Pilates Teachers' Manual

Special Guest - AlyMarie Moniz

February 23, 2023 Olivia Bioni, Aly Marie Moniz Season 7 Episode 3
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Special Guest - AlyMarie Moniz
Show Notes Transcript

AlyMarie Moniz joins me on the podcast today. She shares her Pilates journey, how multiple movement modalities and Pilates schools of thought have shaped her as a teacher, her advice for making Pilates a full-time career, and how she empowers her clients to feel good, get stronger, and make their Pilates practice their own. Tune in!   

I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and follow the podcast on Instagram and Facebook @pilatesteachersmanual. Full show notes and episode transcription can be found on the podcast website here: http://bit.ly/pilatesteachersmanual. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast for updates, and rate and review wherever you listen!  Episodes now available on YouTube: *https://bit.ly/YouTubePTM*

Email pilatesteachersmanual@oliviabioni.com with your feedback.   

Show Notes:

Aly is a Pilates teacher based in Boston, MA, USA and the owner of Pilates & Rehab. Take a class with her or check out her blog here. You can find her on Instagram at @ohmyitsalymarie.

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Visit https://links.oliviabioni.com/affiliates to take advantage of some sweet savings!

Episode Music:

Tracks: Tobu - Good Times, Tobu & Itro - Sunburst 
Tobu Official YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/tobuofficial
Itro Official YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/officialitro
Released by NCS 

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[00:00:00] Olivia: Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.

[00:00:56] Olivia: Hello. Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. I am [00:01:00] so excited to share a conversation with you today with my good friend Aly Marie Moniz, and I am so excited because we actually did this conversation before and the internet was not our friend, so we are giving it a go once again. I met Aly when I was a trainer at Breathe Education, and uh, while I was doing that last year, we were in the course and we did part of the diploma together. Now we're working on another Pilates adventure together. Just like hang out with Aly. That's always where the Pilates adventure is. 

[00:01:33] Olivia: Um, but first thing I wanna share a little bit about her is her, you know, as a teacher, what she does as a teacher. So, Allie, first of all, thanks for coming on again. And secondly, uh, tell me a little bit about your teaching life. What does it look like on a day-to-day? Where do you teach? Do you do privates? Do you do group? What happens in the wild world of you? 

[00:01:56] Aly: Well, first, Olivia, thank you for having me on again. It's actually awesome [00:02:00] that we, I love us talking in our conversations in general. So this is just, it's just a little extra perk, if you will. 

[00:02:07] Aly: My teaching life. I actually really enjoy it. So I spend some times working in a studio right now, two studios. One is known for hot yoga and Pilates, uh, which I do frequent from time to time going into the yoga studio because unpopular opinion, I love working out in a hot room. It brings me joy. Even my own personal studio that I have in my house where I take my own clients. I keep the temperature nice and hot. I feel like I can get my biggest expressions that way. I'm like, who doesn't wanna feel like you're a giant person taking up a bunch of space, kind of a deal. 

[00:02:47] Aly: The other one that I work at, uh, right now is just Pilates, but it's right down the street from a circus slash aerial place, which I also, [00:03:00] yeah, I know. Who knew . Oh, so I'll also frequent and do that from time to time just cause. Pilates and exploring boundaries and if you're doing Pilates, but you don't really have anything to have it adapt to or translate to in your day-to-day life. For me, I don't know why I'm doing it, to be perfectly honest, cuz it's not for any pain or help with any pain, it's just Aly stumbled upon Pilates. So let's see what my body can do. 

[00:03:30] Aly: Now as for my own clients, I'm still getting my business going in the sense it's not a large group of people, but that's okay cuz I've only been around for four-ish months and it takes time for people to know who you are, to get people to do Pilates in general, I find not many people know what Pilates is and if they do know what Pilates is, Sometimes [00:04:00] I wanna- 

[00:04:00] Aly: The main question I get is, well, how is that different from yoga and other forms of exercise? And the biggest difference is we're just exploring different shapes with tension. So, and I wanna stress that, that it takes a while to build a clientele. Because when I was in teacher training, I was told, it's like, well, it's getting your certification, like your career takes off. And like, yeah, it, I mean, it makes it easier in the sense you're talking to people and it's like, oh, okay, so you got certified. You sound legit. But it's not like you get that sheet of paper and then all of a sudden you've got people lining up at your door or like a person coming a week kind of a deal. 

[00:04:45] Aly: Most of my clients come from word of mouth in the sense I'll go to my aerial classes and then we're just naturally having a conversation. I tell them I'm a Pilates instructor, and they're like, maybe I should try that because. [00:05:00] She's doing these things. I wanna get better at doing these things, or they wanna increase their flexibility, or whatever the reason might be in addition to strength. So yeah, that's, uh, that's a little bit about me and my teaching. I travel around a little bit. 

