Bre Dumke Helfrich joins me on the podcast to discuss the impact of Pilates in her life recovering from a severe mountaineering accident, how she found her voice and place in the Pilates world, and what's most important when it comes to teaching movement. Tune in!
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Bre is the owner of Movement Design Lab in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Having survived a mountaineering accident in 2010, it was Pilates that took her rehabilitation beyond her expectations. Upon graduation with her M.S. in Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, she moved to Denver to further study Pilates. Bre completed her comprehensive Pilates training through Balanced Body in 2011 and has since taught Pilates at several studios in Colorado, South Dakota and now Utah. Forever a movement nerd, Bre decided to take her teaching knowledge further in 2013 and began her training in the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®. She is now a Certified Level 1 & 2 GYROTONIC® Instructor and is also trained to teach on all accessory equipment; the Archway, GYROTONER®, Jumping-Stretching Board, and Leg Extension Unit. Additionally, she is currently a GYROKINESIS® apprentice teacher. She is also back in school completing her PhD at the University of Utah in Health & Kinesiology with an emphasis on Cognitive & Motor Neuroscience. Forever grateful to those who have helped her along her teaching and healing journey, her teaching is infused with a deep sense of patience, curiosity, and joy.
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[00:00:00] Olivia: 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.
[00:00:56] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. I am [00:01:00] so excited today to be on with Bre Dumke Helfrich, and she is quite neat in ways that will soon become clear to you. She's the owner of Movement Design Lab in Salt Lake City, Utah. She teaches both GYROTONIC® and Pilates. She has a master's degree in health and exercise science and is currently working on her PhD.
[00:01:24] I got to attend one of her workshops. She calls them Geek Outs, which I think is a wonderful name for a workshop. And this one was about neuroscience and movement and how we can apply it to our jobs. And it was such a fun time. I've followed brief for a long time on Instagram and really enjoy her perspective and the way she shares movement with others, so I'm glad that you get to hear from her too. Bre, thank you so much for being on the show today.
[00:01:51] Bre: Thank you. I'm excited to be here.
[00:01:54] Olivia: Can you tell me how you first got into Pilates? We'll talk about GYROTONIC® as well, but tell me about your Pilates [00:02:00] adventuring.
[00:02:00] Bre: Um, so my Pilates adventuring was kind of the, the result of adventuring that didn't work out too well. So I actually was introduced to Pilates, um, almost a little bit against my will if you will. I had just fallen, um, in the mountains. So when I was doing my master's degree, um, I lived in Colorado. And a girlfriend and I had gone up into the mountains, um, kind of have like a fun weekend before I got serious about writing my thesis and I had a bad accident.
[00:02:32] So we think a rock gave out. We'll never really know for sure what happened. Um, but I felt quite a few feet. Um, we still don't know the exact number on that either, but probably somewhere between like 40 to 60. And when I was finally in the care of medical providers and at the stage where I was seeing physical therapist, my physical therapist was like, you really need to basically learn how to move again. So just for [00:03:00] diving right in here. Um, so hi, my name is Bre. I fell off a mountain and then I became a Pilates teacher. That's really the story.
[00:03:10] But really though, my first physical therapist, like I owe so much to her because when you have an accident like that, and for those who deal with chronic pain or injuries or ailments, whatever it might be, if you're dealing with one, it's kind of easy to focus on it. But when you're dealing with multiple, you kind of have to play like this, like triage of like, today, we're going to focus on this and then tomorrow we can focus on that. And then the next day we're gonna focus on that.
[00:03:34] And so my PT, she was a wonderful PT, but she was really, really. Wonderful. In the sense of knowing that there was so much to work on that she would running out of time every time I had a session with her and I saw her three times a week for an hour every time. And she was like, you need to have a movement therapist, like as part of your healthcare. So I had like my ortho, I had her. And then she's like, you need somebody who can do just the movement side of things. Because in addition to [00:04:00] having physical injuries, I had PTSD. So at, at that point in my life, I was 25 and dealing with mortality at 25 is kind of jarring and the way that everything happened.
[00:04:12] Um, so kind of talk to more about that story is that we were at 13,700 feet and we were seven miles horizontally from our car. Um, let alone 7,000 feet vertically above where my car was parked. So we were very remote. And there was no cell phone signal. Um, so we were out there and alone. So there was a lot of like trauma with it. There was a lot of, during the course of the accident, a lot of waiting and a lot of just worrying that basically I wasn't going to make it. And so when I finally did make it and get back to civilization and then starting my rehab process, there was a lot of emotional components with my injuries as well. So fun injuries, but then also the mental piece.
[00:04:56] So, yeah, so my PT was kind of that [00:05:00] beacon of light for me and saying, okay, we're going to work through all these things very systematically, but I think it would be helpful to have a movement practitioner work through it as well.
[00:05:09] And so at the time I was in Fort Collins, Colorado, and she had heard of Pilates. This was back in 2010. And so she was like, How about you go see this person? I've heard of him. I've heard he does good work. I've never done it personally, but let's have you start seeing him as well and kind of see how that helps. So that's how I got introduced to Pilates, which I did not want to go. I was like, no way. I was like, this is not for me. Pilates is for people who are very different from me. Like I was 25 and very much like, that's for rich people in California, not for poor graduate students who liked to mountaineer. So, yeah, but I found out quickly that it actually was for me.
[00:05:51] Olivia: Tell me more about the classes that you took and sort of how you, like, obviously you started to enjoy [00:06:00] Pilates. So how, how was it kind of changing your mind about what Pilates was for and how it helped you?
