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I’m going to start this post the way I typically start my online Pilates classes, by way of introduction: Welcome! If we haven’t met before, I’m Pam.
Even though I’ve been an instructor at Retrofit for almost seven years, this summer feels like a rebirth. It’s not just that I’ve assumed a different role at the studio, but after such a looooooong COVID closure, everything feels slightly foreign. Like going back to visit your university campus years after graduation. For the clients that have been with me throughout the pandemic, there is a shared sense of joy and relief to finally be in the same physical space, without the dog walking in front of the camera or the sound of a lawnmower in the background, and I can see them from all angles for a change. One of my clients actually hugged the reformer, the way my nephew greets his toys when he hasn’t seen them in a while. For the clients who are returning after an unprecedented hiatus, there is laughter and a few groans as their muscles fatigue during that first workout. And for the newcomers to the studio, I see equal parts trepidation–at trying something new, at entering an unfamiliar space, at trusting a stranger with their well-being–as well as excitement to be exercising in community, to be out in the world again, and to have someone take care of them for an hour.
I started teaching in the fall of 2013. I’d been a student of Pilates for a decade before I took the plunge. I’ve taught at tiny boutique studios, industrial gym complexes, physiotherapy clinics, and community hubs. My teaching philosophy has evolved into something pretty simple: Meet people where they are. It’s vital that I get to know my clients so I can understand what they value most, and how Pilates is going to contribute positively to their lives. If adventure travel is a big part of someone’s early retirement plan, but they suffer from chronic knee pain, I want to use my skills and knowledge to help them build the strength and mobility that will let them hike a mountain or cycle cross country. If my 12-year-old client is experiencing a growth spurt at the height of baseball season, I want to teach him enough about his own body that he can still utilize all of his innate agility while staying balanced and grounded–plus talk about Loki and The Mandalorian. I’ve been fortunate to learn from colleagues in other disciplines (physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, kinesiologists) and master teachers in my own Pilates community, a practice that for me is ongoing. Not all of my clients share the same geeky curiosity about why the body does what it does, and that’s okay–we don’t have to talk about why one exercise might be more beneficial for them than another. But when they tell me that they feel a specific pain every time they unload the dishwasher, the Pilates Detective in me gets excited–it’s another clue to help me help them stay healthy and strong.
Throughout the month of August, Retrofit will continue to offer a robust schedule of online classes, but our Bloor West studio is also now open for private and semi-private sessions, the first phase of our reopening plan! Join me, Pam, online Monday mornings for Precision Mat (8am) and Reformer on the Mat (10:30am), or book an initial one-on-one session at the studio. Welcome back, everyone–we really, really missed you!