The Journey from Contemporary to Classical Pilates Studio w/ Monica Hoekstra

‘If you just teach exercises…are you a teacher or a conveyor belt? Don’t be a conveyor belt because they get stuck! After ten years you should realize that there is still so much more to learn’ (Quote from Eve Gentry).

And so it all began!

I have been serving the Charlotte, NC community, by way of teaching Pilates, since the inception of ABsolute Pilates in 2001. It has been quite the journey and many of you have asked the question as to what inspired the many changes, particularly the move from Contemporary to Classical Pilates. To answer that question, I need to take you back to my beginnings as a classically trained ballet dancer.

Since the age of 8 my parents encouraged me to take piano and ballet. The highlight of all this was time spent trying to perfect this fine art and then eventually to become a full time teacher, trainer and student of Pilates and movement.

Fast forward to Charlotte, NC almost 17 years ago. My husband and I arrived with two small children. By grace I was presented with the opportunity to be founder of ABsolute Pilates. In due time we became a licensed training center for Stott Pilates, which is headquartered in Toronto (the city I was born and raised).

My co-founder Catherine Tait, for whom I am eternally grateful, moved onto Michigan, which presented the opportunity to eventually become the sole owner of our studio. Always seeking to strive for the best, I developed ‘Core Barre’, which unfortunately was received as a competitive offering by Stott Pilates; consequently we parted ways in early  2012. Needless to say I felt a huge loss both professionally and personally. My identity had been associated with being a student, teacher and teacher trainer with this contemporary brand.

Having also lost the studio’s identity, I started searching for what the proper affiliation and orientation for the studio might be. I also felt a responsibility to our students and as well as our instructors that had been loyal to us for many years and had made teaching Pilates their livelihoods. So with greater invigoration I set out to rediscover the contrology principles and the authentic underlying system that Joseph Pilates originally taught. While visiting in Charleston, SC I took a few workshops from Chris Robinson, a very talented Romana’s Classical Pilates teacher. In my heart I knew that I had found what I had been looking for, but it took me over a year to build up the courage to follow through on what I knew to be true.

The inspiration to re-train in the classical system was the easy part as I had the opportunity to work with so many brilliant teachers that carried a direct lineage to Joseph Pilates and Romana. All of them were extremely welcoming, encouraging and graciously shared their knowledge, time and talents. Listening to Jay Grimes at a conference was eye opening and humbling. It made me see how rich and deep the work could be and how very little I really knew.

I realized that as my thought process changed, I also had to change my studio. I thought about quitting and reasoned with myself that I had been in the business long enough but by this point I felt it my responsibility to open the window to the traditional work. I wanted to share my newfound passion. Was it easy….heck NO!

What did that entail? Selling and changing a significant amount of equipment from Stott to Gratz, training and encouraging a re-training for the instructors of ABsolute Pilates and slowly transitioning the clients over to our more classical offerings.

My biggest supporter was my husband and he continued to help me forge ahead. I asked him what would happen if I failed…he said that if I failed I would at least have no regrets that I tried … and that if it were easy then everyone would do it. I tried to walk with integrity and grace and kept forging ahead with my education and personal Pilates practice to keep me grounded and move ahead. I lost more than half our teachers that chose not to re-educate but that had been loyal teachers to ABsolute Pilates for many years; I am thankful for their service and that they chose their own path.

In the meantime I finished my first classical Pilates bridge program with the New York Studio® Teacher Training Program, under the direction of Sean Gallagher and Cara Hazelton, that was ironically offered in Toronto – back where it all began.

In the past summer of 2017 I was honored to be accepted to the first Romana’s Pilates® bridge program under the direction of Sari Mejia-Santo and Daria Pace and certified with them early this past year – their community and group of teachers is truly of the elite and I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing and talented teacher trainers in the world.

As for my biggest supporter, my husband – he takes regular Pilates lessons from me and has a deep respect for the traditional work. It is a privilege to teach him and to see how this brilliant system works for his body. As a former Ironman and a business man that has spent too many hours on the road, the best testimonial comes from his sincerity and appreciation when he says ‘I can’t tell you how much better I feel after doing a lesson…can I please do 3 lessons a week?’

Grateful for the journey. – Monica Hoekstra

Monica Hoekstra is the owner of ABsolute Pilates in Charlotte, NC, founded in 2001, and the creator and founder of Core Barre – Smart Movement®.

Monica Hoekstra is a Certified Romana’s Pilates® Instructor. She is also certified by the New York Pilates Studio® Certification Program and is a member of the Pilates Teachers Guild. Ms. Hoekstra also holds a full comprehensive certification by Balanced Body®, and formerly Stott Pilates® for which she was an Instructor Trainer for ten years.

In addition, Ms. Hoekstra is a Certified GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Instructor. She credits this methodology for inspiring her creativity and adding diversity to her teaching. Lastly she is also Certified by the PMA® and ACE® (American Council on Exercise) and is a provider of continuing education.

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