Pilates found me when I was 3 years old...
Very stereotypically too, but I'm grateful we did :)
I started dancing for sport around 3 years old and it forever remained a hobby, but that's where I first began to discover the mat work.
Spine Stretch, Twist, Rolling Like a Ball, Crab, etc
I also remember as a kid thinking I could do something and just doing it: no questions asked; it had it's good and bad moments sometimes, but a good one came to performing the exercises because it instilled a fearlessness in me that allowed me to keep going. There was a few times where I would miss the shape of the movement as I stumbled along my own path a bit, but I managed to figure it out and would go from there.
And that's how I feel in love with Pilates; at 3 years old when I started dancing until we parted ways in high school, but I never new my favorite exercise or moves where part of Pilates until the first time I walked into a Pilates studio, which for me happened to be Club Pilates Assembly Row; however, dance wasn't my only outlet or the only place where I saw this overlap of Pilates .
However, dance remained a hobby as there were other actives, usually fitness related, that I enjoyed as well; I would walk up early 3-4x/week and workout before school, either running on the treadmill, strength training - very typical gym stuff- and always looking for different ways I could expand and challenge myself. I realize now my lack of willingness to attend a gym helped to build this unique gym space I've created because I was continuously adding to my collection.
1 weight became 2, then a BOSU, TRX, foam roller...it really was only a matter of time before I crossed paths and feel in love with the glitz and glamour of Joseph's toys; however, unlike many others who discovered Pilates through dance, I stayed healthy. I never broke or sprained a bone as kid, and I loved moving. I was called the energizer bunny sometimes because I would never stop moving. I continued through life as everyone else; mine just happen to consist of obtaining a BS in Radiation Therapy from Suffolk University back. around here is where I took a 180 degree spin and started to expand upon different movement modalities for myself and started to think about a career in fitness myself.
Ultimately, a career in Radiation Therapy crashed & burned before it had a chance to start, but closed door leads to another one opening and that's when my Pilates journey began as a student, as in I was now aware the movements I was going the whole time had something to do with this thing called Pilates and truly become aquatinted with the glitz and glamor of all the toys Jospeh Pilates (JP) had to offer when my sister-in-law asked me to attend an Intro Class with Club Pilates.
We took it slow - Pilates and I - but the time space and energy was shared with OrangeTheory as current ACSM guidelines suggest either 150 min of moderate intensity cardio/week with 2 strength training sessions OR 75 min of High Intensity Cardio with 2 strength training sessions/week; Pilates is great but it wasn't exactly helping me to obtain a fully-balanced fitness diet - even with the Cardio Sculpt classes Club Pilates was offering. As time passed and I got better aquatinted with Pilates, I started spending less time at OrangeTheory and more time at Club Pilates. From time to time I would think about becoming a Pilates Instructor whenever I saw the studio was advertising the next training, but I finally pulled the trigger to become an instructor and enrolled in my first teacher training program after my grandfather passed away in July 2019. His lose impacted me more than i expected it to and really opened up the doors for this paradime shift sparked by the thought of - well what am I doing here? He was known for being shameless, unapplogeticly himself, and a happy go lucky kinda guy fulled with light and love. I miss it and his passing sparked the journey to find it again and gave me the courage to try some new things in life in order to do so.
So I enrolled in Club Pilates teacher training program in September 2019; I almost backed out cause I also wanted a dog. Just so happened the dog I originally wanted was the same price as the down payment for teacher training at the time - so logically my next thought was, "we'll i'm gonna get the dog instead!" And I did - not the one I wanted but that's another story for another day.
Ultimately, what made me commit to the process of becoming a Pilates Instructor was the studio I was signing up though - Club Pilates Assembly Row - gave me a scholarship. Part of the terms and conditions were I would need to pay the down payment but the studio would cover the rest so long as I completed the program, and agreed to work a minimum hours a week for a year after my certification - sounded like a pretty sweet deal and felt like an offer I couldn't refuse. Made me feel a little special at first but it ended up being one of the most traumatic experiences I've gone through thus far. It is one I choose to block from my mind as much as possible as it's taken up more space then it deserves in my life, so we're gonna keep it to the bullet points because that experience created the instructor I am today, allowing me to see different avenues of opportunities, self-healing, growth, and overall transformative experience. I can only speak for myself, and these words chosen are uniquely mine; they represent feelings and experiences that are valid. Although I can only hope and wish no one else ever experiences what I went through, if you have, I hope you can find some courage in these words.
