If you are a Pilates Professional or an enthusiast, there are great chances you have heard of March MATness. This yearly month-long event has captured the interest of the Pilates world for 9 years. From its first years, it quickly became a viral Social Media event that promotes a positive conversation about the original mat work, invites the participant to share their interpretation of the work and builds a coMMunity of followers and doers.
“The longer you practice, the more you will stop thinking of the mat work as a sequence of 34 different exercises; instead, it will become one exercise with 34 movements built-in.” Benjamin Degenhardt, 360Pilates
How did it start? No doubt Benjamin answered this question hundreds of times. It was “a bit of a fluke”, Benjamin admitted in a recent podcast. It all came to life on the 28th of February 2013. Benjamin was writing a Newsletter for his small group of followers on Facebook. He wanted to start a conversation on something that we could all agree on; he reflected on what it could be. He recently returned from a trip with a library of screenshots of his practice on his new fancy smartphone. During his travels, he filmed his mat practice (for self-correction) in accordance with the order presented in Return to Life through Contrology and screenshot each exercise afterwards. It was a lovely background. Benjamin is a lucky and proud owner of a signed first edition copy of Joseph’s original book. From the moment he got hold of the original publication on eBay, he used the book as an inspirational and educational tool and never travelled without it. Back in NYC, seated in front of his computer, time pressing, the publication of his March Newsletter was due the next day; he desperately needed a topic. There is nothing like a short deadline to stimulate the mind, and that is when his lightbulb moment suddenly happened. He decided to use the screenshots photos to start a virtual conversation about the original mat work, an indisputable subject. He would post a photo per day and encourage positive dialogue about the specific exercise. His husband suggested a “March madness for Pilates fans”, Benjamin replaced the “d” with a “t” and March Matness was born.
Benjamin was right with his intuition. The Pilates community was craving a place to find acceptance and positive reinforcement for the loved method. No discrimination accepted, unlike the current “noises” found on Facebook Pilates pages and groups that left so many feeling disempowered. It was pure and all about the original work. It gained popularity rapidly, and at the end of the month, Benjamin was asked if he would repeat it the following year. “No”, he answered. We will repeat it next year. He wanted to include the Pilates community in this event. The snowball effect happened, and it is now followed by Pilates fans from over 20 countries and with an average of 1,600 hashtags used daily for the month of March. Anyone participating is now part of the coMMunity (March Matness).
How do I participate?
March MATness has become a well-established yearly event that many prepare well in advance for. However, there are no pre-requisites to participate. A Pilates wizard or a beginner has an equal opportunity to share and engage in this event. It isn’t about perfection either! “Come as you are” to celebrate Pilates, Benjamin insists, just don’t expect a piece of cake or a medal at the end; it isn’t a competition. Make it your own, have fun with it and Hashtag your moves!
This year’s caption theme is Pilates here and now (#pilateshereandnow). Be real, be spontaneous with your posts, no need for filters and be part TODAY’S time capsule. Remember to tag @360pilatesonline and @marchmatness, and if you also tag @pilatesallianceaustralasia we’ll share your posts too.
For further information such as the calendar, check the March Matness website: https://marchmatness.com
Due to the astounding popularity of MM and its increasing community yearly, Benjamin feels that he can hang his conductor baton and now enjoys a spectator seat when it comes to this campaign. He and his team at 360 Pilates are still involved with the necessary pre-campaign work and naming the caption theme, but they are confident that the event has gained its own status. He feels with or without his partaking, it would still come to life and happen. It has become a little more like Halloween. It is more a matter of finding a costume rather than wondering if it is on this year.
We will chat with Benjamin mid-month to discuss his observations and favourite MM moments so far for 2022. We would love to include some MATness questions in our conversation. Keep an eye on the PAA social media platforms for the invitation to ask a question to Benjamin. Look out for “Ask Benjamin a MATness question”.
Finally, 2023 marks the 10th anniversary, no doubt that Benjamin and the 360 Pilates team have a fun and engaging celebration planned. We’ll keep you posted.
PAA Committee Member
 Podcast in Lisbon, Portugal – 21st February 2021 The Pilates Business Podcast, Seran Glandfield
 Podcast in Barcelona, Spain – 5th March 2020 Ready.Aim.Empire, Lise Kuecker, and also mentioned in The Pilates Business Podcast