Is There a Secret to the Art of Teaching Pilates?

Joseph Pilates’ work kept me dancing and I can say proudly that I am aging gracefully in both my body and my mind

The Work Changes Us

There are people you meet in this teaching world that bring joy to you and your world! This week’s guest blogger Noam Gagnon is one of those people. I was fortunate to meet him before we were both accepted into Jay Grimes and Vintage Pilates program “The Work.” This lead us on a journey together for all of 2016 and now beyond. I cannot express how much love I have and how excited I am for you all to read his advice on the art of teaching. Without further ado here is Noam Gagnon!

You know you are a real Pilates nerd when you own more Pilates t-shirts than regular ones. My favourite t-shirt was recently given to me by my amazing Pilates family at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles. On it, it says “We don’t change the work, the work changes us”.

I was first introduced to that concept back in 2000 during my teacher

training at The Pilates Centre in Boulder Colorado. It’s through their instruction that I realized teaching is an art. My perception is perhaps a little askew due to being a dance artist most of my adult life. I first encountered Pilates in 1987 during my first professional dance job with a company in which we took Pilates three times a week. I immediately fell in love with Pilates so I practiced every day religiously, so much so that over time I gradually stopped taking dance classes and trained only with Pilates. A few years later, I asked my teacher about getting certified but her advice to me at the time was to wait and focus on my dance career and its intense touring demands. I waited, keeping my practice while I danced and toured the world. Despite the ferocious physicality of our dance repertoire and the intense touring demands for close to two decades, I am still dancing today. Joseph Pilates’ work kept me dancing and I can say proudly that I am aging gracefully in both my body and my mind. 

Pilates teacher assisting his client on the Pilates reformer exercises
There are people you meet in this teaching world that bring joy to you and your world.

Noam Articulated the Art of Teaching Pilates

After 30 years of personal practice, teaching others, performing, choreographing, training teachers and being a Franklin Method movement educator I find myself continually asking myself the same question: What is teaching? How do I further deepen my teaching while continuing to enhance the experience for my clients?

Teaching and being taught for decades all ultimately led me to meet Jay Grimes. For those of you who are not aware of who Jay Grimes is, Jay began his studies with Joseph Pilates in the mid-1960’s, and after Joe’s death continued studying with Joe’s wife Clara for another 10 years until her death. Jay began teaching in their original 8th Avenue studio in New York City and has since taught all over the world. Jay now teaches and directs The Work, an intense graduate programme for certified teachers at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles. The first day of the program Jay told us something to the effect of sorry guys, bad news, I can’t teach you Pilates: Pilates must be felt, with time assisting the process. I found Jay to be a man of few words, observing and then asking a question or commenting with pinpoint accuracy, with maximum effect.

Gaining Pilates knowledge is easy, wisdom is harder to acquire. My practice and teaching has undergone many different incarnations over the years but what has stayed constant is my desire to always go deeper into

understanding and embodying the principles of the incredible system that Joe created. It’s been about accumulation, over time. My favourite Pilates t-shirt is dead on correct: doing the work changes me.

As teachers and practitioners of Pilates, be it Classical or contemporary, we are all learning and growing. I personally chose Classical Pilates because it was ultimately a better fit for my character and personality. Creating a practicing and teaching community and embracing others into our pool of information to share and grow together is crucial to our industry. We can learn and grow faster, getting deeper and deeper into the work, together.

Many years of dancing, choreographing and teaching have simultaneously sharpened my instructor tools and given me my superpower: an eagle eye. Seeing what is going on in someone’s body is easy. What has been humbling and challenging is learning to wait, to be able to choose the right timing, the right word, the ideal image, the right touch, that can create indelible change. For me, after decades of accumulating information and skills, the art of teaching Pilates comes down to simply this: Observing clients while teaching them is easy. It’s what we do with what we observe that is the true art of teaching Pilates: being able to choose the right words to create the right experience at the right moment to effect positive change in the client’s body and practice.

Noam Gagnon is an acclaimed dance artist who, over the course of his career, has helped lead Canadian contemporary dance into the forefront of the international stage. Artistic Director of Vision Impure, a satellite company of The Holy Body Tattoo, Noam has created work that has received both critical and audience acclaim in Canada, the U.S., as well as Europe, Australia and Asia. He has performed independently for many of Canada’s and Europe’s leading choreographers. Noam is an Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre. 

Noam began studying the Pilates Method in 1987 and after an intensive teacher training programme received his first teaching certification in 2003 from The Pilates Center of Boulder Colorado. Noam’s years of experience in the Pilates Method, combined with his experience in dance performing, teaching movement, and choreography, prompted him to found Beyond Pilates in Vancouver, Canada in 2005. His teacher training programme followed in 2006.

Noam began studying the Franklin Method in 2011, graduating after a three-year programme in 2015 as a Franklin Movement Educator Level 3. In 2016 Noam graduated from the yearlong Pilates Masters Program at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles California where he studied with Jay Grimes, a first generation teacher who was taught by Joseph and Clara Pilates.

