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Instructor Spotlight: Holly Furgason

Holly Furgason
Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer Holly Furgason headshot

Other Merrithew Certifications:
Certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor: Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Chairs and Barrels
Lead Instructor Trainer CORE Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training
Lead Instructor Trainer Total Barre®
Lead Instructor Trainer Fascial Movement

From pursuing a career in contemporary dance to discovering Pilates and opening her own studio, to confronting challenges such as breast cancer head on, Holly Furgason has learned a great deal about Pilates, people and herself in her 16 years of teaching in the industry. But one thing stands out among the rest for Holly, and that is the importance of constantly asking one important question: why?

From dance to Pilates

The question of ‘why’ began to resonate early on in Holly’s career when she was pursuing contemporary dance at the University of Michigan. The program was demanding, so her professors advised trying Pilates to build deeper strength and stability. It was then she became fascinated about how the body worked and why moving one way may be better than the other for optimal performance; so it was not long after Holly embraced her new-found passion and transitioned her pursuit to become a Pilates instructor.

Instructor Spotlight - Holly Furgason

Never stop learning

Fast forward to 2007 and Holly is the proud founder and CEO of Blue Sparrow Pilates, the Merrithew® Licensed Training Center in San Francisco. Holly’s interest in ‘why’ shows in her impressive resume of certifications and trainings she has accumulated over the years. However, her recent training in the Merrithew Fascial Movement Foundation Course in 2016 encouraged her to dig even deeper and discover the fascia offers many answers to the whys in mindful movement.

“The mentality of ‘no pain, no gain’, seems to be coming back in popularity when it comes to exercise—that if you don’t kill yourself while working out it’s not a good workout,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot because to me Pilates is so enjoyable. Most people don’t want to suffer and feel pain to be strong, and I felt the fascial training really helped me explain to my clients what they’re doing and why they’re doing it so they truly understand the benefits of their exercises.”

To that point, Holly emphasized that good instructors recognize they never stop learning and should always be asking questions for themselves and their clients.

“It’s an important characteristic for an instructor to have,” she said. “Delivering information to clients in a way that’s relatable to them makes such a difference, and when I hire instructors I look for ones that are constantly asking questions and wanting to understand better. At Blue Sparrow, we make sure we’re always asking clients questions such as, ‘does this make sense?’, and ‘am I addressing your goals?’.”

Holly Furgason

Cancer affects everyone

When Holly discovered she had breast cancer, she asked ‘why’ again.

“Especially when you work in this industry you can’t help but think, ‘how could this happen to me?’, ‘why did this happen to me?’”, she said.

Holly also confided that Pilates has been a key form of support for her throughout her cancer treatment.

“Chemo takes a lot of out you,” she explained. “Pilates has really helped me mentally because there’s been many times where I couldn’t exercise because of my surgery and radiation treatment. It also made me recognize that for many years I’ve put myself last while trying to run a business, so now my goal is to put myself and my health first. Pilates really reminded me that health and wellness are long-term games.”

But Holly has remained positive and optimistic about her cancer battle, and she attributed that to the support from her friends and family in the Pilates community.

“With the clients I’ve worked with over the years, I consider many of them to be family. They become this extended part of your life,” she said.

Better together: the importance of community

Holly explained that ‘community’ is a key ingredient for success in the Pilates industry, and she encourages other instructors to connect and support one another.

“We all have questions, especially when you’re just starting out in this industry,” she said. “When I first moved to San Francisco I had no one to bounce ideas off of, so having that network of people to help you with all the ‘whys’ really helps you move forward, understand things better and help your clients better.”

Because of this, Holly decided to work on expanding her community and write a book explaining how to start in the Pilates industry and create your own path for success. She explained she felt it was important to provide an outlet with advice and support for those who may not have a mentor to reach out to. The book is expected to launch in early 2019.

For more information on Holly Furgason, her background, book and more, you can visit her website.

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