[00:05:18] Olivia: Definitely. And I love hearing that and I love hearing that from teachers in general because every person's teaching life is a little bit different. Some people are like at one studio and they're there all the time and like that's their jam. Some people do a mix of things and they do a little bit over here and a little bit over there. They teach multiple modalities. So I love that you take the time to share, um, your stuff because it's stuff and it's cool and we're all doing it. So let's talk about it. 

[00:05:48] Olivia: Tell me, back in the day when you tried Pilates for the first time, what were your impressions of Pilates? Because now you're navigating this, you know, what is Pilates? Can I share this with people who [00:06:00] think it's yoga or think it's, you know, whatever lying down and stretching thing that they think it is. Um, what were your first impressions when you took a Pilates class? 

[00:06:09] Aly: This is weird.

[00:06:13] Olivia: Were you on the reformer or on the mat? 

[00:06:15] Aly: I was, I was on the reformer. 

[00:06:17] Olivia: Oh, definitely weird. Definitely weird. 

[00:06:20] Aly: Definitely weird. A little bit of background in the sense of I, Pilates found me because I started doing Mat Pilates, but I didn't know it was Mat Pilates when I started dancing at three years old. So it was just more of, here are some shapes and some different exercises.

[00:06:35] Aly: Go ahead and explore that a little bit. And then, so once I actually knew what Pilates was, uh, my sister-in-law asked me to go to a Pilates class with her, and I did, and I walked into the room and I was just like, oh my goodness, this is, what is this? Like, this is nothing like I've ever seen before. It was at Club Pilates.

[00:06:56] Aly: So if anyone's familiar with their setup, you've got the reformer with the chair and [00:07:00] the springboard. And I was just more of in a curious state of what does this do, what does that do? What are we gonna play with? I wanna use all the things kind of a deal. And what kept me going back to Pilates was actually the chair, because I saw the chair and that was the main piece of equipment I wanted to use. And I didn't know you couldn't use that until you get to a 1.5. So if anyone didn't know, now, you know no chair until 1.5 . But when I got the phone call, I was just like, yeah, you know, this is different. I wanna use that piece. 

[00:07:33] Aly: So I kept on going and then after a certain point, It really became, uh, I actually really like this. There's a lot of overlap from what I used to do with dance. Not that that's a requirement, but for me it gave me a little bit of comfort in a room where there was already a lot of uncomfort. Going on. Um, 

[00:07:55] Olivia: I think we need to normalize for our clients as [00:08:00] well. Like Pilate studios don't look friendly, like they look intimidating. They've got these massive metal monster machines that are hardcore torture device looking and when you are just starting and people are getting on and they know what springs are and they know where the straps are and it's just, it's a big leap to get to the place where you're comfortable with. 

[00:08:24] Olivia: I love what you said that you're like, there's not a lot of comfort in here. I don't know what's going on or what anything does. Um, but at least the shapes feel familiar. . 

[00:08:33] Aly: Exactly. And it's actually funny that you say that because at one of the studios I work for, I'm one of the few instructors that'll play music and I just do calm, Zen music. I say zen in the sense of like, we're not playing club music, although I have heard other people do that. Depends on the vibe you're going for. But I usually go for like Dave Matthews band or Odessa Radio, if anyone's familiar. Oh, I'm assuming people are more familiar with Dave Matthews band anyway, but point in [00:09:00] being one of the yoga instructors flat out just asks. He's like, wait a minute. There are people who bring other people into the torture room without any music and like, that was his word for it.

[00:09:11] Aly: It's just like, yeah, like there are people who bring other people into this torture room because it does, it looks like the machines wanna hurt you. Or like other words, is medieval, for lack of better comparison. . 

[00:09:26] Olivia: It is. It is so intimidating and so whatever we can do to help people feel comfortable there, I think is valuable.

[00:09:34] Aly: Mm-hmm. , definitely. But yes, it's, uh, I think it's just important to normalize. , the equipment does look different. Um, this is gonna be a very different experience, especially when it comes to the straps, like hands and straps, feet and straps. I just say right off the bat, like, if you've never done feet and straps before, this is gonna get weird.

[00:09:55] Aly: Like, this is gonna be one of the weirdest things you've probably ever experienced. [00:10:00] Like, it's okay. You might feel like, uh, about it now, but I promise like maybe after the fifth time you're gonna love it and it's gonna be like your favorite thing about Pilate. 

[00:10:11] Olivia: So, so true. So I know that when you had that experience and you tried that Pilates class, that you had a different day job and you went to school for yet another day job, and you were just having day jobs that were not Pilates at that point.

[00:10:28] Olivia: So what pushed you to become a Pilates teacher? What stars aligned for you that you were like, this is what I wanna do full-time? There was a lot of 

[00:10:40] Aly: stars that aligned, if you will. Um, the biggest one was my grandfather passing away. It was specifically my maternal grandfather, and that was more of the trigger aha moment, if you will.

