We are in the midst of another marvelous year of March MATness on social! Tune in to learn more about the history of March MATness, how it has evolved, how it brings the Pilates community together, and how it has the potential to elevate the Pilates and expand the Pilates narrative in the future.
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Check out March MATness on Instagram using the hashtags #marchmatness2023 and #backtobasics, and check out the songs I think of for each exercise on my Instagram @oliviabioniwellness. Learn more about the history of March MATness at marchmatness.com.
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[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.
[00:00:55] Hello. Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. I [00:01:00] am super excited today to be chatting about March MATness, which is a really fun thing that's happening on social media right now. So I wanna kind of give you the low down on that just in case you aren't seeing it happening on Instagram or on social and other places, um, because it's a really cool thing that the Pilates community does in March and it's March. So let's chat about it.
[00:01:23] So March MATness comes from. March Madness, which is a US collegiate basketball tournament in which all the different, uh, universities in division one athletics compete for some basketball title. And as you can tell, that's actually not something I'm super familiar with. But, um, I do know that it's a big basketball tournament. I do know that people place bets on what team they think is going to make it, or they, you know, bet on random things. And that process of betting [00:02:00] and this tournament is called March Madness.
[00:02:04] So Pilates land is making a little bit of a play on that phrase by calling it March Madness. It's hosted by 360 Pilates, which is Benjamin Degenhart's Studio. Benjamin Degenhart is a Pilates teacher who teaches for Balanced Body. I've seen him present at Pilates on Tour when he's come Chicago. He's all over the world and his studio is really cool. 360 Pilates comes from this idea that as you're teaching exercises, instead of just having one view of the camera, he really does like lots of different angles. So you can see what the exercise looks like from, you know, 360 degrees. It's pretty cool. And he started hosting it, or his studio started hosting it in 2013 on social media, on Instagram specifically. But it really has taken on a life of its own, and [00:03:00] it's this month long celebration of Pilates mat exercises.
[00:03:04] It's one of those feel good things that the Pilates community does that is like cool and kind of unique, I'd say to the Pilates community. So the way it works is every day in March, we celebrate a specific Pilates exercise drawing from Joe's original Pilates mat work as detailed in Return to Life through Control by Joseph Pilates. It's a good time to dust off your copy of the text from teacher training and look at the exercises in order. And, uh, every day we post, you know about that exercise.
[00:03:41] Sometimes there's a theme. Sometimes you just share your journey, but it's a really great unifier of all Pilates lineages because whatever school of Pilates you come from, whether you teach the hundred with little pumps of your arms or really big pumps of your [00:04:00] arms, um, the mat work is something that really connects us and to be able to celebrate it and kind of cross borders of Pilates philosophies is really neat.
[00:04:12] You can post your version, your variation, you know, your modification if it's something you're working on, and then there's hashtags so that you can follow and see what other people in the community are doing. This year's theme is back to basics, really looking at the fundamentals of the exercise, but you can really make this your own.
[00:04:34] I know teachers who post progressions, so how you would build up to Joe's version of the exercise. I know there are teachers who post, even though it's MATness and we're talking about Pilates mat exercises, they'll take it to different pieces of equipment, or they'll have a theme with a prop and they'll do, you know, every exercise with this prop.
[00:04:55] And what I think is so special about it is that it's not [00:05:00] a challenge. It's not a competition. Because you know, I said that this is unique to Pilates, and I mean, there's lots of yoga challenges, there's lots of fitness challenges and pushup challenges and weightlifting challenges and things over in fitness Instagram land. But this is really just about showcasing yourself and where you are or your clients if they're in on the game as well and sharing without, you know, any expectation of reward or anything at the end. Like the sharing itself is kind of wonderful.
[00:05:34] I wasn't super, uh, drawn to the back to basics hashtag. That just wasn't vibing with me this year, although I think it's a totally awesome theme. I have been vibing with different tunes and wanting to showcase music that I'm obsessed with. And so my personal theme for March MATness has been sharing the exercise, my best attempt at it, and then the songs that I think [00:06:00] about when the exercise is happening.
[00:06:02] Uh, I'm doing that over on my personal Instagram at @OliviaBioniWellness, and I would say my favorite one so far has been Swan Dive. Because Swan Dive is not my favorite exercise, but when you think of Evanescence and Bring Me To Life and the "Wake me up, wake me up inside," it really just feels like the head banger that is Swan Dive, at least in my opinion. So I'm having a good time with filters and it's really great.
