I can’t remember when I started noticing pain in my body. It must have been in my thirties. When I started university, I started taking better care of my physical health than I ever had—swimming, dancing, aerobics and Taekwando. I felt great. In my thirties, while I was “finding myself,” I mostly worked in the service industry (incredibly physical job) and at some other part-time jobs. It didn’t take me long to notice that if I was in any way out of shape, my body hurt. So I made sure I stayed “in shape”—cycling, power walking, etc. Whatever it took. And then I found yoga.
What yoga had to do with it
I’ve always said that yoga changed my life. And it’s true. Yoga taught me how to quiet the busyness in my mind and to tune in and listen to my body. Yoga taught me body awareness and a way to breath pain away in poses. It so profoundly affected me, I went on to become a yoga teacher. I wanted to help others find a way through and perhaps out of pain.
After years of waitressing, combined with structural weaknesses and imbalances, my left hip and low back started to become quite a problem for which I needed weekly chiropractic care. The adjustments always helped, temporarily. Pigeon pose in my yoga practice also gave me immense relief—while I was in the pose. Once out of the pose and back on my feet, the pain resumed.
Then a Pilates class was offered at the yoga studio where I taught. Always up for different types of body movement, I attended. That’s when something profound happened: the exercises we did, in that one class, alleviated the pain in my hip and low back, for days! I was suitably impressed. I found Pilates to be complementary to yoga—it was mindful and combined breath work with movement. I needed to know more.
How did this happen? The student in me wanted to learn as much as I could about how to keep up this work. The teacher in me wanted to share this amazing discovery with others. And so, I began my Pilates teacher training journey.
Moving beyond classical Pilates
I call it a “journey” because I’m still on it and enjoying the ride immensely. My training and diploma are from Body Harmonics, an incredible Pilates & Movement Teacher Training institution. After completing their Pilates Comprehensive Track Level 1 Mat and Level 2 Reformer, I was excited to learn even more by attending many of the Continuing Education workshops they offered. These workshops went well beyond the classical Pilates repertoire. They taught functional movement—proper joint alignment, strength and range of motion.
Here’s a personal anecdote of how my Body Harmonics training changed my approach to movement, structure and function: in my yoga practice, I loved doing the Pigeon pose because it gave my poor old sore hip some relief. Immediately coming out of the pose, my hip was still sore and not performing any better than before the pose. Pilates exercises helped strengthen my hip and alleviate pain, but through further training—guided especially by the curriculum in the Body Harmonics Functional Anatomy & Biomechanics and Post-Rehab Specialist diploma programs—I realized my hip joint was too loose! Stretching it wasn’t going to help it. What my aching hip needed was some serious strengthening work. My training helped me put together a program to balance hip strengthening with inner and outer core work, and my hip (my whole body, actually) started to move and feel better. This work, along with some deep inner and outer unit core training, has helped me keep my hip happy ever since.
Becoming a movement specialist
Body Harmonics’ Specialist diploma programs were very attractive options for me, not only because I had already amassed many of the required and elective Continuing Education workshops, but because I liked the guided focus. This approach helped fine tune the information and knowledge I’d been accumulating over the years and apply it in classes and private sessions with confidence and extremely positive results. By being able to layer information into my practice as I acquired it, connections were made and sparks flew as I began to make more sense of movement as determined by structural weaknesses and imbalances. For example, how optimal function at the foot and ankle improves gait mechanics. And how building up core strength and keeping hips strong is not only structurally sound but provides a support system for the complexities of shoulder girdle movement. This is the beauty of the Specialist diplomas. Both required and elective workshops layer in information and, before you know it, you’re a very knowledgeable instructor with a lot of information to share.
Helping clients move and feel better
I’m proud to be a graduate of Body Harmonics with specializations in Anatomy & Biomechanics, Post-Rehab and Diverse Populations. I appreciate the work that goes into these incredibly professional programs and the emphasis of their training on creating professional, knowledgeable instructors. Another benefit: my clients have noticed feeling stronger and having significantly improved performance in their sports and day-to-day activities. They’ve also received positive re-enforcement from their respective therapists—massage, physiotherapy and chiropractic. Orthopaedic surgeons have even complimented those of my clients with new hips and knees on their substantial gains in strength and mobility as a result of our work together.
Body Harmonics Specialist diploma programs have given me an incredible wealth of knowledge to draw from, whether designing a group class, working one-on-one in a private session, or in discussion with a medical professional. With this training, as a confident and educated instructor, I can help people move better and feel great. I love my job!
Gina is a Pilates and movement educator in Guelph Ontario. A happy graduate of the Body Harmonics Pilates Comprehensive Track and Specialist diploma programs, and a level 3 ELDOA certified instructor, Gina’s goal is to help clients improve their performance, become stronger and pain-free. Gina can be reached at: [email protected] Movement Education. Body Wisdom. www.3dbodypilates.ca