[00:10:57] Aly: That made me realize I was just really, [00:11:00] really unhappy in working in the HR world. Basically being a more adultier adult in my words, because I was an HR admin, that's all I did was paperwork processing, paperwork onboarding people, answering benefits questions, and then working with the other departments. With accounting for payroll, um, operations because it was primarily onboarding, uh, the call center employees.

[00:11:31] Aly: Uh, the company was Simply Safe, awesome company in the sense of if anyone's looking for a home security system, like just go with them. Cause it's, it's so easy. Shameless plug right there for Simply Safe, by the way. Um, but it was a lot of their call center employees letting them know like, this is what we offer, this is what the culture's like. This is what I suggest, or my recommendations. I can't tell you which way to go. , [00:12:00] but this is what I can say what I do, and based on using me as an example, we can take it from there. 

[00:12:07] Aly: Um, and that's actually where a lot of my teaching style comes from in the sense of, like you, I know you mentioned a couple weeks ago how you also see exercises on a spectrum, and we've had conversations about this. 

[00:12:21] Aly: And all of Joe's exercises are hard. They're all advanced. So anybody who says like this is a beginner, intermediate, advanced, I think they're full of crap, to be perfectly honest. Um, it, it is cuz it's like, who is able to do the hundreds with their legs, two inches off the ground? I can't do that. And I've been doing Pilates for six years.

[00:12:44] Aly: So when I cue these different exercises or I give the spring suggestions, I tell them, this is what I'm practicing this exercise on. This is the tension that I'm using. I understand it might be a little heavy for some of [00:13:00] you. That's fine. I won't be insulted if you decide to take off a spring. And I do tell them, if you feel underwhelmed, go ahead at a spring on. Usually people don't take advantage of me when it comes to that, or I take advantage of that advice. But I do get very proud as an instructor when I do see people playing with their springs. And yes, maybe their rep count is a little lower, but I'm okay with that because that means they feel safe to actually explore. and they're actually, they're getting curious like, this is what Pilates feels like in my body and I wanna know, like this week for feet and straps. Sometimes I'll use the short loops because I like the extra tension that provides and I'm too lazy to come up and change the springs. That's what it came down to.

[00:13:49] Aly: One day I wanted more tension. I didn't wanna sit up on the machine, take the feet outta strap, and I shared that. And one lady said, really? What does that feel like? I was like, I [00:14:00] dunno. Give it a try. What? Go ahead and see if you have any regrets. That's okay. Just put them back in the long loops. Like you can say you did it kind of a deal.

[00:14:11] Aly: Just the curiosity in watching people's faces like, oh yeah. Like, let me try this a little heavier or a little lighter. And I like seeing the looks on their faces and when they modify and the whole room is doing something different of the same exercise, that brings me so much joy. 

[00:14:29] Olivia: I mean, it's awesome, and I think it says a lot about you as an instructor that you've created a space where people can take ownership of the exercise for themselves. That there's not only a level of familiarity with the equipment, that they know how to change the springs, but also that they know that they can change the springs and that they can try things and they don't have to do a perfect performance of the exercise that's the same every time. But like, we can [00:15:00] try other things.

[00:15:01] Olivia: Like we can really try things out and have a new experience and maybe it is awesome and we wanna do it again. Maybe it was not the right choice for that time and that's fine, we won't do it again. But, uh, just being able to have the time and the space to play is awesome. 

[00:15:18] Aly: Yeah, it's, it's hard to put into words how awesome it is.

[00:15:24] Aly: But yeah, that, that, now I'm just getting lost in just watching the different bodies in my head. Because it is, it's really well, when I went through teacher training, uh, we all get feedback and one of the biggest pieces of feedback I would get was your spring tension is heavy. Like you might wanna think about going a little lighter. So I always have that in the back of my mind in the sense of I've given myself permission to let it go. 

[00:15:50] Aly: But then I always hear like the first training, cause I went through two trainings, so before I met you in brief, went through Club Pilates. I just went through it. [00:16:00] That's it. It well- it got to a point where I was just like, maybe I should try something else because my gut is telling me something isn't right here and then that's how I stumbled upon Breathe. But with that biggest piece of feedback, it, I always have that master trainer going, Your spring tension is heavy. 

[00:16:18] Aly: So I admit, I'm a spring pusher and I tell them, this might be heavy because I'm a spicy lady. I like things a little heavy. I do aim to get a little sweaty, well, maybe not a little, a lot of sweaty, but , that's what I go for with my Pilates.

[00:16:35] Aly: I know the other bodies in the room might not be looking for that, and that's totally fine. Not only that, they might have injuries or something where they're like, you know what? This isn't feeling right. 

