Could you tell us a little bit about your approach to movement education?
For me, movement education is a dynamic and organic learning process; one where I am learning through keen observation and the client or student is developing more conscious awareness. Through this shared experience the client becomes the student of his or her own body, habits, and posture, and becomes empowered by the changes brought about by that study. It is from this platform that I introduce a concept of “Core Ability,” which means restoring or restructuring a better postural foundation to support common daily activities with greater efficiency. This really comes down to the concept of working in before working out. This forms the foundation from which I like to introduce the Pilates work. So, for me, there is a “Pre-Pilates” concept.
My intention is to familiarize the client first with the feeling of the Pilates movement— not only with accomplishing the exercise. It is the feeling of the movement (interoception) that is responsible for making the real change happen. Even small changes are significant as they will be reinforced on a daily basis when gravity becomes the teacher, reinforcing how the client is living in his or her new body: a better body that is aware, in control, and moving with ease and grace.
How did you come to create the Sling System?
I developed the Sling System Support to “Core Ability” to create a bridge between the mat work and the use of the Pilates equipment. The Sling System provides an environment that I can modify and in which I can introduce very basic exercises with the necessary alignment support.
In a sense, the Sling System becomes my “third hand.” With that extra help I am able to promote optimal performance in my clients, introduced through better support in alignment. At this point, the work then becomes “Simply Challenging;” easily introduced movements become surprisingly complex, engaging the student more deeply. The basic principles introduced through optimal alignment support provide for a much richer, more lasting experience.
Core principles are easier concepts to introduce using the Sling System, which provides a proprioceptive environment for those with somatic learning challenges caused by chronic pain as well as for clients with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and scoliosis.
You’ve won awards for your teaching. What is your teaching philosophy?
I love to teach. I am passionate about being able to share knowledge and make whatever difference I can in someone’s life or career. For me, this is not possible without being an eternal student myself. It is from the student within me that I am able I love to learn, explore, and understand more about what may lie beyond my comfort zone, then make it part of me so that I can understand the material organically and make it relevant to my practices. In this integration process my clients may also become I am also interested in emerging developments in the sciences addressing wellness and human movement. I have been privileged to meet and learn from the best in this field and I strive to remain ahead of the constantly emerging and changing research.
How do you feel about the different ways in which Pilates has developed over the years? Do you feel that any and all development is good or that a line has to be drawn somewhere?
The fact that Pilates has so many applicable facets proves its versatility and that it was, at the time of its inception, an approach of the future. Through my interest in the important research about the fascia and its effect on movement, I find great validation in how the Pilates technique is and has been a phenomenal whole body approach. In order to teach Pilates well, all the fundamentals, principles, and repertoire should be mastered first.
This foundation allows the Pilates practitioner to choose a professional direction or perhaps an integrated approach such as dance medicine, movement therapy, or even physical therapy. However, Pilates taught with a solid grounding in biomechanics in mind will help the field progress and evolve. Paradigm shifts in Pilates must necessarily take into consideration the biomechanical patterns of human lifestyles and habits.
I love the following words by Louis Stecco: “Only the knowledgeable hand is powerful.”
What have been the most important things you have learned from Pilates or that you want other people to take away from it?
The principles of Pilates are a great mantra for our daily lives and activities. I find that pausing and reflecting on these principles when life or business is challenging will often clear the mind and allow a solution to emerge.
Centring: Stay organised/ avoid “dys-emotion” (refrain from being emotionally carried away – stay centred in the body)
-Control-Focus: Remain focused on your goal
-Precision: Be meticulous
-Movement Flow: Move with grace and poise
-Breathe: With intention
Additionally, Pilates emphasises practising patience and generosity.
How did you yourself come to Pilates?
When I moved from the Netherlands to Los Angeles in 1980, I was still maintaining my formal education in dance: my daily classes of ballet. At that time, I was introduced to Pilates and by Quentin Josephy, a disciple of Ron Fletcher, and the method would soon become not only my daily routine but also my business and passion. Together with Quentin, who became my business partner, we ran a dynamic studio in Los Angeles and became the first to invite and host the Pilates elders to the West coast, among them Carola Trier, Fran Lehen, and Romana. These opportunities confirmed my ambition to consolidate my love for dance movement and my studies in anatomy. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to create a model of dance conditioning integrated with the Pilates technique. However, this business model could not sustain me entirely and I started to work with non-dancers: mostly people with back problems and referrals from physicians. This is my true path and my passion: to show people their potential, no matter what the limitation, and contribute to movement ease in a better body. In this I have always found Alan Herdman’s work a great influence and inspiration.
FRIDAY 9 MAY
FASCIA WORKS Marie-José Blom
10:00-16:30 / cpd: 5 / PF £90 / non-PF £130
SATURDAY 10 MAY
THE SLING SYSTEM TO CORE INTELLIGENCE (Marie-José Blom)
10:00-17:00 / cpd: 6 / PF £110 / non-PF £150
SUNDAY 11 MAY
CORE MOTIVATIONS: THE STAPLE OF MOVEMENT (Marie-José Blom)
10:00 – 13:00 /cpd: 3 / non-PF £80
14:00-17:00 / cpd: 3 / PF £60