Michelle's Musings

Have you ever stopped to think about what you don’t know?

It’s a silly question really. I mean how do you even start to think about the things you don’t know, because you don’t know that you don’t know them! Or what you think you know, may not actually be the right thing at all but until you really know, you don’t know that what you did know was actually not right!

Are you confused yet?!

That’s the thing about hindsight and experience. Some may even call it enlightenment. When you get chance to look back on your life, your training, your knowledge, your mistakes even, they have all given you opportunities to develop and grow. But along the journey of development, it’s important practice the qualities of compassion, of humbleness and have an open mind, because it may turn out that later you may just find out that you didn’t know all you thought you knew!

When you learn to count to 10, you don’t know there are numbers 11, 12, 13…
When you have a baby, you don’t know not to take the pooey vest off over their head, until you know!
Who knows how to run a business until you fail and learn from your mistakes?

The same can be said about Pilates, both as a teacher and student.

I got my first certification in Pilates in early 2003. I did a little Google, and found Michael King Pilates Institute. They seem to know what they were talking about, they looked good so I booked a mat course. I didn’t know there was such a thing as fully comprehensive training, I just signed up for Intro Mat. I didn’t know there was Contemporary Pilates and Classical Pilates. I just followed along with whatever they said. I was told it was a ” modern take on the original Pilates method” and “better for you.”

I didn’t know there was any other training full stop. I thought I had done “the Pilates course” at my beginning intro level. I didn’t know.

A couple years later, I met some Stott Pilates teachers at a studio in Harpenden. I didn’t know what Stott Pilates was but having taken some classes, I was intrigued why in my training I had been taught a Double Leg Stretch without any legs and in this class, I was doing arm and leg movements. I didn’t even know there were legs in the Double Leg Stretch (I know right?!)

So I re-trained in Stott Pilates Mat. I found out more things about the body and about Pilates that I didn’t know. I learnt how to do a postural assessment and tell people what was wrong anatomically with their body until one day doing one, a lady cried. I didn’t know that might make some people feel bad about themselves, we were told to do it this way. I didn’t know.

After ditching the postural assessments and finding out there was more to the Pilates world in apparatus, I started training in the Reformer. I didn’t know how it related to what I had already learnt in the Mat, or that it was a teaching assistant to help me shape the session for a client with the other apparatus pieces. They didn’t tell me that, just a list of exercises. I didn’t know.

I met Shari Berkowitz, Holly Murray and Benjamin Degenhardt and a lightbulb went off. Scrap that, a firework exploded! I suddenly realised what I really didn’t know! After about 8 years of getting certificates, qualifications and training, I still really scratched under the surface of Pilates. Yes I had a load of certificates, but I still didn’t really know the Pilates ‘method.’ It was like a bomb went off in me. WTF!!!

I stopped chasing for variations. How many ways can I use a bosu, a fit ball, a band, a lunge squat bicep curl combo, in my Pilates.

I stopped doing modulated training. Learning the Mat, then the next “level” mat, then the next. Then the Reformer, the next “level” then the “next.”

I stopped searching for the next big thing. I went deep. I down tools. I put ego aside and despite having trained twice in two contemporary styles of Pilates, I undertook a full comprehensive Classical Pilates apprenticeship. I started from the humble beginnings again like learning how to do good classical cookery. It started with myself being a client before I could even learn it, I wanted to do it and be absorbed in it. I fell pregnant but continued with my own sessions until I was 8 months pregnant, taking classes and private training with Holly, and starting my first steps of the apprenticeship learning. I then picked it back up when I was 2 months postnatal, with a baby, a 6 year old at school, a business to run and staff to manage and look after. “I think you may have bitten off more than ever you can chew” said my hubby. Maybe he was right, I didn’t know how little time I would actually have for myself. I didn’t know my body would struggle to repair itself after my second child. I didn’t know the impact of the 5 hour round trips I would do to South London on top of a 6-8 hour training day. I didn’t know how crappy I would feel about myself, my hormones, my lack of self esteem, my emotions, my ability.

But I did it anyway. I forgot everything I thought I knew. I listened, I watched, I showed up for hours on end a few times a week. I absorbed everything like a sponge. I practiced, I read, I asked questions. The more I learnt, the more I realised what I didn’t know.

Until I started to KNOW!

I understood, I knew the answers, I knew how to think, what to look for, how to work, how to progress, how to spot, how to know when it was the right time to move forward. I completed the 15 month programme, 600 hours apprenticeship. I passed with flying colours. I was proud. My clients started to know deeper too. Learning through my passion. My teachers learnt more too and started to go on the same journey I had just dedicated myself too, but now with me as their mentor!

I sold all of my Pilates equipment that I owned and reinvested in traditional apparatus, buying pieces from Gratz, Legacy and when I got pretty much an entire new studio order from Pilates Scandinavia I think my husband thought I had lost the plot. But the first time I showed someone how to do the Elephant on the Reformer on one of these traditional pieces of apparatus, and they actually had to work for it to close the carriage, I knew I would never go back to the more modern apparatus. But before that, I didn’t know!

My eyes were wide open, I could see the whole picture clearly. I started to go even deeper. Not for more certificates, not for variations, not for anyone else. But for myself. I did deeper dive workshops with Kathi Ross Nash, Blossom Leilani Crawford, Jean Claude Nelson, Cynthia Shipley, Jamie Trout, Marjorie Oren. I started taking my own weekly classes and 1:1’s again with Rebecca from Kinetic. I stripped it all back to basics. Unpicking any habits, any “glitches.”

The more I learnt, the more I realised I could still learn. The more others were learning from me, the more others realised they didn’t know. The more we all WANTED to know.

The cycle of learning, of knowing. The forever students.x

Share this article