I just got back from my second visit to Pilates Anytime. Since many of my Pilates friends and students have asked what it’s like, I thought I’d take a moment to recount the whole experience.
First, it’s a huge honor. My teachers and many of my Pilates crushes (Kathi Ross Nash and Alan Herdman, for instance. Swoon!) are featured instructors on this online community. So, when the invitation came to teach, I worked on staying cool while my internal 7-year-old was jumping up and down and doing cartwheels. “I’d love to, thanks so much” I wrote casually, while simultaneously texting my bestie “OMG!!! Pilates Anytime!! Dream. Come. True.”
I’m certain my invitation came from a recommendation from my mentor, the much-loved and missed Julian Littleford. Kristi Cooper, one of the studio founders, invited me to come teach my Pilates for MS workshop. Since that workshop is 3 days long, we decided it made more sense for me to do a workshop just for them –Neuroscience and Exercise.
The schedule for videotaping is planned far in advance, so I traveled to Santa Barbara to teach months after Kristi and I first spoke. If you haven’t been to Santa Barbara, get on a plane immediately. Actually, it will probably be several planes, because although Santa Barbara is one of the best places on earth, it doesn’t have a lot of flights into it. It has a tiny airport (think of airports in the Caribbean, without the rum and lack of organization). Oprah has a house nearby. My cab driver drove me by it one night. It is so far up the hills and behind gates that I couldn’t see it, but it doesn’t matter, because we know that Oprah lives there. Oprah.
For out-of-towners, you come in the day before and don’t shoot until around 2 p.m. the following day. The Studio at Padaro Beach – with that famous big window overlooking the beach – is a fully functional Pilates studio, so there are classes during the mornings. The beach in the background? That’s real (not computer generated), and it is just as pretty (prettier) than what you’ve seen online. A train track runs right in front of the beach, and the trains come all the time, so chances are good that you will have a train in your video. If you’re lucky, you will have frolicking dolphins as well.
There are a couple of striking things about the studio. First, it is much smaller than it looks on camera. All of the equipment that normally fills the floor is pushed out of the way to make room for whatever you need for the class you’re teaching. Second, the white equipment is more of an off-white and it’s not dirty. I thought for sure that up close that white upholstery would be suffering. It’s not. It’s gorgeous. I have upholstery envy. I didn’t even realize that was a thing… (I’m pretty sure my students at Fuse Pilates couldn’t keep it as pristine.)
STOP STARING AT THE UPHOLSTERY. IT’S TIME TO GO…
There’s not a lot of hand-holding – you just jump right in. First, you do a teacher profile interview. My hair looked really bad that day, and now it’s on the Internet forever. Let that be a warning: try to have a good hair day if you have your chance. It’s Santa Barbara, and there are blow dry bars. Kristi knows where they are; she can hook you up.
Even on my second go around, I was nervous until I started shooting. Performance anxiety. Look – I measured my pulse when I woke up…
And then again when I was about to go on camera…
(And yes, there’s an app for that!)
They get the equipment set up, and you set up, and you’re ready to go. You wear a microphone and Perry – the videographer – who is about 7 feet tall (not really – he’s probably 6’11”) will tell you to try not to touch it. The big debate is where to put the microphone battery pack. If you’re going to demo, the pack shouldn’t be on your back because you can’t lie down on it. It also shouldn’t be on your hip if you’re doing side-lying. Or your front for prone exercises. You see the dilemma… Luckily, I prefer to teach without demonstrating, so it wasn’t a big issue.
If you’ve ever been videotaped and you aren’t a professional actor, you know that all of a sudden you have no idea what to do with your hands. Sure, you go through life with your hands just doing their thing, but put a camera on you, and suddenly your hands become obtrusive things. Should I clasp them? Relax them by my sides? What do I normally do with my hands??
On the recent visit, I shot four videos. It was 3.5 hours of videotaping. I was starving by the 3rd video. I had a coughing fit at the beginning of the fourth video, so we stopped and started over. For the chair video, we did a lot of stopping to move the chair into the best position for the camera and for, um, modesty. Workshops are also edited. Screw ups are sometimes edited out, and sometimes, they are there forever (like when you do more reps on one side than the other… oops…)
Reformer videos are often set up with two reformers set into an L shape. This is great for students at home to get two views of an exercise at the same time. It is not as great for a quick glance from a teacher to tell left from your right. To be honest, I scored really low in spatial relations on IQ tests, so maybe it’s just me. I can’t read a map either. So, if you’re in the process of setting up your studio, L shaped configurations aren’t the easiest if you can’t tell your left from your right.
After you’re done, your host (Kristi or Amy Havens) takes you to dinner. Since they are shooting videos constantly, I imagine they have to do a lot of Pilates to balance out all that eating out.
The next day, you depart, and if you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time on the flight home thinking about the exercises you wish you would have included or whether one class was too easy or too short. But, ultimately, it is what it is – a record of how you taught a class – one class – in one hour of one day – but that’s online for people to take anytime that’s convenient for them.
A week or so afterwards, you get the photos from the shoot (Perry takes the photos at the same time as he’s shooting the video. Multitasking at its finest!). Then a couple of weeks after that, the classes start to come out. Expect workshops to take a couple of months due to editing and programming and technical things their behind-the-scenes people do.
And then – here’s the best part – you get to “meet” a lot of new students who took class with you. I had someone come up to me in a hotel lobby in London who recognized me from Pilates Anytime, I had another student from Israel visit my studio, look at me and say “I know you,” and I’ve had former students who moved far away say how great it is to “take class” with me again. How cool is that?
Thanks again to Kristi Cooper, Amy Havens, and the team at Pilates Anytime for another wonderful visit. I’ll practice my telling my left from my right in L shaped configurations for any future filmings.
Stay hard core,