[00:16:49] Aly: What's more important to me as a teacher is that they know. This is the machine. These are the springs. These are the tensions. If you don't [00:17:00] like this one that I've suggested, here's your other option. And there are times where I shout out the colors of the rainbow. That's what I call the springs. And there are some confused faces and it's like, that's okay. I'll shout them out again. Or if you have any confusion, we'll take it from there.

[00:17:17] Aly: But it is, uh, I like to hammer home to the point where I hope they're rolling their eyes at me. When I say red is heavy, blue is medium. White is light. And I mainly work with Stott reformers. Hence why there's those spring colors. Yeah. 

[00:17:33] Olivia: And I also wanna hear from you not only because you did two training programs, which is way overachieving, but also because you've done additional trainings in nutrition, and I know you've done bar and other movement sort of things as well.

[00:17:47] Olivia: What, in your experience, because you've experienced, uh, so many different training programs, what are like the highlights of a training program or what things really [00:18:00] helped you to find your voice as a teacher or to be the best teacher that you can be and you're like, wow, I'm really glad we did that because that helped 

[00:18:12] Aly: Two things, comparing all of them.

[00:18:14] Aly: Uh, the biggest one I got from nutrition, cuz that one's kind of in a league of its own. Is I am not qualified or certified to tell anybody what to eat, how to eat, when to eat, or anything like that. Um, that's when I first got introduced to the BPS model or the bio psychosocial model, and that it's a whole person framework.

[00:18:36] Aly: And just because it works for one person doesn't mean it's gonna work the same for another. So me creating a meal plan or saying like, do this amount of exercise. Basically what it came down to is all of that is garbage. Listen to your body. Take the time to do your mind body scans, see how it feels, and then take it from there.

[00:18:58] Aly: And that's the biggest thing that I [00:19:00] translate into my teaching. Like I like to be quiet, especially when we're doing the other side. Like I'll tell them, all right, this is the order. Take a moment. Do a mind body scan. How does this side feel different from the other side? If you're doing circles, how does this direction of your circle feel different than the other side? Is it larger? Is it smaller? Does it feel yummier? Does it feel a little crunchier? Like what is that the biggest, what's the biggest difference from side to side? 

[00:19:27] Aly: As we both know, the body is not symmetrical. It is very, very much asymmetrical and we each have what I like to call an Instagram side and a TLC side in the sense of if you had to put one side on social media, this would be the side you would use or your dominant side. Then the other side was just like, I need to focus on this one or give it a little bit more tender love and care. I shared that because someone in my classes did ask, well, what's the tlc? It's like, well, it's your Tender Love and Care. It gets a little extra attention. 

[00:19:59] Aly: [00:20:00] From the rest of the trainings between Barre, which so everyone knows, I did a Barre Balletone and TRX training because I quit my job at Simply Safe prior to the pandemic starting. Obviously no one knew the pandemic was gonna happen. And my plan was get a certification so that way I could just start teaching and working with people and start developing my own style. Little did I know the pandemic happened, the barre certification I signed up for ended up going virtual, and it ended up taking a way different turn than I expected.

[00:20:35] Aly: But between the three of those with Pilates, the biggest thing is keep it simple. The simpler, the better. You don't need to get crazy. You don't need to do anything extravagant. Please give yourself permission to not feel like you have to do so much in a short period of time. And I say that because with my [00:21:00] training at Club Pilates, I did feel like I had to say not even like, not even like me feeling it, like feedback I got was: you did a great job pointing out alignment, which you don't really need to do by the way. Um, you did a good job saying like, you should feel the muscles here. You did a good job calling out your muscles, which you also don't need to call out the muscles. 

[00:21:22] Aly: I have a love hate relationship with it in the sense of I'll tell them. You should feel the front of your T-shirt working. That's your abs. Or these are your obliques in case you like the names of muscles. And those who like the names of muscles are the ones who studied the names of muscles. Everybody else generally doesn't care. So the simpler you can keep it, the better because part two or this really should be number one.

[00:21:48] Aly: But it's a nice segue for part two, is, it's more important to get your body moving than to say, lie down on the carriage in your neutral spine [00:22:00] with your shoulder blades plugged into the mat, arms pressing down by your side, feet parallel on the foot. It's all just fluff. At the end of the day. Just say, get on the carriage. Sit as close to the edge as you can. Lie down, put your feet on the bar, doesn't matter what part of your foot is on the bar. And push the carriage in and out. And if you have anything to normalize that experience, which I say this is squatting, lying down on your back, that's all you're doing. Or it's a leg press if you're familiar with leg presses at the gym. Push that carriage in and out. 

[00:22:37] Aly: And after that, you can kind of see a light bulb go off in many people's faces, it's, oh, footwork is squatting without gravity. Great. I can actually get into my deepest squat now. And same thing when it comes to single leg footwork. It's just a pistol squat lying down on your back. And because we're lying down on our back, we get to do some fancy jazz with [00:23:00] our leg, with our free leg if you, you'll. So the more you can make it easy for the body to move, get your point across and just keep it simple. 