[00:06:08] Bre: Yeah, that's a great question. So for me, my first practitioner. He was classically trained and he was very, very focused on the classical method. So it was one of the studios that you walk in and they'd have like the repertoire on the list of, like on the wall. And we would go down that and I always would get a kick out of it because he had a cane. He was a retired ballerina who had danced professionally. He had had some hip injuries himself and he would point his cane at like the next exercise. And he'd be like, okay. So I guess you can't do that. I guess you can't do that one, I guess you can't do that one. All right. So we're here.
[00:06:44] And it was really interesting for me because like we mentioned, I was in graduate school for exercise science and it really kind of confused me a little bit. Like he had been teaching for many years and I was kind of like this interesting client of his, [00:07:00] that he slightly struggled to work with. And so him and I, through that journey kind of became like the odd couple of friends.
[00:07:08] Like we had such different backgrounds and debates sometimes. He would be like, you're supposed to be using the back of your leg right now. And I'd be like, that's bullshit. This is not a hamstring exercise. Like there's no line of pull here that would make me want to use my hamstring. And we would have these like debates. And we would like kind of like jokingly fight with each other over the course of my hour.
[00:07:30] And, and despite all that, after probably about a month or two of working with him, I started to realize like he was helping, like, even though he couldn't necessarily tell me directly how it was helping or explain it or how sometimes the exercise science piece of it was definitely not explicitly understood. He was still really, really helping me. And that's what caught my attention was that okay, with this person that I clearly don't [00:08:00] 100% and get along with every single day, he's really still helping me. And that really kind of captured my attention to just being like, okay, this is really powerful that at this level I'm getting benefit from this. And also how interesting is it that he's providing something that all these other healthcare practitioners aren't.
[00:08:18] And that was really fascinating for me too, was that oh, okay, like having this dedicated place to like move with these strange machines, get my body in places that I wouldn't normally day to day is actually really, really, really beneficial. And it was enough for me then.
[00:08:36] So because of the accident, I was supposed to do my PhD at that point. Um, but because of the accident, because of the head trauma, both my advisor and I had decided, okay, like I need to hit pause. Um, cause I really wasn't sure what I should be doing or where I should go from there. And so we kind of came to this decision. Okay, let me take like maybe a gap year and kind of figure life out [00:09:00] again. Um, again, that mortality piece was really interesting to be having to grapple with at 25. Um, so I was like, do I even want to be a researcher? Do I even want to become. What am I doing with my life? Like, oh my gosh, like, I love the mountains and I love all these athletic pursuits in the mountains, but damn, they're really fucking selfish. So there was a lot of like existential questions I was asking myself, but I really didn't know what I wanted to do anymore career-wise.
[00:09:25] And so I kind of, then when I graduated with my masters, so we, we all agreed, okay, let me get my masters, got my master's degree. And I was like, what am I going to do next? And I was like, well, I do kind of like this Pilates. It's helping me. Um, and I think if I merge it with kind of more of like my lens from exercise science, like that might be a really powerful technique. And so that was then like the end of 2010.
[00:09:52] And then I moved to Denver and I found a training program through balanced body where a couple of my teachers were physical therapists. So we could then have [00:10:00] those conversations at like that different level. And that's that's really, then what kind of sold me on it was like, my experience with my first teacher was so intriguing, but like also frustrating in certain ways, but it was frustrating in a way that intrigued me. So then, like I kinda like found that a group of people that then could be more similar and I could learn kind of like more similar to how I had been learning in school. And that's been where I was like, okay. Yeah, this, this makes a lot of sense.
[00:10:29] Olivia: That's amazing. Can you share a little bit more about the teacher training process for you? Because I know a lot of people come to Pilates from other movement modalities or come, you know, as a career change sometimes. And you came at this extremely unique point in your life. And what was that like?
[00:10:50] Bre: Yeah. So I kind of viewed choosing a teacher program as like doing, picking a college, to be honest. So when I decided, okay, like I do think I want to become a [00:11:00] Pilates teacher and I want to look into this a little bit more. I should mention, I actually had just finished before my accident. I was actually in a yoga teacher training program. I really liked yoga at that point of my life. But then because of the accident, I was like, I can't do yoga and yoga wasn't really helpful for me meeting to have adaptive movement.
[00:11:22] And so, so I had already been through like one kind of teacher training program and kind of got to get an understanding of how these things work. And so when I decided to do the Pilates one, I really shopped around. So in Denver, there's so many training sites, you have balanced body, you have Polestar, you have Stott, you have the Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado, and then you have like all like the local ones. Right. So I basically was like, having done my yoga teacher training with a local studio in Fort Collins and then moving to Denver realizing no one gave a shit that I did it with this local studio. I was like, okay, I want a nationally [00:12:00] one, like one that most people would know of if I were to move locations, that people would then understand that I did it.
[00:12:05] So that was important for me. But then I also wanted a training program that understood the science behind what we were doing. So as I went around, I basically would write all these schools and I would go and like do a little interview with them. And I would talk to them about their teacher programs and I'd be like, tell me about what you're doing. And tell me about what like a traditional training looks like. And do you have anatomy part of this? Do you have physiology part of this? Like what kind of credentials do your teachers have?
[00:12:31] I really did take it seriously because let's be honest. The stuff, it isn't cheap.. And I knew if I was going to be spending, you know, a couple of grand or five grand or whatever it was going to be. And I was going to be dedicating six months, 12 months of my life to this program. Like I needed it to be at a level that I felt good about it. For me. And so I met with the Boulder Center, the Pilates Center. And when I asked them the anatomy question, they kind of balked at me, [00:13:00] which I was like, okay, like then this probably isn't the training program for me, which was fine because they also were very clear that I was going to need to make the shapes and if I couldn't make the shapes that wasn't okay. And because I was coming from all my injuries, I was like, okay, this won't be good for my body. Could be good for some but not good for my body. I'd already dealt with that kind of like budding up against the classical rigidness and how that didn't work for me.
