What do you love about teaching Pilates? Where did you take your training and who was the educator?
KL: I love teaching Pilates because I believe that Pilates can be practiced, used, and taught in many different ways. It allows us to truly explore and express who we are in our work as teachers. Equally, it allows us to really honor and support the individual, precious person in achieving their goals. I believe in acknowledging and respecting the individuality of each of my clients, including their limitations, fears, abilities, and ambitions, without judgment.
Rather than being some kind of exercise perception the client needs to mold themselves to, Pilates allows me to always be flexible in how I choose to support and help my client. It really can be an art form of communication and discovery of oneself through the body. I was already a mat Pilates teacher and body worker when I decided to undertake Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Studio Practitioner training with Polestar Pilates UK. Liz Bussey and Diane Nye were amazing educators.
They demonstrated two very different ways of teaching. It made clear to me that it is possible to integrate my existing knowledge, skills, and also my unique personality and passions into my movement work. They both encouraged me to really explore who I want to be as a movement professional and how I want to work with people.
What are your current inspirations? What do you love about them?
KL: For some time now I’ve worked with a focus on the nervous system in movement. I have undergone further training in applied neuroscience and NLP coaching. Currently, I am undergoing long-term training in Somatic Experiencing, which is a method of trauma resolution through the felt sense and the autonomic nervous system (the part that deals with fight or flight and restoration and learning). When it comes to rehabilitation and movement practices we often are focused on muscle, bone, or fascia.
However, our nervous system has a huge impact on our soft tissue health and our general ability to heal, learn and move. On the other hand, we know that movement itself can have powerful healing effects for people who suffer from stress, depression, and other mental health problems. So for me teaching Pilates with an understanding of how the nervous system works and how movement and the nervous system are affected by one another is absolutely fascinating and powerful.
Why Pilates? How did you find the practice?
KL: I first came across Pilates, back in my mid-twenties. I experienced episodes of very low energy and frequent migraines due to hormonal fluctuations and a thyroid disorder. I used to go to the gym, but when I had spells of low energy, going to the gym was rather depressing, as I was just confronted with my sudden decline in endurance and strength. I then would stop going altogether, which didn’t help my overall well-being.
It was hard to keep motivating myself to exercise, having my progress constantly interrupted by not feeling well. I started looking for a form of exercise that I enjoyed and that would be forgiving of my frequent lack of energy. I started exploring various dance classes at the national center for dance in Edinburgh, where I lived at the time. Here I came across Pilates for the first time.
I liked Pilates because it was not centered around physically pushing myself all the time, which I could not do when I was on low energy. Pilates allowed me to continue practicing and engaging with my body when I was having a low energy week; there was still lots to explore and to work on. I could simply focus on smaller movements and exercises and deepen my practice and understanding of them.
I even found that after a week of really exploring a more simple movement, the more difficult ones would become easier. My low-energy spells began to feel less like an interruption and inconvenience in my life. Pilates allowed me to work with my low energy, rather than letting it stop me from living my life. I believe that this was a really important discovery that has informed my life ever since.
What do you hope to convey in your teaching?
KL: In our modern society we deal with an awful lot of self-criticism. We beat ourselves up about all sorts of things. We allow others to tell us what is good or bad for us and what to do and what not to do. We are used to putting ourselves down and ignoring our own needs. We work the hours we are expected to, regardless of how tired, stressed, and run down we are. We deny ourselves foods we crave because we are on diets. We hold emotions for the sake of peace in our relationships. We shut down communication with our own body because that is expected of us. We are expected to become more and more durable and capable, no matter what. That is the culture we live in and it is not sustainable. I believe that Pilates can play a huge role in fighting this.
“What is most important to me in my work is to empower people to reconnect with their bodies, acknowledge and respect their own individual needs without judgement, take responsibility for their own well being and take action.”
In essence, for me Pilates is about truly getting to know yourself through movement, becoming appreciative of yourself, and learning how to live life in a way that really works for you. This can be so empowering, as we then can potentially experience things we did not think possible.
Where would you love to vacation?
KL: My family lives in Germany, where I grew up, so I like to spend my vacations there with them. I also used to live in Scotland for 15 years. It became a second home and I miss it and my friends a lot. So any holiday I do not spend with family back in Germany I will use to go to Scotland. There are many amazing places in the world that would be magical to see and I find seeing my family and friends, and the wonderful places that hold so many memories for me, are way more important to me.
What is your favorite quote? How do you embody this?
“Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it.” – Martha Graham
KL: Martha Graham said “Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it.” We know this is true when we look at the posture of a sad person, next to that of a happy person. I think it is important to bear this in mind when we work with movement. In Pilates, we can get very caught up in anatomy, by looking at spinal articulation or head, neck, and shoulder organization and things like that. Those things are important for quality movement and we can work with them directly.
However, it is very wise to keep in mind that there are many reasons why a person moves or holds themselves the way they do. Axial elongation, core control, and breathing are qualities that are hard to find when we feel bad, regardless of how well we understand the technicalities of movement. The body is expressing itself. Our body language makes up more than half of our communication with others. When we work on changing someone’s posture or movement patterns this understanding should somewhat inform our practice.
Describe your movement style.
KL: When it comes to my own movement practice I like to think of movement as something very natural and animal-like. I seek quality, ease, and efficiency in my movements through a sense of connection with myself, my surroundings, and gravity. I particularly enjoy inversion and suspension exercises, as they tend to provide a very different experience of gravity and us in space, which can be enriching in many ways. I particularly enjoy exploring this in aerial circus arts, as there is plenty of opportunity for this kind of movement experience.
What is your favorite apparatus or favorite way to move? What do you love about it?
KL: I always loved the trapeze table the most. I like that there is a very defined space in which I can move between the table and the frame. It allows me to ground myself very comfortably on the padded table if that is what I need. However, if I seek adventure I can suspend myself upside down from the frame and climb around it like a monkey. It offers some fantastic repertoire, but also allows space for creativity.
How does Pilates inform your profession?
KL: I practice Pilates several days a week, which I believe does not only set a good example for my clients but also helps me stay actively able to support my clients during their sessions.