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Gleanings from the Pilates Method Alliance conference

I have always felt invigorated as an instructor and fitness professional after taking advantage of an opportunity to be a student or client. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I attended the 10th annual Pilates Method Alliance conference in Long Beach, CA. Teachers and delegates from over 32 countries gathered for 4 days to "unify, build, and support" the Pilates profession, says PMA executive director Elizabeth Anderson. The name of the conference was "A New Vision" and this was evident as the PMA's new focus, which includes the addition of regional chapters and teacher training summits.

As a participant, a person could engage in a broad range of Pilates offerings, such a Classical and contemporary mat classes, lengthy discussions on topics including Pilates for clients with Parkinson's Disease, how to gain clients and manage your finances, and how to view Pilates through "plasticity" of the brain.  The PMA plaza included new goods and services, which are bound to change the shape of Pilates, such a set of rockers that are positioned underneath a reformer and which greatly challenge stability and facilitate proprioception.

As I continue to consider what I gleaned from various workshops, classes, and individual interactions with professionals from all over the world, the following moments stand out:

-In the discussion of classical v. contemporary, Pilates elder Mary Bowen relayed Kathy Grant's sentiment, "I don't know Classical, I only know what I do."

-In a workshop with Colleen Glenn, we discussed how the Wunda Chair could be considered the most advanced piece of apparatus equipment. Firstly, the Chair offers a very small base of support and there is no delineated choreographic sequence as there is with the Reformer or Trapeze Table. Originally, Joe Pilates considered the chair to be home equipment and was to be used only by those who had mastered intermediate work under the guidance of an instructor.  It is advanced especially since the advent of split pedals!  The choreography that does exist was based off of 1800's Chinese acrobatic maneuvers and Joe's goal was to have one in every hotel room!

-In Kim Gilibisco's mat class, we incorporated rolling with a bit of pressure on the top of our heads between classical exercises. Apparently, this simple action stimulates the pituitary gland and supports healthy organ function throughout the body.

-In a workshop with Wendy Leblanc-Arbuckle as well as with Kim Gilibisco, I was asked to consider gaze and visual focus in Pilates.  In mat class, Kim guided us to visually track arcs from our body with our eyes, as precisely as a dancer would spot during her turning.  Wendy suggested that we stimulate our vestibular system by keeping our peripheral focus soft, thereby supported theinner ear function.

-The biggest inspiration I left with was a quotation from Wendy Leblanc-Arbuckel and was in regards to setting an intention as an instructor. She simply said, "listen for your higher commitment and for who you are".  Sounds good to me!

For more on the Pilates Method Alliance, visit