[00:13:23] And then I looked at Stott for a little bit, and that didn't seem to be a good fit for me, just based on like how it was being operated in Denver, can't say for other cities, but in Denver it was like they would fly in teachers. And so you couldn't really get to know your mentors super well. And then the same was true for Polestar at the time too. Back in 2010, they were flying in teachers from other cities to teach these programs in the city and then they would leave.
[00:13:47] And for me, I, because of my injuries, building a rapport with my mentors was really important. Knowing that I could have a, a weekly relationship with somebody who is my teacher, with [00:14:00] my body was really critical. So that way we could get to know more of my injuries and I could learn more of where I was because I was still- jokingly my first teacher and I, I love saying this because it's a quote that I won't forget that he was so correct of like- he basically at one point told me like, when your head can finally stay on your body again, like then you should do GYROTONIC®. Like, he was the first one who kind of told me about Gyro and he was very clear. I was like, I really didn't know where I was in space.. And I really, despite all my years of studying anatomy, despite all my years of like the academic side, because of my injury, because of my accident, like I needed help. And so I wanted to have that personal relationship.
[00:14:44] And so when I found Balanced Body in Denver at the time, and I keep saying at the time, because I know a lot has changed in the last almost 12 years, but there was a training site called Park Meadows Pilates, and they were a physical therapy clinic that was also Pilates [00:15:00] studio. And they did all the Balanced Body trainings in-house and the teachers lived in Denver. And so that's then where I did mine.
[00:15:08] And I basically became like the studio darling, right? Like I became a front desk worker and like started teaching there as I was like going through like my teacher training and, and it was such a wonderful experience. So, and I, I really personally appreciated that Balanced Body they did, and they still do, a modular system. So you're able to take one course at a time. And as somebody who was really still debating as I went through the program, is this right? Is this right? Is this right? It was really nice to be able to take one course and process that, and then take another course and process that and not feel like I just committed, like my first born child to a program.
[00:15:47] So, yeah, that was, for me, those are all the key pieces, which I think choosing a teacher training programs and incredible personal experience. But those are definitely all the reasons why I chose mine.
[00:15:58] Olivia: I love the way you outlined that [00:16:00] because, you know, depending on where people are in their life, depending on what they need, what support they have, what they're looking for, you know, someone could hear your description of one of the programs and be like, oh my gosh, that would be, that would be the one for me, you know?
[00:16:16] So I think that you're right, that sometimes, you know, people ask like, well, what's the best training program? And it's like, it really, really depends on, on you. And I'm really glad that you found one that connected with you, especially in that modular system that allowed you to like be you and also figure stuff out as you were figuring stuff out. That's awesome.
[00:16:36] Bre: Yeah. I couldn't agree more with that, Olivia. Cause I think all too often, people are quick to be like, well, who did you do your training with? And then you say it and then either they're like, Yay! That was me too!Or they're like, oh boo. And you're like, no, like, wait a minute. Like number one, can we just admit that teacher training programs tend to come up very, um, geographically? So like, depending on the city you live in, like, I lived in Denver [00:17:00] at the time and like, that was like, I could pick the cream of the crop, right. There was like so many options to choose from. But like if I had been living, like I grew up in South Dakota, and if I lived in South Dakota, Stott is the only company who like would come through and like offer teacher training. So I would have been a Stott teacher. Like, it really is something that like people get so up in arms about, and you're like, whoa, we don't need to be silly about this.
[00:17:27] Olivia: Yeah. It's interesting that you say that because like I had heard of Polestar Pilates, but I had never interacted with any Polestar Pilates. So I don't know if they're like a west coast thing and they just haven't, you know, been here, uh, in the Midwest, but it is it's exactly like that.
[00:17:42] So what was teaching like, because you have, in addition to all of this Pilates knowledge and, and you've got this, uh, yoga knowledge like kind of in the background that you've done as well. And you've got all of this academic work that you've done. How was teaching for you when you first got [00:18:00] started teaching?
[00:18:01] Bre: I think that's something that now that I'm this far along, like now it's my favorite place. Um, when I first started again, like I mentioned, like, I think when I first had my accident, I was first teaching, I was so captured by and humbled by the fact that I'd studied all this stuff for years and of all the people who should know like this stuff in a body, like, I didn't know it at all.
[00:18:27] And that really kind of, I mean, that was probably one of the bigger reasons why I decided to a Pilates training was I was just so struck by that, that like almost unlogical split of like, how can someone has studied this type of material for years, and yet feel like this is learning a new language?
[00:18:47] And that's, that's been a piece that through all of my career of, of the movement of professional, like I'm such a vocal person on, okay. Like it's important to have practitioners who can diagnose things and who can [00:19:00] talk the science side, but it's also important to work with practitioners. You know, the felt sense too, like you have to have both.
[00:19:05] And unfortunately our academic programs do not build like a felt sense. And then similarly, we can criticize that a lot of felt sense programs like dance programs then kind of ignore the science side. So for me at the beginning, because I was struggling with realizing that I didn't know the felt sense. I really just tucked my tail of science and just tried to become a really great Pilates teacher just from Pilates. And so I taught all this stuff the way I was told to teach. And I tried to do to my best ability of doing what I thought, like assumed I should be doing.
[00:19:46] And so I tried to teach by my manuals and I tried to be like, okay, this is what it has to do in this exercise, so this is what we're going to do. And this is what so-and-so said for the cuing on this, so that's what we're going to do to. And mind you while I was going through my teacher training program, [00:20:00] because I had chosen Balanced Body, and I knew that that was a contemporary thing, but I had respect for the classical side simultaneously. I would take private lessons at a classical studio in town.
