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Do we under-load our clients in Pilates? With Julie Driver and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

Do we focus too much on gentle movement in Pilates? Could our clients benefit from more vigorous exercises and more progression over time?

Maybe the answer is different for different countries.

Resources mentioned in the episode:

  • Join our FREE Live Community Sessions here
  • Liftmor trial here
  • Nonagenarians get ripped with high-intensity strength training here
  • Injuries in fitness facilities are mostly caused by people dropping shit on themselves and falling off stuff – not by “incorrect” technique here
  • A lot of the disability from low back pain is caused by well-meaning health and fitness professionals scaring the shit out of their clients here
  • Persistence hunting is a likely explanation of how humans fed ourselves for several hundred thousand years even though we’re weaker, slower and less ferocious than almost everything we hunt here
About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Julie Driver:

Julie is an award-winning, internationally renowned Pilates teacher with over two decades of teaching experience. 

For over 10 years Julie was a senior faculty member for the largest Pilates teacher training school in Europe before setting up her own education company.

Julie now coaches equestrians of all levels from the weekend rider to the elite athlete and is the Pilates teacher for the Wesko Foundation three-day-eventing team.

In 2014, Julie was awarded the title of Pilates Anytime, International Instructor of the Year.

How to Connect with Julie:

  • Find Julie Driver online here
  • Find Julie on IG and FB
Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

How to build your own on-demand Pilates business, with Ruth Bruno and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

Right now, there is an unprecedented proliferation of exciting and creative ways for Pilates professionals to make a great living, and one of them is building your own on-demand platform.

Ruth Bruno has done that, and in this conversation, she shares the good, the bad and the numbers of exactly how to build your own online, on-demand Pilates business.

Resources mentioned in the episode:

  • Follow Raph on IG here
  • Ashley DeLeon’s IG here
  • Pilates by Amanda’s here
  • Find Arketa platform’s here (not a sponsored link)
About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Ruth Bruno:

Ruth Bruno is a Pilates Instructor and business owner based in Los Angeles, CA. She has studied movement for 16 years and was comprehensively certified in Classical Pilates in 2019. Her membership-based online business; Ruth Pilates Studio, is focused on making mat Pilates effective, accessible and fun. When she’s not running her business or doing Pilates, you can most likely find Ruth walking, hiking or enjoying quality time with her fiancé and their dog.

How to Connect with Ruth:

Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

How to Sell Pilates Sessions Part 2, with Kylie Mones and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

If you struggle with selling this is for you!

This is a nitty gritty how-to guide to having effective sales conversations, that end in the client buying something that will solve their problem, and you making a profit.

Resources mentioned in the episode:

  • Access the Google sheet here.
  • Check out our Visualized Anatomy program here
About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Kylie Mones:

Kylie Mones is an optimistic, result-driven Sales Manager at Breathe Education with 25 years of experience in the fitness industry. She’s been working with Breathe for the last 15 years. Having a background in Health Clubs Management and Sales, Kylie combines strategic thinking and creative solutions to achieve growth.

With a personal passion for movement as a professional dancer and teacher, Pilates was a natural progression for her. Kylie is driven by her love to connect and help people find new ways to cultivate motivation and inspire behaviour change so they can become the best versions of themselves.

How to Connect with Kylie:

  • Find Kylie Mones on Instagram here
Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

Pathologizing Normal, with Natalie Wilson and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

Many, possibly most of the things we think of as “dysfunctions” in Pilates are in fact just normal variations. Things like:

  • Anterior pelvic tilt
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Asymmetrical range of motion

are highly prevalent in pain-free people and do not predict injury. In fact, 80% of pain-free people have anterior pelvic tilt; so is it really a “tilt” or is it just the shape of the human pelvis?

Even hypermobility & scoliosis are arguably not the cause of pain, or increased pain, and don’t need to be (nor can they be) “corrected” or “protected” by exercise.

Raph and Natalie talk through:

  • What is the evidence that these things are not pathologies?
  • Why do we pathologize normal?
  • What should we do instead?

Resources mentioned in the episode:

  • 80% of pain-free people have anterior pelvic tilt here
  • Anterior pelvic tilt is not related to hip muscle tightness or strength here
  • Stabilization exercise works better if you THINK your back is unstable here
  • There is very weak correlation between scoliosis curve magnitude and back pain here and here
  • Pain in hypermobile people is not related to joint angle here but is more likely a result of higher pain sensitivity of the central nervous system here
  • Current ACSM guidelines here
About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Natalie Wilson:

Born and raised in Hawaii, Natalie’s foundation in movement comes from years of training in the native dances of Hawaii and Tahiti.  After college, Natalie pursued a career in social work and mental health.  She discovered Pilates after the birth of her second child and loved how the practice gave her renewed strength, energy, and focus. Desiring a career shift, Natalie enrolled in a comprehensive Pilates training program, graduating in early 2017.  In addition, Natalie received her National Pilates Certification in 2020 and her Pilates Certification from Breathe Education in February 2022.  She currently teaches at Vitality Pilates as well as the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, where she lives with her husband, two kids, and too many houseplants.

