Pilates instructors take on a myriad of roles, and styles too. That’s what makes us a diverse group of amazing and talented individuals! Along with that diversity comes varying degrees of experience and education related to movement and the body.
All sorts of terms have been used to describe the study or science of movement, many starting with ‘bio’ as the prefix. No matter what word you attach “bio” to, the meaning is the same. It all comes from a curiosity about how the body moves. Oh, maybe we should call it BIOCURIOSITY and make it a hashtag!
The very curious seek out ways to understand more from all perspectives and ask lots of questions about why. Others are comfortable within their chosen role as teacher and may not be as curious. Both are okay.
I fall into the category of very curious, I always have been. I remember struggling through math homework with one of those “use it just cuz” formulas that my teacher couldn’t explain the purpose of. I couldn’t apply it if I didn’t know why. I need to make sense of things to be able to apply them, then I’ll ask a thousand questions to understand even more. That’s just how my brain works, and that curiosity keeps me passionate about my work.
Isn’t that the best thing about our profession? The body is so complex and interesting, and no two bodies are exactly the same. Our day-to-day work as teachers of movement is constantly a surprise. What fun!
Depending on your role as a teacher of movement, in whatever capacity, you may not need to know a lot of Anatomy. Those who primarily teach in the group setting may have little use for a head full of muscle actions and origins, as their specific role requires them to deliver an amazing well-choreographed class that leaves the clients with a desired feeling (quivering muscles). The clients in that setting don’t care what the names of the muscles are or where they start and end, they just want to feel them BURN!
In other settings, like clinics or private-dominant studios, the need to know the ins and outs about the body becomes significantly more important. This is the setting I work in, and I am grateful everyday for the knowledge I have learned over the years so that I am prepared for anything that walks in the door.
I’ve been thinking lately what I have gained from my desire to know as much as I can about the body, besides a head full of facts that others don’t care much about. I can unequivocally say that a broad knowledge of Anatomy and Biomechanics has given me, above all else, confidence. Because of this information swimming about in my head I can piece together and disseminate information I receive from clients to develop a program specific to their precise needs. While some may say this knowledge puts us in a box, I feel that it allows me to think outside of that box and know that I am still moving in a direction that makes sense.
I am able to answer my clients’ many questions (I have a curious bunch) with facts, explanation and clarity. I am confident in speaking with their medical professionals, and they in turn are confident in my ability to care for their patients (that’s a great feeling). I am able to question the reams of articles and soundbites we are exposed to daily to make sense of the garbage, and then apply the good stuff. Finally, this knowledge allows me to understand and accept many different perspectives, and how they fit into my world without feeling threatened.
I feel that it is important as a professional of any kind to be well-versed about the tools that you work with everyday. Like an auto mechanic needs to have a strong knowledge of the inner workings of a car, not just know how to make it go fast, we need to know about the body, not just how we can make it move like a puppet on a string.
Besides, the more you know about the human body, the more fascinating it becomes and the knowledge is ever changing and evolving. It’s like opening a door to a whole new world with every new bit of information, new concept, or new idea.
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
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