Andrea Maida (44) teaches in her private home studio in beautiful Solana Beach, California and at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles. She teaches private lessons via Skype and is an instructor and blogger for Pilatesology.com.
When and why did you start practicing Pilates? How did you get introduced to Pilates? Did your background have anything to do with it?
I began practicing Pilates in a Mat class in Washington DC in 2000. (This excerpt is from pilatesandrea.com). As a working actor in Washington, DC, I was forever looking for new ways to stay fit. I had tried many other forms of exercise including a gym membership, Tae-bo videos and yoga. In the fall of 2000 I was working on a play and terrified of the skin-tight, bare midriff costume that I was to wear. A fellow actress that had been doing Pilates for a few years (read: total hot body) recommended a local studio, Excel Movement Studios (now excelpilates.com). I signed up for a weekly mat class to find out just what was Pilates anyway? I had a vague idea that it was similar to yoga, but somehow not yoga… Soon my “not yoga” classes were kicking my butt and I began to take 2 and 3 classes per week and slowly added private and semi-private sessions on the apparatus as well…which I have to confess, as a sometimes-working actor and knitting-store clerk, I could not afford. But I was hooked. It was such an effective, challenging and efficient way to work out. Every part of my body engaged, strengthened and stretched and it only took an hour. This was ideal to me. Also the part where I was accountable for my workout and had to show up… priceless After Pilates sessions I always felt like my whole body had been worked out, like I had greater integrity in motion. I was also not BORED. And my mind did not wander to thoughts of what was I going to make for dinner anyway? It was great to be able to focus and be present for an entire hour and leave all everyday matters of life at the door. It was empowering to be able to use my mind to work my body. Especially if one is strong-willed or has a stubborn streak…
Where did you receive your Pilates education(s) and who was your teacher?
I started taking Pilates mat classes in 2000. In 2003 I completed my first comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Program at Excel Pilates in Washington, DC. After relocating to the West coast in 2004, I began to take workshops and study privately with Jay Grimes. In 2006 I completed the Romana’s Pilates Teacher Training Program. I was thrilled to be in the inaugural class of The Work, a program of study at Vintage Pilates under the direction of Jay Grimes and subsequently she was invited to train further with Jay in a second program at Vintage, Teaching the Work.
Do you participate in workshops on a regular basis? If yes, what was your latest? What workshop inspired you the most?
Yes! As many workshops as possible. I like to joke that I need a sponsor for all of the continuing education events that I want to attend. All of Jay Grimes’workshops are priceless. You’ll workout and hear many wonderful gems of information when you attend Jay’s workshops. I also recently attended a workshop with Ton Voogt and Michael Fritzke. I had not seen them in literally 10 years and I learned a ton of stuff in that workshop. They are in Arizona now, so go!
What made you decide to make Pilates your profession?
As a sometimes-working actor, I was forever on the lookout for the ultimate day job: flexible schedule, good pay, fun…I was not sure training to be a Pilates instructor would fulfill all those requirements, but I really loved what Pilates had done for my body and well being, and I wanted to learn as much about it as I could. And if that meant training to become a teacher I was going to do it. At first I didn’t know if I would enjoy teaching other people. I had never had a job where I was supposed to tell people what to do, that was a scary part for me. I remember a wonderful quote I heard from Bob Liekens “Teaching is the art of insisting.”Oh no! I thought, I am terrible at insisting. But hey, I got a lot better 🙂
Do you own a studio or multiple studio’s ? If so, can you describe it, where it’s located, what apparatus you use? What did you have to invest (people, time, money) to get your studio running?
I have a private home studio in Solana Beach, California and I have Gratz apparatus. I have nearly all the pieces of equipment – sadly I still need an Electric Chair…but no space for a Guillotine, unfortunately. But some day I plan to have it ALL!! I was very fortunate to have an extremely supportive family that helped me to purchase the first major pieces of apparatuses – the Reformer and Cadillac. Another family member helped out with the Mat and Ladder Barrel and I borrowed a Wunda Chair from a friend and former instructor for the first year of my studio. Since then I have been able to add my own Wunda Chair, Arm Chair, a 2nd Mat, Spine Corrector and Small Barrel, as well as the tiny apparatus: Foot corrector, Toe Tensameter, Magic circles, etc…I personally invested in MindBodyOnline, my husband painted the inside of our entire house and I revamped my website since I would be in my home studio and not have a “storefront.”So between referrals and those who find me online, my business really exploded once I started my home studio.
What Pilatesapparatus or exercise is your favorite and why?
This is a hard question. I have such a great love for all of the apparatus. You cannot beat the simplicity and unforgivingness of the Mat, my first love. The other ones I love with equal fervor are the Reformer, the Ladder Barrel and the Cadillac. I guess I love them all and the lovely exercises on them that are so good for me. No disrespect, Wunda…sometimes I feel like we are just getting to know one another all over again 🙂
What is your favorite brand of apparatus (Gratz, Peak Pilates, Balanced Body, Stott Pilates, Basi, Basil or other)?
