Paige Makoski joins me on the podcast this week! She's a colleague of mine from the Kinexology studio, and she shares her personal Pilates journey, her teaching evolution, how applying motor learning theory totally changed her teaching, and more. Tune in!
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Paige is a dedicated Pilates instructor with more than 15 years of experience helping clients transform pain into power. She is a creative problem solver who specializes in Pilates for scoliosis, injury rehab, and sports performance, and is known for helping clients avoid surgery by providing movement-based tools for the long-term management of chronic pain. Paige draws from additional training in dance, functional movement, functional conditioning, and breathwork to connect clients more deeply to their bodies.
You can find Paige on Instagram at @pilateswithpaige and on the web: http://www.pilateswithpaige.com/ You can also check out her group FRC class and private sessions through Kinexology here: https://www.kinexology.com/
Check out Chelsea's What You Say Matters course here!
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Olivia: [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.
Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. Before I [00:01:00] dive into our amazing conversation today with Paige Makoski, I want to share how excited I am that Pilates Teachers' Manual podcast is sponsoring Momentum Fest this year. If you haven't heard about Momentum Fest and you aren't already super hyped about it, you can definitely check out a previous episode that I did when I attended last year.
I'll be attending again this year from June 25th to 27th. It's happening in person and virtually. It's Pilates, it's yoga, it's dance, it's movement. It's an absolute adventure and so much fun, so much opportunity to interact with fantastic teachers and students and just cool movement people. And, um, I think you'll get a really big kick out of it. Check out momentumfest.com for tickets. And I hope to see you there.
Paige, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I am so excited to be able to chat with you because I've been working with page through our Kinexology studio, where we're teaching virtually, but as you know, [00:02:00] we're teaching virtually. You're ships crossing in the night. So thank you so much for being on the podcast and for sharing some adventures with us today.
Paige: [00:02:08] Thank you for having me. It's great to be here.
Olivia: [00:02:11] So tell me, I always want to know, just because everyone's experience is so different, but what is your first memory or your first Pilates experience?
Paige: [00:02:21] Gosh, that was so long ago. I was actually living in Michigan. That's where I grew up and I was dancing. I was trained to be a professional dancer, which is why I ended up moving to California. And I fell when I was pretty young at a roller skating party and I fell on the bolt of a roller skate and I cracked my tailbone and I started showing signs of scoliosis as young as 11.
And I started throwing my back out around that same time. And, um, it was pretty bad and scary for a child. And so when I got to be about 18, my dance teacher said, Hey, why don't you come? I've been taking Pilates, like it might help your back. And I never looked back.
I started as a student. I was a student [00:03:00] for many years and then when I moved to California, I kind of dropped off. I was dancing and I didn't have a lot of money. And then, you know, my back pain came back, back problems returned, and I was like, you know what? I think I need to do this as a teacher. Like I, this is my long-term strategy to take care my body. And that was my, then I got certified and that's my, uh, that's my way.
Olivia: [00:03:22] That's so excellent. And I've heard that from a lot of people that, you know, Pilates is not just this really cool thing that I do, although it is a really cool thing that I do, but it really is something that makes my life better and alleviates pain, and it's been such a huge influence in my life, personally, that I am going to share it with others. I love that.
So how did you go from doing your teaching certification to connecting with Chelsea Corley and getting involved with connect solid?
Paige: [00:03:53] Okay. So, um, I taught in studios, like most people, right off the bat, and then I, um, I [00:04:00] wanted to open my own place. I didn't want to have a studio. So my, my studio is just one-on-one, it's just me in the back house with my people.
And as I was just working with people there's so much there, right? We pick the low hanging fruit and I'm so passionate about, you know, getting them all the information and it just, it was like, it just wasn't converting and not, not out of the lack of them trying or lack of understanding, just like something wasn't right with my ability to relay the information.
