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Q & A with Co-Founder Tanya Winter

 

You’ve just launched Studio Pilates’ brand new Online Slider Course! I know you and the team have been working on this one for the last few months. How are you feeling, have you caught up on some sleep yet?!

 We all work really hard on these courses and they are a bit of a marathon! But I’m so excited that the Slider Course has now launched and is available for students – it’s actually one of my favourite courses that we have created! And yes, the extra sleep has been great!

How do you decide which course to release each year? That’s got to be a tough decision.

 It is! There are many debates around the office when we are trying to decide! We usually start the process by posing the question to our students to see what kind of courses they want us to create and what topics are relevant for their ongoing education. From there, we discuss the different options with our fantastic course facilitators, course content creators and the rest of our Education team to make a final decision.

At the end of the day, it’s all about offering ongoing professional development opportunities for our students. So many providers of Pilates education in Australia (and around the world) just offer initial training and stop there. This is great, but it means that instructors don’t get a lot of ongoing professional development to enhance their skills and progress their instructing. Because of this, we try really hard to release at least one course per year, so that our students have ongoing opportunities to expand their knowledge and really enhance their career. Our aim is to grow with you as an instructor and give you the tools to progress your instructing career. Ultimately helping you to make it a long, fun, and sustainable career where you can effectively help your clients to achieve their goals.

So what exactly are sliders?

Traditional sliders (sometimes called ‘gliders’ or ‘sliding discs’) are a piece of fitness equipment which you see a lot in elite gyms – they’re very popular on Instagram right now! The sliders allow you to perform strength-based exercises and they also challenge stability, coordination and balance. All good things for engaging and activating the core muscles of the body!

The most common sliders that you see are plastic sliders which you can easily purchase (they range in price from $7-$40 per set). These sliders are usually dual sided with plastic on one side (to glide over carpet) and foam on the other side (to glide over wooden floor and tiles).

However the great thing about this course is that you don’t need to use the plastic sliders. If you are instructing on wooden or tiled floors, you can use a range of household items such as face washers, hand towels, microfibre cloths, plastic plates or tea towels as great alternatives! Our headquarters studio in Brisbane has gloss wood floors, and our team actually preferred using the face washers for all of the slider exercises – it just feels really good on that kind of floor! Plus, you can ask your clients to bring their own face washers into the class which is a great option for hygiene.

So the sliders are obviously not a traditional piece of Pilates equipment, is that right?

 

Yes, the sliders were not invented by Joseph Pilates (unlike other traditional equipment such as the Reformer, Wunda Chair or Cadillac). Initially when we thought about launching the Slider Course, we were worried about how we could make the slider exercises safe and effective for any clients with injuries or pathologies. For example, so many of the typical Slider exercises that you see out there on trainers’ Instagram feeds are not great for injured clients. So our main focus for this course was taking this piece of equipment that is traditionally seen in exclusive gym settings and reinventing it through the Pilates repertoire. We wanted to ensure that the slider exercises paid homage to the history and principles of Pilates and could be enjoyed by people regardless of strength level and injuries. So I’m incredibly proud of the repertoire in this course. There are some exercises which will be familiar to anyone who has used sliders before as well as a whole range of completely new exercises.

What is the process of creating a new course?

 

It depends on the course, but it can take us anywhere from a couple of months to half a year to create a new course. We start by scoping out the course, researching and reviewing the literature around the equipment or topic to gauge what studies have been published and what the literature says.

When it comes to choosing the exercises, we have a massive team brainstorm. For example, with the Slider Course, we researched the existing Slider exercises as well as brainstormed all the ways that you could incorporate the sliders into the Pilates repertoire. We ask questions like, “Is this exercise enhanced through adding the slider under the hands? What if the slider was under the feet? What extra muscles are worked when you add in the sliders?” If the equipment doesn’t enhance the existing exercise, it doesn’t make the final cut or appear in the course.

This experimental brainstorming stage is probably my favourite as it is a lot of fun getting down on the mat with the team and playing around with the exercises. There are a lot of laughs, a lot of breakthroughs and “ah huh!” moments. And it’s from these brainstorming sessions that we finalise the course repertoire.

From there, we write the manual and this usually takes a couple of months. We also hold a photo shoot for the manual images and a video shoot for the online training centre videos. Our team then edits all the videos and pieces together the online course content. It’s a massive team effort, but we have created so many courses now that we have the process down pat!

What does behind the scenes of a course video shoot look like?

 

Lots of laughs. Lots of chocolate. Long days. And some pretty funny bloopers! The hardest part of the shoot for our models is the sample class programs because they are doing 2 hours straight of intense exercise off the back of at least 3 days of prior filming! In the Slider Course, the girls’ buttocks were so sore by the time we filmed the sample class programs. It was a struggle not to keep laughing at their faces throughout the workouts! It’s a bit of a testament to the effectiveness of these exercises!

We also have a running joke in our Education team that every time we create a new course, I get sick. It can be a challenge to talk for 12 hours a day for 4 days straight during a video shoot! My secret is Difflam throat spray which gets me through even if I’m a bit under the weather!

Ultimately what’s so special about the sliders?

 

I think the sheer versatility of the sliders pretty incredible. The fact that you don’t even need to buy equipment and can just use face washers is great! It means that as an instructor, you don’t need to fork out a lot of money for new equipment and you can very easily incorporate a massive repertoire of new exercises into your classes.

The other great aspect of sliders is that they are just so fun to use and are incredibly effective at targeting the deep stabilising muscles in the body. This means that you see a massive difference in your body with these exercises. Your strength drastically improves, your posture is better, you stand up taller, your waist is drawn in, and your glutes are lifted. In creating this course, and performing the exercises frequently, all of our team couldn’t get over the differences in how much flatter our stomachs were. We were big fans of the results from this equipment!

What’s next for Studio Pilates Education

 

In true Studio Pilates International style, our Education team has a wide range of projects on the go! We are masters of multitasking! At the moment, we have just launched our massive End of Financial Year Sale for the month of June. We usually only discount our courses once a year, so it is a great time to receive a discounted rate on training if you’re thinking about ongoing education! Obviously we have just launched our Slider Course and this one is discounted as a part of our introductory special offer until the end of June when the price will be increasing.

We are also kept pretty busy opening 11 new studios (including some in New York City!) and our Education team is involved in the training of instructors for these new studios. We have also just set and launched our 2020 course dates. Next month, we will commence a course revamp of our Matwork Progressions Course for 2020. We will be adding new exercises into this course and creating new online resources. So lots on the go!

 

Tanya Winter is a Founder of Studio Pilates International® and the Education Department, developing and creating all of the Pilates Instructor Training Courses. Tanya is a Physiotherapist who has a passion for Pilates both in helping her clients and also in sharing her knowledge and experience to teach people how to become world class Pilates Instructors. Tanya was originally introduced to Pilates through her swimming career, using it as a cross training tool and later for rehabilitation after a spinal fracture, and has been practising Pilates herself for over 20 years. Tanya completed her Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 1999, and since then, has dedicated her life to the teaching of Pilates.

In 2002, Tanya co-founded Studio Pilates International®, and set up her first studio in Hawthorne, which is still running today. Tanya has personally taken over 25,000 clients through Pilates workouts in the studio, for rehabilitation, sports performance enhancement and general fitness and toning, and over 50,000 people in Matwork classes in the gym setting.