[00:20:10] And so at that point Cara Reeser still owned Pilates Aligned. And so I worked a lot with a lot of the private teachers there. So like Shannon and Gina and stuff. And I would take lessons with them a couple of times a week while I was doing teacher training with Balanced Body, because I felt it was important to have both. And I wanted to understand the classical side as well as the contemporary side, because I knew that that was a debate. And so those first several years I was really trying to just become what I thought was expected of me.
[00:20:40] And then when I moved to Salt Lake, same thing. So when I first moved to Salt Lake, I was working for a studio that was Polestar. So then I tried to pretend to be, I was Polestar for awhile. Right. And so I kept trying on these other hats and I kept trying to be this thing. But at the end of the day, what kept happening was I would get clients who had different ailments and different issues that [00:21:00] they were working on. And it would pull out that science side of me.
[00:21:03] And I kept realizing like, okay, like I got the most from the lessons where I was allowed to think outside of the box. As a client, I got the most from my lessons with my teachers who knew more than just the repertoire. I got the most from my lessons when we would be doing an exercise as we should, and something didn't feel right. And we would then go down that rabbit hole of trying to figure out, okay, like what's happening here? Like, am I emotionally scared of it? Am I maybe stronger on one part of that joint than the other. Am I caught in some type of guarding patterning um, that's from my accident? Oh, Hey look, maybe we actually didn't understand that I actually tore some muscles over here, so we need to now go back and like triage that a little bit more.
[00:21:50] And so probably around the time that when I moved to Salt Lake and then I worked at another studio for awhile and the other, she was really rigid on how they wanted us teachers [00:22:00] to teach. And it wasn't a good fit for me. And I finally kind of acknowledged like, okay, like I have to stop doing this. Like I have to stop pretending to be something that I'm not. And I kept butting with the, with the people who ran that studio because they were physical therapists and I was an exercise physiologist. And I kept having this problem where like, I would speak up about the patients that we were seeing, that we were co-treating and we would, we basically butt heads a bit.
[00:22:25] And at first I would just try to like tuck my tail. And then after I was like, no, dammit, like this is not how this actually works based on like what physiology is. And it finally got me to this place of like, okay, I have to stop doing. And I have to kind of own the fact that I am an exercise physiologist, even though that's not a physical therapist, but it's a very strong field of science and it's a very strong field of science that's very new because exercise science is still something that's just bursting at the seams in terms of what we know and how we're [00:23:00] able to study it. And it's such a fascinating field, but it's a field that I think a lot of practitioners don't know what to do with, because we're not licensed under healthcare, which is strange.
[00:23:10] Um, and so when I finally then stepped away from that other studio and I got them, the studio I own now, and I find the start teaching for myself, cause I was the owner and there was no one else in the room and it was just I finally started using my voice again, like I finally started like merging all this stuff together and being like, oh my God, like this client is having a hard time with that because of X, Y, Z. And this client's having a hard time with this because of X, Y, Z. And maybe today, we're going to look at anatomy books more than we're going to move. And maybe tomorrow we're going to get out the skeletal models and we're going to like go through it that way. Or maybe, you know, in a couple of weeks, I'm going to make them a clay representation of this part of their body, because they're still really struggling with it and they just need to be able to visually tangibly touch.
[00:23:54] And being able to teach in that way with no one else being able to [00:24:00] tell me you can't do that. You're just a Pilates teacher. You can't do that. You're not a physical therapist was really liberating. And it also then allowed me to finally literally have a wait-list and have clients who would come in and they'd be like, I don't know what we did last week, but that pain that I've been dealing with for five months or five years has gone away. And like, that's where then I was like, damn it. Like, this is how this should be. And like, you know, I was just too young and probably just trying to do what I thought people expected of me, but like, I'm really glad I finally hit this place.
[00:24:36] And like now with all of my teachers, like, I'm very forthright with them. Please. Don't worry about the fact that I may be teaching at the same time as you, like, I still want you to teach however you want to be teaching. And we have teachers in here who have training backgrounds from different schools. Like all of our Pilates teachers have different backgrounds. And I'm like, if you think that that exercise is the best for that person in front of you, and you're going to teach it in that [00:25:00] way. Great. Like if you can tell me why you want to teach it in that way more than just, I should, like that's perfect.
[00:25:07] And that's really what I've been trying to create and drive like at our studio is just let's step aside, like all this like rules that actually have nothing more than just aesthetics in mind and move more into like the critical thinking side. And that's where this research side of me has like really just jived back up because I'm like, okay. Yeah, this is why I, once upon a time, wanted to be a researcher. Critical thinking is fun and critical thinking on problems that you don't already know the answer to is really fun.
[00:25:39] Olivia: I think critical thinking is your super power. And I'm glad you found a way to incorporate it because as you're telling this story, I was like, oh no, where's Bre the teacher because it's like Bre being Balanced Body. And then it's Bre being, you know, Polestar, being whatever. Um, so I'm glad that that you found your niche that is [00:26:00] entirely you.
[00:26:07] Hi 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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[00:27:04] You didn't stop there, you amazing human. How did gyro get into the mix? Because I just saw on Instagram that you're doing like gyro teacher training modules as well. So like, that's a thing. Tell me about this adventure.
[00:27:18] Bre: I'm just a host site for those, so yeah. Yeah. It's just come use the space.
[00:27:23] Olivia: Well, I will take that out in the post.
[00:27:25] Bre: I'm not- Yeah, GYROTONIC®, to become a master trainer in the world of GYROTONIC® is like this full process I have no, I have no interest in. Which is cool for those who want to do it. For me, like we just discussed critical thinking is totally where my brain is. Teaching a new teacher the choreography is not my jam and it's also not what I'm good at. Like knowing counts of five for this and counts of three for that and counts of four, not my jam. I am not the teacher who's going to make a playlist and [00:28:00] have everything choreographied for you, but that's okay. I'm not working for Peloton. I totally could. But yeah.