I did my initial training on Balanced Body equipment meant to resemble the Gratz apparatus – with regard to dimensions, spring tension and number of springs and leather straps. When I moved to California I began to work on Gratz apparatus exclusively for my own workouts. What a difference. I noticed big changes in my body, particularly with regard to the lower body and my butt. The feeling of certain exercises made more sense on the Gratz as well. I really love working on Gratz, I cannot deny it.
Do you experience difficulties keeping your clients because of the current crisis?
I teach all private lessons and 2-3 duets. I do not teach classes. In 2008, some clients cut back on how many sessions they purchased at one time and a couple stopped for a few months and then returned about a year later. I really didn’t notice a big difference in my business. I have lots of normal folks that value Pilates for their well-being and they have made it a priority in their lives. I am very fortunate to have many clients devoted to the Pilates Method – and even some Pilates Nerds!
Do you teach workshops?
In the last few years I have started to teach workshops. I value the work that I have learned at Vintage Pilates from Jay, Karen Frischmann and Sandy Shimoda. I hope to be able to share my experience and education with those that may not get to work with Jay for whatever reason. In the past, I have heard that classical teachers can be thought of as being elitist and not very welcoming to those teachers that have trained elsewhere but have become interested in learning the classical work. I would very much like to change this perception. Joe Pilates’original work should be shouted from the hilltops and available to anyone that wants to better their workout and their teaching. Everyone benefits!
Did you solve body issues or do you keep them under control with Pilates?
I have a lot of weakness on one side and I am so lucky to have found Pilates at 29, as it really helps me to be in charge of my body and help myself as I grow older. It is truly a miraculous system of health.
Do you have a target audience?
My clientele range from 45-75 yr old men and women. I so love to teach men this method. And I have started in the last few years to teach other teachers. I also enjoy helping teachers that may be new to the classical work find the exercises in their bodies. It’s so exciting when you feel the depth of the exercise. I like to say that it feels like the truth!
How many lessons do you give each week? Is your focus on private, duets or triosessions or do you prefer to give matclasses?
I teach about 35 hours per week – all private lessons and 2 or 3 duet sessions. I will be teaching Mat classes and lessons at classicalpilatesconvention.co.uk in October.
Who is your favorite person that you would love to teach Pilates?
I am not a huge sports fan, but I do very much like to watch Basketball and more and more I like to watch Soccer, which I wish was football in our country too. My favorite NBA player is now the oldest player in the league, Steve Nash. I used to joke when I would see him standing in his sway back posture court side that he needs Pilates. He does have a back issue. I had a fleeting connection with the owner of the Phoenix Suns, when he played for them, and I even sent an email to offer my services to the team. It never went anywhere…now Nash plays for the Lakers and I have a suspicion he lives in Hermosa Beach. Now my fantasy is that he finds my friend Alisa Wyatt there. So, I would love to teach Pilates to NBA players. There. I said it.
In Europe there are more female Pilates trainers than male. How is that in your country and more specific in your area?
Yes, here in the US there are more female Pilates teachers than male teachers, as far as I can tell. However, I get to see lots of male teachers that come to train at Vintage Pilates. One day I looked around and there were 3 men working out in the studio and only 1 woman. Jay was teaching his male client and 2 other men (clients, not teachers) were in a class with Karen.
What is your opinion about the future of Pilates?
Pilates is a beautiful and complete system of health that more and more people are discovering all over the world. It has had exponential growth over the last 2 decades and I am sure there will be more generations of instructors in the decades to come. Pilates is here to stay because it works.
What is your own vision of Pilates?
My Pilates fantasy is for everyone to practice Pilates, to own these exercises in their bodies for their own well-being and longevity. I have a client that summed up what Pilates does for her so nicely: “It’s an investment in my quality of life.” I like to call Pilates “The Owner’s Manual for the Body.”If you have a body, you should learn some Pilates to take care of it so it runs a long time.
Do you cooperate with other Pilatesinstructors? If yes, who?
Yes. Ever since I have been in my own studio I have been connecting with other colleagues via Facebook, Skype, IM, and we help each other with marketing, education, we support each other’s education events, collaborate with each other by writing articles and also do a lot of what I like to call “Pilates socializing.” I have been collaborating with Benjamin Degenhardt, Jennifer Kries, Alisa Wyatt and Pilatesology, Brett Miller, Alycea Ungaro and Amy Kellow. Apologies if I have forgotten anyone!