[00:06:27] I think, on a personal level as a teacher, because it really brings your personal practice into focus. If you do decide to post every day or post really frequently, it lets you check in with your personal practice and see, you know, how those exercises feel. Because I don't know about you, but when I'm teaching Pilates, there are some exercises that don't get a lot of play in my math classes, like crab. Can't tell you the last time I taught crab. Um, control [00:07:00] balance, I don't teach very frequently. There's like a lot of really big movements, even like full side bend choreography, it's like really difficult. And your average general group class, or maybe even in a one-on-one session, like these might not be exercises that are like your go-tos.
[00:07:17] So it's really fun to revisit all of the choreography that doesn't get to shine necessarily the whole year. To check in with yourself sometimes when you're working on an exercise, seeing your progress like this is really nice, and you can look back to the previous year, see how far you've come, see where the new challenges are, where you've surpassed your expectations in other places.
[00:07:46] It's really enlightening as well to see other people's versions of the exercise. So some schools of Pilates have very particular ways of executing exercises, so it's really cool [00:08:00] to see what the Fletcher Pilates style hundred looks like, or you know, what the classical version of hundred looks like, or what a contemporary version of the a hundred looks like. So you get to see all the variations within Pilates in a way that's non-confrontational. It's just being able to appreciate the differences. Um, you get to see lots of different people doing it. And, um, this is something that I thought of for my teacher training is like seeing a diversity in terms of bodies, ages, abilities, um, sizes.
[00:08:36] All of these things make you a better teacher when you're able to work with the variety of people who will come into your studio. So to see, you know, how would this person modify or where could you take this if you're working with this superstar athlete who's just like ready for anything. So it's really good from like a teaching perspective to like scroll through that March Madness hashtag or [00:09:00] March Madness 23 hashtag, and, you know, see how other teachers have solved the exercise for people.
[00:09:09] It's nice to be able to connect with people over our shared love of Pilates and now we've got these hashtags and people who maybe don't post regularly like me. I'm definitely guilty of not posting regularly, but to all be in this together. It's really easy to find and connect with other teachers or other practitioners. I love doing that online as well. There's so much creativity in the Pilates sphere and it's great to celebrate it whenever we can. I think we could do this every day, but the fact that we've all gotten on board to do this in March, I think is pretty darn neat.
[00:09:44] Coming up after the break, I will reflect on some past March MATness and what I hope will come from March MATness in the future. That's coming up next.
[00:09:59] Hi [00:10:00] there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit BuyMeACoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There, you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.
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[00:10:56] As I mentioned, March MATness has been [00:11:00] happening at least since 2013, that's when it was kind of organized into a thing and it's really taken off from there. In 2013, I did not know very much about Pilates, if anything, about Pilates. I was not even a yoga teacher yet in 2013, which is wild because that is like a decade ago. And three years ago when I was on the Pilates train and I was posting for March MATness. That was March of 2020.
[00:11:30] And just about now when this episode is coming out is when the whole world shut down and everything changed for everyone and for the Pilates world especially. And I know in March of 2020 I had, you know, planned out posts ahead of time and then everything stopped. And I do not think that I followed through on March MATness. Probably should have, probably would've made me feel better. But you know, there was a lot of uncertainty and we [00:12:00] thought it was only gonna be two weeks. Wasn't that hilarious? I was actually supposed to be visiting a friend in California for her wedding, and I didn't go because Covid.
[00:12:11] And for me as a Pilates teacher in- in the middle of March Madness, kind of as a backdrop. Um, my beautifully curated class schedule, in all of the houses of clients that I was teaching in and all of the different studios that I was teaching in. And I thought that I really had everything figured out. I actually started this podcast in February of 2020 and I was like, wow, I've got this figured out. I'd love to share with everyone and, uh, I realized how wrong I was. Like I did not have it figured out at all.
[00:12:45] My Pilates business was definitely not Covid proof, and it took a lot of adjusting and reorganizing and trial and error to get my schedule back to what I now feel like is fairly curated and figured out.