[00:28:09] So to, to answer that, GYROTONIC® for me was- I had, so I had Pilates first and Pilates was really great for me with my injuries because the Pilates is really no offense, more basic. It's a little bit more move this one part of your body now and that you're done moving that part, now let's move this part. Now let's maybe put these two parts together. Now let's maybe put three parts together. Like it has a little bit more of that building block component to it specifically the way that I was taught to teach it, which was really, really, really important for me with my injuries.
[00:28:45] GYROTONIC® for me then came out of the fact that about four years into teaching Pilates, four or five years, I'd have to look it back up, but about four or five years into teaching Pilates, my shoulder stuff, all my shoulder injuries- So I dislocated both shoulders. I [00:29:00] tore some muscles in my neck and then I, you know, had the TBIs and stuff, but. All of my shoulder, cervical injuries, they were still an issue for me at about three to five years after my accident. So they were manageable in a way that I was able to travel, run again. They're manageable in a way that I was able to start climbing again. They're manageable in a way that I was able to start like skiing and ski training again. But they were still a problem.
[00:29:26] Like if I was really being honest, they were still a problem that I would get sidelined about once a month and my cervical spine would lock up or my shoulders would get so painful that I would have to kind of stop what I was doing for a while. And I was like, okay, I really love this Pilates thing. And it's helped me a lot, but clearly it hasn't helped me in that. And I kind of just got honest about it. And I kinda got honest about the fact that at end range, like with arm overhead, for example, pushing against the spring, didn't feel good. Like my AC joints couldn't handle that motion with that kind of load because of spring increases with load when you get up here. Right. [00:30:00] And I kinda got really, really honest about that.
[00:30:02] And the exercise science part of me was like that doesn't make sense. If I were to go in a gym and use a pulley cable machine, that way it's not going to be any heavier at my end range. And then I can actually take it through the full range and I can stay out of pain. So I was like, okay, that's problematic. Like I'm a teacher now. And I don't like my equipment as much as I probably should for how much I paid for them.
[00:30:28] And so I, then when I had moved to Salt Lake, that first year that I mentioned, they had one teacher who had GYROTONIC®. And she, she was trained just on the pulley tower and I started taking lessons with her and it was again, kind of that same thing where it wasn't necessarily that she was the best teacher that I'd ever met, but there was something about the movement that I was like, this is good and all of a sudden I could feel my shoulders do things that I knew so many of my teachers before or wanted my shoulders to do, [00:31:00] but I just couldn't produce that, that potential.
[00:31:04] And so that really captivated me again, that dichotomy of like, okay, it's the equipment, it's the methodology. It's not the teacher because we've all been around those teachers who are so phenomenal teachers that like, they could literally be teaching you to like lick your foot.
[00:31:17] And you'd be like, that was the best time of my life. Right? Like we've all been around this teachers where you're just like, you're so amazing. Like, it doesn't matter what we do. Like just keep teaching me. But this was not that situation where like, She was a fine and a seizure, but I could clearly tell that it wasn't, that I was just being captivated by her, but I was being captivated by the methodology and I was being captivated by the equipment, which as I mentioned, it was the equipment mismatch that started to turn me off from Pilates a little bit. And so I was like, okay, I think I need to kind of figure out this GYROTONIC® thing.
[00:31:50] And around that time, I was also debating becoming a physical therapist. So this was before I discovered the critical thinking side and got to merge it. And so I had [00:32:00] just applied to physical therapy school and I was just going to go to Utah because I was here and I didn't want to move myself back to Denver. And so I got into the University of Utah for physical therapy and I was taking GYROTONIC® lessons at the time. And when I got my acceptance letter, I had only lived in Utah for six months when I got that acceptance letter. And they were like, congratulations, you got in, congratulations, you got in and you're going to have to pay out of state tuition for your first full year. And I was like, What? Like how? It what? Like, no.
[00:32:32] So physical therapy school was going to be $70,000 because that first year was going to cost me like triple what it would've cost. If I would've just waited a year to apply when I finally had in state residency. So I was like, okay, that's not good. And then when I looked at their curriculum and they didn't have enough movement training and I called them out on it, I was like, Hey, I see that you guys have one class of like, what's basically a Kinesiology class and it's the first semester. Like, this doesn't [00:33:00] make sense to me. Like, how are we going to be critical thinking about movement when it's the first semester we haven't done all these other courses. And they, they basically gave me a really not so great answer. I was like, okay. So I think I need to not go to physical therapy school, to not spend 70K on that. And maybe we'll spend part of that money on GYROTONIC®.
[00:33:19] Um, and so that's what I did, was that I- then I got into a foundation training for GYROTONIC®. I did my pre training and I did the foundation and I, the first time I stepped in the full GYROTONIC® studio, I was like, holy shit, this is pretty cool. Like seeing all the equipment, like, cause I'd never seen all the equipment. I'd only seen a Pulley Tower once, well, twice.
[00:33:40] So the first studio I worked out for Pilates, the had one that Jeff gentleman, I mentioned his ex-wife was a GYROTONIC® teacher and he was the one who was like, Pilates is good for you right now, but you need to do GYROTONIC®. And he was like, eventually promise me, you'll do this. And then I kind of forgot about it. And then when I moved to Salt Lake and they had one, I was like, oh, it's that crazy thing again. [00:34:00] And then I started doing it and I was like, this is why like, he was totally right. Like my body needs this.