[00:23:12] Aly: One thing, actually, sorry, three points. I know I said two. Now that I think of it, there's a third. The other part that I learned is dynamic range in the sense of, I call it dynamic range because that's what we used to call it in the HR world, but say whatever you want your body to do, in the simplest words possible. If they don't do it, that's fine. Then you switch your wording and say, okay, double down on your cues. Like if you say lie down on your carriage with your feet onto the foot bar kind of a deal, and they lie down on their side. Then it's like, okay, lie down with your back on the carriage looking up at the ceiling, feet on this pole looking thing that's going across the reformer. Basically it's more [00:24:00] important to get your bodies to move, understand what it is, and the simpler you keep that, the easier it's gonna be for them to fe feel successful and to do the thing. 

[00:24:12] Olivia: I think that you have hit on something that I also agree with and have thought about a lot, and that is that our cues from teacher training onward largely become a subtraction game.

[00:24:26] Olivia: And we start and we have to know every little thing and all the little, and all the little placements and alignments and goals and just, you could write an essay that's just setting someone up for footwork. But when you actually get to the teaching bit, and the more you teach, you realize that not only are more words slowing you down, slowing the class down, they're confusing people.

[00:24:52] Olivia: And now you've added things in that if you had just said lie down, that you wouldn't have had to worry about looking at the ceiling. But now that you've [00:25:00] said it, people are like, oh my gosh, I gotta look at the ceiling now. You know? And it just snowballs a bit. Mm-hmm. . And so finding those like really almost like bare bones cues that get people moving and then refine from there.

[00:25:14] Olivia: You know, like if, because if they get it on the first simplest cue, you don't need to say anything else. And if they don't get it, then we'll add in some things. So I really love, uh, the way that you put that and that sounds like a very valuable thing I think any training that lets you start to experience the word vomit and then cleaning up your word vomit a little bit is gonna set you up for success as a teacher, because that's a skill that you're gonna need when you're teaching. 

[00:25:42] Aly: Absolutely.

[00:25:49] Olivia: Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit [00:26:00] buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There, you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.

[00:26:08] Olivia: Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links dot olivia b.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now back to the show.

[00:26:46] Aly: I know when I went through the first training, I felt like I needed to be perfect in the sense of I would get feedback that, you know, the first time you do things, yes, you know, you could add some stuff here or you could do a little bit more. [00:27:00] And I remember thinking it's like, well, I already showed that I know how to do this piece. Let me focus on the feedback that I got. 

[00:27:08] Aly: And then the feedback from there was, well, last time you did this, you did this and there was this, I'm just keeping it vague because it could, the point is the feedback was you showed me you could do that the other time. Do it again this time, and then next thing you know it becomes so much words and then you're talking so much and you haven't had a moment to breathe and you just feel like you're on autopilot just talking. And then once you do get a moment to breathe, it's like, oh, I actually need some water. My throat's dry. I can't continue talking if I, if I don't have a sip. And that's- take a sip of water! You don't need to say a whole lot of stuff. In fact, if you don't know what to say and need to collect yourself a little bit, take a sip of water.

[00:27:55] Aly: And then if your bodies are looking at you a little weird, that's your excuse. [00:28:00] Sorry, I needed a moment to have a drink and you don't have to do anything. I know, and I'm sure other instructors do this too, I'll have a brain fart in the middle of class, and I'm just like, oh my goodness. Like there was something I had planned, what was I supposed to do? And when I feel like the silence gets too long, that's when I start letting them into my brain or give them a little forest for the trees. And I'll say, all right, so here's what I'm thinking. I, this is where I'm thinking of going. I'm not a hundred percent sure, but, and then I'll sprinkle it in from there. And usually in the talking out loud at the moment, it's to myself just letting the bodies in the room in on it, it becomes, okay, now we're putting two and two together. 

[00:28:47] Aly: And I share that because it's totally normal to blank out on what you've thought, what you've planned. It happens to everybody, and it was something that I was [00:29:00] made to feel in teacher training, like, that's not okay for you to do. Like you have to be on point all the time. I, I literally felt like I needed to be perfect every time I stood in front of the bodies. And it's okay if you're not. Your bodies actually really appreciate when you show I'm a real human being. I make mistakes too. 

[00:29:21] Aly: In fact, uh, one of my friends who works the front desk where I work, I showed her one of my workout videos cuz I like to record myself and see, you know, how does this look? Do I wanna share it? What are things to keep in mind if I'm struggling with, the bodies are probably gonna struggle with too. And her feedback was, it's so refreshing to watch you struggle. Like, because now I feel like my struggling is okay and it's part of the process and I don't feel as bad swapping these springs or trying a different strap, whatever it might be for them to realize, this is how Pilates feels in my body, [00:30:00] because how it feels for them, it's gonna be different to how it feels for me. Just like it's gonna be different how it feels for you. And that's important to know that. 