How to Connect with Natalie:

Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

Overcoming addiction through Pilates, with Rebecca Solberg and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

TW: This episode contains content about substance abuse and addiction.

We acknowledge that this may be difficult and encourage you to care for your safety and well-being by talking to your healthcare professional if any of the issues in this show have affected you. 

This is the inspiring story of how Pilates helped Rebecca Solberg overcome addiction and find connection, meaning and peace.

Pilates is not a substitute for working with a mental health professional. But it can sure be an amazing complement.

Resources mentioned in the episode:

  • Check out our Visualized Anatomy program here
About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Rebecca Solberg:

Rebecca Solberg is a Pilates Instructor based in Seattle, Washington. She has been teaching Pilates for 8 years now. As a teacher, Rebecca aims to help her clients feel safe and comfortable while working to strengthen their bodies and move with less pain and more freedom. She works with a fantastic group of women at Main Street Pilates (www.mainstreetpilates.com) and also teaches private students outside of the class.

Rebecca holds a 600-hour Pilates Certification, Great Yoga Wall Certification™, and Pilates For Neurological Conditions with Mariska Breland. Currently, she’s studying Diploma of Clinical Pilates and The Complete Pilates Apparatus Course at Breathe Education.

Rebecca likes to keep herself busy with all forms of movement, baking, journaling and spending time with her husband, dogs, family and Breathe Education.

How to Connect with Rebecca:

  • Find Rebecca Solberg on Instagram here and here
Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

How to Sell Pilates Sessions Part 1, with Kylie Mones and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

Do you struggle with limiting beliefs around selling? Do you feel “icky”? Do you think your product is Pilates?

If so, listen to this episode to get your mind right and learn how to sell your sessions more easily, and without any of the baggage.

Resources mentioned in the episode:

  • Follow Raph on IG here
About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Kylie Mones:

Kylie Mones is an optimistic, result-driven Sales Manager at Breathe Education with 25 years of experience in the fitness industry. She’s been working with Breathe for the last 15 years. Having a background in Health Clubs Management and Sales, Kylie combines strategic thinking and creative solutions to achieve growth.

With a personal passion for movement as a professional dancer and teacher, Pilates was a natural progression for her. Kylie is driven by her love to connect and help people find new ways to cultivate motivation and inspire behaviour change so they can become the best versions of themselves.

How to Connect with Kylie:

  • Find Kylie Mones on Instagram here
Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

How to Motivate Your Clients, with Nathan Ross Rees and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

Motivating people is hard. Knowing how to motivate people to exercise is even harder. On this episode of Pilates Elephants, you’ll learn how to fearlessly motivate your clients with evidence-based techniques with our guest, Nathan Rees. Where does our motivation to workout come from? Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? Nate and Raph explore these questions that are vital to your abilities as an instructor and help your clients to see results regardless of their fitness level. 

What You Will Learn:

  • How to motivate clients of all fitness and experience levels and fill your classes
  • What should instructors pay attention to during instruction?
  • How to provide individual attention in a large class
  • How much of your instruction should be technical, educational and motivational? 
  • How to push clients to their limit and recognize when it happens

Principles of Workout Motivation for New and Experienced Instructors

Nate and Raph discuss the differences between new and experienced instructors in terms of what they focus on during class. We all want to motivate our clients, but new instructors face feelings of insecurity and aren’t as present in the moment as seasoned instructors. They often worry about the functionality of the task so much that they’re out of tune with the clients in front of them. Over time, it’s natural for these feelings to subside as your teaching skills improve. Eventually, you’ll have more bandwidth to focus on the clients in front of you: how hard they’re working, what they need to hear, and how to improve your cueing. 

How Can You Tell if You’re Effectively Motivating Your Clients?

Nate offers some practical and easily applicable advice for instructors who want to spend less time explaining and more time motivating. He suggests a healthy ratio of technical instruction to educational and motivational. Once clients are able to grasp the movements, then you can focus on why those movements are beneficial to their wellness and all other areas of their lives. How can you tell if your motivational efforts are working? When clients start to reach muscle failure, you’ll notice physical signs like facial expressions or noises. Nate and Raph discuss why pushing your limits is so important in terms of progress, and how to help advanced level clients continue to see results. 

