And I think that, you know, and I respect all religions and non-religion. But I think you're exactly right, Kristi, I think it is a matter of, you know, being human and spirit.

I think animal has spirit. I think trees have spirit. I think, you know, spirit is all this energy connected and I believe in higher source. And I think, you know, however you petition source, this was sort of what's his name, to be a (indistinct)? Is that- Oh, I don't know. Yeah You're on your own.

Anyway, yeah. And that's usually my job. I'm usually- That's Shelly's job. She's supposed to say. I'm the name recall.

I failed. Eckhart Tolle's book and he said that- you know- Oh yeah. We need to become sorcerer. Meaning that we tap into source to be able to get direction. And I think that this is, you know, a belief I have very strongly is that even before I treat, before I speak, before I teach, you know, I have my own little connection with source and just asked to be a vehicle, just asked to be connected to source.

So, it's not that I'm going to teach somebody something that's right. It's that I'm hopefully going to listen and allow them to connect a source because I give them permission to be safe, like it's a safe place and we can be safe together. And when people are safe, they find that they can have confidence and that they can connect. And that's when they discover self. And I think that, you know, things like habits of looking at somebody and making a judgment.

And then very quickly in my head saying something like, "Okay, God, how do you see this person?" Because I'm not seeing him the same way you are. And all of a sudden the heart softens and it's like, you have and Shelly mentioned earlier, you have no idea what that person's been through. You have no idea. But you know that they're somebody's daughter or somebody's son. You know, that they have some kind of, you know, connection with humanity and we have to respect that.

I think back to the word choice conversation. I think that that is where that can be really effective. Where it just, I guess, it's not authoritative, but the way the words could be used or the way that I experience the words when they come from you all, they do let me be me inside of me without anybody having to know anything more. And yet, I know the moves that are coming, but there's also this other layer of spirit that is opened up. And I just, I guess I just wanna say I really appreciate that and I wondered before this interview, do you actually teach it?

I have a feeling it's imbued through all of your teaching, especially if Shelly's working on linguistics and you're, you know, just knowing the truth and Dove is telling you like just be you. I think it does show. That's just what I want you to hear mostly. But I was thinking back of you and me, Kristi, I think when you and I had that session together, and just a good example of, you know, not being afraid of being connected, not being afraid of, you know, that sometimes we confuse emotion with spirit, but a lot of times they're combined. And you know, we will have an emotional release and that could be a spiritual connection, It could be increased awareness of something our body that was restricted, that wasn't moving.

It could be tied to emotional restrictions. It could be tied to trauma. It could be tied to so many things. And here we are just moving the body. Move, move, move the body, And we're not even realizing that we're moving the spirit, we're moving the mind, we're moving, you know, trauma areas.

I'll tell another story, but I don't have time right now I know. But it's like, just experiences of moving somebody and then having them say something like, you know, "I was raped as a child," or just things like coming out and it's like I didn't ask you if you were. I didn't really want to know. But then I started realizing is like do we create that safe environment that as we move through the body that people can have that inspiration and that awareness in their own body and be able to find that. And if we don't teach that and we don't facilitate it, we don't set the example for it, then we're just teaching exercises and- Yeah.

I don't do that. No, you do not. There's a very clear example of that. I think, I wish I would've called this up ahead of time, but it was probably 2013. I had been suffering from (indistinct), sort of a lung situation.

Brent had come to, I think, it was a healthy back situation, but he tapped into me. And by the end, you know, I was his body or his model or whatever and he glued into me. And the movement that was coming from me was very, I was fearful. I was also feeling safe, which I don't know what that word would be called, but you see it. So there's a very clear example of what Brent's talking about here for everybody.

And I'm not really trying to promote Pilates Anytime as much as I am Polestar. But it's really the truth what you're speaking. And I was opened up, I could breathe better and that I hadn't breathed well in a month or more. And to watch Brent just like shift gears on the fly with the camera on only second or third visit and all of a sudden I'm a different person and you see it. And it's really quite beautiful.

