1. How did you get into practicing and teaching Pilates?
It was in 2007, when I moved to the US for the first time. I lost more than 20 pounds in three months as I went through the stress of being an immigrant. I looked fine, but learning a new language and culture was more difficult than the Beverly Hills 90210 I had seen growing up led me to believe. As an amateur salsa dancer, I thought a salsa shine class in Broadway Dance Center in NYC would be a perfect fit for me. It didn’t take me long to realize that everyone else were professional dancers. Yes, I found out I had two left feet! Thankfully, they offered a few non-dance classes as well. Pilates mat class was one of them. And I wasn’t alone in putting a lot of effort into perfecting the form of the movements. So I kept on doing it, even after I went back to Korea in 2009. I took my first teacher training program in 2010 and started teaching afterwards as a part-time instructor. I continued in NYC and have never looked back!
2. What do you love most about Pilates?
I was hooked on Pilates because it was challenging. Watching others practice Pilates makes it seem very simple and flawless, but to achieve that level takes time and a lot of effort. I love the fact that you can get to that level through effort. There is no cheating or fast tracking. The longer you practice, the more you learn Pilates is not only an exercise, but it also shapes your mental health. Joseph Pilates said “Contrology (the actual name of the his body conditioning method) is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” I love to see a client utilizing the Pilates method in daily life, and gaining the confidence to try different physical activities even if they have an injury.
3. What is the most common condition or injury that ails your clients, and how do you approach helping with it?
During 8 years of teaching, I’ve worked with clients who suffered from a different range of difficulties from autoimmune diseases, severe scoliosis, to arthritis. As Joseph Pilates said, “It is the mind itself which shapes the body.” I focus on helping clients take back their body control and move with confidence, rather than “fixing” the injuries. Once you’re injured, your body sensation is completely different from what you used to call “normal.” However, when a person is aware of what their body can or cannot do, they are ready to move on. I believe my job as a Pilates instructor is helping them on their journey.
4. What’s your favorite Pilates exercise to teach?
I love to teach “Saw” on the mat. Frankly, it was not my favorite “to-do” exercise until I took Benjamin Degenhardt’s class. For a person with tight hamstrings and tight upper back, it wasn’t an easy exercise for me. I probably was the only one who couldn’t touch my toes when I was in a class. Since then, I’ve learned the “Saw” exercise is to aid rotation. Which completely brings a different perspective on how to teach it as well. I’d love to share with clients what I’ve learned. And it is really easy for clients to feel like they work a lot with this exercise due to the day-to-day posture of most people. You kill two birds with one stone!
You can find me at Bikram Yoga studios, ToneHouse, social dance places, art museums or galleries, and at Central Park volunteering. Or, just simply catching up with friends around NYC.