Our past built the foundation for our present
I am often asked the question as to what inspired me to create PilatesEVO?
I was born with a spinal condition that when I was younger meant regular episodes of acute back ache. Whilst I was still very active, I suffered for many years and tried many things to try to help. I was also invovled in catastrohpic injury claims so I was very interested in rehabilitation. For me the one thing that made the biggest difference was Pilates. I started a class at a gym close to my office in London. I immediately knew that it would quite literally change my life. It was only after practising Pilates for a few years that I decided to study Pilates. I did this studying in the UK and I obtained OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts) qualifications in mat and Pilates Equipment.
I started my spiritual journey which led me to Buddhism and meditation. I travelled to Bangkok to study both subjects, and I also became qualified in Thai Massage and thus gained knowledge of meridians. The link between the mind and the body had always interested me, and the more I studied, the more convinced I was that the mind and body are one and the same. It is interesting to note that recent scientific studies have confirmed this to be true. I also studied Buddhist psychology.
Where is the meaning?
In the City I saw people working very hard and putting in long hours. The more people I spoke to, the more I formed the opinion that they were losing the spiritual side of life and along with that any real meaning to their lives. As is usual, holes need to be filled with something, and a common thing in the western world is to fill any holes in life with work and the pursuit of money, or worse alcohol and drugs.
In the Pilates world, having travelled around the world, it became apparent to me that some people were becoming somewhat bored with the system, and that it in some places it had become a purely physical exercise routine. This really surprised me and to me was fundamentally wrong, knowing that to make the best progress or rehabilitate from injury or illness, it took the mind and the body working together. There were also growing elements of commercialism which to me were cynical and inappropriate, and also I was surprised to find that egos played as big a role here as they did in the City.
I learned that many people in the Pilates community are very precious and protective about their particular Pilates system, often saying that it is the only way to do Pilates. The truth is that Pilates varies from school to school, from country to country, and even from teacher to teacher. So common sense dictates that not everyone can be right that their system is the best one! I prefer a more open minded approach.
Principles of Pilates
People often talk about staying true to the principles of Pilates without actually realising that the common principles were not even introduced by Joseph Pilates, rather they were created years after his death. There has never been a formalised Pilates school as Joseph did not do this during his lifetime. Rather schools sprung up each saying that they reflected Joseph’s intentions and teachings. It is also worthy of note that some of Pilates’ original movements have now been modified over the years as we know with modern scientific evidence that they can be performed more safely and efficiently. On top of this, it is also worth remembering that there is no “new” exercise system. There may be many things advertised as the latest and greatest thing, but typically they are a rehash of much older exercises just in a different order and with a new logo and t-shirt! It is very difficult to invent a totally new exercise of movement that has not been around for hundreds if not thousands of years! Joseph Pilates himself was influenced by many things, but this does not mean that his system was not revolutionary.
So does this mean that Joseph Pilates was wrong? Absolutely not. He was a visionary and many years ahead of his time. Does this mean that some Pilates schools are not good? Generally, no it does not. The majority of schools are professional and teach to excellent standards. So what does it mean; what point an I trying to make? Well, it’s simple really. There is not one single form of “Pilates”. What we have today are slightly differing forms based on different schools and teacher’s translations of Joseph Pilates’ intentions. Many of these are trying to stay true to Pilates’ intentions and many are changing people’s lives in a positive way. Others are mixing Pilates with in my opinion other inappropriate disciplines and whilst they may be technically good and give great results, they really are not Pilates at all.
One thing that Buddhism teaches is to be understanding and tolerant of other people’s ideas and beliefs. No one knows everything, and no one’s opinion, however strongly they believe in it, is the “right” opinion. It is simply that person’s opinion.
PilatesEVO was born
During a particularly enlightening meditation session in Greece, everything came together in my mind. It was one of those “planets in alignment” moments! The relevance of me having this inspiration in Greece is very pertinent as Joseph Pilates’ father was Greek, and it is suggested that it is from ancient Greek philosophies that Pilates developed his own idea of the body and mind being one.
I decided I would create a new Pilates system by introducing mindfulness meditation to enhance the mind and body aspect. I also decided to introduce meridians for a deeper experience, and kundalini movements mainly to help link Pilates movements to create a flow more commonly experienced in yoga. From my experience of rehabilitation, I wanted to enhance the functional training aspects of Pilates. I included NLP teaching as well to give teachers a better understanding of themselves and their clients, and thus to enhance the teaching process as I know of very few systems who actually bother to take the time to train the teacher about how to become a better teacher and how to better understand themselves and their clients. To me this is a vital part of being the best teacher they can be.