And I will always think to that. Maybe, Jeer, we can put it in the chat if anybody wants to reference. It's like 40 minutes in, near the end. But I was like, I'm looking at Frank going, "I'm gonna cry. I'm on TV. I'm gonna cry." He's like, "I'm gonna cry too." Anyway- It's a good moment.

It's been pivotal. It's one of my, it's a very good moment. Yes, it was. And it speaks to everything that you've already spoken about. I guess there's so much more I wanna ask you, but I wanna know you all in Polestar, I mean, in Miami.

Now you're not, you're in North Carolina. Do you wanna speak a little bit about your new space, how you became the caretaker, and what's going on there in the last few minutes. You know, I was up here visiting Lizette, my son Gabriel and his wife, and came across a real estate office that showed a massage therapy school for sale that sat on about 40 acres. And I thought that's interesting. And I drove out.

It was about a half an hour out of town and found this beautiful school massage therapy school that there were people there. And they were ringing a bell and people were coming back in from around the pond of the gazebo in different areas for school. And I just thought it was really cool. And long story short, we ended up meeting with the owners of the school and the houses that's on the property as well and just had this incredible experience. And two weeks later, Lizette and I were studying, you know, in our spiritual studies.

We were studying the concept of stewardship and the idea that we don't really own anything. We don't really own the roles we even play, you know, as teacher, parent, spouse, partner, owner of land, whatever it is, boss, you know. That these really are stewardships that we have and how do we manage our stewardships. So ironically, Rick Rosen, who owned the property and designed and developed everything with his wife, Carrie, amazing, amazing forethought called up and they said, "Hey, Brent and Lizette. We really feel strongly that the two of you should be the next stewards of the land." And they used that exact word.

And of course, that was a word we were studying that morning that was sort of like, you know, God saying, "We have something for you up in North Carolina." And we still have our headquarters in Miami. But it seems that now, you know, Shelly came up a couple years ago and bought a beautiful home in Durham and that's about 40 minutes away from the farm. And then just this last month, Elizabeth Jimenez, chief of staff, just came up and bought a small house and super excited and very close to us. And so, I don't know how many other people are gonna follow, but our headquarters is still in Miami. We love people coming to visit us in North Carolina.

We do retreats and education and Shelly teaches the transition program or the bridging program here on the farm, which is gorgeous. Wonderful teaching, wonderful energy, wonderful environment, healthy air, just a great place to be and to connect again and reflect. And here we are and we started a movement farm that is for children. That's a summer camp for children. And that has been really exciting to us to see children having life changing events within a week.

And we took measurements before and after we piloted four weeks of the summer camp. And it was just night and day difference of the confidence. And you know, this is for another conversation, Kristi, but looking at children and adolescents having these positive movement experiences and moving more than not moving, affecting their cognitive development, affecting their emotional development, and affecting their physiological development. And that's really an area that I have, you know, deep passion about right now that we're looking at. And Shelly got to be here as part of it.

It was amazing. It was great. I don't doubt it. Okay, I was gonna let this question go longer, but in a sentence or so, Shelly, what do you attribute the success of Polestar Pilates 30 years later to? Wow.

Well this is like way to our gratitude circles and I immediately cry as well. So (laughs) I think the direction and the exploration always comes to mind as a word of both Brent and Elizabeth from the very, very beginning. They were very forward thinking and they explored every avenue and alternative and every way of doing something. And I think that is carried through our whole company. And over the 30 years of not getting too stuck with one way of doing something, with the people who are doing something, stuck in a role and, you know, not being fulfilled.

We, as Brent mentioned earlier, we listen to each other as colleagues, but we also listen to our students. We, you know, we want to have the best product and not in an ego way, but like, we wanna fulfill the needs of the people that are our clients or our students. And so, we are very willing to evolve. And I love that word because sometimes people are like, "Oh, it changed." And now, you know, like, what was there before is no good and now we're gonna go on to something else. Everything that has come before us has set us to this point.

