Falling in Love with the Pilates Practice

Bea Tagle

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already as madly in love as we are with the Pilates practice. Around the world, there are millions of practitioners and enthusiasts of The Method. That means millions of interesting anecdotes about getting to know and falling in love with Contrology! We absolutely adore hearing stories about your Pilates journey and how the practice has changed your lives. And that’s why The Pilates Link isn’t just about giving you access to online classes with world-class instructors… We also have events that help you learn and share about your love for Pilates so we can build a closer, stronger, and healthier community!

Last October 16, The Pilates Link conducted a live online interview with some of our favorite instructors: Gloria Gasperi, Sandy Shimoda, and Miguel Silva, and we got the chance to ask them about their regular practice, their thoughts on online teaching, and also their love stories with the practice!

In this article, we share how three of our favorite instructors came to know Contrology and how they fell in love with The Method. We hope that their journeys can help us appreciate the role Pilates plays in shaping both our bodies and minds. Perhaps we can see ourselves in their journeys, too, and remember that while we all have diverse background sand have come to know Contrology in different ways, we are bound together by a common language in these exercises, and in a love for the practice.

Sandy Shimoda, A Stage Performer Finds Pilates

“When I was a little girl, the first thing that I wanted to be was a teacher… not only does it challenge me to figure out the mechanics and the intuitive side of what I’m doing, but to also translate that information to someone else in their own body, I find that to be very very fascinating.”

Sandy had been teaching dance for many years before she even started her Pilates studio. Even though Contrology and dance are two very distinct disciplines, they embodied her passion for both teaching and movement.

Before she stepped into the world of Pilates, she was a performer in the Broadway show “Miss Saigon”. Dancing in eight shows a week on an uneven stage (in heels, no less!) eventually took a toll on her body, and she tried all kinds of methods to keep herself in peak condition.

“I would do massage, physical therapy, whatever I found along the tour,” she explained. On one such occasion, what should have been just another physical therapy session in Los Angeles set her on her Pilates journey.

“It was in the middle of physical therapy so I had no idea at the time that it was a completely separate method from what I was doing. It was enough of an impact on me that I felt my body in a completely new way and I knew immediately that this was a very deep learning.”

Over her career in musical theatre she continued the practice, but it was after she moved on from Broadway that Sandy truly pursued the work. Listening to her speak, it’s clear that she carries a love for learning as well as teaching, as she takes every opportunity to take new lessons from her classes with different instructors—including Jay and Romana!

“I remember my first lesson with Romana, (and my) first lesson with Jay. I remember so many first classes and each one of them had such a different learning for me. They were all so significant. I remember all of those.”

Isn’t that remarkable? Every new class and even new instructors give new, significant learnings on your mind-body connections and your Pilates practice. And now, Sandy is a distinguished instructor herself with her own studio guiding students and fellow instructors to deepen their practice and continue their journey.

What a beautiful story! It is truly an honor to have Sandy teaching online classes on The Pilates Link!

 

Miguel Silva, An Athlete Discovers a Spiritual Power in Pilates

“Everyone should be happy in finding their own body and finding their own voice inside of them.”

Miguel has a strong sports background. Growing up he practiced various sports such as basketball, football, swimming, and surfing. Despite his wide range of interests (He even became interested in alternative medicine, particularlyJapanese Shiatsu!), it was The Method that he ultimately chose to dedicate his life to. “It is beyond sports, it’s more of a spiritual thing,” he mused.

His first class was not called Pilates, but rather “Maintenance Class”. What was intriguing however, was despite the fact that he was certainly fit, he recalled being the person in the class who struggled the most.

“Next to me were people between 50 or 60 years old, and I was the worst one! Like literally, suffering and sweating with 3-4 exercises!”

Bewildered, he asked the people in the class, “What is this? What are you doing?” To which they replied, “This is a thing we call Pilates.”

Clearly, there is something more to this “Maintenance Class” than just building physical strength or prowess, and Miguel was eager to explore its possibilities!

Upon his return to Spain, he found a small workshop to study Pilates. He was hooked! Miguel started with a small certification program of mat work and caught the bug. These classes helped him understand his body more and alleviated his neck and back pains. Since then, he has gone to study under many teachers. He stresses that Contrology really isn’t just a physical journey, but also a spiritual one. Doing the practice is being in the moment, it is a moment with yourself.

He is also very passionate about the philosophy of Joe and his books, which have had a very profound effect on his life, and he hopes to share this with as many people as he can. He shares in Joe’s vision, and wants to share his work and achieve his dream. It is nothing short of inspiring to see a man so moved by Joseph Pilates’ legacy!

“He (Joe) had a huge dream to help humanity. This is what we get from reading the books. You know your own body, and find your voice better through the exercise. We are responsible for what we share the work of this man.”