[00:12:59] [00:13:00] Teaching Pilates is a profession that's really unlike any other. In that it's not a nine to five, you don't wanna teach Pilates for 40 hours a week. That sounds absolutely unbearable. And you know, our industry had a really big shake up in 2020, and as I've shared with other teachers on the podcast, we've discussed this, like some of it's been amazing that we've been able to open our studios to the online world, and we are able to connect even more than sharing posts on Instagram. We are able to host classes and workshops and teacher training virtually, which just expands our reach exponentially, like to the entire world potentially.
[00:13:46] There's been downsides to Covid as well. A lot of amazing studios have had to close because of the overhead costs of rent when they weren't able to have, you know, people in or they've had to, you know, [00:14:00] vastly restructure. And a lot of teachers, I know, you know, I was on unemployment for the first time in March of 2020, um, when two weeks kind of went beyond that.
[00:14:12] So as I reflect back on March and what a tumultuous three years this has been, and feeling settled, feeling pretty good about my classes. It's nice to have March MATness come around again with a little bit more security. Of course, everything is subject to change and I feel like our schedules change a lot as Pilates teachers as well. You know, as our clients go on vacation or we go on vacation, we should definitely go on vacation if we aren't going on vacation. So going through March Madness this time there's like a little bit of nostalgia of like, remember when , remember when you had to totally like reorganize your studio apartment so that you could teach a mat class virtually? And I was like, yeah, I do remember that.
[00:14:59] [00:15:00] And wildly, you know, since there I've moved, I now have like an entire room that is my studio that I'm so lucky to have and just love being in so much. And I'm really grateful in a lot of ways for this podcast and for this Pilates community that has supported me through my growth as a teacher, my continued growth as a teacher and has really inspired me. I think that people who I don't even know who post amazing things on Instagram, uh, really help me grow as a teacher and uplevel my teaching and invite me to think about things in different way.
[00:15:43] And I think that at its heart, that's what March MATness is really about. It's showcasing all of us and all of the amazing things that we do. Every day in our mat classes, and we know that mat shows up in our reformer work as well. So every [00:16:00] day we are doing this incredible work of empowering people to move in their bodies. And I'm gonna go so far as to say, making the world a better place. People feel better and are kinder to themselves and others when they exercise and they feel good about themselves and we are able to help people do that.
[00:16:18] I love the way that March MATness has this potential to expand what the picture of a Pilates body is and what Pilates people are. I think there's an opportunity to increase the visibility of people who we don't see. Because when you go in this hashtag, you may not get the, you know, top posts there, but you can see, you know, regular people doing stuff and you know what's working for them, how they use props, how they modify exercises, how they add spice to exercises, all of this stuff.
[00:16:54] And we know that representation matters. This is a great way to expand the representation in the Pilate [00:17:00] sphere because you don't have to be a fitness model or even a Pilates teacher to participate and appreciate the work that everyone's doing on these incredibly difficult exercises. Some of these exercises are like out of this world hard and to struggle together is better than to struggle alone. And when you crack the code of an exercise and then you share it with a client or you share it in March Madness, you know, other people can crack their codes as well.
[00:17:32] I love this yearly check-in with the mat exercises. I love this bit of reflection that we get to do and also this bit of looking forward, like what do we want to see in our own practice? Next year, what do we wanna see in our studios? What do we wanna see with our clients? Where do we wanna go? Um, this gives us a chance to really pause and go forward with [00:18:00] a clear vision.
[00:18:02] I love this community and I love all of the amazing, brilliant March MATness posts that I'm seeing on Instagram. I hope that you're also participating. Let me know if you are so that I can check out all of your amazing ways of moving and embodying Pilates for yourself. That's something that really excites me, so I would love to see yours.
[00:18:24] Big thank you to all the supporters on Buy Me A Coffee. New supporters and new members are joining all the time. I appreciate you so much. Extra special thank you to the newest member of the project. That's Chuck. Thanks so much for your support. I appreciate it. Can't wait to hang out in a Coffee Chat soon.
[00:18:44] The bottom line is we are the Pilates community, so when we talk about it in abstract terms, we don't need to, we can talk about it in very concrete terms. It's not just what other people are doing. It's what we're doing, and we have the potential to [00:19:00] shape the community and the future of Pilates every single day with every class we teach, with every post we make, and with what we hope to put out into the world.
[00:19:12] I hope you have a great few weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:19:23] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts. The adventure continues. Until next time.