And so I love the evolution word and I also think going back to the relationships. Not everybody agrees about that. You know, we've talked a lot about, you know, relationships before business and I know this is a long sentence, but I think the relationship part is very, very important and also the opportunity to be curious and evolve. Yes, exclamation point. And Brent, do you wanna add to that please?

I had the chance to interview about six of our licensees when we were at the 30 year. And I was asking that same question to them, Kristi, and it was amazing for me to hear them saying how, you know, it was things like, you know, willingness to forgive those that have offended us. I mean really interesting terms where I'm, you know, I was sort of looking for that evidence based and that scientific and that really high level of teacher training and learning. But almost every one of them, the key thing was built around a relationship or something that I would deem as spiritual or humanitarian or something that was about being connected and you know, being innovative and those kind of things. That I think, you know, innovation and gratitude and kindness and listening, those are really powerful, powerful values that collectively we have built in this company.

And as Shelly said, it's like, you know, I would be nothing without the people that are around me. And I've always said, you know, my greatest talent in the world is being surrounded by amazing people. And my job is to respect them. And, you know, that's challenge sometimes for me and ego gets in the way sometimes. But the, you know, the challenge for me is to be grateful for the people that surround me and to be able to treat them with respect.

And, you know, we have a very horizontal company. We don't have a lot of hierarchal communications. We had a meeting today with our whole team and we all got to be on virtually and tell what we're doing and how we're working together. And everybody gets to touch everybody mentally, emotionally, the job task, and, you know, very horizontal. And I love that about our company.

I love being able to, you know, to sit down with somebody that is answering phones in the company and to be able to have a heartfelt, meaningful conversation. Well, I can tell you from over here, it's magnetic. It's certainly, it's very attractive. And you know that, and then you get to the knowledge that you share. And for anybody who's watching this after we film it, please put questions in the forum.

And I know Shelly and Brent are very good at responding and/or I will remind them. But thank you both so much for being here. And I really, it's an amazing feat in these times and any time to have a business that not only survives 30 years, but also that is doing it with the intention that you all have. That is to, I think, spread the word of pilates, but also just make, well, you've said it best, but make the world a better place really you know, one person, one condition, one pilates session at a time. So thank you so much for doing this.

I just think people need to know more about what others are doing to make the world a better place. We love you, Kristi We love Pilates Anytime- We do. Deeply. You know, it's an organization that also is, you know, I feel is run with just the highest integrity and good kind people. And I've always, you know, you and I have always had that special relationship for years now.

And the same with John and Gia, the whole team. And just, I love our relationship. I think that, you know, we'll change the world together, together. Here we go. Yeah, here we go. Let's keep going.

Thank you so much. I won't keep you any longer. Everybody back to work, do the thing. Thank you so much. See you later. Thank you, Kristi.

Thanks, Kristi. (mellow music)


Thank you for this conversation! Absolutely enjoyed it and feel inspired ! I love Brent’s use of the phrase “ safe place “ when we teach … so true . and thank you  Brent for sharing how you’ve combined your faith with your teaching ! excellent 
1 person likes this.
Congratulations on 30 years. Loved this conversation. Where in NC is the facility?
1 person likes this.
Congratulations on 30 years!!
I really enjoyed this conversation! Congrats on 30 years!!! I hope to visit the farm some time.
1)Fantastic reminder for me to re-connect with colleagues whom I lost touch with through COVID. I’ve been teaching on my own in my home studio and miss the connections/exchanges I had when part of a studio team. So important. 
2) Related to creating a “safe space” for clients to realize impact of movement on their mind and spirit. Have had several opportunities to witness and process “surprise” epiphanies  or emotions during sessions and have been blessed by those.
Thank you everyone.  We are so grateful for our relationship with Pilates Anytime and making these types of programs available to the world/our world.
This was great, thank-you. Loved learning more about our origins. So proud to work for Polestar :D

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