And, you know, especially when we get certified, there's so much to learn and that's like, you get certified and you think like, okay, I'm ready to go. And you're like, Oh my gosh, I'm the worst teacher that's ever lived. Like now I can start learning how to teach. And so just, you know, going through the years, teaching, getting better, taking different courses.
And then I stumbled upon Chelsea's stuff. And I just loved that she had actually gone and gotten this very scientific degree about motor learning. It really attracted me. And I thought like, okay. And I liked this less is more type thing and started to sort of explore. And then [00:05:00] going through her program, I was blown away by, you know, following through that per system, how much more, not only did my students take the correction, but all of a sudden they were getting interested. So it became a lot less work for me and so much more of that co-creation that we want to have with our students. And it's, so it's just been amazing and just like everyone's ability, they're just getting better and they're just excited and we're just having, we're having a great time and it's become really fun.
Olivia: [00:05:28] I had a really similar experience going through, uh, What You Say Matters, uh Chelsea's course. And just this ability to reflect on your teaching. Because once you finish your teacher training, the expectation is like, okay, now you've got what you need to teach. So go do that. And best of luck to you.
In some ways, yes. You've got a lot of things to teach, but as, especially what you said, when it comes to like, you know, I'm telling them things, but it's, it's [00:06:00] not connecting. Like there's some, there's some mismatch. And so finding the words to say, and a lot of times finding the words not to say is, was, has been so helpful.
And just being able to step back as a teacher and not have to like justify yourself or just dump all of this information that you could really sprinkle stuff in and then make it a long journey. It's not like, this is the only time I see you. I have to tell you everything or you'll, you'll never know, like we can really build, we can grow together. That's it's, it's definitely changed it.
And I found that it was extremely helpful in terms of virtual teaching as well, because virtual teaching is a different game, uh, in a lot of ways because you're in a different place. You've got different equipment maybe. How was 2020 for you in terms of turning your one on one student- did you go virtual? Did you, how did that play [00:07:00] out?
Paige: [00:07:00] So at first, when every, when the pandemic hit, we, my students and I, we were like, Oh, we're okay. We're just like here in the studio. So I went on probably for like another two weeks before, you know, I bled out, if you will, you know what I mean? Like everyone just stopped.
So I was like, I just had to pivot because I mean, I had to keep my studio up and it was just, there was no option to fail. So I just shifted to zoom. And I got a couple of people interested in, started really promoting that on Instagram. And I am connected with almost all of my students on the social platforms.
So then they started to see like, Oh, okay, well we'll we want to come back and do it too. And I think, you know, once everyone's sorta caught their breath for a second, you know, downshifted. They realized they did want that connection.
But, um, the fourth wall was super hard. I remember getting off of zoom and being like, Whoa, this is super, super hard, but again, Chelsea's course really helped me cause I was like, okay, now manual cuing is completely off the table. There's a fourth wall. If we both talk at the same time, the sound kind of goes dead. So [00:08:00] like what I say really now does matter.
Now we're also learning on different pieces of equipment. As you said, we might have like a gear list, a ball, Bosu, you know, or just the mat work. And then as I really started to, again, just allow that reciprocity from them again, like not an over-giving on my part. They really took ownership of the work in a very real way that I think Joe Pilates always wanted for everybody.
And I would really just pick, like, what's the key element that we need to work on and how do I structure almost the entire lesson around that? So we're still talking about the same thing all the time. So then I could pepper in important and deep information without it being all over the place. And then I was so surprised, like all of a sudden, all my students are looking like, Oh my gosh, I cannot wait til you guys get back in the studio because I think this is going to be quite tremendous. I mean, you're really making progress.
And that surprised me. I mean, I had really had no- I think like everyone else, I was flying by the seat of my pants. Like just please come take cause like I can't go under. Okay. So then, then I was like, Oh my [00:09:00] gosh, it's actually working. So, but it was hard at first, but now I've had a couple of my students who are fully vaccinated and they feel comfortable to come back.