~Noam Gagnon

Check out Noam at his studio or on Facebook and Instagram

I loved how Noam articulated the art that is teaching Pilates. If you have any comments or questions please post them here in the blog comments.

xx~LL 

Pilates instructor teaching Pilates exercises using Magic circle
As teachers and practitioners of Pilates, be it Classical or contemporary, we are all learning and growing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

<a href="https://profitablepilates.com/instructor/noam-gagnon/" target="_self">Noam Gagnon</a>

Noam Gagnon

Noam Gagnon, with over thirty years of client focused instruction and teacher training, is the owner and creator of, as well as the driving force behind Beyond Pilates. Dedicated to the principles of expertise, empathy and trust, Beyond Pilates is the accumulation of a very long process and represents everything Noam has learned over his career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. Noam began studying the Pilates Method in 1987 and after an intensive 1600+ hours of training received his first teaching certification in 2003 from the The Pilates Center of Boulder Colorado, North America's leading Pilates teacher training program. Noam's years of experience in the Pilates Method, combined with his experience in dance performing, teaching movement and choreography, prompted him to found Beyond Pilates in Vancouver, Canada in 2005. His teacher training program for Pilates instructors followed in 2006. Noam began studying the Franklin Method in 2011, graduating after a three year program in 2015 as a Franklin Movement Educator Level 3. In 2016 Noam graduated from the year long Pilates Masters Program at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles,California where he studied with Jay Grimes, a first generation teacher who was taught by Joseph and Clara Pilates. Noam Gagnon is an acclaimed dance artist who, over the course of his career, has helped lead Canadian dance to the forefront of the international stage. Artistic Director of Vision Impure, a satellite company of The Holy Body Tattoo, Noam has created work that has received both critical and audience acclaim in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia. He has performed independently for many of Canada’s and Europe’s leading choreographers. Noam is an Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre. Highly trained, caring, enthusiastic and dedicated to your health and wellness, Noam chose to become a teacher because he was profoundly affected by his own experience with the Classical Pilates method. Whether you are interested in a better integration of mind and body or rehabilitating after an illness or injury, Noam believes that Classical Pilates and or the Franklin Method can be key for you to meet your personal goals. Continually striving to learn and then to meet your health and fitness needs, Noam’s principal goals are to empower all who come to his studio to be in control of their own health and well-being, and to provide a supportive atmosphere in which practitioners may grow, learn, change, be nurtured and guided in their process towards a happy, healthy, self-actualized life. The reciprocity of the learning process is a joint endeavor between instructor and student. Because it is his sincere objective to meet your personal needs, your thoughtful suggestions, ideas and input are encouraged and appreciated. The mandate of Beyond Pilates is to integrate both a holistic understanding of the complex and delicate intricacies that bind the body and the mind with the teachings of Joseph Pilates, keeping alive his original method and philosophy, while concurrently advocating the benefits of the Franklin Method. Noam is committed to providing superior service in a courteous, friendly manner: from convenient, flexible scheduling, to prompt attendance to phone calls and messages, with time and care given to your special, individual needs.

14 Comments

  1. Siobhan Roberts

    Can’t wait to meet him and train with him when he comes to Provincetown MA next month at Strength and Clarity Pilates. I’ll be running a Gyrotonic pretraining but that won’t stop me from having time trust!!!

    Reply
    • Noam Gagnon

      Wonderful!! Can’t wait to meet you Siobhan! :-)xox

      Reply
  2. Jo-Ann Sullivan

    I was fortunate enough to work with Noam in the early years of his career (and mine as well) – he inspired me then just as his words do today. A true “teacher” in my eyes!! Thank you Noam – for your words, your energy and your wisdom.

    Reply
    • Lesley Logan

      I agree!! Thank you for reading and sharing this with us all xx

      Reply
    • Noam Gagnon

      Jo-Ann,
      Thank you for your kind words, it means a lot to me. OX sending love always
      Noam

      Reply
  3. Fernando sadir

    Excelent Noam! Congratulations my friend

    Reply
    • Lesley Logan

      Thanks for reading and commenting Fernandonn

      Reply
    • Noam Gagnon

      Thank you Fernando!! I miss you my dear friend!

      Reply
  4. Simone Oscari

    As a new instructor, this article is a great read to bring me back to why I wanted to become an instructor in the first place. Helps to settle the nerves! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lesley Logan

      Thank you for reading and sharing that with us! I think we can all remember being a new teacher and it’s full of excitement and nervousness. So happy you have your “why” though. Keep it close with you! Xx~LL

      Reply
    • Noam Gagnon

      Hello Simone,
      I am glad you found inspiration with the article.
      All the best!
      Noam

      Reply
  5. Miguel Silva

    I couldn’t expect less from you my friend!!
    Lucky those who can have classes with you!! Enjoy the ride of the endless learning pilates!!!
    Xoxo

    Reply
    • Noam Gagnon

      Thank you Miguel! I look forward to have our path cross again.. hopefully soon
      XOX

      Reply

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