Let’s start with an analogy. The beloved wine we know as Champagne is authentic only if it comes from the Champagne region of France. That’s why Italian white sparkling wine is called Prosecco. California sparkling wines are not veritable Champagnes.
In relation to Pilates, the proper word for this is “classical.” If you teach the way Papa Joe taught, you’re teaching classical Pilates—the original style of Pilates. But if you teach in a way that is true to your personal experience and your beliefs about how the body works, don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t teaching “authentic” Pilates. The Pilates industry may have come under the influence of polarization, and I want to offer my perspective.
If you’ve read my previous blogs, you have an idea of how I came to experience Pilates and how it has become my life’s mission to teach movement. Notice that I did not my write that it is my life’s mission to teach Pilates. I believe that Joseph did not set out to teach Pilates either. Rather, he set out to teach movement—and with that, his personal experience. He created a unique way to teach movement that resonated with himself and his students. I have set out much in the same way, but in a different region, era, and background. I use the word Pilates to describe my teachings because I work with his amazing equipment and I still use many of Joe’s original exercises in conjunction with my unique exercises, which came about out of necessity due to my injuries and personal developmental needs.
We are all on our own unique life path, and hopefully, blessed to share our experiences with one another. As a Pilates teacher, I impart my personal movement growth with my students, which makes my method and style of teaching very unique. I have recently discovered the power of social media and how it can positively connect teachers from all over the world. I started posting a few years back, and was surprised how many individuals were drawn to my athletic approach to the Pilates method. I would say the majority of feedback from most teachers is very supportive. However, I have had a few interactions with classical teachers who’ve said I should take the word Pilates out of my title.
I am both Polestar Pilates certified and Pilates Method Alliance accredited. I strongly believe continuing education is paramount for growth as a teacher, and that the lineage in which you learned the method is less important that the authenticity of how you teach. Polestar Pilates is more method-based movement, with an emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills. I teach the method based on how the work resonates with me, and find that many of the classical exercises are contraindicated for my injuries. Finding ways to move safely and efficiently is my primary goal. Teaching the classical repertoire is perfectly suitable for some and quite beautiful to watch. Learning movement that makes you feel good, and that positively influences your everyday life, is what Pilates means to me.
Get out there and teach from your personal experience. Make every day an opportunity to learn, grow, and be authentic.