Instructor in Focus – Ash Berry

Ash Berry

Ash Berry

Professional Instructor Level 2, Movementality & The Australian Ballet School VIC

Instructor Name: Ash Berry
Studio(s) you work at: Movementality, The Australian Ballet School
Location: Richmond VIC, Southbank VIC.
Instructor training: Tensegrity Training
PAA Level: Professional Instructor Level 2

What originally motivated you to try Pilates and then go on to train as an instructor?
I was a professional dancer so I’d done Pilates for years and seen the value but not really enjoyed it that much to be honest. Then I met Bruce Hildebrand and he taught me in a way that made sense to my body and challenged me in a way I’d never been challenged before. I couldn’t just rely on my flexibility anymore, I actually had to work! After that, I was hooked.

What did you eat for breakfast?

Half a cup of bone broth and a slice of our homemade sourdough toast

In one word, describe your first Pilates experience?

I was 14 so I am going to say ‘bewildering’

What impact has the recent COVID-19 virus had on your world?

Like many others, our business was severely impacted, especially being located in Melbourne. Plus, both Rob and I derive our livelihoods from the same business, so that was pretty stressful. We didn’t have a choice but to adapt, so we adapted fast and luckily we have a stellar team who just said ‘yes’ and came along for the ride.

How have you handled your Pilates teaching with COVID-19, any advice to other teachers?

I found Zoom incredibly tiring. It was so difficult to teach in your nuanced way without the support of body language, touch and imagery and so I found myself speaking a lot more than I normally do. I realised during the second lockdown, that it was much better to just own the experience and not try to hide it from clients. Everyone was going through the same thing, most of them felt better knowing everyone was doing it tough. We started this round robin at the start of class where people would quickly say what they were feeling and do a body scan and say what they needed from today’s class. It helped me understand where their heads were at, but also invited everyone to be open and honest about what they were feeling, and most importantly, take ownership over naming what it was they needed. It was very empowering.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I never realised how much I love being on my feet all day and teaching human beings. My body was not built to be desk bound. Right now I am splitting my time between the studio and The Australian Ballet School, basically teaching non stop. I thought I’d be tired (and I am) but I am also so energised and teaching better than ever before, because I am constantly in it, analysing bodies and movement. Switching between admin and teaching is much harder I think!

Your ‘go to’ website for all things Pilates (other than PAA)?

IADAMS website – so many great resources, or The Ballet Blog by Lisa Howell.

The best advice you’ve ever had?

“You are not the star of the show, Ash you are the referee. A good referee keeps the game in play without getting in the way of the game itself. It’s an artform. Get out of the way Ash and let your clients be the stars.” – Bruce Hildebrand in response to me feeling burnt out from always (unconsciously) “performing” my classes. This moment literally changed my life and I am forever grateful for that man for giving me the hard truths time and time again.

An indulgence you can’t live without?

I am a little bit of a couch potato. I use to hate admitting it but then I realised it’s a version of self care for me. It helps me switch off and disengage with my day so I am a big fan of an episode or two at the end of a long day.

How long have you been a member of PAA and how did you hear about PAA?

We joined up in 2017 I think when we took over the business so coming on 5 years. I heard about the PAA when I first moved back to Australia from London.

Do you have a motto?

Not really, but I have some little kinesiology and somatic rituals I do to prepare me for a day of teaching. Things to help me feel connected to myself, grounded in my body and ready to take on the day.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Saying no.

How do you use PAA?

I love the conferences and I also like reading the articles.

Who is your Pilates idol or would love to meet, and why?

Joseph Pilates, because I love a bit of history and I’d just love to do a session with him and see how different it is to what I do!

What do you appreciate most about your body?

That it has a wisdom that I could never cognitively understand. That if I trust it and listen to it, it will reveal things to me and help me better myself.

The book you’re currently reading?

The Body Keeps The Score  by Bessel van der Kolk.

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