And I can't believe now getting back in the studio, how much better they are, but how much better of a teacher I am. Because kind of breaking through that fourth wall has given me, probably all of us, a power we don't even realize we have yet. It's been, so, you know, I've, we've risen to the occasion.
Olivia: [00:09:24] That's so true. I've had so many clients who and I, a hundred percent attribute this to Chelsea's course be like, Oh, like, how did you see me do that? Or like, cause you know, you're, you're looking for something and because you're not narrating, you're not demoing the whole thing with them. You can really see what they're doing. And then there's so much like, who was I talking to Martin Reid or I think Martin Reid was talking about Sonja R. Price Herbert's teaching, but that our observation is a super power. And our ability to see, and we can do that virtually as well as in person. [00:10:00] So, absolutely. I think that it's honed all of our, our teaching in ways that we, uh, you know, some ways that are great and some ways that are definitely trial by fire.
Like you said, please, please come to it.
Paige: [00:10:13] Yes, exactly.
Olivia: [00:10:16] So, what is your secret sauce to teaching? Maybe even beyond the, What You Say Matters course? Like what do you see as maybe your biggest strength as a teacher or I'll just leave it at that.
Paige: [00:10:29] Okay. Well, I think that my injuries have helped tremendously. Because even my own progress through Pilates, the scoliosis keeps me back in some ways yet also gives me so much in understanding why something isn't working. So I'm really, I'm always learning like really just weird stuff, that why else would I learn it? Because my body's not responding properly. And so they're like, how do I?
So I have a lot more, I think I have a lot of empathy and compassion, but what I really try to do with all of my students is like, what's really your [00:11:00] motivation and goal. And I don't mean like better posture and lose weight. I mean, like. What do you really want? Like you want to make, you want to have, you want to make a purposeful impact? Like, what does that look like for you? And so once I really figured them out, then I can figure out how to teach them. Right.
Cause some people need more of a gentle approach. Some people you gotta be, you know, you gotta know how to push and pull, like, you know, push them and then pull back. So I think it's really about the relationship because you really do have to like teach to the body in front of you and we're all different on every single day.
I think it also comes back to reciprocity. Like they surrender to my teaching, but I'm also surrendering too. Like we're giving and taking. And again, like the less cuing, they're not overwhelmed. Chelsea's course. Right? Like it allows them to go like, I'll say something and then they're like, well, what do you mean by that? And just giving that space.
So I think that it's really like getting to know them, their deeper why, and just my injuries have served me well and in really connecting with people and [00:12:00] helping people who, who have issues, which is basically all of us. Right. So.
Olivia: [00:12:04] I think the autonomy piece is really huge because as you said, everyone's coming in with a different why and when you're giving options or you're letting them figure the exercise out for themselves because, you know, everyone's roll up is going to look different and, you know, everyone's teaser is going to look different. And when you give that space and you cue the exercise in a way that they're in charge of it, then like that's where I see students getting so inspired and surprised by what they can do and so like proud and just like achieving so much.
And I've definitely with you. I'm like, I can't wait to get you back on the reformer. Cause you're just going to be like off to the races because, because you've done it for yourself. You're not doing it the way you saw me do it. You're [00:13:00] not doing it the way it was in the book or anything. You're doing it and taking ownership of it. And personally, I think that's one of the greatest things that we can do as a teacher is let our students just fly birdies off, you know, and just.
It's always wonderful to connect with teachers and especially fabulous teachers like you, that- we have, we have like the coolest job in the world. Like we have the coolest job in the world. Just like here, succeed. It's like wonderful.
Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, to 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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What advice would you give to teachers? Because I haven't given you the opportunity to do like your full adventure. You've been teaching for a hot second. So how- well, let, let me go back a little bit. I would say, how have you evolved as a teacher? You alluded to, you know, kind of the over cuing, which is, I think a really common thing. I was definitely there. I think, I think we [00:15:00] all are because we're like, I have to say the things or I'm not teaching. Um, but yeah.