[00:34:07] And then when I did the GYROTONIC® training, It was like all this stuff that like I couldn't do in my shoulders with Pilates, I could do with GYROTONIC® because the equipment is much more designed to fit the shoulder girdle and to fit the thoracic spine and the somebody who was very rigid.
[00:34:23] So I did not dance. I did not come into this field being hypermobile. I was a collegiate sprinter and in sprinting, you do not want any extraneous movement. Like you want to be tight, like a tiger in a sense, because that's allowing you to propel forward. And any kind of deviance from like this forward motion is not great for sprints. And so, so yeah, so I needed all the help I could get to learn range of motion. So yeah, that's how.
[00:34:58] Olivia: I will say that [00:35:00] GYROTONIC® kind of looks like Pilates equipment if it was like totally on a spaceship from another time, like that's what it feels like. Um, you, you had done a Reel like a long, long time ago. That was just like introducing the gyro equipment. And I was like, That kind of looks like tower and then, but it's like, it's, it's cool. It's super cool. It has this like space feel. I have absolutely zero experience in gyro, but, um, that's what it feels like.
[00:35:31] Bre: And, and that's not offensive to me at all. I totally embrace that. Like when I'm introducing people to the studio and stuff, I'm like, this is my robot. And that over there is my spaceship and there's like one position in time where like they lay on their back and they have a couple of hand position options. And like in one of them I'm like, and this is the one that feels like you're going to the moon. Like it's, it's definitely, I mean, it's just, it's invented so much more recent.
[00:35:56] And so the equipment is able to look more [00:36:00] like tech-y in a sense, because we now have- no offense- we have better ways to create leverage and mechanisms. Right. And so GYROTONIC® and it's, it's far more adaptive because we have more sophisticated engineering methods to create exercise equipment. And that's why it looks more spacey.
[00:36:20] And then Juliu Horvath has an amazing eye for design, right? So it's all very aesthetic with the wood and the metal and it's, it's beautiful, beautiful stuff. But unfortunately some of the wood's not very COVID friendly cause you can't clean it with toxic stuff as easily. It's okay. But yeah, it's, it's been, I mean, it's GYROTONIC®. I always feel like the two number one. They very much compliment each other. So I'm, uh, I'm very much both. I do still teach Pilates. I do still teach GYROTONIC® and I teach the person in front of me, both depending on what they need. And so I feel like the two together is [00:37:00] a very amazing experience.
[00:37:02] And I feel like if you have one without the other, you're going to have some holes, to be honest. I think Pilates and some people might pull me in a back alley and beat me up for saying this, but I feel like Pilates does a really good job for lower body. It does a really, really great job for some core work. And we're going to kind of leave that a little bit vague because it's definitely a little bit more anterior heavy versus posterior chain heavy. Um, and depending on the school of thought, you might be a little bit more flexion biased versus extension. GYROTONIC® is really, really wonderful for shoulder girdles, for spinal mobility. GYROTONIC® method has a little bit more focus on extension in the spine versus flexion. So that complement is so great depending on the person that you're working with.
[00:37:44] But I would say GYROTONIC® isn't as great for the lower extremities. I can't provide as much load as I could just doing footwork on a reformer. So I like to point out the pros and cons of both, because I think so quickly people are very [00:38:00] keen to say, well, this one's best, or that one's best. And it's like, no, no, no, no. Again, like it's, it's all about that grey area. And like, what are you, what do you need? But I also feel like my studio, it's pretty much complete in terms of equipment. The only thing I would add at this point is probably a squat rack, to be honest, to be really, really honest, like a squat rack and probably some like great dumbbells just for being able to break this down into more functional stuff for people for like at home or like at the gym, too. So.
[00:38:28] Olivia: I think that you raise a really great point that's come up in a lot of conversations that I've had with teachers, and that is no one movement modality checks the boxes for everyone all the time, because I'm like you, I came to, uh, Pilates after doing a yoga teacher training. And I realized that even though the movements and yoga and Pilates can be very similar and like Pilates teachers spend a lot of time explaining how Pilates isn't yoga, [00:39:00] but what I realized is sometimes there's a language barrier that just like even the way you talk about it in yoga versus how you talk about it in Pilates, like sometimes the very technical, very precise, almost clinical way of talking about movement and Pilates appealed to people more than this very like general- it's not wishy-washy and you can dive just in deep into yoga as you can into Pilates. But the way that yoga is marketed, wasn't meeting some people's dreams for where they wanted their movement to be.
[00:39:29] And even if we did, you can call it Swan, we can call it Cobra. I'm sure you have an extension exercise in gyro that's the same.
[00:39:36] Bre: Arch.
[00:39:36] Olivia: Exactly. Um, it's, it's the same movement, but it's going to connect with people differently. And how you talk about it and how it's presented and just all of that stuff can really influence it. So. I love that your, that your sessions, it may be Pilates that may be gyro, but it is. It's about the person that we're working with and, um, how we can support them and what we're asking them to [00:40:00] do.
[00:40:01] Bre: Yeah. I think that's Olivia, that's such the important part, right? And like, I tell this to people all the time, and this is partly why I've never wanted to be the master trainer or like the continuing education host for a methodology, because at the end of the day, if I have to pick team GYROTONIC® team Pilates, team Balanced Body, or whoever, right or team client, I'm going to choose team client every fucking time. Like, and I will throw any methodology under the bus .Like if it does not help my client, they're getting thrown under the bus. Like I will quickly dump out whatever choreography I've been told I should do if it doesn't fit my client.
[00:40:40] I one, a hundred percent with every client who walks in our door, I'm like, I'm on your side. Like all this other stuff is fun and that's, that's great. But like, like no methodology is perfect. And my goal for every client is to just get them to be able to move better and to feel better. And really that feel better [00:41:00] pieces like the most important.
