New technology opens a whole new world of Pilates practice,
for students and instructors alike
When you think about Pilates, you think about connecting with your body, not with the Internet. But
the cyberworld is a great place to enhance your personal practice - and power up your business.
“The sky's the limit when you use the Internet effectively,” says Valerie DiCarlo,
a Glenshaw, PA-based search engine optimization (SEO) web consultant to Pilates professionals.
“Pros can take advantage for the web's expansiveness to sell products, do online advertising
and become an online authority in the Pilates community. Students can find everything on the web - from
informative Pilates articles to how to become a certified instructor to online instruction.”
LEARN AS YOU GO.
Videotapes and DVDs have been helping us bring Pilates home for years, but the newest buzz is in
online videos and podcasts, which make Pilates even more portable. Podcasts, or audio and video
series, are often free. You can subscribe to them through services such as iTunes and then view or
listen to them on your computer or PDA. They're perfect for traveling or for busy parents whose TVs
have been taken over by the Backyardigans. Instead of kicking the kids out of the living room, you
can retreat to a quiet place with your laptop or handheld and tune in to top-notch instruction.
You don't need to be an MIT grad to take advantage of online videos or podcasts. Start your search
online at YouTube (youtube.com) or by using the iTunes application on your computer
(see itunes.com for moreinfo).
“Youtube is the primary place internet users look for videos,” says Kimberly Corp,
co-owner (with sister Katherine) of Manhattan’s largest Pilates studio, Pilates on Fifth. Her Pilates in
Ten series, posted on youtube.com, has received tens of thousands of views. Corp says the series is
popular because “some viewers took Pilates classes in a gym or group settings and never really
understood certain exercises. They enjoy the videos’ concise instruction and the fact that they show
what not to do.”
The success of the Pilates in Ten series inspired the Corp sisters to launch
ultimatepilatesworkouts.com. The site offers workouts in video and podcast formats and features
technology that allows users to combine different video segments into their own personalized playlists.
This is a technological first for Pilates.
Podcasts can be especially insightful since they tend to explore a particular theme in-depth over a
series of episodes. Here’s just a sampling of what’s available, with new episodes posted regularly:
- A series produced by Heidi Miller of Beyond the Movement, the First Internet Broadcast for
the Pilates Method, features interview with such experts as first-generation teacher Mary Bowen.
- A series produced by Blossom Leilani Crawford, NY’s Bridge Pilates Studio. A recent episode
explained the Standing Arm Series.
- Video Corecasts, produced by Pilates Center of bend, CO, on different Pilates exercises.
- Informative interview with Pilates experts, product reviews and articles for pros and
practitioners from e-zine/network website Pilates Digest, founded by instructors Beth Begelman and
Jelley Ranaudo. One recent interview adapted the Arm Series from the Reformer for the mat, using
soup cans as weights.
Another way to learn online is with tele-classes like those offered by Los Angeles - based instructor
Erin Huggins. Tele-classes are interactive classes - similar to what you’d experience in a studio
environment, but you connect online instead of in person. What started as an added benefit for her
studio clients has become so successful that Huggins closed her brick-and-mortar business in 2007 and
went totally digital. “I initially started operationshapeshift.com (OSS) to help my in-studio
Pilates clients reach their weight-loss goals,” Huggins explains. “But when I realized
I could help more people and reach a global audience through digital downloads and live tele-classes,
OSS was born.»
Huggins' live tele-classes, consisting of 30-minute lecture and a 30-minute discussion period,
cover such topics as being accountable and keeping up with your exercise and healthy-lifestyle regime
to reach your goals. Her 12-week weight loss boot camp costs $848.50 and includes 12 classes,
unlimited email counseling, a private coaching session and several OSS audio downloads. A monthly
OSS membership fee of $4.99 buys access to the 10- to 30-minutes videos posted twice a month, plus
all videos archived on the site.
From the perspective of a Pilates teacher looking to build name recognition, Internet broadcasting
is a powerful - and inexpensive - tool. More than 3,000 people have viewed Huggins’ YouTube videos.
She considers that proof that Pilates teachers anywhere can use Internet broadcasting to brand
themselves inexpensively and effectively. (For information on how to get started, watch for our
January e-newsletter. Sign up for free at pilatesstyle.com.)
TEACH THE TEACHER.
Many of the major Pilates training organizations are picking up on new technology. Lindsay Merrithew,
president and CEO of STOTT PILATES®, one of the largest international Pilates organizations, says
his company is enthusiastic about online education tools and multimedia vehicles. “STOTT PILATES
is embracing alternative venues and ways of communicating our curriculum to a wider audience,”
Merrithew notes. “We're recognizing that e-learning and distance learning positively impact
Pilates instructors and/or personal training instruction.” One way STOTT PILATES
communicates online is with a monthly exercise in PDF format, which can be printed for home use.
The company also sends out newsletters with a job board, new product listings and a calendar of
upcoming workshops and certification courses.
