Pilatesglossy is proud to have a trainer from beautiful Italy for the first time on Pilatesglossy! Enjoy this interview with Gloria Gasperi! Her studio is Studio Pilates di Gloria Gasperi, located in Sarzana, a lovely town in Liguria, Italy. Gloria (born on 16th of June 1979 ) discovered Pilates in 1999 during a trip to Boston and returned to Italy to look for schools that would enable her to be certified as a Pilates instructor. Since Gloria studied biomechanics of movement and has a degree in Physical Education, Pilates was a natural fit for her. She began with a three-year certification from Peak Pilates in Holland. Then Gloria achieved her third level and Comprehensive Certification with Peak Pilates at “Progressive Bodywork” in Boston – founded and directed by Clare Dunphy, who was certified by Romana Kryzanowska. Gloria has taken additional training with Pamela Garcia of Pure Pilates Studio in Boston. In 2012, Gloria was accepted to a highly selective Masters program, “The Work”, at “Vintage Pilates” in Los Angeles. This intensive program is directed by Jay Grimes, who studied with Joe Pilates himself, as well as Sandy Shimoda and Karen Frischmann, co-owners of Vintage Pilates. Gloria deeply believes in the validity and strength of Pilates as a system of movement, aimed at restoring a balance to physical and postural functioning. Gloria’s teaching is characterized by her deep passion, contagious enthusiasm, professional integrity and desire to maintain and share the method
I discovered Pilates during a trip in Boston. I was there with my father. He is physician and he was there for a Congress. I come from the Sport and Fitness world and I practiced many sports, from gymnastics to martial arts. The two sports that I practiced more strongly and at a higher level are horseback riding and squash. I have been a Fitness instructor for some years. So, my background is connected to Pilates since I was a kid, I always played sports and loved to move.
Do you participate in workshops on a regular basis?
Yes, I always try to attend workshops. It keeps me posted, in contact with other teachers and deepens my understanding of Pilates. I actually regularly organize international workshops myself in my own studio, to give the possibility to “my people” (the students of my teacher training program) to have their own direct experience with my teachers. This year I had both Karen Frischmann (last March 2014) and Sandy Shimoda (last June 2014) from Vintage Pilates visiting my studio. They taught workshops about: back connection, movement and flow, seat connection, working with imbalances. All of these four subjects gave very important and strong information—the one about movement and flow and the one about working with imbalances have been very important, in particular, to remind me that all the answers, in Pilates, are in the Work!
What made you decide to make Pilates your profession?
When I discovered Pilates, I used to be a Fitness Instructor. As soon as I did my first Pilates workout, I felt in love with it. I was already teaching, so it felt naturally to add it to my other activities. I started with Mat Classes, then I bought the apparatus and the business started growing. Step by step, it became my whole work!
Can you tell the readers more about your studio?
My studio is in Sarzana, a small lovely town in Liguria, Italy. It is located in a very nice and a pleasant area. The studio is pretty big, open, full of light. One of the walls is a big window with a very nice view. This allows us to enjoy the light of the Italian sun during the workout! I have three Reformers, two Cadillacs, three Classical Mats, one Wunda chair, two Spine correctors, one Small barrel, one Ladder barrel, a Foot corrector, a Neck stretcher, a Toe exerciser… Most of the apparatus are purple and some walls are orange… So a lot of light and pleasant colors!
What did you had to do to start your Pilates biz?
I always say that Pilates is economy of words, economy of movement… but not economy of money… but it’s worth it … when you see people happy and healthy… Anyway I had to invest to rent the place, rebuild the place (for restrooms, showers, etc.), buy the apparatus. And I have two girls who work with me; they are both trained by myself.
Gratz forever! I used to own another brand, but when I worked on Gratz the first time in L.A. at Vintage Pilates (it was not actually the very first time I tried Gratz, but for sure the first time I really understood the meaning of that machine), I came back home and I sold everything to buy new Gratz apparatus for my Studio! I think these machines are very important to really understand the Classical work and to achieve the deepness of the connections in your body.
