My name is Ilse van Opstal and I’ve been teaching ‘Passie voor Pilates’ in Bavel since 2010. I’m 39 years old now and it was 7 years ago that I was introduced to Pilates. I taught various different kinds of sports at a gym, such as aerobics and bodybalance. Due to an injury I couldn’t work out myself, and so I started taking Pilatesclasses. This was a whole new experience for me. After I started I was hooked in and I started teaching myself.
I got my training from Pilates Company in Amsterdam and I took various workshops there. One workshop in particular, pregnancy and Pilates, left a big impression on me. During my own pregnancy I’d never heard of Pilates, which I feel was such a loss. Now I can help pregnant women and women that have just given birth and give them tips and targeted exercises.
For years I worked as a lawyer, but I’ve always loved teaching. Since I was 15 and during my college years I taught gymnastics and jazz ballet at an athletics club. When I quit my job as a lawyer to be able to focus on my family more, I started teaching again. It just felt right and I started educating myself again and participating in workshops. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to work with people, to move with them and to see them grow. It would take a lot to get me back into an office. I’ve expanded my studio with sports massage and -therapy and I find it easy to balance that with a demanding family.
The classes I teach are matclasses, and I often use small props such as small balls, big balls and dynabands. The exercises I put into my classes are classic Pilates matexercises, sometimes adjusted to the level and possible injuries of my clients. With some small props or an adjustment I can make the exercises more accessible or more challenging for them. I believe a slight adjustment is okay, as long as you stick to the Pilates principles.
10 groups a week
My studio is attached to my house, and I teach multiple classes each week. I also teach at two physiotherapy offices. I teach a total of 10 groups a week. I deliberately chose to work with small groups with a maximum of 8 people so I can give everyone the attention they need, and to correct them or challenge them when needed. That’s something I think was lacking when I taught at gyms. I see it as a challenge to let everyone in my classes practice Pilates on their own level, and I often get people with injuries (mostly neck and back injuries). Most of these people are told about my classes by physiotherapists.
Word of mouth
A lot of my clients find their way to me through word of mouth. Pilates works, and that inspires a lot of people. I’ve also build a network among physiotherapists. People know how I work, and they send some of their clientele to me. Most physiotherapists feel Pilates is a good addition to their regular treatments. Since more and more people get neck and back pain at a young age, I think Pilates will be practiced by young people often. I also think people are looking for some peace and quiet in their busy schedules. Most of my clients think it’s wonderful to just work on their body for an hour and focus on nothing else.
Pilates has become my passion
I still think Pilates is a wonderful way to keep my body fit and flexible. In the past I used to have back pains, but since I started doing Pilates I’m in complete control over them. Pilates has become my passion, a passion that I love sharing with others. It would be great if everyone would practice Pilates, because it’s so good for your body. I’m a perfectionist and that’s a good trait to have when it comes to Pilates, for me and for others. My favorite Pilates exercise is the Roll- over, because this exercise makes my back feel so flexible.
I would love to expand my matclasses with fully equipped classes. That requires time, and an investment in my training and equipment. Because Pilates is something you can perform and teach no matter how old you are, I see plenty of opportunity to be able to develop myself in the future. Pilates remains a challenge and an inspiration.