We caught up with STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor and founder of JustStretch Hilal Leigh, who shared her experience at the Merrithew® Mindful Movement UK Symposium 2023.
Let's delve into her reflections on the workshops, the connections she made, and everything she learned.
Workshop highlights: A journey of self-exploration
Hilal attended eight workshops including STOTT PILATES Athletic Conditioning on the Reformer, Level 3, STOTT PILATES Prenatal Pilates on the Reformer, and ZEN•GA® Instructor Foundation Course, Equipment. A key takeaway for her was the importance of instructors immersing themselves in the experience of each new movement.
"If we don't observe ourselves and see how new things feel for us, it is not possible to reflect that when we teach our clients. The symposium reinforced the idea that guiding clients to discover and explore their bodies is a fundamental aspect of an instructor's role,” Hilal says.
"As instructors, our main role is helping clients to discover new aspects of their bodies—strengths, imbalances, weaknesses—without judgment. This belief was reinforced throughout the weekend by our Lead ITs and Master ITs,” Hilal says.
Meeting like-minded enthusiasts
Hilal values connecting with Pilates enthusiasts who share her passion for learning. Engaging with like-minded instructors from different countries enriched her experience, fostering connections beyond geographical boundaries.
"Connecting with instructor trainers who are eager to learn is always amazing. The newfound connections also provide opportunities for collaboration. I'm thrilled to have invitations to collaborate with studios in London for potential content creation,” Hilal says.
Completing the Merrithew Athletic Conditioning Specialty Track was a significant goal for Hilal, and the symposium not only allowed her to achieve this but also provided programming ideas to train athletes and strong clients.
“As an avid runner and someone who has worked with runners and cyclists over the years, my primary goal this year was to finish my Athletic Conditioning Specialty Track.
“I feel so fulfilled to have completed this track. I'm taking back so many great ideas and programming tips to help my clients who are athletes as well as non-athlete clients who are strong enough and want to push themselves,” Hilal says.
The variety of workshops and courses helped Hilal enhance her skills and knowledge in Pilates and mindful movement. The ZEN•GA Course broadened her understanding of the power of breath, while the STOTT PILATES Prenatal Pilates on the Reformer workshop provided fresh ideas for working with prenatal clients, complementing her existing expertise.
“ZEN•GA Course definitely gave me a wider understanding of the power of ‘breath’ which will allow me to work both on myself and my clients to cultivate this mindful awareness.
“Prenatal Pilates on the equipment sparked fresh ideas to enhance my existing knowledge. Selecting workshops tailored to my clientele and passion has equipped me with a wealth of new skills and ideas to incorporate into my teaching,” Hilal says
Attending the Merrithew Mindful Movement Symposium is a collective experience for any fitness professional. The symposium provides a platform for self-exploration, community building, programming diversity, and skill enhancement—a holistic package that contributes significantly to the growth and development of individuals in the fitness industry.
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We're back with another Symposium, this time in NYC! Keep an eye out for more details.