[00:41:03] Olivia: You have this really wonderful experience with these different movement modalities, with your journey of teaching and finding your voice. Can you offer any advice to maybe new teachers who are on their way to finding their voice, or really just anything about teaching that you think if you had known when you started your journey, it would have saved you a little bit of time and sadness.
[00:41:29] Bre: I think for me the piece of kind of finding out, like, what is it about the stuff that you like the most? Like and kind of like honing in on that. Like, for me, I needed this stuff to be that beacon of light of like, okay, all these orthopedic surgeons told you that you're going to have chronic pain and you didn't want that to be true. So when I met these methodologies that provided me a bit of a reprieve against chronic pain and it, and it helped me allow my body to move again without [00:42:00] pain. I was like, wow, that's really powerful. And wouldn't it be cool to be able to give that to somebody else, to be able to give a change in diagnosis or change an outcome, a very dramatic, like change.
[00:42:13] And so for me, that's where I got really clear like that when I started owning the studio, which that's now been seven and a half years ago, I was like, okay, that's what I want: to be really clear on is creating that, that environment and that movement lesson that allows clients to find that. And so I would say no matter what it is that that person wants, to get clear on what it is that you like about this. That's probably a good starting point.
[00:42:38] Because maybe for some people that's, I really like being able to go to a group class and they have amazing, amazing music blasting and we do movements to the beat, you know, and maybe that's what they enjoy the most, which by all means like that's also equally important, you know. I admire the teachers who can do that. I totally [00:43:00] admire my colleagues who have more of a natural ability to almost like teach like a dance pattern. Like, as they're like teaching this stuff, I'm like, that's cool. Like, I can't do that. Trust me. I've tried. GYROTONIC® definitely tries to pull that side out. Like everything should be like counted out in like counts of four, counts of eight. And every time I go to a teacher training, I try so hard and I'm always the one who's like scraping my face, like, shit, what's the next exercise? Am I pointing my finger? Am I flexing? Like what's happening?
[00:43:36] Like, um, so yeah, I mean, I would just be, say, like, get clear about that and then really allow yourself to like, have fun in that and own that space and like own that. Like, this is what I enjoyed the most. And then being clear with clients.
[00:43:51] I mean, and, and that comes back to a place of, we haven't talked about this yet, but. It's hard when you're a new teacher to not have this lens of scarcity and [00:44:00] like this fear of like, I need everybody to like me. I need to take every, every client, whoever comes in my door and like basically become whatever they need me to be. Um, because you, you need the money or you- for whatever reason. Right. And I think stepping away from that is really important.
[00:44:19] And, and that's definitely me having like a sense of privilege right now. Right? Cause like, as a studio owner, there's always going to be people who want to just work with the studio owner. It's a weird thing, but like trying to make sure that the clients that I take in are good fits for both of us is a really important piece too. And that's, that's where for me getting clear on like the fact that I work with people who kind of need to critically think, or we need to think outside of the box because stuff isn't working. And that's where I enjoy the most. And then working with mostly just those types of clients, like that's where I'm happiest. And that's where the, my clients are happiest too, because I'm providing them what they need.
[00:44:54] But then I do randomly get the client who like comes in and they think that maybe we'll be like a big box [00:45:00] gym, or maybe we're going to be like Orange Theory or something and they're going to get like a group class fitness. I'm like, Nope, sorry. And then I have to like, you know, it's why we have a shelf like when you first come in with all these different colleagues of ours throughout the city, because then if I recognize very quickly, I'm like, oh yeah, I'm not the person for you. Here's the person for you.
[00:45:21] That's where then getting clear can be really, really helpful because it not only allows you to do what you want to do and enjoy what you're doing for work, but then it allows you to get really good referrals where, you know, I hate the phrase, stay in your lane, but like you, you know, maybe where you want to say, maybe let's, can we phrase it as like, you know, your favorite house or something, and then you like get to enjoy being in your house and you don't have to like go steal other people's houses. I don't know. Maybe that's a weird analogy.
[00:45:51] I guess what I'm just trying to say is like, there's, there's a great piece of understanding what it is that you enjoy most about teaching. And then kind of just owning that.
[00:45:59] Olivia: I'm [00:46:00] super bummed that I'm in Chicago and you're in Salt Lake City, because I want to hang out in your super cool GYROTONIC® studio, but-
[00:46:08] Bre: You can come!
[00:46:09] Olivia: Can you tell me, like, what sorts of things are you offering or what projects are you working on? You know, besides your PhD that you're also working on, you know, like other things on top of that, if you don't mind. You know, and your family. And your studio. Yeah.
[00:46:22] Bre: In addition to being a mom. So I have this project and it's called a baby. It's a long project. We're 11 months in and it's going pretty good. But the deadline on it is like 18 years. It's a long project.
[00:46:40] Um, yeah, no, so, yeah. That's a great question. So yeah. So here in Salt Lake, I do teach private lessons. I mostly teach private lessons. They teach one group class a week, that's virtual. So that way I get to teach people from all over. But, in addition to that, I do teach virtual private lessons [00:47:00] and those, despite the fact that locals aren't as keen on them, they're really, really great for those who aren't local. So like if somebody, I've had a few people over the last year and a half-
[00:47:11] that's been the one positive of the pandemic is it forced me online. I feel like when I popped up more on Instagram, I was like, you guys, I see all you people who've been here for 11 times doing the virtual thing. And I'm such a brick and mortar person that I'm like trying to be better at the virtual thing. But yeah, I, I do teach virtual lessons for those who might need an additional eye on something and shockingly to my shock, they actually work really well. And we're able to come up with some pretty rad scenarios for people.