How has your teaching changed maybe as a result of virtual teaching or just trying a bunch of things over many years?
Paige: [00:15:13] I think a couple of things. Well, I used to really, and I think a lot of teachers and I think it's, it's, well-meaning, we're excited to share the method, but I think that we want stuff for them. And that's, I don't want to say that selfish. I think that's the wrong word, but we really have to combine their goals with our goals. And then, you know, like I have a student as an example, she always comes 15 minutes late. She doesn't like to work hard. She said, Paige, I like to come here and talk to you. I want to do three exercises.
Now most Pilates instructors will be like, Oh my gosh, that's horrendous. But it- is it? Cause it's, it's not, that's what she wants. And if I can pick three exercises and we have a good time and she's getting what she needs, I got, you know, it's, that's success for her and that's okay.
And like, you know. So I think that's a [00:16:00] big component, but also, so I've gone outside of the method a lot to make the method work better. So again, coming back to my own injuries, like so much of Pilates, the starting point is really high.
So I would always feel like people will be like, pull your shoulders down. And I'm like, okay, great. I get what you're saying. But like, I, there's some intermediate steps for me to get what you want me to do before I can then do the thing you want me to do. Like I'm so far, not even at baseline. Like, so going outside the method and just always checking, like, is this right?
Like just basically allowing the method to prove itself, which it does, but as I go outside the method and then come back in and talk to all different kinds of people from different modalities, I understand the work better. And then I think that that translates to the student. Cause I'm less, I'm less amped about it, you know?
Cause I'm like, okay, like it's just Pilates. It's like, let's just be with this. And like, it's all good.
Olivia: [00:16:55] I was thinking, you know, in terms of March and it's March Matness on [00:17:00] Instagram and all of the Pilates land are sharing their Pilates mat exercises, all 34 of the classical exercises in order. And you know, you're looking at them and they're fine. I enjoy them as much as the next person. I've lived through 2020, and now have a very intimate relationship with all of the mat exercises.
But it's like, yeah, the second one's a roll up. And that's tough. And then we go right into the rollover and you're like, okay. So not every person I teach is gonna do that. Um, for sure. And that's fine. And I think that it's important to have that perspective of being like, okay, taking this exercise from the method and okay. What are the key elements? What are these components? What are we really trying to do?
Because if you're looking at the rollover and it's like, Oh, I want you to control the descent. Like, okay, we can do that in a bridge. You know, we can do that in other ways where you're more supported and less upside [00:18:00] down, depending on what's going on in your body and where you're starting.
When I started doing Pilates, the first classes that I took were like mat therapy. And they were for people who were older and trying to keep mobility and strength. And I'm really glad that I started there. And like we were doing, you know, single leg circles, but maybe not right after rolling like a ball. And, or some people call it rolling back. There's names and I love it. And I'm just glad that I came in because if I had gone to a class and it had been like classical mat, I don't think if I would've, I don't think I would have stayed. It's like super intimidating and really overwhelming and fast, you know?
So like, I think that when we're talking about teaching the body in front of us, it's- you really have to do that. And you can't just like, say that and then teach the same thing all the time. Like you really do have to kind of pick your spots. And I really, it really resonated with me what you said [00:19:00] that, that it's success for that one client.
Because of course we want things for our people. We want them to have long, healthy, fabulous lives. But again, going back to this autonomy, it's something that they define for themselves. And if they're moving and breathing, it is a win. Like it's definitely a win. That's wonderful.
Going back to, uh, what advice do you have for teachers? What would you, if you could cure all the ills of Pilates teaching with a magic wand, what would you do?