Which Pilatesword you rather not use? (e.g. powerhouse, pilatesstance)
I don’t really use most of the “famous”Pilates words. Some words that proliferate the Pilates world are not really about Pilates in my opinion. I don’t use the words neutral spine, or pelvic floor, I rarely say powerhouse and I don’t say Pilates Stance either. Ha ha. I don’t use anatomical terms when I teach either. When I teach clients I try not to use too much fancy “Pilates language.”I choose my words for their power to communicate to that particular person – and it totally changes from one person to the next. I laugh at what words send the best message to the body, actually. I have one client that is swayback and the word that enables her to sit up with a tall (not arching) shape in her back is when I tell her to slouch! Can you imagine that word being uttered in a Pilates lesson?? But it totally works for her and I never use it with anyone else for obvious reasons…I am not sure how it popped out for her even…oh my…Pilates confessions…
Did you change things about your teaching or would you like to?
Studying with Jay Grimes has totally changed my teaching. Jay is a huge advocate of shutting up when you teach Pilates. Let me explain. If you spend too much time talking and nit picking the form of your client, then they never move. The whole point of Pilates is to MOVE! And I was a pretty chatty teacher…I still talk too much with certain clients. Every time I would attend a workshop with Jay and he would start to say “stop talking too much”I thought “He knows. He is speaking right to me! I talk too much.” As a result of being more quiet as you teach, you actually observe and notice much more about the way your client moves. And then when you do say something, it is usually a much better correction. So that is one of the things I am learning from Jay. How to keep quiet.
What is the biggest insight Pilates gave you?
The biggest and most empowering thing that Pilates has taught me is that I create my body and all of its issues, strengths and weaknesses. I also have the tools and power to enact change. It’s not a mystery why my (insert body part here) hurts, I have been sitting at my desk all day/surfing/doing nothing. That knowledge is powerful.
What is your opinion about the classical, authentic Pilates and the contemporary approach?
I started Pilates before the biggest explosion of Pilates. As a client I happened to find a studio that had teachers trained by Romana Kryzanowska and The Pilates Center in Boulder. So I know of many other approaches to the work of Joe Pilates, but I have not studied them in depth. I have been diving deep into the classical system of exercises and am always finding more here, so I have not needed to look outside the classical system. My opinion is that Joe’s exercises, in my experience doing and teaching them, work for every person. Of course not everyone does every exercise, but everyone can do something. I once heard the comment that the original exercises are simply too hard for people to do. I think that is ridiculous. It is an underestimation of the human mind, body and spirit. Yes, the exercises are hard, but that is why you must practice them over and over. They get better. You get better. And that’s why they work.
Who is your biggest example and who would you love to meet (again) in the Pilates field?
A couple years ago Jennifer Kries moved to San Diego (where I live). I have been so blessed to get to connect with her. She was the first Pilates video I ever attempted probably 15 years ago. I didn’t know what Pilates was at all. Her video was very humbling. I feel like my Pilates world has come full circle. She was at the very beginning, before the beginning actually, and now we connect often. What a joy this Pilates journey has been.
If you are traveling abroad for Pilates, what would be your goals?
I would love to share my experience with Jay and Karen and Sandy in Los Angeles with those that live at a distance and cannot get to LA.
What is the funniest thing you have ever experienced with Pilates?
I had a fun time recently helping my friend and colleague Amy Kellow work on the Squirrel on the Cadillac. We were both reduced to hysterical laughter…not terribly helpful to execute this exercise, but we certainly had a good time.
Did you ever meet an “Elder”and if so, how was that for you?
I attended workshops about a decade ago with each of the elders: Ron, Kathy, Mary, and I have worked with Romana of course as she was retiring, and I have worked with Jay extensively. Each of the elders, Jay specifically, has helped me to put together a few of the pieces about what it might have been like to work with Joe Pilates. How Joe Pilates taught his method, what he wanted it to do for you, how he structured his system and exercises. This is invaluable.
Do you have a favorite story about Joe or Clara or somebody else?
I guess my favorite Joe story – one that I find to be revealing of the man and his personality – is that he had to be the best at his method. Jay tells a story that most of the super advanced, show-off exercises (think: flying squirrel) exist because Joe had to be the best. If someone else could do an exercise, then Joe would stay up all through the night inventing a new exercise to play to that person’s weakness. Just the visual of that makes me laugh.
Are you available for bookings in the Netherlands?
Yes. I love to teach abroad and am starting to do more and more of it. I have several workshops that are based on blog posts I have written and I also love to share the work we do at Vintage Pilates. My favorite kind of Pilates education is the focus on exercises that we teach every day to most every client and how those exercises can assist them as they add more challenging exercises. And of course how we only have one exercise and infinite variation on that theme.
Did you read The Biography of Joseph Hubertus Pilates by Javier Perez Pont and Esperanza Aperico?
I have read some of this book. It is a challenge to read due to the English translation, but I am in awe of the work it took to bring it to completion.
The studio of Andrea is located on Solana Circle in the heart of beautiful Solana Beach, CA.