The journey of a BASI Pilates student by Estee Roode

The 30th of January 2014 marked an important milestone in my life. It was the day that I officially started to live my passion. You see I fell in love with Pilates in 2007 and after a few sessions I went home and declared that I wanted to be an instructor. All I knew was that Pilates had transformed my health and life and I wanted the ability to share it with others. I did no research on different Pilates Academies or Schools and wasn’t even aware of the various methods. I am therefore so thankful that the first opportunity to do a course happened to be with the instructor who introduced me to Pilates and who was also a BASI Faculty member. The value of this you will appreciate more as you travel with me on my journey to qualify from the Comprehensive course and see the high standards required by BASI (Body Arts and Science International).

I completed the BASI Mat Teacher Training Course in 2010 whilst I was studying for my business degree at university. This enabled me to enhance my personal practise of Pilates and also allowed for part-time instructing, however it is only this year that I am finally able to become a fully-fledged comprehensive instructor. For those unfamiliar with the Pilates lingo- a comprehensive qualification allows you to teach Pilates on designed by Joseph Pilates. Our group of BASI students are also very fortunate to be the first in SA to be trained on using the new Avalon System of equipment designed by Pilates Pioneer and BASI founder, Rael Isacowitz.

On arriving at the Body Intellect Studio in Pretoria to start this exciting venture- I quickly realised that the 30th of January wasn’t just an important milestone for my life. Out of the group of students enrolled in the course the majority were embarking on a completely new direction in life. It felt invigorating being surrounded by people from a variety of backgrounds, industries and life-stages; all drawn together to transform from clients to instructors.

Our course facilitators, Theo Van Der Riet and Ashley Ritchi are two of the most experienced Pilates Instructors in South Africa, with worldwide experience as lecturers on the BASI Faculty. Starting off their reputations were both inspiring and daunting, yet any fears were pushed aside by the warm welcome we received. These two ladies embody the ten principles of Pilates and if we hadn’t twigged it before, we certainly did after those first few days of the course- at BASI the bar isn’t just set high, it is expected to be polished daily at that height! Just have a look at the vast array of Continued Education workshops available on the BASI website to know that the journey of education and precision is ongoing.

Apart from a few students, most of us don’t come from a history of movement or anatomy. The big jump from client to instructor quickly became apparent as we immersed ourselves into a world where the marriage of demonstration, verbalisation (cueing), correction and anatomy are integral to be an effective instructor. The way we moved, observed and spoke had to change. Sit bones suddenly became Ischial Tuberosities and bending to tie your shoe lace was a movement in the sagittal plane along the coronal axis. If this sounds Greek to you then you have a taste of what the majority of us experienced.

Furthermore, the responsibility of enhancing and protecting the health and safety of someone else’s body also hit home and the butterflies started to flutter in our stomachs. I believe that this overwhelming feeling is something that should be bottled and remembered by all students or instructors, as this is precisely how clients feel when experiencing Pilates or a certain exercise for the first time. Pilates requires an effort in the physical, mental and spiritual/emotional realms and having to focus and harmonize so many elements is challenging indeed.

Despite our fluttering butterflies, the passion and energy that Theo and Ashely taught with was contagious and under their insightful instructions our confidence started to rise. On the 1st of February we finished the third module of our academic study and left the studio with muscles aching from all the Pilates exercises, our heads brimming with information, and our cheeks hurting from smiling.

With logbooks in hand we headed back to our families, friends and studios ready to start clocking our practical hours. As part of the Comprehensive Course this entails a minimum of 100 hours of observation, 200 hours of self-practice and 200 hours of apprentice teaching. This next sentence might seem distinctly nerdy- but that little word “minimum” puts a smile up and enjoy. I am so grateful for the chance to be able to learn from other BASI instructors, participate in classes, sharpen my eye, broaden my knowledge and discover my own style of instructing. I’m definitely going to utilise the 12months of opportunities as best I can!

Well, we’re looking forward reading more…