One of the biggest problems of the modern world is the lack of time. The more time-saving gadgets and apps we have the less time it seems we have in our lives (or maybe it’s just me?) In this world finding the time for a consistent Pilates practice is becoming more and more challenging. Even though a student can find Pilates studios and classes in almost every town and part of the world (just take a look at our Pilates Finder – it is blooming with new locations!) the real challenge is actually carving out times in a busy schedule to get there. This statement is true for both Pilates students and teachers.
This epidemics of “business” has opened a window for a new type of training – video streaming. Today you can find video courses and tutorials that will teach you to do anything from poaching an egg to mastering advanced algebra. But can we learn Pilates through videos?
According to Amit Younger, creator of Pilates on Demand, we can. Pilates calls for discipline and precision that are sometimes hard to establish when you are working out at home. But today Amit will share his advice on how to create a successful practice and why in his opinion video workouts can be a rewarding addition to a Pilates practice.
PB: Amit, how did your Pilates journey begin?
Amit: I started with Pilates like many people – I was a professional dancer. When I went to a dance school in Rotterdam, Holland about 20 years ago I took Pilates Mat classes from Marjorie Oron who brought Romana’s Pilates to Holland. When I moved back to Israel a friend invited me to visit a Pilates studio where she was taking classes. It was my first experience with equipment and I loved it. After a few months of taking regular classes a few times a week, our teacher asked me if I would like to join her teacher training course and I decided to go for it. From the moment I started, there was no looking back because I was immediately in love with the Pilates method, teaching and learning about the body.
Later on I moved to the UK and started teaching here, while taking a second teacher training course with BASI Pilates in order to expand my knowledge. I’ve been owning and running my own studio for over ten years now and feel that that’s what I enjoy the most, and that’s where I learn the most about the method every day.
I was a faculty member for BASI for about 10 years, giving regular teacher training courses and workshops all over the world. In the last few years I have been focusing more on Pilates On Demand and on giving workshops to teachers, sharing what I have learnt from my own teachers and the approach I have developed to the work.
PB: Can you tell us more about the creation of Pilates On Demand?
Amit: I started thinking about this idea quite a few years ago. One of my brothers is a web developer, and before there were any other Pilates websites on the market, we used to toy with the idea of developing one… but it was just not the right time for either of us. And then about five years ago, it felt like it was the right time and we also finally had a great team within the extended family that could make it a reality.
From the very beginning we decided to create Pilates on Demand for the general public. There were other Pilates websites out there that seemed to target mostly teachers and “hard core” Pilates enthusiasts. But we wanted people who use Pilates on Demand to be from all walks of life:
- Members of the public who have no knowledge of Pilates and it’s their starting point.
- Members of the public who have some knowledge and experience and want to use the website as their only source for classes, or those who use our classes to complement their practice with live teachers.
- Teachers who use it to practice and/or learn from other teachers and get inspired.
PB: What style of Pilates is represented at Pilates on Demand?
Amit Younger: It’s a complete mix of everything. We have teachers who come from a classical background, teachers who are from a contemporary school and teachers who have their own mixed style. I always ask the teachers to keep it “as Pilates as they can” so that it does not get too confusing to the viewers.
PB: How can students using Pilates on Demand develop deeper understanding of the method?
Amit Younger: I think it’s a really good question in general. There is a lot of information out there that makes Pilates seem as if it’s an intellectual method… I’m not saying that it’s not intellectual at all, but first and foremost, Pilates is a method of movement, and only by practicing the method regularly one can become familiar and comfortable with what it has to offer.
I believe that you gain awareness of your body, mind-body connection and many other things by simply practicing Pilates as a method and making it a part of your life.
One of my inspirations for Pilates On Demand is Return to Life through Contrology. I get asked a lot how can people learn from videos, and I always go back to the same argument-
If Joseph Pilates thought, believed and encouraged people to learn his method (The Matwork) from a little book of instructions, then definitely people should be able to learn it from a video.
The approach and philosophy are the same- encouraging people to practice the method at home, on their own, step by step… and to learn Pilates as a method.
PB: Breathing is an important part of Pilates. How do you introduce the concept of proper breathing in Pilates in your videos?
Amit Younger: Not all Pilates teachers have the same approach to breathing. As the person who leads the professional process on Pilates on Demand, I do find it important to have videos on the website that explain about lateral breathing and about different breathing techniques.
My view on breathing is influenced by the pre-pilates work that I learned from Eve Gentry’s students, as well as work that I did with other teachers. I guess it’s a personal thing as well.
In my classes I mostly teach structured (choreographed) breathing, especially with beginners. I suggest when to breath in and when to breath out and also to breathe in through the nose and blow the air out through the mouth. In recent years I come across more and more teachers who challenge this approach , but I still feel that for me this works the best.
When I teach a beginners class I may emphasize the choreography of the breath and then with certain exercises I will try to give imagery and cueing that relates to how they can improve their breathing techniques. In the Intermediate and Advanced levels the emphasis is more on cueing which is about how one can harness the breath into the movement, how breathing can help you access and create the movement in a more profound way and how you can use breathing to help work on postural imbalances.
Watch a short Pilates breathing video where Amit teaches a student the fundamentals of lateral breathing.
PB: Do you have any tips for teachers who would like to make videos for their clients?
Amit Younger: My first advice isrehearsal as not many people are comfortable in front of a camera. You can be an extremely talented Pilates teacher but you may still suddenly black out or get confused and lose your words when being filmed. A camera can easily make you feel like you are not performing as well as you would like to, so first of all I would advise people to rehearse in front of a camera until they feel more at ease and in their skin.
When people at home use Pilates videos they gradually transition from watching the video to listening to it. So my second advice is that a video needs to be accompanied by very-very clear verbal instructions and cues.
PB: What advice would you give people who would like to build their entire Pilates practice with online videos? How can they stay motivated and grow in their practice?
Amit Younger: They need to make the practice their own.
- Find the level. They need to start from wherever it is that they are, whether a complete beginner or a student with some experience.
- Repetition. I always recommend repeating the same classes over and over again, because it’s only when you take a class enough times that you will really start reaping the benefits of the method.
It’s when you don’t have to think about what’s coming next, it’s when you don’t have to think about how to do it, it’s when you don’t have to think about the choreography, it’s when you just do the practice, and then you can listen to the instructions and go like, “Oh, that’s what they really mean here.”
- Commitment. I always give an example of the best of athletes or dancers. The only way they get to their level is by repeating the same things over and over again.
The only way the method works is by learning the method, making a commitment, and then you will fall in love with it.
PB: Amit, where can Pilates teachers and students learn from you personally?
Amit Younger: I always work with Pilates teachers and students in my studio Pilates Junction in London. I will be happy to teach anyone regularly or as a guest if they are visiting London. I also give regular Matwork classes for teachers here in London as well as workshops for teachers in London and other places in Europe. For more details just email me at [email protected] I’m always happy to have conversations with people about anything that has to do with Pilates and teaching Pilates so if anyone reading this interview thinks that I’m right or wrong, and they want to discuss it with me, please just send me an email!
Take a look at the Pilates classes currently offered at Pilates On Demand – click here.