I am happy to feature the lovely Julie Driver, known from PilatesAnytime, on Pilatesglossy. Julie’s studio is located in the UK (London).
How did your Pilates journey begin?
My journey into Pilates began back in the late 1990s when I discovered an early Sunday morning class. I loved it and became a regular 2/3 times a week. When my father died unexpectedly my life was turned upside down and one of the ways to bring back some balance was a career change, and I applied to become a Pilates teacher.
My training was contemporary through Body Control Pilates. I’m aware that it sounds ridiculous that when I trained I had never heard the terms Classical or Contemporary Pilates but at that time we didn’t have access to education through the Internet. After completing my initial training I was fortunate to be taken under the wing of a generous teacher who allowed me into his studio to observe, teach and take class.
It is the many, many hours I spent in the studio simply watching, listening and learning from all the teachers in that space that helped me develop as a teacher. Passing your exams is like passing your driving test. It’s the years of driving experience afterwards that make you more accomplished.
How did you solve your own body issues with Pilates?
During my 17 years as a teacher I have changed, both physically and mentally having gone through extensive knee surgeries and rehabilitation in 2008/9 due to a debilitating ski injury, IVF and eventually a twin pregnancy, more knee surgeries in 2016 on top of the general affects of ageing!
All these life-changing events have been assisted and supported by my own personal Pilates practice; a practice that keeps changing and developing through more hours and days of intensive studying with my chosen teachers. I have many sources of inspiration and a drive to inspire others the same way and for them to pass that flame of on. I believe the minute I stop learning my teaching will stagnate.
How did Pilates change your life?
I was honoured to win the “2014 Pilates Anytime Instructor of the Year” competition. This was a huge milestone for me because it came when my children were 18 months old and I was emerging from the fog of a twin pregnancy. It gave me the opportunity to go to the US and attend the PMA conference which was an amazing learning experience. It gave me access to so many inspiring teachers and it was only then I really became aware of the term “Classical” and “Contemporary”. It made a lasting impression and since then I have been immersing myself as much and as deeply into discovering more about the classical work as possible. Remarkably until this point I had never been on a ‘Classical Reformer”, and the 80’ Gratz was a revelation.
I will never stop learning and I find it thrilling that there is still so much to learn. However you choose to learn Pilates, it is up to the individual teacher to be the best that they can. Clients benefit from teachers being armed with a breadth of knowledge to support their teaching, improving our client’s movement and control. Whether from Classical or Contemporary training all teachers have a desire to educate and inform their pupils with as much valuable insight as possible. Our own personal development should reflect this.
My Pilates Dream
Currently I am taking my Pilates teaching “out into the field” to work with riders, often in their own yards. It isn’t possible to carry a Reformer and full size Cadillac into a stable yard, I have found some contemporary props to be a great way to bring the work to a client. They can then see the relevance and feel the impact Pilates has on their riding and will often continue practising Pilates in a studio (if they have one locally). Some riders who have never tried Pilates have discovered immediate benefits, not only for themselves but also for their horses.
I know that Pilates works for anyone and everyone, no matter what the level we start at, what methods we use or how advanced the desired result. My experience shows that with riders this depth and breadth of learning experience is particularly valuable as I look at the complex physical relationships between horse via rider and rider via horse. Any imbalance from either partner is transferable. I am also continuing my “Horsemanship” training with Monty Roberts so I can complete my dream of working with both horse and rider.
Classical or Contemporary
I have a deep respect for both Classical and Contemporary Schools . I think we must respect one another’s learning and experience from their school and style of teaching. I have found my initial training invaluable, as are the years of continued postgraduate training that have helped me further develop. Additional intensive training with my teachers will continue to shape my classes and me. Just as much as WHAT we’ve learnt, WHO we are and our own personal learning experiences are reflected every day in our approach to teaching.
“There is no such thing as teaching, only learning”, Monty Roberts
A Global Pilates community
Attending the PMA gave me a sense of the larger global Pilates community, with so many different nationalities all under one roof, all with the same desire to learn and enjoy Pilates. I made new friends and through social media we can keep in touch, as well as catching up in person when we can.
Building A local Pilates Community
For me, a vital part of being a teacher is being part of a local vibrant community. Knowing there is a support network from your peers and Elders and being able to ask for advice when you need it and giving help to someone else when they in turn need support. I found this particularly important when I was teaching in multiple venues. It can be easy to feel isolated when you are spending time travelling from studio to studio, without time to simply sit and chat with other teachers. Creating a local support network is vital as well as being part of the larger global Pilates community.
Helping within your own community
Teaching Pilates has also given me a way to be active within my own home community. Volunteering an hour a week to my local church means we can run a community class with all funds raised helping to support our local homeless night shelter and to fund other important community projects within my neighbourhood over the year. Pilates brings people together and creates wonderful supportive networks. Everyone can play their part.
Who is your Pilates example?
Joseph Pilates was an absolute genius and way ahead of his time. It can be a lifetime endeavour to discover the depths of his method. We must honour the method through whatever school we have trained. Teach well, teach thoroughly and teach safely. Long Live Pilates and may we all continue to teach his work.
Top 5 Pilates Tips
- Read Mr Pilates original books thoroughly…and then read them again!
- Find a teacher that inspires you
- Pilates is an accumulative discipline, regular sessions will help to deepen your understanding both physically and mentally
- Practise is invaluable.
- Keep learning!
My practise routine
I try to workout everyday, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, my practise keeps me sane and my knee needs the movement. I’m still learning and I have regular 1-1s and then longer training periods when I travel to the USA.
Do you have a certain diet?
I don’t follow a diet, however as I have small children I try to set a good example. I don’t eat junk food (I’ve NEVER had a MacDonalds) but I do love chocolate!
Is there a book you would recommend?
- “The Body has its reasons” Therese Bertherat
- “Taking root to fly” Irene Dowd
- “The Pilates Body” by Brooke Siler
- “The Red Thread” by Kathi Ross-Nash
I am based in North London, where I have a small studio. I also present classes on ‘Pilates Anytime’