Paige: [00:19:34] Wow, what a question. Okay. Well, I wish we just had, I know that there's so much good community, but there's, sometimes it feels sometimes hard, harsh, still. But what I want to say to teachers, I think you've got to really figure out who you want to serve. Right? Cause like you, we don't all want to serve the same kind of person. And you have to really be honest, I think by [00:20:00] saying no, aggressively actually, to what you don't want. You then become the niche that you do want. And I think you can really flourish. And I know that seems counterintuitive because especially as a new teacher, you want to do everything, but it's, it's, it's actually not effective.
And, um, yeah, just keep, just keep going, you know, like just, it'll just, just keep trying, just keep every day showing up and practicing and staying open. And I know it's hard. I mean, we're working with people too, so it's like Pilates is just like the tiny piece that we do with people. And it's just really an opportunity to grow as a person and as a teacher and impact people's lives positively.
Olivia: [00:20:37] How did you find your little corner of the Pilates universe? If I can ask, like, what is your ideal client person, who do you really click with and serve?
Paige: [00:20:48] I love people who are, uh, injured and kind of at their wits end and, and, um, trying to avoid surgery. And by, by no means, does this mean that they're like debilitated. These are usually people who are [00:21:00] like athletes they're active, um, like myself, like, just because I have injuries. And, uh, I don't really struggle with pain anymore, but I did, but I was a professional dancer, so I was high functioning athletes, but I had all this debilitating pain. So those are sort of my favorite people because they're very open and ready to go. And they are very motivated because they're- they, they understand when that, um, you know, movement has been taken away from them, how like joy sucking that is. So my favorite thing is like, I just want complicated, injured people that we can like transform. I love the transformation process.
Olivia: [00:21:37] It's really powerful. And especially when you're coming from that place, I love "at your wit's end" because that's, that's really how it feels when, especially when you've experienced movement to such a professional degree, and then you can't experience it. Like we, I have a client who has a, uh, an arthritis that kind of like jumps around her [00:22:00] body and she.
You know, it'll be her sternum and then it'll be her shoulder, her jaw, or one of her hips. And we were talking about it in the session and she's like, it's almost like mandatory gratitude because these are body parts that you don't recognize how involved they are in your day to day life until it starts complaining every time you use it. Um, which I think is a really awesome perspective to have on something that, you know, she can't control in a lot of ways and Pilates helps, but you know, if it's in her neck, then, you know, chest lifts are not going to be something that we're exploring on that particular day. And just that through movement, through the method and working with those people and just, it's such a gift to be able to move and to be able to share that gift in such like a, a clear way is amazing.
Paige: [00:22:53] Absolutely.
Olivia: [00:22:54] I love Pilates so much, man. That's literally why I started this podcast. I'm like Pilates is [00:23:00] amazing. Let's talk about it.
This is fabulous. Um, I also want to share that our Kinexology studio, uh, originally was doing one-on-one appointments, which I love because nothing helps people get what they need more, I think, than working with just one person. As soon as you throw multiple people into the mix, we've got conflicting desires and a lot more juggling. So I love that one-on-one thing, but you are jumping into the juggling of wants as well.
Can you tell me a little bit about the, a group class that you're offering through Kinexology too?
Paige: [00:23:38] Absolutely. So this is based on, um, FRC, which is basically functional range conditioning, which is just making sure that each joint is going through a circular pattern and you're working each joint every day so that you can be the best you can be in your day.
What I like about this system is it's, it's, it's simple in that it's not complicated like Pilates. [00:24:00] There's a lot to it, but not as much as Pilates. But it's basically like, it's like the brushing your teeth every day. Like if you were 45 and you came to me and I was the dentist and I'm like, Oh my gosh, I can't believe you've never been here. You've got like Gingervitis, you've got a couple of root canals cavities. Like we can clean this up. I have a- I have something for you that you can do every day that'll take about 10 minutes. And that's going to clean up a lot of the problems and it's going to give you something for the future.
And I think it's just a great way for people to really understand how their joints move. So that then again, they can do, it's simple enough that they could do on their own once they know it. They can practice it and then that's going to just serve their Pilates or anything else that they're doing. So it's really just a, it's just a joint practice, like a daily brushing of the teeth to make sure that you can move all of the joints well because what we don't move, we lose.