Undergoing the teacher training program with Club Pilates is the most traumatic experiences of my life thus far, affecting my physical, mental and emotional health to the point where I felt incompetent, stupid, and like there was something wrong with me cause there was a connection I was missing or wasn't making. Once things started to open up after the pandemic, the studio was no longer my safe space and I would find myself having panic attack either in the bathroom before class or sometimes during class, trying my best to cover my tears and hoping no one else in the room saw me, doing the best I could in the short time available to recover. I was so incredibly fortunate that the studio I decided to train at had 3 Master Trainers - multiple resources for my what felt like endless questions - but also the biggest obstacle allowing me to teach.
A Master Trainer is another Pilates Instructor who teaches other interested individuals how to teach Pilates and to become a Pilates Instructor. These individuals have usually been teaching for quite some time; the ones where I was training were in the 10+ years category and I'm grateful to say I was able to work closely with all 3 of them although there are times during this journey where it may have looked like the opposite was the case; however, it came at the cost of almost loosing myself while trying to advocate for myself as best as possible. There was no denying my journey through the program was different - it was obvious in the sense that it seemed like everyone in my class was able to progress along, teaching their own classes - members at Club PIlates were asking me when I was going to teach or why the studio hadn't given me the opportunity to teach. I can still hear one of the Master Trainers say to the other girls when it came to explaining the next steps of the program, "Aly's journey is different so she's taking a different path." After a while, I started to think why not?
Why not take a different path? The opportunity is very obviously staring in front of you, mysterious and frightening, to be interpreted as a glistening diamond ready to shine in the light or a venomous snake bite depending on your perspective, but the decision was clearly there to be made. Why not take a different path? What do you have to loose? It's not like all your efforts are leading your anywhere on the current course your on; in fact, it felt more like circles. Circles cause that's what all my conversations with the studio owner felt like: unheard with the same information being said over and over back to me doubling down on my feelings of incompetency. Reflecting now, had I known I would give up the scholarship in the end, I would have parted ways with the studio much sooner than I did as I can now recognize the situation I was in toxic for me, and it overall was a bad fit, but my experience going through the teacher training program with Club Pilates taught me to be my own savior, and I started to invest in myself, driving head first and deep into the Pilates world and community, exploring every single nook and craney I could find to help fill in my gaps, learn about all the different styles, what made Pilates Pilates, attending workshops and purchasing other textbooks from other Pilates Instructors and programs in order to soak up as much information as I could so I could finally prove I knew what I was taking about.
Maybe I was trying more to prove it to myself at the time then to others, but defiantly hearing the feedback of needing to be the best and great in order to start teaching at the studio was really starting to sink deep into my brain I started to tell myself that what the studio owner and Master Trainers were telling me...
I'm doing this so I can be great.
It's all part of the journey to be the best Pilates instructor I can be.
This is what's necessary if you want to be superb.
Quitting becoming an instructor was never an option, but quitting the teacher training program with Club Pilates and going somewhere else was a constant though. The words that echoed in my head each time the thought came to mind was, "Maybe if you trained at another studio, they would have a different standard or level of teaching, and you might be teaching there but here - at this studio - we have a higher level, and your doing awesome and will get there soon, you just need more time." Cool, but my journey was now starting to to feel like the new Radiation Therapy to me - the next failed thing that ended before it even had a chance to get started. My mindset was to make sure I did everything I possibly could because I already had 1 failed career attempted, and if it wasn't Pilates - fine, but I wanted to be able to fall asleep at night knowing I did everything I could possibly do before righting off the experience all together.
So what if I got a second opinion? A Pilates second opinion. This meant exploring other teacher training programs and picking one to enroll in. Maybe this other teacher training program will allow me to have the epiphany I was waiting for regarding this mystical thing I was missing, the gap in my knowledge that was preventing me from moving forward. But I could feel there was a shift because once I chose to do another teacher training program, I found an add for Breath Education - seemed to fit with my volatile life enough; however, I was finally able to teach after enrolling in Breath Education Certification of Mat & Reformer Pilates and I informed Club Pilates I looking to quit the teacher training program with Club Pilates due to my lack of progress....
And this friend leads us to where we are now, 2 years later....writing an about me blog post of my 2000 hours of Pilates training, starting with Club Pilates, finishing with Breath Education, and continuing to grow in the STOTT Pilates method through the studio's I'm employed at to create a style that's uniquely me. Although it sucked, I'm grateful for the experience and would do it again knowing the outcome because without it, I would not have become the instructor I am today,
and that makes it all worth it.