[00:30:09] Aly: To me, that's what Pilates is. At the end of the day, knowing how this feels in your body as we use this crazy looking equipment, moving your spine in all these crazy directions, does your core get stronger? Yeah, but I, I don't think there should be this huge- and this is a per personal opinion. It might be another unpopular one. I'm okay with that- I don't feel. Pilates is all about this abs of steel kind of a deal. Like do you get abs of steel from doing Pilates? Yeah, but it's a byproduct, like getting this long lean looking physique, if you will. Like, it's not a requirement, it doesn't happen to everybody, but just know the importance is we're making shapes, we're learning how this feels in our body. We're getting stronger. and we're [00:31:00] just trying to see how this feels and get to something we can actually see ourselves doing consistently more than on anything else, because I don't care whether they're coming to do Pilates or not. I just care that they're moving.

[00:31:16] Olivia: I love that because getting people moving is like first and foremost, definitely our job. Um, and sometimes I feel like if we talk too much, um, while we're teaching, we have less time for people to move. So definitely let's get moving and go from there. 

[00:31:34] Olivia: Um, I'm hearing a lot as you're sharing of, you know, what's important to you as a teacher and what you really strive to create in your class, the space that you're creating, the feeling that you're creating, um, even the super sweatiness that you're looking for with your awesome spring additions.

[00:31:51] Olivia: Can you pinpoint some moments in your teaching career that have helped you shape [00:32:00] your voice because finding your voice is something that a lot of new people struggle with, and you are a relatively new teacher, and it sounds like you have a really strong stance of like how you teach and what it goes like. So tell me, where did those magical moments happen? How did you get here? How can we replicate it? 

[00:32:21] Aly: Yeah, a part, a lot of that happened in the sense of trial and error and really sitting down and thinking, well, what is Pilates to me, because I didn't feel good enough during my first training in the sense of I got stuck in this teaching hole where it took forever for me to get the opportunity to teach that I started investing in other Pilates teaching modalities. So I trained through Club Pilates and then I ended up purchasing the Stott Pilates books. I ended up getting Rael Isacowitz, which I apologize if I said that incorrectly. Cause I was always [00:33:00] just like, did I say it right? Every single time I look at it. 

[00:33:02] Olivia: It's the Basi guy. Oh, I know. 

[00:33:04] Aly: He's good. It's so, but I got some of his books and then I also classical instructors books like I invested in Kathy Ross Nash was a big one because in high school that was a presence. I was around a lot in the sense this strong, confident female that knows like what she's picking, why she's picking what she's doing, what she's doing. So when you're talking about finding comfort in the discomfort, I know many people find her intimidating. I was so happy to be in that energy. Cause I was just like, I feel like home a little bit in this new world. 

[00:33:43] Aly: So I started collecting just all these different Pilates books and just to see, well, what do all of them have in common? What should I be focusing on? And yes, there was all this, [00:34:00] there was definitely a focus on the midsection kind of a deal, but I felt like that was just more of, well, we're doing Pilates. This is what Pilates is, this is why we focus on it. But there wasn't anything that, when I got more curious, it's like, well, why are we focusing on the core?

[00:34:19] Aly: So to replicate it is get curious, start exploring other things. Ask yourself questions like, why are we doing what we're doing? What's the purpose of doing what we're doing? And yes, if somebody tells me I wanna work my abs, then okay, fine. We'll focus on the core and whatnot. But what I got was we're replicating the different shapes that Joe came up with.

[00:34:47] Aly: And if you look at Return to Life, he doesn't say all that jazz. Like he doesn't even mention the core, the powerhouse, or this girdle of strength or like even breathing. You know, it's just [00:35:00] move, do the thing, get going, do as many reps as I say to do and then move on to the next one. So it would like, that's where it came from.

[00:35:09] Aly: It came from a lot of sitting down, really thinking in the sense, which is another thing a lot of my bodies like about my classes, is I pretend like I'm talking to Joe and sometimes I'll say these things. It's like, you sounded like you just had coffee with him this morning. And like, actually one person the other day was like, is Joe still alive?

[00:35:32] Aly: Cause I, I said, I was just like, if I, whenever I meet Joe, I have these questions to ask him, like, how did he come up with the reformer? That would fast- like, that fascinates me. Like what made him, oh, let me put a bar at the end of this machine. And then these pulling mechanisms on the other end with these two steel pieces or wooden pieces with springs attached to them. And I, I wanna know, like, what made you think of the springs? [00:36:00] Like rumor has it, it's the box spring of a mattress, but like, uh, was it, I mean if you've read Caged Lion, anybody out there, like, was it really those box springs on there? Like it's, there's a lot that makes me question. So get curious, think about it.

