STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor Marina Guarnieri and 76-year-old client Laura Crosby only met a few times in-person before their private Pilates sessions were disrupted by COVID-19.
Marina had helped Laura get over her initial apprehension towards Reformer Pilates by focusing her training on the process and choreography of the movements.
“I was better able to totally tune in to what I needed to focus on— the isolation of the movements,” Laura says of how Marina’s lessons changed her approach to using her Merrithew® At Home SPX® Reformer Package.
Laura developed a love for Reformer Pilates and a deep appreciation for the skill of her teacher and, as she puts it, “the remarkable effectiveness of a good cue, which so adds to one’s delight!”
“After each private, I had increased my confidence on the Reformer, and began to see it as a friend and had a better sense of what I needed to be doing with my body, a sense of understanding and accomplishment and therefore the motivation to keep going,” she says.
Once the lockdown was declared in the U.K., Laura knew she needed to find a way to keep up her at-home practice, so she contacted Marina about teaching her virtually.
“I was very hungry for Marina’s lessons,” Laura says. “Working out on my own on the Reformer meant that it sometimes felt like a bit of a chore and it was also a bit lonely.”
As someone living alone in lockdown, Laura relished the idea of getting to spend an enlivening hour with Marina, even if it was over Zoom.
“Marina has a variety of ways to motivate, challenge and modify. Her sessions are fun and focused,” Laura says.
“Plus, on Zoom, she manages to see the details of muscle movements that are astonishing to me. It's not that she's just making the usual comments one might expect for a particular exercise, but to my surprise, when I silently think to make a little interior adjustment, she notices and comments on it. And her manner is such a lovely blend of friendly cheerfulness and achievable challenging. Her input has hugely improved my practice, and my enjoyment.”
Marina accepted and also moved her other private clients to Zoom, something they all embraced. Fortunately communicating virtually came naturally to her after years of keeping up with friends and family in Italy, as did observing people’s movements on camera from her work as a choreographer.
“That experience as a choreographer has helped me a lot through this. I am used to seeing details on and off camera and finding ways to guide people into tiny adjustments. I find that each person responds better to different cues, so I try to remember if they prefer visual cues or images, anatomical details, etc.,” she says.
While it’s harder to feed off the ‘energy in the room’ on Zoom, Marina says she can still get a good sense of how her clients are feeling.
“It’s so important to listen to them. I try to push them when it intuitively feels right, but that’s not always accurate of course. I always ask and double check with them how they’re feeling. I think communication is key. Sometimes keeping it light, making it a playful experience is my way of challenging them. I tell them to take modifications as a moment to ‘play’ around, to explore new movements and get to know their bodies better,” she says.
Despite both being in lockdown, Pilates shared over the internet has been a reprieve from the tedium of isolation— a silver lining for both teacher and student.
“The Reformer is one of the highlights of my week,” Laura says. “I am so thankful that I bought it when I did. One of the things that has been really important about the Reformer is that I was supposed to have a hip replacement a few years ago but was able to halt and then reverse the damage— via diet, exercise, acupuncture, osteopathy and Pilates has been a large part of that.”
Experience the best of the studio in the comfort of your own home with top-quality Reformers and on-demand digital workouts from Merrithew.