Christine Romani-Ruby of Phi Pilates says “We have an online learning management system
for instructors that complements our live trainings and webinars for instructors and physical
therapists go public in January 2009.” Find courses and registration details at phipilates.com.
Peak Pilates has a very active online Pilates community at its website (peakpilates.com/community).
Sign up as a member here and you can post questions, comments and challenges to the forum. You can
communicate directly with Peak master trainers and view their weekly video podcasts. “These digital
learning tools are offered at no cost to our instructors and students,” explains Jeremy
Garretson, Peak Pilates' web developer. In the coming year Peak will increase its online presence.
“Peak has several plans in beginning stages intended to enrich our new media content,”
Garretson says. “We hope to increase support for our education courses through online media.”
Power Pilates offers downloads for consumers and professionals, including all levels of mat
classes, 30- to 40-minute apparatus instruction as well as a core-centric beach ball workout.
CECs are also available for Power Pilates alumni at powerpilates.com.
BASI Pilates will offer educational and teaching BASI BLOCK SYSTEMS software for instructors and
students beginning in the spring of 2009. The software breaks new ground in education and client
management, allowing instructors to customize clients' monitored web-based workouts, which seamlessly
refresh when clients input new data. As an added benefit, founder Rael Isacowitz presents insightful
audio and visual cues. For more information, visit basipilates.com.
Social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace enable you to connect with friends, potential
customers and current clients in a casual online environment. “Online social marketing and
word-of-mouth marketing generate buzz for not only brand and name awareness, but also to promote
specials and sales,” DiCarlo explains. These no-cost networks are easy to join, even if you
consider yourself a cyber-virgin. Go to any of the sites, click on “sign up,” and online
instructions will guide you through the registration process. Once registered, you can create a personal
profile page with as much or as little personal information as you'd like to include. If you're reticent
about exposing too much in cyberspace, consider creating a page for your business, and keep the information
strictly professional. Once you've set up your page, build your network by searching for people you know and
invite them to link up with you, Their network of friends will then see that you’re connect, and suddenly
your name will be in front of hundreds or even thousands of people.
Alycea Ungar, best-selling author, DVD star and owner of Real Pilates NYC, considers online social
networking an opportunity to connect her clients. “I use my personal Facebook page to bring a social
aspect to Real Pilates,” she says. “I let Facebook friends know about upcoming events, and
they forward information to their friends.” Ana Caban, fitness expert and TV and blog host,
networks and posts videos on her MySpace page. Ali Vinci, Peak Pilates' public relations and content
coordinator, says, “Peak uses Facebook and MySpace to connect with our instructors, students
and customers. This personalizes our connections.” Once you’re in a network, do a search for
Pilates groups. By joining them you connect with Pilates lovers worldwide. Consider joining these networks:
- Facebook. 100 million people worldwide stay in touch by sharing photos, links and videos.
- MySpace. This is a site to share photos, journals and interests with a network of like-minded
friends. A Pilates search here brings up 64,000 results, including a job board.
- LinkedIn. The most business-oriented of the three, it has more than 30 million international
members, representing 150 industries.
STAYING IN TOUCH.
Most major Pilates organizations, studios and instructors offer periodic e-newsletters direction
to inboxes. They keep you informed about upcoming conferences and workshops, new DVDs, innovations in
equipment - all things new and noteworthy in the world of Pilates. The Pilates Style monthly
e-newsletter provides exercises, interviews, recipes and a comprehensive calendar of what's going on
in the Pilates universe.
If you’re a Pilates pro and are looking for a way to communicate with you clients, join a newsletter
distribution service like Constant Contact (constantcontact.com). For about $30 a month, such services
provide newsletter templates, making it easy to send out professional-looking communications and build
Then there’s Twitter, the latest stay-in-touch tool for text and email fans. Huggins and Caban use
Twitter to provide updates on classes and workshops as well as motivational messages to clients.
Blogs, unlike newsletters, are embedded on websites, so they’re viewed only by people who visit.
DiCarlo advises hiring a professional web developer to set up your blog, but you can also go to blogger.com
or wordpress.com to set one up for free. Blogs allow you to write and post pictures, videos and links
about whatever topics interest you. They're a quick way publish your thoughts, and they can help you
build your reputation by sharing your knowledge.
Sometimes blogs become communities unto themselves, with regular readers posting comments and
fostering discussion. Chantal Donnelly, a physical therapist and Pilates instructor who maintains a
blog through her website, bodyinsight101.com, sees blogs as business builders. “My blog adds new
content to my website with key terms that are search-engine-friendly,” she says.
“This brings people to my website.”
Liz Koch, creator of Core Awareness and author of the Psoas Book (Guinea Pig Publications, 1997)
agrees. “People become psoas savvy from my blogs, then share their knowledge with others,”
she notes. “This helps me create a virtual community.” Virtual communities are what
keep digital businesses alive.
