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At thirteen years of age, as an aspiring student at New York’s School of American Ballet, I knew Pilates was something special. After my very first class with Eve Gentry, I was able to execute movements that up to that moment in time, had eluded me. I performed my first-ever triple pirouette that day after Mat class with Eve. I was astounded and delighted. I was enchanted and inspired.

Since that time, Pilates has been a central part of my life and I have dedicated myself to sharing its inspiring, life-changing brilliance with the world. For over twenty years now, carrying on Joseph Pilates’ revolutionary contribution to the world of the mind-body-spirit, healing arts has been one of my passions.

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Since the late 90’s when I released the first Pilates video under “The Method” title, the work has exploded in popularity and continues to grow by leaps and bounds as more people discover Pilates’ genius and its myriad applications. With this popularity comes tremendous benefit and at the same time, a tremendous responsibility on the part of the practitioners. There are so many different training programs available now for people who want to pursue a professional track in The Method, and it is imperative to be discerning and do proper research to locate programs with great integrity. Equally as important is learning that becoming a truly superb teacher takes time, dedication, focus, determination and experience. There is no substitute for life experience and real hours logged “in the field.”

After I graduated from my first teacher training course, I felt that I had a great understanding of the work in my body and had clocked literally hundreds of hours working with a wide variety of people with different body types, and needs; everything from rehabilitative requirements to strength-training and pre and post-natal conditioning. I had confidence in my ability to provide clients with the appropriate exercises that suited them; however, as difficult as this is to admit, what I didn’t know how to do was communicate the work concisely and confidently. I didn’t know how to choose exactly the right words with which to literally transmit what I knew to the client and how to physically interact with the client. I didn’t know the specific hands-on techniques to use in each and every scenario! And I knew that I was not alone in this feeling.

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I set about the business of gaining the experience that I needed so that I could build my confidence in the realm of verbal and non-verbal, hands-on communication. In every other area of my life, I felt like a natural “wordsmith,” and felt that I had good instincts when it came to touch and how best to incorporate the use of my “hands-on” work in Pilates. However, I did not have a sure-fire repertoire of tried and tested approaches. As a brand new teacher, “set loose on the population,” as it were, I felt that even the finest, purest, most traditional and classical training in the world could not have prepared me for the world outside, where I would be teaching alone, left to my own devices, having to rely entirely upon my own wits and ability to teach with clarity and effectiveness so that I would make a real difference in peoples’ lives.

The end to quite a long story, years of searching and gathering vital and precious information through study with several of Joseph Pilates’ original students and other brilliant practitioners in the field and related fields: yoga, Feldenkrais, Alexander, massage therapies, led me to embody a kind of rooted confidence and ease with which I could help others facilitate real change in their bodies, minds and spirits through the Pilates Method.

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Since those early days, shortly after completing my first “watershed” teaching course, I was on a path to cultivate greater skill and deepen my understanding of my craft. Along the way, I learned a great deal, too much to do justice to in this short story. Not only did I gain the hands-on and verbal experience that I felt I had been missing in my practice, but I honed my techniques and expounded upon the best of what I learned from others. I forged a new way, one that literally combined the best elements from the teachings I had been exposed to, and I brought them all together in a powerful, simple approach, one that I have been passing on to others for years. This is a perfect segue to my next thought: that truly the most important lesson that I already held in my heart, but was reminded of along the way, was the value of collaboration, of being open to sharing and co-creation, of being a “forever student.” We can all learn something from others, as experienced as we may be, there is always room for growth and expansion, and for sharing our gifts. It was in this spirit that I decided to share my hard-won gifts with the world of Pilates devotees and make my own contribution to upholding Joseph Pilates’ standard of excellence and purity. Some of the fruits of my years of labor are now showcased in a forum for others to benefit from and then continue the expansion of greater mind-body-spirit consciousness by then sharing it with others! The Pilates Method Master Trainer Series was born!

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Alongside my excitement and enthusiasm, were the thoughts about the responsibility towards the public, to stress that this series was not a replacement for real-life training and that instead, it should be used as a guide and supplement to what I said earlier - real dedication and hours in the field. It took me a while to decide whether this series was something I should share in this way; an entire teacher training course, typically a $5,000 value for the accessible price of $399, not to mention the “moral” argument I had with myself. I hoped that people would use it as an essential addition to formal training and not use it as a substitute. In this account, I felt compelled to be utterly open and honest about the conflict I experienced with the decision to release the series and why ultimately, the idea that it would be helping to shape generations of teachers, won. I knew that it was imperative to share this with others in the community to improve the quality of teaching that would be made available to the public, and hoped that the comprehensive nature of the series’ content would inspire integrity in each and every person who purchased it and viewed it.

