I went. I huffed. I hugged. I sweat. I learned.
I’m back from my weekend training at the New York stop of the Merrithew Mindful Movement World Tour. I had a great, great time and learned a ton! My clients will not know what hit them in the next couple of weeks … heh.
Overall I took 21 hours of seminars, most of which was spent moving, and yes, I’m very, very sore. But it’s the happy sore that comes from playing and learning new things and having all kinds of “a-ha” moments.
John Garey is a great guy who I had the honor to interview a couple of times for PilatesStyle Magazine back when I used to write their “ProZone” column. His laugh is infectious and he always tells you an exercise is “really easy,” which means he’s about to kill you. John is the best combo of Pilates instructor and athletic coach and, together with the team at Merrithew Health & Fitness™, has developed a whole new system called CORE™ that is all about training athletes to be their best.
Using a system of muscle connect at three levels (superficial and global stabilizers and “whole muscle” engagement), he takes participants through a slow-controlled movement and then adds intensity through either speed or exertion. A simple lunge combo with tubing turns into a stairway of ever-harder exercises while you feel your butt burning and wonder “Oh geez, is there something else after this one?!?” (For the record, I wasn’t thinking “geez” … my language was a bit stronger.)
There is a difference between Pilates and athletic training. Pilates tends to be done more slowly using controlled movements while athletic training includes heavier loads, plyometric movements, and more speed. Something that was easy for me “Pilates style” became a lot more challenging when John took it into the athletic training range.
A Whole New Brain Twist
I had written about ZEN•GA™ before and have had a little taste of it in the past at both a workshop last fall, as well as through two DVDs that Merrithew Health & Fitness has released. But going through the training principles of the program was very eye-opening. The MH&F team, including PJ O’Clair, have put together some amazing ideas, bringing together fascia theory, and truly developing a whole new way to move. Using mat work, Pilates equipment, and a LOT of inflatable balls, we learned new ways to support the body, move with strength, and feel amazing releases.
To give you an example, I stood on a Reformer/Tower with springs looped over the top of my thighs and walked out to a plank position. Because the springs were holding a good portion of my body weight, I felt buoyant and happily bounced my hips around opening them up and having a great time.
If you’re an instructor or personal trainer, you should definitely check out this program. You’ll find all kinds of cool things that you can immediately apply to your clients. You will love it.
I happened to share a class on working with breast cancer survivors with a woman who handles employee wellness at a hospital very close to me. We talked about the Boston Marathon bombings and she talked about how stressful it was for her staff. (I can only imagine; the hospitals were scrambling on Marathon Monday working with all the victims). We shared our bombing stories and hugged and promised to connect further so we can work together (or work out together!). I’m really looking forward to it.
Fitness training weekends are really like any other business conference in that it’s a great opportunity to talk with your peers and share ideas for how to run our businesses. I definitely left with a lot of things I want to try at my studio.
There were very few drawbacks to the whole conference. It would have been nice if they fed us (they did one day, but not the others) and the building, the Baryshnikov Arts Center, was beautiful, but awkwardly designed (elevators and stairs were a little nutty). I do have one programming suggestion: instead of doing four sessions in a row that are nothing but movement, perhaps have one segment (maybe only an hour?) that covers something business-oriented, like marketing for your studio or how to ace an instructor interview.
This would give our bodies a little break to gear up for the next session. But hey, I’m in my 40s and the 20-somethings were bouncing around no problem. There was also a whole Total Barre segment that was offered. I thought I was signed up for some sessions, but I wasn’t, so I can’t comment as to what it’s like, although the participants going through the training really liked it.
Did you go to the conference or take a Merrithew Health & Fitness workshop lately? What were your thoughts on it? I know some of the Pilates purists won’t like it, but I think if you go in with an open mind, you’ll definitely learn something.