Other notable blogs include Tracey Mallett's teammallett.com, which contains posts on diet, fitness
and healthy lifestyles; Sarah Picot’s anythingpilates.com, which provides how to improve your Pilates
techniques hints; and the Pilate Blog, pilatesblog.com, with fresh news from Pilates devoted celebs to
sports specific tips.
“Pilates World University starts offering streaming, downloadable content on our website this
year at bodycontrolpilates.com,” says Lynne Robinson, queen of the UK Pilates scene.
“We don’t believe in a catchall approach, so content for teachers and enthusiasts will differ.”
For pros there’s the interactive DVD-ROM Pilates for Anatomy, which links anatomy to classical Pilates exercises.
No Internet access? Load a favourite Pilates instructional DVD and hit the mat. Prefer reading to
watching? Try amazon.com’s much-hyped electronic book, the Kindle, which allows you to download and
read book, newspapers and magazines digitally. Even within the Pilates community there’s new media that
doesn't require a web connection. For example, Aderra Systems records events onto USB wristbands, which
are ready for distribution at the end of an event. The bands plug in to any computer USB port, allowing
you to download and watch the event. How’s that for being able to take it with you?
Tannis Kobrinsky owns Health Habitravels, www.healthabitravels.com
THE SECOND ANNUAL PILATES STYLE DVD AWARDS
You've written to us with the same questions time and time again - even more so now with budgets
tighter than ever: with so many DVDs on the market, how do you choose the right one for your needs?
Which vid will motivate you and keep you coming back for more? How do you know the truly great from
the total duds?
There is no simple answer, owing to so many factors to consider: your fitness level, preferred
teaching style, lifestyle and whether you’re looking for mat, prop or apparatus-based work, to name
just a few. The good news: while the endless choices may seem daunting, the variety means that there's
something for everyone. Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork and watched the newest DVDs out there.
With full admission of subjectivity, we proudly present round two of the Pilates Style DVD Awards.
ULTIMATE MIX MASTER
The studio by Ellen Barrett: Fat Burning Fusion
Sculpt your physique with this fast-paced, fat-burning workout that combines Pilates, aerobics,
ballet, qigong and calisthenics in six segments that build upon one another.
46 minutes ($15)
Buff Girl Fitness
Find it: ellenbarrett.com
MOST PROPER + PRINCIPLED
The Mari Windsor Pilates for Pink Workout
Winsor employs a resistance band to strengthen your core, arms and legs in one of her best vids to date.
$1 from each sale benefits breast cancer research.
50 minutes ($14.98)
Find it: amazon.com
Element: Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners
Siler guides and motivates newbies through a mat workout that offers ample modifications and is focused
on maximum calorie burning.
50/36 minutes ($14.98)
Dragonfly Productions, Starz Home Entertainment
Find it: amazon.com
Pilates for Men
Men and women will gain strength and flexibility (and enhance their cross-training skills) with this
intense total-body workout.
84 minutes ($14.95)
Find it: stottpilates.com
COOLEST USE OF APPARATUS
MVe™ Latin Dance Fusion Chair Workout
Spice up your workout - and rev your heart - with fun Latin dance moves and challenging Chair exercises
that even uncoordinated types can handle.
51 minutes ($19.99)
Find it: peakpilates.com
BEST TARGETED TONER
Grace Lazenby's All the Right Moves: Amazing Legs Workout
Get long, toned games with challenging Pilates, yoga and dance conditioning-based moves. But be forewarned:
you will be sore the next day
33 minutes ($12.95)
Find it: itrain.com
Total Body Calorie Blast
Break your workout down with seven six-minute segments that include hard-core cardio and aerobics
moves, Pilates and yoga, and some straight-up core conditioning.
66 minutes ($14.99)
Razor Digital Entertainment
Find it: traceymallett.com
The Breast Cancer Survivor’s Guide to Physical Restoration
Learn a therapeutic exercise routine catering to your condition, gain understanding of your muscles
and movement patterns, and get valuable strategies and tips for managing and improving your health.
108 minutes ($20.95)
Pilates Therapeutics, LLC.
Find it: pialtestherapeutics.com
10-Minute Solution: Pilates Perfect Body
Short yet intense mat-based segments keep your body lean, targeting the belly, buns and thighs,
arms and general silhouette.
55 minutes ($14.98)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Find it: amazon.com
Attitude: Ballet & Pilates Fusion (Beyond 50 and Fabulous)
Derive inspiration and beat boredom with a multi-prop workout performed by a cast of 50-somethings.
78 minutes ($19.99)
Just B Method
Find it: shop.justbmethod.com
KEEPSAKE OF THE YEAR
Pilates Wunda Chair Double Feature
Venture out into the world of apparatus – and get a whole-body butt kicking - with a true Pilates master.
Also included: an advanced workout, live and uncut, performed by Rael Isacowitz himself.
31/33 minutes ($29.95)
Body Arts and Science International
Find it: basipilates.com
Think your vid is worthy of an award? Send it to us? ‘Pilates Style,’ 250 W. 57th St., Ste. 728, NYC 10107