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Pilates in Barcelona: Do qualifications and experience matter?

Pilates Barcelona

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Barcelona is a multi-cultural City blessed with many things which makes it very popular as a place to live and a place to visit.

When I arrived in Barcelona from London, the first thing that I did was to establish my own Chris Hunt Pilates group Pilates and functional training sessions and also Pilates and functional training personal training sessions. There is a culture in Barcelona of being outside as much as possible, so it is wonderful for me to be able to teach inside, but to also offer classes and training on the terrace, in the park and on the beach.  I have always wanted to have regular exercise sessions on the beach, and Barceloneta, Barcelona’s main beach is just perfect for that.

My article today is not only about Pilates in Barcelona and Spain, but also about my experience of qualifications and experience, and the relevance of these things.

Pilates in Spain is still developing, and in my experience does not yet have the regulation and certification that I have seen in the UK and some other European countries such as Germany. For this reason it is very important to make sure when you visit a health club, Pilates studio or Pilates teacher in Barcelona that the person who will be teaching you has appropriate certification, and also appropriate experience.

In the UK, the days of weekend Pilates certifications are thankfully long gone. Certification is regulated to ensure that the necessary standards are adhered to. This is a vital starting point for anyone who wishes to pursue a career as a Pilates teacher, and a professional qualification is something that any member of public should look for in any teacher who they think about training with. During one of my visits to Madrid some years ago, I met a Pilates teacher who proudly told me that the extent of her qualifications were the four Pilates books she had at home!

A common comment to me here in Barcelona that worries me is that I have been told by several people that Pilates is not an interesting or worthwhile system. No surprises, it usually turns out that they had one or two sessions with a poorly trained teacher and are judging the whole system on that brief experience.

Experience is an interesting component of overall knowledge. I have 20 years experience, but as with many fields of knowledge, to me it’s not enough to say “I have 20 years experience of Pilates”. That could mean 20 years of doing Pilates wrong. It could mean that in 20 years I have not travelled to experience any different or new ways of teaching. It could mean that for 20 years I have been doing the same things. It does not also give any indication as to the type of experience either. For example my 20 years includes group sessions, personal training, matwork, equipment, Pilates for rehabilitation, Pilates for athletes and Pilates for children etc.

Again in my experience (I can of course only talk from my own experience and I fully appreciate that other people will have different experiences) even when some Pilates bodies insist on their students completing sometime many hours participation in Pilates classes, this still does not guarantee a major benefit because often there is no control over exactly whose sessions are being attended.

Whilst I would usually (but not always) say that having experience is better than not having any experience, when I travel around the world to teach my system of Pilates, Pilates EVO, what I look for in a potential Pilates EVO teacher is yes how long they have been doing Pilates, but what I find in many cases more relevant is what they have been doing for the past few years. Often what they were doing 5, 10 or 15 years ago is now of little real benefit to their teaching today. It is also interesting to me that on occasions meeting a newly qualified teacher can be better than someone who has many years of teaching and thinks they know it all. None of us know it all, and if you ever meet anyone who says they do, smile politely, shake their hand and walk away quickly because whatever experience that will follow will not be a good one, trust me.

And let’s return to the question of qualifications. I am sure that we all know someone who has every qualification going, but is incapable of getting that knowledge across to clients in an interesting and stimulating way. So clients soon get bored and stop their training, or move to a different teacher.

It is about balance and common sense. Yes, it is essential that a teacher has a recognised qualification to show they have the basic knowledge of Pilates and anatomy. But this is only the start of the story. I like to work with teachers who have tried several different schools of Pilates, and who have travelled to experience how different Pilates can be in different countries. I also like teachers who have experience of different types of clients, and importantly who have an open mind to new medical and scientific discoveries.

Perhaps the most important thing I look for in potential Pilates EVO teachers is where they teach from; their heart or their bank balance (when I am speaking at conventions, at this point I double pat my heart, and then double pat my back pocket). We all need to make a living and pay the bills, but if this the only motivating factor in what someone does, whether it is Pilates, any form of teaching, or any job for that matter, then after a while (usually a very short while) it is clear to everyone that their heart is not in what they are doing. And if your heart is not in it, if it is not your passion, then you will never be able to be the best you can be.

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. For more information about Pilates with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway?

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Exercise is only one part of “Total Fitness”

Woman Running

www.chrishuntwellness.com

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have written before about Alzheimer’s and mental conditions, as this is a very personal issue for me (see Dementia: I lost my father, don’t lose yours, Mental health and exercise and Let’s talk about depression).

So as a fitness professional and a Pilates and functional training presenter,  I am very interested by studies that link exercise with mental health and brain function, and I am convinced that this link exists and should influence us as trainers and the public in general.

All Pilates teachers will be very familiar with the mind and body link, but in my opinion every trainer should also consider this. I am  happy to report to you about a recent study in the US that suggests that aerobic exercise in your 20s may protect the brain in middle age. Activities that maintain cardio fitness such as running, swimming and cycling, led to better thinking skills and memory 20 years on.

Scientists say the research adds to evidence the brain benefits from good heart health. As fitness professionals will know, cardio fitness is a measure of how well the body absorbs oxygen during exercise and transports it to the muscles. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, tested almost 3,000 healthy people with an average age of 25. They underwent treadmill tests of cardiovascular fitness during the first year of the study and again 20 years later. They were asked to run for as long as possible before they became exhausted or short of breath.

Cognitive tests taken 25 years after the start of the study measured memory and thinking skills. People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol. People who had smaller time differences in their treadmill test 20 years later were more likely to perform better on the executive function test than those who had bigger differences.

“Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author Dr David Jacobs. “This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.” Dr Jacobs said a concept was emerging of total fitness, incorporating social, physical and mental aspects of health. “It’s really a total package of how your body is and the linkage of that entire package of performance – that’s related to cognitive function many years later and in mid-life,”

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “A growing body of evidence suggests exercise may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and much research has shown a link between healthy habits in mid-life and better health in old age. Investment in research is vital to better understand how we can protect our brains as we age.”

So this information, taken in conjunction with previous studies detailed in my previous blogs, continues to add weight to the body of evidence that suggests our physical and our mental state are inextricably linked. The concept of “total fitness”, meaning that all trainers should be thinking about advising their clients of the social and mental aspects of their health as well as the physical aspects, is something that I incorporated into my Pilates EVO© and my bodyFUNC© systems several years ago.

If we want to get the best results for our clients, and give the best possible service, it is not enough to simply give them a training problem for their gym sessions. Our advice must go much further and much deeper.

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