What is your favorite apparatus and exercise?
This is hard to answer… It depends on the period… For sure I LOVE the Reformer, which is actually called The Universal Reformer, and I really feel my body Universally worked by it. Anyway, sometimes I need the freedom of Mat, or the deepness from the Cadillac. I love the strength of the Wunda Chair and the lengthening of the Ladder Barrel. I have to say that the Spine Corrector is really one of my favourites; it allows me to explore my body and to achieve the two way stretch with a nice and pleasant freedom and strength at the same time.
I love the TEASER! I also have chosen it for my logo, because I think it is an exercise which has everything in it! The strength, the length, the balance between the two of them, the balance of your body on the surface, the two way stretch, the strong center. I think it is an exercise where is very easy to cheat in a way. I mean, if you take a person strong enough in quads and hip flexors, he (or she) will “come up”, but not from the stomach, from the center. So, as teacher, you have to be able to see the difference and to make the person feel the difference. The Teaser is a complete and very revealing exercise and very satisfying when you succeed in doing it! And is an exercise that you can find in most of the Apparatus (Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda, Spine corrector). Besides, it is very important to remember the connection among the apparatus, since Pilates has been thought from Joe as a System.
Can you tells us more about your own educational program?
Yes, last year I started my own program and my own school PILATES E-MOTION. It is a Classical Pilates program that gives the possibility to study on all the Apparatus and Mat as well. The school is organized in three Modules for Mat+Reformer and three Modules for Cadillac+ Barrel+ Chair. The organization of the school also has the goal to teach Pilates as a System. The path of every student is as personalized as possible. For me, to be a Pilates teacher requires to work on your own body to understand the work, to feel it and to understand what an exercise can do for you; at the same time, you have to learn to scan bodies and their needs, in order to choose which exercises are right for them. My purpose is to share the work! I often invite my teachers from the States to give the possibility to my students, who maybe can’t travel or don’t know the language, to have their own direct experience with them. And I teach workshop myself to keep the work alive and share the magic of the Method.
Did you solve your won body issues with Pilates?
I actually have no big issues. Like many people, I have some physical asymmetry and muscular imbalances due to sports. My body is addicted to Pilates to keep a better alignment and a general state of well-being. I love to feel “connected”. This helps me physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Describe your current clientèle and how many sessions do you teach?
My youngest client is eight years and the oldest is 82 years old. One of things I love about Pilates is that is really for everybody! I have people with important physical issues as well as people who do it “just” for the exercise, …athletes, housewives, children, old people, men, women! I teach more or less 40 sessions per week! In my studio I offer private or triosessions and they are pretty balanced. I only teach Mat groupclasses in other studios as guest teacher.
Who would you love to teach Pilates?
In the past weeks my husband (finally) started to be a student of mine… And I have to say, I like! I like to take care of him in this way and to share with him something that is so important to me. He is a massage therapist and works with me in the studio, so we share a lot of clients and I think we can workeven better as a team, since he understand the way Pilates work for them.
Mostly there are more female Pilates trainers than male. How is that in your country and more specific in your area?
Comparing to the other studios in the area I have a good number of men as client. In my teacher training program I have many men. I think that usually more Pilates trainers are female because of the wrong idea that many people have about Pilates. Pilates is often seen as “sweet gymnastics”. Classical Pilates is really strong and tough work!
What do you think is the future of Pilates?
Joe Pilates used to say: “There will be a studio in every corner of the street”- I think he was definitely right. He had a vision and a strong awareness about the power of his work. He also used to say .” My work will be completely understood in the next 50 years”; well, I think this is the right time. The Pilates world will keep on growing. Personally I think Classical Pilates is the only way to gain the real results intended by Joe. I think the two approaches will keep going parallel, and people will choose. I feel my responsibility and will to keep the original work alive.
What is your own vision of Pilates and the biggest insight Pilates gave you?
