Mirjam Breevaart (37) is Pilates instructor at the Pilatesstudio Oud-Beijerland in The Netherlands.
I started taking Pilatesclasses about 7 years ago at The Pilatesstudio in Oud- Beijerland. I was suffering from hypermobility and had joints that dislocated quickly. I kinda always felt like I was made of sugar. Having a bit of a romp wasn’t for me, after running I was sure to sprain my ankle or dislocate my shoulder. In 2007 I had such pain in my shoulder that I was quite limited in what I could do. I work at a school for multiply handicapped children but lifting things or helping them eat was impossible. The pain prevented me from sleeping and I could hardly move my arm. I was really frustrated to be honest. Doctors saw that there were problems but didn’t know how to solve them. One doctor even told me “I was imagining things”. It was awful, because you want to do so much but you can’t! My physiotherapist suggested I would start doing Pilates too. He got me in contact with Helga Stekelenburg, owner of The Pilatesstudio.
I could work again and enjoy all kinds of fun things
I started with 10 Personal trainings on the reformer. Helga counseled me every step of the way and taught me to trust my body again. I noticed the amazing results! After 10 classes I switched to a group class, and again I felt such progress. My muscles became stronger, my posture improved and my overall health got better! The problems I had with my shoulders were getting less each week, I was amazed. After years of pain and frustration I could, just by exercising, work again and enjoy all kinds of fun things. I actually think that Pilates should be covered by health insurers. It can prevent so many injuries and other ailments or speed up recovery.
How can I become a Pilatestrainer?
I’ve noticed that my problems returned when I didn’t go to classes or didn’t take good care of my body. If I want to function properly I need Pilates! So I thought, if I become a trainer I will always be motivated to stay fit myself. You can’t stand in front of a group if you can’t even move your arms properly. But….how can I become a Pilatestrainer? I have no background in Fitness, I don’t know much about anatomy, and I don’t have any medical knowledge, would I be able to do this? I do however have experience with speaking in front of large groups (I worked as a teacher), I’m really motivated and a walking advertisement for how well Pilates works! And last but not least; my trainer, Helga, was very happy with the idea of me being a trainer and she did the trainings from Peak Pilates.
Miracles do exist
Unfortunately I was forced to postpone it a bit longer than I initially wanted. During the pregnancy of my son I found out I had Hodgkin Lymphoma, which is a form of lymph node cancer. I had quite an intensive treatment with chemotherapy. Miracles do exist, we had a wonderful and healthy son! I was very lucky and was given the “clean” sign by my doctors 6 months after our son was born. After a rehabilitation program I continued my Pilates classes again. Despite having problems focussing and being agitated quite quickly, a memento from my illness, I was able to do the classes like I used to. The calmness during the classes and the clear instructions felt like they were made for me!
I teach Pilates classes now!
In 2011 I did the Basic Mat Course. And the best thing was, because I had been training with the Peak method for years I even looked quite experienced between the seasoned sports instructors! In 2013 I took and finished the intermediate mat course, 2 months after the birth of my second child. Right now I’m doing the PPC1 course. I also teach in the studio that it once all started. I have a few group classes of my own and substitute when I can in Oud Beijerland or at The Pilates Place in Rotterdam. I’d like to teach more in the future, and include personal trainings, but right now I also want to enjoy my 5 y/o son and my nearly 1 y/o daughter. When they are a bit older I can and want to leave the house a bit easier.
My favorite piece of equipment
My favorite piece of equipment is the mat! I may be the exception here. I also love working on the reformer and I have good experiences with the MVe. I’ll learn more about other apparatus in the PPC course, so maybe I’ll change my mind a year from now. But what I love most about the mat is that you can do Pilates anytime and everywhere. Whether it’s in your house when your baby is asleep, or in your garden when the weather is good. You don’t need a lot and almost everybody can start right away.
I have to say that when I got started I didn’t want to and couldn’t start with the group classes. I was too afraid to move, to be in pain and you want to keep up with the group. During the personal trainings I could break through my boundaries in my own pace and with the help of the reformer, in a safe way. So when you have issues that are a bit more complex I’d definitely advice to start with PT’s. And if you can afford it, PT’s are such a gift for your body!
Everyone has their own challenge
Back when I started I could sometimes feel insecure when in a group class I saw the people next to me perform the exercises with ease. I now know and try to convey to my clients, that big movements and flexibility don’t necessarily mean that someone is working in their Powerhouse. Someone can work harder on the “easy” exercises than someone who does the hardest things without sticking to the six principles of Pilates. Everyone has their own challenge, and once you think you are doing all right in a certain exercise, there is still room for more improvement!
The Roll-up is one of my favorite exercises
One of my favorite exercises is the Roll up. When you;ve mastered this exercise, you have so much control and you’ll understand what Pilates is about so much better, that you can go on and try the harder exercises. Although I also really like the abdominal series to give my body a wake-up call! I actually like all the exercises!
Of course a lot of funny things happen. I will stand there talking for an hour and I still think it’s great people will do what you say and even find it relaxing! In todays society everything ends up being a discussion, everyone has an opinion about everything…during the class it’s quiet and you don’t have to think, just to do what you’re told. But the clients will literally do what you say. When they’re in rest position I’ll often say “putt you bum to your heels”, but sometimes I’ll say “put your heels to your bum”, by accident. And people will be laying there, waiting for me to continue with this wondrous new exercise….eehm oops! My bad!
I’m content in what I’m doing and learning
In the future I’d like to teach more, train more and get to know more Pilatesfans. I love meeting new people at the courses I participate in, and to get inspired by them. And I really love seeing progress in my clients and for them to feel the difference in their body. But for now I’m content in what I’m doing and learning. I’m in a very privileged place with colleagues like Rob Kollmann and Helga, who has taught me so much and continues to teach me new things. I’m aware that a lot of new trainers don’t have a network of amazingly schooled trainers around them that they can learn from.
In the end I’d really like to thank Helga, without her I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I really appreciate the trust she has in me as a teacher and colleague and the opportunities she gives me!