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Communicating the essence of Pilates work has always been a particular source of gratification for me, and after traveling to distant parts of the globe teaching The Method, I knew there was a need for a multi-purpose resource that would serve several needs in the Pilates population: a teaching guide that would help Pilates professionals to become exceptional teachers and also one that would provide students and lovers of Pilates with a comprehensive series that would not only show the viewer all of the exercises in the Pilates syllabus, but go into real depth, discussing the meaning and importance behind each exercise. I wanted to share my findings on how to properly execute, how to find the most immediate and effective way to cue, and how to best use hands-on techniques to facilitate the work. I wanted to create a series that would leave no stone unturned and highlight every aspect of the Method, going well beyond the exercises themselves into the realm of psychology and interpersonal interactions. I wanted to address the vital aspect of responsibility towards another, having healthy boundaries, being able to tap into one’s intuition and empathy when greeting and working with a client, keeping one’s own practice up and maintaining proper self-care and attention to one’s own growth and personal progress while attending to a business that often requires a considerable measure of energetic output; how to achieve self-preservation and simultaneously cultivate a thriving business.

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I decided to film one of my complete teacher training courses, from the Mat, including the Magic Circle and Sculpting Series, to the Reformer, the Cadillac, Chair and Barrels, Ladder and small arc barrel, all levels, all case studies, from scoliosis to various injuries, pre and post-natal approaches, for the young, seniors, overweight, and the list goes on and on. The result is my Pilates Method Master Trainer Series, and it is my hope that this collection of DVDs helps to serve as the bridge from esteemed, accredited teacher training courses into the real-time world of flesh and blood, transformational interactions in Pilates, one that leads you to feel a deeper confidence, steadiness of spirit, greater skill and finesse and inspiration in each and every one of your Pilates experiences whether you teach it to many, or practice it on your own!
Enjoy!
To your good health and good fortune everyone~

Click here to read what people are saying about The Master Trainer Series!

For more information: The Pilates Master Series


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About the Author: Dancer, choreographer, yoga devotee, author and Pilates master teacher, Jennifer Kries was first to bring Pilates to the masses, her award-winning videos and DVDs, The Method Series, Jennifer Kries’s Pilates Method and Fox/Fit TV’s, The Method Show, revolutionized the fitness community, paving the way for the current wave of enthusiasm for Pilates mind-body exercise. Jennifer studied with three of Joseph Pilates original disciples throughout her professional dance career, starting with Eve Gentry, moving on to Romana Kryzanowska and then Ron Fletcher. The synergy of her Pilates background, her intensive study of anatomy with renowned exercise physiologist and movement scientist, Irene Dowd, coupled with her own study of eastern philosophies and schools of movement such as the “soft arts” of Chi-Gong and Bone Marrow Nei Kung with Chi-Gong Master Mantak Chia, led Jennifer to develop her Hot Body Cool Mind system. One of the country’s preeminent Pilates master teachers, she is responsible for launching many of today’s most respected professionals who teach either traditional Pilates or The Method, her trademark mind-body synthesis: Pilates, yoga, and dance. She is the founder of New York’s, Balance Pilates, Yoga, and Dance, Hot Body Cool Mind—The Studio in Philadelphia, Artistic Director and Founder of Contemporary Dance Theatre New York and most recently, creator and producer of yet another ground-breaking four part DVD series, Hot Body Cool Mind: The Life Force Power Workout!

2 Responses to “Your Pilates Secret to Brilliant Teaching: The Master Trainer Series”

Just found your website and blog - wonderful. I’ve recently become a fan of your exercise dvds. The Hot Body Cool mind series is facinating and I love that there is so much of it that I can do despite my “challenges.”

I also love your attitudes and beliefs. I belong to the Women of Wisdom Foundation here in Seattle, WA, and would love to see you speak at one of our conferences. Your blending of the spirit and body and how they work in the world fits well with our goals of “Empowering the Dreams and Spirits of Women.”

All the best,
Catherine

March 8th, 2010

Dear Catherine,

Thank you for your kind words about my DVDs and so glad that you have been enjoying the work!
I look forward to getting in touch with you personally to respond in greater detail to your message.

Warmest regards,
Jennifer

March 12th, 2010