Sadly, this is my final day in San Diego this trip, where I have learned what feels like a zillion exercises from Julian Littleford, who I am certain has created more moves and variations than Joe Pilates himself. Plus, the weather here has been stellar. I hear DC can’t say the same (Winning!).
We have spent an entire week focusing mainly on leg and glute exercises, as well as studio management, class structure, observation, and why we don’t like traditional Pilates as much as non-traditional.
I’m back with Julian in August in Seattle at a conference, and returning to his studio later this year to learn more to incorporate in the Fuse Pilates classes.
In addition to fabulous (i.e. punishing, hard, kickass) exercises, I’d like to share a few things that I’m going to call Julianisms.
First – let’s look at a Julian to English dictionary. Oh wait – he’s English… A Julian to American dictionary.
“You’re going down at 10:40.” This sounds nice delivered with a British accent. But, in some settings (like the mafia or high school) this would mean that you are going to suffer or be beaten to a pulp at 10:40. Is there a difference at JL Body Conditioning? Not so much.
“And then we work.” Each day, Julian says, “ok, you’re going down at … and then we work.” This meant that we would work through additional individual exercises after my hour-long session as if I wasn’t doing any “work” then. Some days, there would be a second round of “you’ll go down again at…” Ouch.
“Here, you want to be a tightass.” Indeed!
“Any pain? That’s just the muscles working.” My muscles were working… a lot!
If you complain (bitch, moan, cry) for any reason other than a legitimate injury, Julian will say, “Hold on… Let me get Carmel/Liv/Mel/etc (his other teachers)… She might care.” That doesn’t of course mean that Julian doesn’t care. It just means that he wants you to keep working because getting strong takes work. So, stop complaining.
If you are a male client, you are called “mate,” and if you are a female client, you are “sweetheart.” I think Fuse Pilates should come up with something similar to call our students. We’re taking recommendations. Please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them in a comment below.
And now for some of Julian’s teaching philosophies, which I have to say align quite nicely with Fuse Pilates teaching philosophies.
1. If you spend too much time nitpicking what clients are doing that they don’t get to move, they won’t come back. At some Pilates studios, you might do 5 exercises in an entire hour because the teacher is adjusting every single centimeter of your body into perfect form. This is one style of teaching. I have taken classes like this and have even left some of them sore, but I didn’t go back. I have also nearly walked out of classes like this midway through, and it was only the voice of my mother in my head telling me to “be polite” that kept me from bailing.
2. Julian’s next point follows the first nicely. Get people moving first. Clean it up later. This also feeds into his style of teaching 10+ reps of every exercise. If you have enough reps, you have the time to make corrections.
3. Sometimes it might look ugly at first, but it will get better. Not everyone can execute an exercise as beautifully as another person, and everyone has exercises that they don’t do well (and ones they do). It takes time to get your body to “get it.” And if you spend too much time correcting one student, the others get left behind.
4. You become what you do. If you do a lot of exercises, for instance, that promote you becoming barrel-chested with a posteriorly tilted pelvis, you’re going to walk around looking like Spongebob Squarepants. And no one wants that.
5. Don’t cruise the springs. This means, don’t let the springs do the work for you – work against the springs. This makes sense because it’s the springs that enhance the muscle work. However, sometimes it feels nice to cruise the springs (when he wasn’t looking, I might have done that… you know, just for one rep).
6. Everybody loves a good stretch. There is just nothing like a wonderful stretch. We always end Fuse Pilates classes with about five minutes of stretching, and we’re even adding a stretch class to our regular schedule. But, I think now that we should try adding more assisted stretches in class when we can. Because they are just sooooo yummy.
I want to thank Julian Littleford and his team and clients for welcoming me so openly to the studio for a whole glorious week. Special shout out to Van, who is an ah-ma-zing student to watch rock out some exercises, beautiful Brazilian intern Renata, and Julian’s teachers Carmel (best stretch assists ever), Liv, Melissa, and Suzanne. I learned from each of you.
Until next time!