Miguel’s story emphasizes how Pilates is so much more than a physical activity, more than a set of exercises. It is a gift that is all-inclusive and should be accessible to people from all walks of life.

We share Miguel’s and Joe’s dream and his passion to spread Contrology to the world! And we are so grateful to have Miguel as an instructor for The Pilates Link’s online classes. Have you attended a class? You can certainly feel the passion and precision through the screen!

 

Gloria Gasperi, A Kinesiologist’s Contrology Journey

“It’s about moving. It’s about understanding my body and feeling my body.”

Gloria has a very keen understanding of anatomy and biomechanics, being a Kinesiologist. She also holds a sports background and taught other classes, such as Step, before discovering Pilates. She started her journey in Boston in 1999. While accompanying her father who was attending a congress, she took a chance and tried a class. She was not familiar with the idea of Contrology at the time, but was moved by that one experience. Just one class, and she was intrigued! Though she didn’t quite understand what the practice was, she knew that she had to learn more.

Unfortunately, there were no Pilates schools in Italy at the time, so she settled for buying VHS tapes (if you’re too young to know what this is, there’s always Google!) and learning on her own. But at some point, that just wasn’t enough for Gloria anymore. Eager to continue learning, she went to find schools to deepen her understanding.

Gloria attests that Pilates changed her life, and since then it has been a continued exploration. She starts every day with the practice, which is akin to meditation for her.

“It's about understanding my body, it's about feeling my body. And it's a little more, a lot more actually. I find so fascinating also what Joe used to write about these things, this idea of the movement of the animals, and of babies. The idea that it’s something that we have inside ourselves and we lose it in time, because of what happens in life or with the fact that we stop moving. So the idea to be able to flow to the movement, to the feelings, to the understanding, to find that something that we already had inside, I think it's super, super fascinating.”

She is very passionate about helping others discover that feeling for themselves, and to share her love for The Method. To that end, she has set up her own Pilates studio in Sarzana, a beautiful Italian town by the sea. Of course, now her practice has mostly shifted to online Pilates classes.

When asked about her feelings on the topic, she said that she was already conducting online classes and offering them for many years. Due to the distance between her and Sandy, she couldn’t fly from Italy to Los Angeles every week, so they tried having online Pilates classes even prior to the COVID pandemic.

“In the beginning, it was of course a little weird. But then it was just amazing! Thanks to that, I started to teach my students online.”

People used to be skeptical about online classes, she says. Naturally, there is still something special about being in the same studio, but she also credits online teaching as something that helped her improve her own practice. It has helped her to be more mindful and precise with the words she uses, and to take a step back and not hover over her students as much. As time went by, she started to feel less and less difference between her in-person and online Pilates classes, and is thankful for the opportunities that she has now.

The Pilates Link is thankful as well for the opportunity to have Gloria teach online classes on our platform! We hope that more practitioners and fellow instructors from all over the world can benefit from having Gloria guide them to deepen their practice.

 

Pilates Beyond Borders

It is evident in these stories that Contrology is so much more than just a set of exercises. There is a magic to the practice that, even if it’s just after one class, we feel our body differently and know in our gut that there is something special to these movements. After all, the three stories above were from three very different individuals with different careers, but in the end they chose to focus on The Method and dedicate themselves to a lifelong journey of discovery and learning.

For Miguel, Pilates involves being in the moment, and the connection and perception that he has with his body helps him connect to his inner self. He views it as an inner self journey, and through teaching he is able to connect with other sand help them on their journeys. Sandy says that the exercises are simply the first step, and everything else is beyond. And even with her many years of experience, I am certain that she still continues to have many “firsts” and that the more she teaches, the more she learns. Gloria states that it is: “a different kind of wisdom.” Every day, she learns more and is more motivated. Even if it is not something that can always be explained with words, it is just something that you know in yourself. Pilates goes beyond just the physical, and we can all attest to its power to break borders, whether that is barriers in our mind, our body, or even physical barriers around the world.

Now, we’re seeing more and more lovers of Pilates going online to learn from remarkable instructors like Sandy, Miguel, and Gloria. From anywhere in the world, you can be guided to deepen your practice and improve your postures via online classes. And we hope that The Pilates Link can be a tool for you to do just that… so see you online in a class soon! And thank you for reading through and taking in these three wonderful love stories with Contrology!

We are sure that you, too have a remarkable Pilates story and profound experiences with the practice! We’d love to hear them so please feel free to follow us onFacebook and Instagram and comment your thoughts or share your story via message!

Catch Sandy, Gloria and Miguel's upcoming classes and workshops at The Pilates Link. View our schedule and book here.

Bea Tagle