The Power of Social Connection

A huge part of motivation to workout is social interaction. Nate says it’s a key factor in getting clients to show up for class. With a sense of community, people look forward to working out in a whole new way. For this reason, it’s highly important for instructors to know how to welcome new clients into their classes. Nate explains how to make newbies feel welcome by introducing them, making them feel like a part of the crew, and pairing them up with a workout buddy who they may already have something in common with. Social connection is a basic human need, and a healthy community atmosphere in your studio is a powerful way to keep clients coming back. 

About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Nathan Ross Rees:

Nathan Ross Rees is a highly motivated and passionate Pilates instructor based in Tasmania who enjoys traveling around Australia to run guest classes and hold workshops.

He has taught in 50 different studios across 7 Australian states and territories. A big believer in relationship building, Nathan values progress, vitality, results, connection, presence, abundance, and understanding. He’s always seeking to develop relationships with other instructors and expand his network of mentors. He also believes in the collective genius of the Australian Pilates Community, whose members have exponentially developed his understanding of Dynamic Reformer Pilates.

How to Connect with Nathan:

  • Find Nathan Ross Rees on Instagram here
Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy, with Heath Lander and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

In the Diploma of Clinical Pilates program, students learn an invaluable resource for exercise programming called the “exercise toolbox.” Today, you’ll learn what it is and how to create your own exercise toolbox in this interview with Heath Lander. Today we discuss how to find the best type of exercise and level of intensity for each client on any given day and discover the power of simple, layered exercise programming.

What You Will Learn: 

  • What is the Exercise Toolbox (as taught in the Diploma of Clinical Pilates)?
  • How you can use the Exercise Toolbox to challenge each client at the right level 
  • How to design a dynamic warm-up that reduces injury risk and improves performance
  • How to support clients’ autonomy and use critical thinking skills when designing challenge
  • The power of simplicity in programming, and why it’s what your clients actually want

What is the Exercise Toolbox? 

The Exercise Toolbox is a list of exercises broken down into layers of challenge. Each list is made up of five to seven exercises based on one movement such as the push-up, curl-up, squat, etc. The main idea is to have a list of increasingly difficult exercises which you can use with any client, any time, regardless of what kind of day they’re having in terms of pain or ability level. Start at the bottom and work your way up with them. This way, according to Heath, clients don’t feel the discouragement and frustration of starting hard and having to modify. Rather, they get to feel stronger and more confident as they start simple and work up to more challenging exercises. 

The Power of Simplicity

The Exercise Toolbox is a specific way to think about exercise programming which allows instructors to think about movement in terms of strength, range of motion, and control. Heath and Raph discuss the beauty of simplicity in exercise programming but remind us that just because something is simple, it isn’t necessarily easy. With the right level of resistance, range of motion or instability, something as simple as lunges or body weight squats can be extremely challenging. Teaching complicated exercises just because they seem more challenging can be anything but enjoyable for the client. What’s amazing about the Exercise Toolbox is that because of its simplicity, you will be able to give your client the right level of challenge at the right time to move them to towards their goals.

How the Exercise Toolbox Helps Instructors to Improve

Heath explains how the exercise toolbox developed as he observed new Pilates instructors over the past several years. He noticed that new instructors who came to his studio had learned hundreds of exercises which weren’t progressive or grouped in any meaningful way. He also saw that instructors felt pressured to have a wide variety of exercises in each class and avoid repeating exercises. They thought that if they didn’t do it this way, their classes wouldn’t be popular. But Heath observed that those Pilates teachers who taught essentially the same set of movements each class were the most successful. Clients knew what to expect and felt challenged, not to mention, the teacher got really good at teaching those exercises! 

About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Heath Lander:

Heath Lander had a chance encounter with Pilates which completely changed his life’s direction. He began training as a Pilates instructor at Breathe Education while seeing private clients in his home. Meanwhile, he was still working full time as a special needs art teacher and getting accustomed to life as a single dad. Over the next decade he taught over 15,000 hours of group and small group/clinical classes. He went on to open two locations of White Dog Studio, where the mission is to provide challenging, rewarding, and effective exercise for people over 40. He has also worked as an instructor trainer at Breathe Education since 2011 and has taught in the Certificate and Diploma courses. In 2021, he began working full time for Breathe Education and has created coursework and tutorial materials for the updated Diploma of Clinical Pilates. His other professional passion is online mentoring and trainer development through his personal brand, Contrology Collective.

How to Connect with Heath:

  • Find Heath on Instagram here
Looking for Pilates mastery?

Here are four ways we can help you really know your stuff.

1) Subscribe to our Pilates Elephants podcast and learn why most Pilates education is decades out of date at best, and at worst, just plain pseudoscientific. This inconvenient disconnect means there are many topics in Pilates that are “Elephants in the Room” – things we don’t question because it’s a bit heretical to do so. We’re here to change that.

2) Download our free report: “3 Myths about Posture in Pilates“. Ditch the myths and get the facts on posture. For Pilates instructors and movement enthusiasts alike.

