Principal Trainer, Precision Pilates Windsor, VIC
Instructor Name: Helen New
Studio(s) you work at: Precision Pilates Windsor
Location: Studio 6, 5/40 Green Street, Windsor, Victoria
Instructor training: Advanced Diploma of the Pilates Method (91490NSW)
PAA Level: Principal Trainer
What originally motivated you to try Pilates and then go on to train as an instructor?
I was 21 and sustained an injury to my back whilst dancing. I was told I’d never dance again and needed surgery to fuse L4/L5/S1. Not liking that diagnosis I did some research and found my way to a Physiotherapist who introduced me to Pilates. I returned to dance and continued with my Pilates practice for many years. After my second child was born my Instructor suggested I become an Instructor, but those two hours a week were “my time” and I didn’t want it to become work.
Fast forward another ten years and I was teaching dance part time and found I was incorporating a lot of Pilates into my body conditioning classes, so decided it was time to do some training. I enrolled in the Diploma of Professional Pilates Instruction at National Pilates Training and followed this up very quickly with the Advanced Diploma of the Pilates Method. My plan was always to work primarily with dancers/performers but life had another plan for me. I detected my step-daughter had Scoliosis and found myself on a journey to research and understand this fully so I could help her. After opening my first studio in Parkdale, I built a strong Allied Health Network and found myself working mainly in a rehabilitative way and loving it. Awareness of the work I was doing with Scoliosis started to spread and I started getting referral after referral for this condition. Katrina Edwards invited me to join the Faculty of National Pilates and I am still involved in the Advanced Diploma Delivery.
Another ten years later, I opened a second studio in Windsor, leaving my amazing staff to run the Parkdale studio! I now work with a wide range of clients, but specialise in managing Scoliosis and dancer conditioning. After writing and presenting my own Workshop “Curvy Bodies-A Deeper Look at Scoliosis” nationally, I was invited by Karena Thek to become a Scolio-Pilates® Master Instructor. I’m thrilled to be offering the first two Modules of Scolio-Pilates® Training in Australia from this year.
What did you eat for breakfast?
Sourdough toast with avocado, cherry tomatoes, fetta and chilli flakes
In one word, describe your first Pilates experience?
Life changing! (Sorry that’s two!!)
What impact has the recent COVID-19 virus had on your world?
Like many of my peers, especially those in Melbourne, I was absolutely devastated when I had to close my studios in March. I experienced many emotions, cried a bucket of tears, wanted to punch someone/something and felt completely drained. My initial struggle was with the term “non-essential”! How dare anyone tell me I was “non-essential”! Eventually my very intelligent 22 year old daughter said “mum you have to stop being so angry, it won’t change anything and it’s making you sick”……she was right! So I started meditating and came to a place of acceptance and discovered my clients still found me “essential”. I’m teaching online (privates mainly) and am super busy. The face to face delivery of Scolio-Pilates® I had scheduled in April had to be rescheduled, but I am now offering Module 1 online.
During COVID I wanted to give back to an industry that has given me so much over the years and have been running free sessions for professional Music Theatre Performers. Their industry has been badly affected and it’s been a delight to have performers zooming in from all over Australia.
How have you handled your Pilates teaching with COVID-19, any advice to other teachers?
Teaching online has opened up new opportunities for people who are not local to me. I’ve reconnected with clients and ex-staff who now live interstate and it’s been fabulous. We pivoted to online sessions very quickly and in the first lock down I taught people whenever they wanted a session as I didn’t want to turn anyone away, not knowing how everything would play out. I found myself teaching six days a week and all hours of the day. We then reopened for 2 1/2 weeks in June before having to close again. Second lock down I took a different approach and I’m currently teaching 4 days a week and am fully booked. Two of my staff were able to step up to teach online and they are taking all of the group classes plus some privates.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Helping people improve their quality of life by reducing stress and pain levels and general well being.
Your ‘go to’ website for all things Pilates (other than PAA)?
The best advice you’ve ever had?
Always trust your gut.
An indulgence you can’t live without?
Gin and chocolate!
How long have you been a member of PAA and how did you hear about PAA?
10 years and Google. Chose my training centre from the PAA website.
Do you have a motto?
If you’re going to do something, give it your everything.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Fitting everyone in – I struggle saying “no” to clients and then find myself working crazy long days!
How do you use PAA?
Workshops, searching for instructors interstate when my clients relocate.
Who is your Pilates idol or would love to meet, and why?
Hmm, not sure I have an idol. I’ve been fortunate to work with many wonderful instructors over the years. I was in Los Angeles a few years ago and Rael Isacowitz made sure I felt every muscle on my trip back home. I’ve had several trips to New York and worked with some amazing instructors there, but always made time to see Rebekah Rotstein as I just love how she looks at a body and her attention to detail. Karena Thek is my mentor for all things Scoliosis and I love catching up with her on regular zoom calls! I love how her brain works and she is one of the kindest people I know.
What do you appreciate most about your body?
I’m 55 and thanks to Pilates being such a huge part of my life, I’m grateful for what my body can still do. It may not be as flexible or lean as it was in my twenties, but I’m thankful to still feel strong and connected.
The book you’re currently reading?
The National Pilates Certification Study Guide so I can do my PMA certification.
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