Olivia: [00:24:48] I think about it a lot in terms of kind of opening a conversation with yourself because something like FRC is really paring down the movement so that you [00:25:00] can get very specific about what this particular joint does. And we do that in Pilates, for sure. But like you said, it's very complicated. There's lots of moving pieces and points and joints, and there's a lot happening. So you will figure out what your scapula does eventually. But this is like just that.
Which is really powerful in terms of, you know, I've worked with many people who are, you know, extremely de-conditioned and really don't know how their body moves. They usually end up at Pilates because you know, their PT recommended it or they're just in a lot of pain. Someone said, you know, Pilates would be great for that. And something like FRC, which is giving you kind of those little pieces. And like you said, like a daily practice that you can do and really kind of see what's going on in places. And then it just gives you like a clear picture of yourself for yourself, which you can take into the wild.
[00:26:00] Paige: [00:26:00] Yes, absolutely.
Olivia: [00:26:03] I really wish that I could come to your class, side note, but it's like while I'm teaching, because that's when everyone's class is.
Paige: [00:26:10] I know. I was feeling that way about your foam rolling. And I'm like, I'm teaching then! Like, that's the, you know, the endless struggle.
Olivia: [00:26:17] Maria Earle was just like, I'm doing a book club on Return to Life. And I was like, I want to go, but I'm teaching!
Paige: [00:26:25] Always.
Olivia: [00:26:26] So I'm really hopeful. Like I'm really excited that Momentum Fest is happening virtually. And I hope that, you know, these events happen and that they're virtual and that they're recorded because there's just so much good stuff happening, um, in the wild in the world. And there's not enough hours in the day to do it all. So that-
I'm so excited for you for your group class and for your one-on-one sessions and Kinexology. I know you're doing your thing in California. I'm in Chicago. Chelsea's in DC. Um, the other teacher for the virtual [00:27:00] studio at Kinexology, Meg, is in New York and we're just partying from coast to coast doing that Pilates thing. I'm excited. I'm so excited. Uh, Paige, is there anything else you'd like to add or share? Anything exciting coming up in your land that you'd like to shout out to?
Paige: [00:27:19] Well, I just released my own program, actually.
Olivia: [00:27:22] Yeah, you did.
Paige: [00:27:25] And it's, uh, it's really taking all the tools and techniques that I have learned over the years, but also adding this. Um, I was really exploring for a lot of years, just through my own personal witnessing my students, but then my own personal journey of like, when we're expanding and growing emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, how do we energetically get that out of the body?
And so I'm re- I just put this program. I mean, I've been working on it for a long time. It's been on my heart for years, but it's finally out there and, um, it's blending all this stuff and it really, um, easy to digest [00:28:00] way to help get the stuck stuff out so your body can transform easier because, you know, we might be working just on the body, but someone has a mindset issue that's blocking them over and over and over. And like, they can maybe even intellectually understand that. But then at what point do you release it and then integrate that goodness into your body? So that's the only thing I have to share is just my I'm excited to about my new, my new stuff.
Olivia: [00:28:25] Paige. That's amazing. I didn't know that. My gosh, that's wonderful. Um, I will be linking to Paige's, website and Instagram and all of the ways that you can connect with her because she really is an incredible teacher and offers so many fabulous, amazing things. Literally, everyone on the podcast is just like the bees knees. And I'm so glad that this is something that you're sharing because yes, yes to sharing. Thank you. Fabulous.
Oh my goodness, Paige. Thank you [00:29:00] so much for being on the show today. I really appreciate you taking the time to drop some wisdom and share about your offerings and your programs. You can check out at Kinexology and check her out on the web. That's all linked in the show notes.
Um, but yeah, thanks so much for joining.
Paige: [00:29:16] Thank you so much for having me.
Olivia: [00:29:25] 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.