3) Join us in our FREE live, open-mic Community Sessions. We start each session by sharing one of our latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients. And then we’ll go open-mic for the remaining 45-minutes — ask whatever questions you have so you can leave the session equipped to really know your stuff. Details here.

4) Or — our next intake for our Diploma in Clinical Pilates is open NOW. We have limited places for this in-depth, world-leading course. For a limited time — get a free 20-minute Discovery Call with one of our Pilates Trainers. This is not a high-pressure sales call – you’ll be talking with a Pilates instructor, and we’ll answer all your questions to find out if the course is a perfect fit for you. Go here to schedule

Neutral Spine- What is it and Should We Care? With Cloe Bunter and Raphael Bender

By Podcast

What exactly is neutral spine? With so many of us in the Pilates community teaching neutral spine alignment to clients and trying to master it ourselves, it’s surprising to learn that most of us don’t really know what it means. And yet, it seems to be engrained in Pilates culture. Today we’re debunking the myth of neutral spine and giving you evidence-based tools to help empower your clients to move fearlessly through all spinal movements.

What You Will Learn: 

  • What neutral spine really means, and why you shouldn’t worry about it
  • Is neutral spine a position that can be measured or palpated via postural analysis or visual assessment?
  • What Joseph Pilates taught (or didn’t) about neutral spine
  • The origins of neutral spine as it applies to Pilates
  • Does evidence indicate that lifting with a neutral spine is really safer than lifting with a flexed spine? 

What is Neutral Spine?

Neutral spine is widely understood in the fitness profession as a “safe” spinal position associated with injury prevention. But according to biomechanics, neutral spine is a zone (rather than a specific position) in which all the ligaments around the spine are loose. Simply put, neutral spine is about a 10 degree range in which muscles provide the only restraining force on the spine. It isn’t something that can be evaluated via spinal palpation or visual assessment, since everyone has natural variation in their bone structure. 

Where Did Neutral Spine Come From?

Joseph Pilates himself didn’t teach neutral spine. His successors (including Romana Kryzanowska) and their students were influenced by physiotherapists who promoted neutral spine. Fast forward to the 1990s, and neutral spine was widely taught as a basic element of Pilates. To this day, many people who cue neutral spine believe that it has always been a part of Pilates, although the most Joseph ever taught in this area was to press the spine firmly to the mat.

Does Neutral Spine Prevent Lower Back Injuries?

Raph and Cloe look at a fascinating study on pig spines from 20 years ago which suggests that the greatest risk for spinal injury was the amount of compression on the spine, rather than the degree of spinal flexion. They also discuss more recent biomechanical studies which show that force applied to the spine is the same whether the spine is flexed or in neutral during lifting exercises like deadlifting or squatting. Interestingly, studies show that when lifting maximally, a flexed spine is actually associated with greater strength and more efficient use of energy. Looking at the world’s most elite powerlifters, it’s easy to see that when they lift four to five times their body weight, their spines are definitely flexed. This begs the question of what Pilates instructors should be cueing instead of neutral spine. Raph and Cloe offer teaching tools to help you confidently teach without relying on neutral spine and to prioritise fearless movement. 

Resources mentioned in the episode:
  • Neutral is a zone not a position here
  • We can’t palpate bony landmarks reliably (plus guidelines recommend against it here
  • And anyway pelvises are not all the same shape here
  • Experienced physical therapists can’t detect lumbar flexion of less than 34 degrees in a squat here
  • Plus, standing posture is highly individual and poorly reproducible here
  • Pig spines are injured by LOAD not by flexion here and here 
  • Spinal flexion during lifting is not associated with back pain here
  • The vast majority of disc bulges are not related to lifting and those that are, do not have more pain or disability here
  • People with back pain actually lift with their backs more straight than pain free people here
  • Flexed lumbar spine during a maximal lift is associated with greater strength in pain-free people here
  • Because spinal ligaments are MUCH stronger than spinal muscles here
  • Lifting with your back straight imposes higher forces on the spine than lifting with your back rounded here
  • Retraining people to lift with their back straight does not prevent back pain here
About Raphael Bender:

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

How to Connect with Raphael:

Purchase Raph’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
About Cloe Bunter:

With 10+ years in the industry, both teaching Pilates and nurturing new instructors, Cloe is passionate about empowering new and seasoned instructors to think critically and move fearlessly. Empowered instructors empower their clients, and in turn, change lives.

Cloe is fascinated by movement in general, and its ability to enhance our lives at any age. Her own movement practice includes Contrology/Pilates, running, weights, and kettlebells. Cloe has a Diploma of Clinical Pilates, Cert IV in Pilates, and Cert IV in Training and Assessing.

How to Connect with Cloe:

Looking for Pilates mastery?

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