In the before times – April 2020 – live virtual Pilates was a niche market. A teacher might occasionally Skype/FaceTime a vacationing client, or one that moved away. Our teaching work, so visually oriented and tactile in nature, didn’t seem suited to regular practice in a one-dimension environment. Nonetheless, as the pandemic spread, many of our long-time Cape Cod students bought equipment and zoomed forward with their work.
But I wondered about new students. Could they learn and progress, even when they’re pixels on my screen miles away? I wasn’t sure. While we were technically open in our newly remodeled, Covid safe St. Petersburg, FL studio, with much of our industry closed around the world, virtual still seemed safest.
So, in mid- May I started a free mat class five days per week. The initial regular students committed to 2x per week and knew little or nothing about Pilates. All were deconditioned.
In six months, on my screen, they’ve physically and mentally transformed, revealing Joe’s brilliance yet again. Using only my words, spirited hand gestures and 15K hours of teaching experience, they Roll-up beautifully, Side Kick with Rockette precision and are closing in on Teaser mastery. They’ve made the connection to moving well = being well, and no one is more surprised and delighted than me.
On some level, I knew that full body view, our norm, is not necessarily required for understanding the movement before me. But that I had incorporated so much into my sub-conscious understanding of movement and reflexive cuing was now clear, and gave me confidence as a virtual teacher who does minimal demonstration and does not work-out with the student. And I do relish the giggles when I give a cue for an invisible-to-me body part and get back “how did you know that?” as they make the correction.
Most important is Joseph Pilates’ Contrology Method. The simplicity of the intro/beginner orders, and his balance of mobility with stability offer a lifetime foundation for the students’ Pilates practice. As they get stronger, we introduce more, keeping what we’ve learned and building on it.
Just like life.