[00:36:18] Aly: Don't be afraid to look at other teaching modalities, not only with Pilates, but just outside of Pilates because it can all transfer. And just because you learn something somewhere else doesn't mean you can't do it in Pilates. Like our equipment does look so different and we can do so much with it, especially the reformer.

[00:36:42] Aly: Go crazy, get creative, get weird. It's okay if it looks atypical, for lack of better wording, because there is a reason why we're doing what we're doing and just because it can't be done at a [00:37:00] barre or on a TRX or, actually from the aerial stuff I'll do, I take a lot of different shapes and movements that we'll do in the conditioning classes that I take.

[00:37:13] Aly: It's like, well, what if I brought this on the reformer? What if I did this on the tower? What happened if this got onto the chair? And that's another part I like about Pilates, is we can create our own exercises, like we can invent something new that no one's ever thought of before. Because we're already in the space to do so.

[00:37:36] Aly: Like Joe had his exercises, the elders added on from there, and the elders did it. Why can't we do it? And we just keep adding and adding and adding, and that's my favorite part. It's, well, why not? Like let's get creative. Let's go crazy. Let's have fun. [00:38:00] 

[00:38:00] Olivia: And sometimes it's because you know, we're working with someone and they're presenting with something or they've got something going on in their body, or maybe they're just really interested in this shape and maybe they can do the shape on the reformer, but they can't do it on the chair.

[00:38:15] Olivia: And so sometimes when we make up exercises, it's to meet the needs of the people we're working with. First and foremost, ourselves. When we're trying to do something and it's not working, we get creative. We experiment. We find ways that we can make it happen. Maybe it's changing the equipment, maybe it's adding a prop. Maybe it's changing our relation to gravity, but we find ways to make it work for us. We do that for our clients and look at that. You got a whole class. 

[00:38:42] Aly: Mm-hmm. . Exactly. And it doesn't have to be this one size fits all option. In fact, uh, one of the studios that I work for, it's called Kink Pilates with a k not um, a p or anything else like that or, so what I [00:39:00] love about it is you can get really creative with it in the sense of, stairs, they've got Bala stuff everywhere. There's the Bala foam rollers, the resistance bands, the weights both like the bar weights and their uh, power ring, which is the ball version of the kettle bell. 

[00:39:21] Aly: And I like adding that as an option, like holding onto that power ring while you've got your hands and straps doing some jazz or using it to do your rotation gives a much different effect than if you have the magic circle. And sometimes I'll start off with a little bit of mat work in the beginning, um, from yoga and uh, my conditioning classes. There was one where we did pushups on yoga blocks, and the reason was to really get deep and have your shoulder blades get close together. I never thought of doing a pushup on a yoga block [00:40:00] before. It was like doing chest expansion from the floor. 

[00:40:03] Aly: So I like to do, if I have chest expansion planned in my class and there's a lot of beginners there, then it's, Hey, let's try doing this on the block first. Get deep into it. Feel your shoulder blades get closer together like a Nutcracker, because I'm from Boston and it's a thing here if anyone doesn't know. So I like that you can explore different things. And from getting that idea of doing pushups on yoga blocks, I tried. It's like, well, what if you did a vinyasa? What if you went from downward dog to plank to all the way down, going into a cobra? And by the way, it's a glorious stretch. So if anyone hasn't tried it, I highly recommend it.

[00:40:49] Aly: But that's what I love. It's the creativity that I love. 

[00:40:52] Olivia: Love, love sun salutations on the reformer, . 

[00:40:56] Aly: It feels so nice. And it's like, who knows? 

[00:40:59] Olivia: It's so good. [00:41:00] I love, I love it. 

[00:41:02] Olivia: Tell me a little bit if you can, any advice that you have for people who are considering making a career change. Maybe they've established themselves in a corporate world or they've been doing something else, but Pilates is calling their name. Um, what advice would you have for someone like that? 

[00:41:21] Aly: Follow it. There's a reason why Pilates is calling your name. Um, one thing, it's true because one thing, uh, that took me the longest to figure out is when you feel your gut instinct or something inside you saying like, maybe I should do this. That's your higher self telling you go do that thing in the sense of, they're already doing it. So they're, cause I believe time doesn't exist. Not to get too into it, but if you're already feeling that inclination now, that means there's a part of you in the future that's already doing it, experiencing that [00:42:00] joy, knowing what that joy feels like. So it's trying to tell you, Hey, give you that nudge. Go do it now. Go explore that. 

[00:42:09] Aly: And the other thing is, if you're thinking about, well, are you really happy with what you're doing? Because I was in HR for five years and I thought I was happy, but I really wasn't like, when it boiled down to it, I was, I wasn't happy. Um, yeah, I was comfortable, I was content. But then there was this inclination of not even this inclination. The inclination was always there. I just finally honored it. So it's just follow it. Be true to your gut. 

