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Inside the Pilates Method Alliance

An Interview with PMA Executive Director Elizabeth Anderson


Updated June 06, 2012

Director, Pilates Method Alliance

Elizabeth Anderson

the Pilates Method Alliance

The Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) is a Pilates association and certifying agency. Its membership includes Pilates teachers from all over the world as well as other Pilates industry professionals. Such well known Pilates teacher training companies as BASI Pilates, Stott Pilates, Balanced Body, Polestar Pilates and Power Pilates are among the PMA corporate sponsors.

Because the PMA is, and will be, highly influential with regard to the development of the Pilates industry, it is important to know what the Pilates Method Alliance does and how it functions as an association within the industry. Therefore, I am delighted to bring you an interview with Elizabeth Anderson, the executive director of the PMA. Here, I ask Elizabeth about what the PMA does and wants to do in the future, get some of the frequently asked questions about the PMA answered, and find out a bit about Elizabeth as well.

Elizabeth, how did you come to be the executive director of the PMA?

I was involved in arts administration for 25 years. My involvement with running a dance company segued into an involvement with dance medicine, which segued into an involvement with Pilates. I ran the Polestar Pilates teacher training program in the U.K. for five years. While I was doing that, I found out about the PMA and I began to come to the conferences. Because I'm not a Pilates teacher, I wouldn't spend a lot of time at the workshops. I would go in and watch and listen because I wanted to learn who was who. After about 20 minutes I would leave and go and talk to [PMA] board members or exhibitors. Through that process we got to know each other and I was invited to join the board in Nov. 2006.

I came to my first board meeting in January 2007 and it was just the perfect moment because Kevin [Bowen] wanted to step down and I had finished running Polestar in the UK and was ready for a new challenge. I moved back to the U.S. in June of '07 after being away for seventeen years. It was unexpected, but it was a culmination of everything I had done in my career -- including being an international conference producer.

What do you like most about your job as executive director of the PMA?

This job is extremely creative, and rewarding because I see us making progress. I love the people I work with on the staff, and on our board of directors and certification commission. And, of course, getting to meet our members, presenters, sponsors and exhibitors at the conferences is fantastic. I just think it's an incredibly vibrant, committed, dynamic community and it's a joy to be involved with it. Also, in this job I have the opportunity to do a lot of writing and speaking, and I get to learn about how a profession is established and shepherd that taking place. It's a good fit.

What do you see as the primary benefit of being a PMA member?

I feel the major benefit for PMA members is an intangible one. It's about playing an active role in supporting the creation of a professional association that drives forward the development of the field, and most importantly, drives forward the professional identity of the Pilates teacher. It's about supporting a vision for what is possible for your profession and being part of a community. Particularly when you begin to attend the PMA conferences, you have more opportunities to meet and get involved with your colleagues from the national to the international level.

Then of course, there are the tangible benefits: things like getting a newsletter, getting discounts on the conference, on the exam, and on professional liability insurance. But to me the most important thing is being part of the development of a new profession. The PMA is an active community of people who are making things happen. For example, we have hundreds of Pilates Day events going on every year. We also have groups that host the PMA exam in different countries and conferences, and put on informational lectures and CEC events.

Every established profession has a professional association. The PMA is the association for Pilates the way the AMA is for doctors or the American Institute of CPAs is for accountants. All professional associations deal with setting standards for competency and safety, creating a code of ethics and scope of practice, and work to promote the professional identity of what they represent.

Next page, the PMA exam and accreditation...

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