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Are Pilates Certifications Killing Creativity? {Is Pilatesocolypse truly upon us?}

*For those of you who aren’t in Pilates, I find that any discipline can fall into this dogma of change or lack thereof. Consider this, my rant for the day from someone who’s spent a Saturday lost in thought, but look for the areas in your life where dogma has stifled your creativity. They abound in all of us and it’s only in taking them on that we really and truly grow and live.

I remember walking into my second Pilates certification classes like it was yesterday. Eight years ago, I was newly pregnant and eager to combine so much of what was floating around in my mind—the Lotte Berk methods my mom had been teaching me since I was thirteen, the yoga that I’d been studying for seven years and the unique blend of holistic Pilates my first {and greatest} teacher had exposed me to.

I was shocked when I got my first verbal hand slap. Had I gone back to the Catholic schools my father had described from the 50’s? All I had asked to do was add a simple leg movement onto an existing Reformer exercise to let if flow into something new.

It was as if I had I had uttered the most blasphemous phrase possible.

Joe’s routines weren’t meant to be changed, added to or altered in anyway. Period.

This was simply not Pilates.

I left the class and firmly committed to “not” teaching Pilates. I would teach from the principles and exercises I had learned, practiced and loved, but I would teach what worked in my body and with my clients, whether or not it was defined by these strict guidelines.

Eight years later, New York Magazine claims we’re in a “Pilatesocolypse”.

In this article Annie Lowry says, “Interest in [Pilates] seems to have peaked last decade, dwindling just as spinning, barre, boot camp, CrossFit, pole dancing, and a million other niches started to bloom, and as yoga continued its Zen march to omnipresence. Across the country, attendance is down. Studios are struggling, and some are closing. “

I can’t help, but wonder how much of this decline has come from the rigidity we’ve imposed in Pilates certifications. “You may do this, you may not teach this, and this is not Pilates.”

These absolutes are dangerous in a world where everything is in a constant state of flux.  Joseph Pilates started a beautiful, powerful movement that he continued to evolve throughout his life. He was a remarkable creative.

Should that creativity end with him?

If so, I fear that Pilates, despite it’s remarkable benefits, will grow old to our customers. It will become too rigid, too formal, too much for customer’s inspired by hundreds of new movements they can find every day on Instagram and Periscope.

It’s my sincere wish that as we teach instructors the remarkable principles that makes Pilates so profound for the body, we also teach them that these principles can forge new paths ahead in how we use our bodies. That these principles can become building blocks for new disciplines. That these principles aren’t stagnant.

That maybe, just maybe we honor Joe the most by continuing the creative arc he began, abandoning the absolutes of what Pilates was and seeing the possibility of what it can grow to be.

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