[00:42:46] Aly: Is it gonna be easy? No. Cause growth is never easy. It's gonna get really uncomfortable, but that's okay. Embrace the suck. Go from there, make it your best friend, and then one [00:43:00] day it'll be comfortable and you're like, oh yeah, I'm so happy I did that. Even the difficult moments. 

[00:43:07] Aly: It was hard changing careers and going through that through the pandemic, but I don't regret it for a moment because I learned so many lessons. When I look back at that change, if I think of, well, what if I change this? What if I did that? It's like, no, I came the person that I was and the instructor that I am, because I went through those things.

[00:43:32] Aly: So if you're having that voice speak to you. No, it's gonna get uncomfortable. No, it's not gonna be easy, but you're also worth more than easy. So go ahead, follow your gut instinct and just do it to take the words from Nike. Just, just do it. 

[00:43:50] Olivia: So what is next for you, Aly? I know you've got a blog that you're working on. I know that you're launching your studio in stages. What [00:44:00] is next in Aly Land? 

[00:44:03] Aly: Right now, what's next in Aly Land is in discovering my voice is actually opening up about me and the struggles that I went through, because although these experiences are unique to me, they're not that unique to me. And just because it looked one way for me, doesn't mean another person can't relate to.

[00:44:27] Aly: My last blog post was a lot about me finding or finally becoming a Pilates instructor, and I've had, have had people reach out to me like, that really touched me. I'm glad you shared that, because it helped me or them go through whatever they were doing it or just to see a different perspective. So right now it's more working on that blog, taking it from there.

[00:44:53] Aly: Hopefully just sharing parts of myself so that way other people can find some comfort and joy [00:45:00] in whatever they're going through. And the biggest thing is, I wanna go back to competing in dance. I don't know what that's gonna look like for me. So outside of Pilates, cuz I think it's important, like as instructors, yes we love Pilates, but there's more to life than Pilates.

[00:45:19] Aly: So how can you use Pilates to do that, and I did use to come to, uh, now I can't say it competitively danced as a child. So it's one of those where we're exploring that and um, seeing where it goes from there. But right now it's, it's still building foundations and honoring. Because that's the most important thing. You should honor yourself, and if you feel at any point you're not honoring yourself anymore, take a step back and see, well, what's going on? 

[00:45:58] Olivia: Yeah. [00:46:00] Something I really admire about you, Aly, is the fact that you adamantly set aside time for yourself to move, that you know that you feel good when you move, whether it's an athletic reformer class, whether it's a pole class, whether it's a Pilates class, and I just really admire how firmly you set the boundary that's, this is me time. I need this to be my best self, and I'm not gonna compromise on it. 

[00:46:32] Olivia: I know that as Pilates teachers, we spend the most time in Pilates studios and the least amount of time doing Pilates. Sometimes I think that you set a really great example of knowing what you need to feel good and then making sure that that happens. So awesome. I just wanted to share that. 

[00:46:53] Aly: Thank you. 

[00:46:53] Olivia: Because that is something that I really look up to you about. Is there anything else you'd [00:47:00] like to share or anything else you want to toss in there before we say goodbye? 

[00:47:07] Aly: Thank you for sharing that because it, it means a lot to hear that, but also it is very important to set that time aside for yourself because one thing that I believe in is professional space, or that's what I call it in the sense of we work with people one-on-one or in a group setting.

[00:47:28] Aly: They feel comfortable with us, and a movement sometimes can trigger their own healing process, whether or not they realize it or not. And they'll dump a bunch of stuff on us. And I would actually go even further to say like anybody who's new at Pilates or is looking to become a Pilates instructor, I don't think this is covered enough in teacher training period, even in all the books.

[00:47:55] Aly: No, not one of them said your bodies are [00:48:00] gonna tell you their life story. So it's really important that you do whatever you need to, to hold the space for your client once they show up in front of you. So that way when they're telling you why they're frustrated, What they're struggling with, you can actually be there for them because if you don't and your cup is empty, then it's not a good recipe. I was there. You get burnt out and it's, it is, it's self care is huge. Prioritize that and it'll help you as you go along. 

[00:48:44] Olivia: It also helps you, you know, stay in touch with what you love about Pilates because if you've become a Pilates teacher, you obviously enjoyed Pilates and if you don't have time to sort of recharge your batteries and remember what you love it, it's easy to [00:49:00] get burnt out like you said.

[00:49:01] Olivia: So I think that is very valuable advice. I will link to Allie's blog in the show notes so you can check it out and hear more about her story. Allie, thank you so much for taking the time and coming on today. Again, I really appreciate it and thank you for being you. 

[00:49:19] Aly: Thank you for having me and allowing me to be me on your podcast.

[00:49:31] Olivia: Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

[00:49:54] Olivia: The adventure continues. Until next time.