[00:47:44] Um, so I've had quite a few people over the last year and a half kind of reach out and be like, Hey, like I've been following you on Instagram. I think you might be able to help me with this weird thing. What do you think? I'm like, well, let's try. And, and it's actually been like a cool, it's been fun for me because talk [00:48:00] about critical thinking and thinking outside of the box, like having to come up with stuff from people's houses is really kind of entertaining. I'm like, do you have a shoe? Do you have a strap? Do you have, how about a bag of sand? Like what do you have? Like, I'm like, I'm looking for something to tie on your foot. It's almost like charades. It's really fun.
[00:48:17] Um, so I do do that, but then I think what you're mainly trying to get me to talk about is the Geek Out stuff and that's a series of continuing education things that I've started that has been years in the making. And that comes down to this piece of understanding. Okay. For me as a young teacher, I would've killed to have had a teacher training opportunity where I could have learned with somebody who had any type of science background and able to, to translate back and forth. And so that's what the Geek Outs are meant to be, is that I'm trying to bridge this gap that I keep [00:49:00] seeing, no matter, no matter what state I live in, no matter who I'm working with, there seems to be this divide between healthcare practitioners and movement people. And I want to start bridging that gap.
[00:49:13] And right now, I think I kind of went into it being like, am I going to end up kind of more working with the physical therapist, or I'm going to kind of end up working more with the movement teachers? I think right now it's going to probably be more geared toward the movement teachers, because let's be honest. I think when the teachers are basically superheroes and. Anyone who gets into this field. And I genuinely mean this, where they have no information of anatomy, but they're able to look at a body and be like that body needs this and they do it. And that is in fact what that body needs, I think those people are super heroes and I want to empower those to then learn more of the science. So that way they can keep on being their bad selves, like an even more bad ass way, like, because that's where I really, really love [00:50:00] it.
[00:50:00] Of like, I have a client, they come in and they're like, yeah, like this movement teacher just told me to do this. What do you think? And I like, look at it. I'm like, yeah, that's actually 100% correct. And then we go down that route and it just like blows up in this amazing way for them. And I think empowering movement teachers to understand why they might be choosing something and how they could be critically thinking through these methods a little bit more is really, really cool.
[00:50:24] So we did that first one with the neuroscience and skeletal muscle piece, because that's just physiology that no one's talking about. Everybody's so quick to be like, let's talk about the hip and let's talk about the shoulder and I'm not going to know anything at all about these tissues that we're now talking about. And it's like, you can't talk about how skeletal muscle changes without understanding what skeletal muscle is. And you can't talk about neuro in a joint area without understanding how the brain is controlling it and understand the feedback loops that you're working with. Right. And so that's why I wanted to start with more of like the, the nuts and bolts, even though [00:51:00] probably that wasn't as sexy as talking about shoulders or talking about hips.
[00:51:04] But thankfully it seemed like a lot of people wanting to talk about it. So we had a really great turnout for that. Um, and then this next one, we will be doing the hip, but I'm going to be PS. I'm going to be pulling it back to more, the nuts and bolts of like, okay, let's talk about this hip area and we'll talk a little bit about the anatomy, but, but let's actually talk about why is it that the anterior chain gets pissy and so many people versus the posterior chain. And why is it that we keep seeing people who become dominant in external rotation versus internal rotation? Or why is it that then that causes the client to be laying in bed at night and their hips just hurt? Like how, you know, and, and kind of going into more of it that way.
[00:51:44] Because again, I don't want to be teaching, I don't want to be teaching recipes. I want to be teaching more of the critical thinking side of like, okay, well, I'm going to give a couple of examples. I won't have time to give an example of everybody, but how could you use this thing to then teach others? And [00:52:00] that's, that's never led me wrong.
[00:52:02] Like in my teaching, cause like, again, I'm not a physical therapist, so I haven't spent time doing every single pathology in school and then learning like exercises for every single pathology. But what I have is what are these tissues and how do these systems work and how does biomechanics work and how did these lines of pull cause change in the body? And then I applied that knowledge to whatever pathology walks on my door and actually really, really works. And I just have to ask questions and interact with my client in a way that's fun and interactive. And we usually, we usually come up with some pretty amazing results. So yeah, that's kind of how I want to be teaching other people how to do it too.
[00:52:40] Olivia: That's so cool. Bre, thank you so much for your time today and for coming on and for sharing all of the amazing things that you're doing and your journey as a teacher, as a practitioner. Um, we were talking about this a little bit before we started recording for the podcast, but I think it is really powerful to hear different teachers' stories [00:53:00] about how they got there, how they found their spot in the Pilates canvas. And so I really appreciate you taking the time to share your adventures. Thank you so, so much.
[00:53:09] Bre: You're welcome. And yeah, if anybody, I mean, by all means, anybody is that person who's gone through the accident or gone through the injuries, and they're like, I don't know which way's up by all means, please reach out. Like, I know that that can be a really daunting, really daunting thing to go through and stuff. So, yeah, that's, that's why I wanted to share that a bit. And, um, I'm happy to talk more about all that. I was just, that was like the first question out of the gate and I was like, boom, boom, boom. I almost died. And now I'm a Pilates teacher.
[00:53:42] But, yeah, I mean, we could talk about that a lot more, but I was trying to be a little bit more succinct and a little bit more wrap it up with a bow, but yeah, I'm always happy to talk about all of that, especially the trauma side of movement, because I think that's a really critical piece and that's true regardless of whether you almost died or not, having injuries [00:54:00] can be traumatic and it can be something that the brain has a hard time coping with. So I'm always happy to be a soundboard for anyone. So.
[00:54:09] Olivia: Thank you. Thank you, Bre. I appreciate it.
[00:54:11] Bre: Thank you, Olivia.
[00:54:21] Olivia: 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.
[00:54:44] The adventure continues. Until next time.