Alluding to concerns about the expansion of Pilates further into the general fitness world, Lobdell tosses back her own questions: "When did fitness get so scary? Aren't we[Pilates] fitness?". She makes a good point. As for the potential for dissolution of Pilates as it mixes with mainstream fitness, for Lobdell, the antidote is education.
One of the benefits Lobdell saw in selling Peak Pilates to Mad Dog Athletics was that Mad Dog, through promoting Spinning, already had experience with pairing instructor education with equipment sales, and they have the support system in place to make that work on a large scale.
Peak Pilates' MVe (maximum versatility exercise) equipment, like the MVe Pilates chair and reformer - along with the MVe DVDs and education programs, is the line leading Peak Pilates into gyms, homes, and other fitness venues. Created for fitness professionals in gym settings, MVe teacher trainings are short, 3 days. They teach pre-designed workouts set to music.
This sounds a lot like the slap-dash kind of Pilates equipment trainings that make some Pilates people want to tear their hair out, but Lobdell insists that the workouts are based on the Pilates Principles and fundamental alignment concepts, and true to their roots in classical Pilates. She sees the MVe teacher training as taking the Pilates systematic method and applying it to a more fusion setting.
Can short trainings in gym settings work get the Pilates basics across? As usual, a lot depends on who's teaching. There are prerequisites for the MVe instructor training, but Pilates certification is not required. The MVe trainings are not Pilates certification courses, and MVe teachers are not being invited to call themselves Pilates instructors - unlike some of the other short term trainings available.
So as Pilates disperses, can we send enough education along with it to keep it real? This is an edge the entire Pilates industry is walking. After all, Peak Pilates is not making inroads into general fitness alone. Stott Pilates and Balanced Body, for example, have both launched similar initiatives in the past few years. On the upside, Lobdell points out that many gyms are committed to quality Pilates. And, we are not talking about a one way street. Once people get a taste of Pilates and the benefits, they will (and do) track that back into real Pilates.
Peak Pilates is continuing its mat and comprehensive Pilates teacher certification programs. Lobdell says she expects the sale to SPIN fitness to strengthen both arms of Peak's education program, and she plans to give even more of her own attention to the Pilates certification program.
As I leave Peak Pilates, I am happy that Julie Lobdell is still in charge. Perhaps paradoxically, Lobdell, who grew Peak Pilates out of her own classical Pilates training, says the sale has reinvigorated her connection to her roots in classical Pilates. And she sees herself as having more freedom now to attend to the core Pilates part of the business. I find that reassuring.
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