Transitioning from first-time pilates novice 2 years ago into a well respected and encouraging instructor in our community is Jo Smith. We asked Jo about her pilates journey and what keeps her coming back to the mat multiple times each week.
Jo, can you please describe how you found out about pilates and what inspired you to try it?
A friend of mine saw an advertisement for Mountains Pilates and asked if I was interested in coming along. Very glad that I said YES.
How long have you been practicing pilates?
Thinking that it must be nearly 2 years now - my how time flies!!!
Now, you're pretty special in that you've also trained and become a Mountains Pilates instructor yourself. What motivated you to do that?
Again, it was a friend who commented that “I should give it a go” After procrastinating for too long, I finally plucked up the courage and sent a text to Ellissa expressing my interest and suggested meeting up for a coffee to discuss the ‘ins & outs’. From there everything just fell into place and 4 months later I began instructing pilates classes.
How hard was it to train and learn all of the anatomy, cues and exercises?
Mmmm, well, for someone who treated school all those years ago as a place to socialise and never bothering to enrol in tertiary education, I have to say it was a bit of a shock to the system. Yes, it was very difficult, however once I began my studies I became quite fascinated with the complexity of the human body. It’s ability to just function and repair is quite astounding.
It takes a lot of commitment for most people to come to pilates once or twice a week. How are you finding it instructing 3/4 times a week?
I guess I am pretty lucky as I have always loved exercising. When I first started instructing I would go home after the classes and literally ‘collapse in a heap' as the mind and vocal chords were exhausted. There is so much to take on board with a group class, different levels of fitness, age, ability and injuries. No class is ever the same and with each class you take something away to work on, whether it be a new idea on how to deliver an exercise or helping someone achieve their own personal fitness goal. I am happy to say that I no longer ‘collapse in a heap’ when I come home.
What are some of your favourite exercises to do?
To be honest, all of it, however I have to say the clam series and the nutcracker would be two of my favourites.
Which exercises do you find the most challenging?
Definitely the side plank and roll-ups. I do feel with each passing week that my muscles are becoming stronger and that eventually I will conquer them both. What an awesome day that will be!!!
Why do you believe pilates is beneficial? What kind of physical changes have your experienced since starting?
Pilates is all about breathing, inner core strength and control when performing an exercise. For me, this is a priority when exercising and I think with other forms of exercise it can sometimes be overlooked. Pilates not only exercises the muscles within our body, it exercises our minds. Healthy mind definitely helps us to maintain a healthy body. For me personally, I feel stronger, taller and more in control of my emotions (well, most of the time anyway!!).
If someone was thinking about trying pilates, what would you tell them?
One of my favourite quotes from the infamous comedian/artist/interviewer, Anh Do, "You’ll never know until you give it a crack”. So, be brave, go ahead and take his advice.
Australians are now sitting at desks longer each day, travelling long hours and developing 'text neck' from living a social life through mobile phones. While embracing the digital age, we must also recognise the negative affect that this can have on our bodies.