Hey presto, I had a new system. But what to call it? Easy. PilatesEVO; the evolution of Pilates.
Right from the start I knew that PilatesEVO would not be the gospel according to Chris Hunt. I know that no one knows everything and I can learn so much from other people. So I decided that I would give all PilatesEVO teachers the opportunity to bring their own ideas to the system, ideas that can (and have) influenced the system worldwide. This to me was a real revolution. So many other systems tell the teacher exactly what to do and say, and often exactly when to do and say it. There is no space for individualism, no space for new ideas, no space for trust.
PilatesEVO is a living and breathing system that will forever continue to organically grow with input from all the teachers. This makes me incredibly proud.
The next question for me was will other people like my system? It is easy in life so stay hidden within a group all doing the same thing. That way we can avoid confrontation and people questioning us. So I lifted my head about the parapet and waited for the arrows to come. Of course some did, but most were discussed with me in a mature and sensible way. In all walks of life there are people who have a more confrontational approach, and I was accused of diluting Pilates, and one relatively prominent Pilates person in the UK even told me that I should not use the name “Pilates”. I totally respect the opinions of everyone. I respectfully pointed out the variations in the Pilates industry and how many different versions of Pilates there already are. I encourage my students to not be one-dimensional and insular. It is often the case that the people who shout the loudest are in fact the ones who are most insecure about their position, knowledge and beliefs. To my joy and happiness, the vast majority of people respected what I was trying to achieve, and many loved the system. From Russia to Brazil, from the US to Greece, people really “got it” and connected with what I was doing.
For me it is vital that the intentions of Joseph Pilates are honoured, and I believe that PilatesEVO does this. The system is primarily Pilates movements done in the “Pilates way”. My intention was to take a slightly different perspective and give teachers the skills to become better and deeper teachers. Whilst PilatesEVO is a system in its own right, everything I teach in PilatesEVO can be applied to any Pilates school or Pilates session.
Where do you teach from?
I have now travelled all over the globe teaching PilatesEVO. I find it humbling that so many people all around the world have taken PilatesEVO into their hearts. To me this is an important aspect of my system. As I say during educations, I know two types of teachers; those who teach from their bank balance, and those who teach from their heart. I am only interested in the later type. There is no shame in earning money, we all need to earn a certain level of income, even if that level is much less than most people think. I can tell within two minutes, as most people can if even only on a subconscious level, if a teacher is teaching with their bank balance in mind, or if they are teaching from their heart. To be a PilatesEVO teacher, it has to come from the heart every time. It has to be about giving and not taking.
With this in mind, through my Pilates Carnival conventions, I give back to local communities as all profits go to children’s charities. I do not earn a single penny from those conventions, and neither do any of the other presenters. I see this, like PilatesEVO, as a massive breath of fresh air in a world that can be dominated by cash. Profits are generated by charging participants a small fee (much smaller than other Pilates conventions) and by donations from local people and businesses. It may surprise you to know that I was severely criticized by some elements in the Pilates world for doing this! I was accused of cheapening the system. The fact that I was generating money for children’s charities and making international presenters available to an audience that could not usually afford such things did not seem to matter. Again everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I accept that the idea of Pilates Carnival is not for some presenters whose focus is profit. Fortunately, there are plenty of presenters who do want to contribute, and I will always believe that in life you get back what you give in ways you cannot even possible imagine.
I consider all PilatesEVO teachers to be part of our family and a community. It is a family that learns and grows together. A family where everyone has a voice and an opportunity to bring new ideas. A family that respects individuals, but believes that together we can grow to become much more than we could ever could achieve alone.
Pilates totally changed my life for the better, so I will always be passionate about it. I do not know everything, far from it. But then no one does. If anyone tells you that they do, then I respectfully suggest that you look for a new teacher. I am learning every day. What I write here and what I teach are my opinions based on my experiences, my studies and wherever possible scientific fact. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but I hope that at the very least people will concede that there is room in their beliefs for new ideas and opinions.
Maybe my words here have stirred an opinion or comment inside you. If so, please share it by contacting me on my personal email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are now inspired to learn more about the system and become a PilatesEVO teacher, then please click on the PilatesEVO School link.
I hope to hear from you soon, and even better to meet you. Until then, let us all try to stay open and be compassionate. Step by step we can change ourselves and in so doing change the world we live in.