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What Has Lockdown Ever Done For Me? Training With The Team, that’s what!

6th September 2020

It all went wrong in March 2020. The Pilates Studio suddenly shut its doors with an instant crash of income. There was a mad scrabble to learn new skills to be able to present classes online, convince clients that this was still a worthwhile experience while trying to keep two young children engaged and entertained all day - every day.

Weeks turned into months and I count myself very lucky that our family is in a position where we were able to support each other, to help share tasks and mitigate the worst of the anxiety and depression brought on by a very strange new normal.

I don’t know how long it will take for the business to fully recover from this pandemic. I have lost many regular clients, the capacity of the studio has been greatly reduced, while the cost of running the place has gone up. Two yeargroups of Pilates teacher trainees have had their schedule greatly postponed, which is costing a lot of unpaid time for catch up sessions and we have actually lost several students who were signed up to start training.

So, what positives came out of lockdown for me?

I am eternally grateful that lockdown might have prevented the worst possible situation of my son getting ill in the early stages of the pandemic. Albie has a genetic condition which, amongst other things, makes him more vulnerable than most to respiratory infections. Albie has already had a Coronavirus, one of those original ones which the doctors already knew about. One of those which might give you or me a slight cold. And it put him on oxygen in hospital for a week. I am worried about him contracting Covid19 today, but before we had a handle on the disease I was petrified.

Most of our clients have honoured us with their generosity and support, maintaining their monthly payments even though, at best, we were able to offer a skeletal timetable of Matwork only classes in online sessions.

My house and garage gym are a little further along the DIY track as I have had the odd half hour here and there to work on otherwise insurmountable tasks.

A totally unexpected bonus from these months of social isolation has been the creation of the community of Teachers who have joined Training With The Team.

Since working with British Champion bodybuilder Michelle Morris, we have timetabled three sessions of Pilates in the middle of the working day. I used to treat my training in the same way as most of my clients – something I do after work and all the other important stuff I must do. This often meant that I could go weeks without training properly, as it was always more important to provide good training for clients. The competitive bodybuilder, however, prioritises training. If they don’t train they don’t succeed, and if they don’t succeed, their personal training work doesn’t do well either. Thus, Training With The Team was born. Sessions where anyone in the Bälans team, any of our Teacher Trainees, and any visiting Teacher can join us for a workout for free.

When lockdown began, I moved these sessions online in the first couple of weeks, starting with Facebook Live sessions. I have been doing Pilates for 20 years, my adult life has always been quite physical and when I work out I don’t necessarily go easy. When I read a Facebook comment on one of these sessions someone where someone “Are these sessions good for beginners?” I realised I couldn’t keep them open to all and sundry in case someone went and pretzel broke themselves.

Zoom was a perfect solution. People have to register with a real email address which means they will think twice about joining unless they really are a competent Pilates practitioner, and sessions can remain freely available to anyone who is serious about their own training.

The community which has coalesced around these classes is totally amazing. People are joining from Canada, the USA, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Brussels, Holland, India, Korea, Ireland as well as all over the UK. I’m meeting people I knew 20 years ago, some whom I’ve only read about, many of whom I would have otherwise never met, and of course, the Bälans Team who have been separated for so long. This group have made me turn up for training – even when I was low or tired or busy. I know there are people waiting to join the session online, which pressures me into stepping up and I always feel better for having done the session when I didn’t feel the love at the start.

My Matwork Pilates has come on quite markedly. I am a stiff heavy bloke with a Military background, so I can’t expect the splits, but I am getting better every week. All who have joined us throughout lockdown say the same.

I don’t reckon a single Training With The Team session has been the same as the next. We’re discovering new variations all the time. I start with the Classical Matwork repertoire as a base, ask someone to give us a theme for the day and we’re off. On Fridays we tackle the Classical Mat in the traditional order (more or less) and the improvement in all of us is truly gratifying.

The genius of the Pilates Method is that it is so relevant to all bodies, all people at all levels of capacity. The more you train, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the greater the possibilities for further learning expand.

So, while teaching Pilates online has made me better at reading bodies in two dimensions, and better at verbalising my instructions, the most exciting thing about lockdown for me in Pilates has been that I have become better at practice, practice, practice.

All Instructors are welcome to join Training With The Team for free. Sessions are run at 1pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Simply follow the link to register:

Register for Training With The Team on Zoom

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