Pilates, for me, is really a mind-body- spirit activity. It allows me to use the movement to know my body, to master it, to feel good. It allows me to know myself: my approach to learning and teaching, to know my limits and to work to go beyond it, keeping the focus on myself. It is a philosophy: Pilates teaches me everyday not to try and to keep the control of the environment around me, but the control of myself, so to let myself flow with (and not towards) the circumstances, like my body with the apparatus. I also think Pilates represents a perfect balance between the “East” and “West” approach to healing. And, plus that, it works for my posture, my breathing, the balance of strength, stretch and length in my body! The input to always work from insight to outside. And to work for the perfection and for the connection!
Which Pilatesword you don’t use?
For sure I don’t use Pilatesstance. Since Jay Grimes taught me that Joe used to teach a natural rotation of the hips and thus of the feet (that is pretty individual), rather than a “standard” distance of the feet. In general, I don’t use Ballet words, since Joe used to teach exercises for every body. I personally don’t like very much the word scoop (just a matter of taste). I love to use personal and original images. I have a lot of fantasy and creativity and it’s good to use it.
Did you change things about your teaching or would you like to?
At the very beginning of my teaching, my style was very personal and very influenced by my background in teaching sports and physical activity. For some years, with many teacher training approaches, I had lost my own way of teaching; I tried and followed too many guidelines I received. In the past three years, since I work with Vintage Pilates, I got back to a more personal approach. Jay, and Sandy and Karen as well, teaches me to recognize and follow my instinct, my intuition and to keep my focus on understanding what the body in front of me needs, in order to be able to choose the right exercises for that specific body.
What is your opinion about the classical, authentic Pilates and the contemporary approach?
I respect every person who tries, with a pure and serious intention, to work to improve other people’s health. And I deeply think that the difference is always made by the persons. But I tried both approaches and I think the only way to gain the results intended by Joe, is to follow his own teaching, by Classical Pilates. Jay told me once: “Who changed the work, didn’t really understand the work”. I perfectly understand what he means. I think Joe was a real genius, not even one thing in his work was made by chance. Our goal is to keep studying his work, not try to change it! I have the chance everyday to go deeper in my understanding of the work, teaching and training myself as well. I often hear people say that the knowledge of the body now is changed and so we have to make Pilates “more modern”. Well, the biomechanics of the body never changed! The problem of the modern world is the lack of movement that modern life give us. So we have to learn again what movement can do for us.. The title of one of the books of Joe is “Return to life thought Contrology”. I think that is the right Direction, to go back to the awareness of the incredible possibilities and the power of our bodies and of the movement itself.
Who is your biggest example and who would you love to meet (again) in the Pilates field?
Jay Grimes for me represents the top of the integrity of the work. He always says “I teach what Joe and Clara taught to me”, he never tries and add something to the work, he “just” gives to the work his deep understanding of it and his incredible ability to make you feel the work in your own body. Sandy Shimoda and Karen Frischmann, who work with him, have the same deepness and integrity in their approach, adding their personal smartness and sensibility to their own teaching. I loved my work with Clare Dunphy, my first Classical Pilates teacher, who taught me the discipline and strength of the work as well as Pamela Garcia, who supported me strongly, with her sensibility and sweetness. I also have been very lucky in working with Lori- Coleman Brown, a very prepared, smart and generous person and teacher. And, actually, my best teachers are my clients and students. I feel very lucky to can learn from my work everyday!
What is your Pilates dream?
My dream is to keep growing as person, as teacher, in my studio, in my teacher training program, making my Pilates PILATES E-MOTION stronger and bigger; to involve my husband and my kid in my Pilates world… to see the net of international relationships growing, to keep and deepen the connection with my teachers… to let Classical Pilates grow stronger and more and more understood, respecting Joe and Clara’s work; to keep myself humble and with pure intention and, most of all, to experience the magic of Pilates everyday, sharing it with people, helping them to feel better!