The teacher becomes the student
When people walk into my classroom I become the professor of movement and they take on the role of the student. Teaching people to move their bodies in different ways is a passion for me What you might not realize is the benefit I receive as a teacher in learning from my students. One particular "student" who has had a large impact in my life is Dr. Paul LaStayo (PT, PhD, CHT). The Doc has been a physical therapist for almost 30 years and is currently a professor for the department of physical therapy at the University of Utah.
When Doc first walked into my class, I had no knowledge of his clinical background or his injuries. I remember noticing a hesitation to move his body in certain ways... that and of course his tattoos. It was pretty cool to have a guy with ink, a professor (someone who breaks the stereotypes) take an interest in Pilates.
Later on he would share that his hesitation to move was due to a back injury received in a yoga class and hip replacement surgery.
Uffff, hip surgery! Something we have in common. The pain and limitations that accompany hip surgery are something that I understand well. He teases that I will eventually end up like him, maybe he's right. After two hip replacements, the Doc is practically bionic!
After that first Pilates class I'm not sure what brought him back, but he kept on coming. I think it was because I challenged him, and Doc likes a challenge. I also think it was because I could see through his injury. The pain he was experiencing went beyond the injury itself, he was afraid because of the injury.
When assessing students it has become very important for me to pay attention to the signals the body is giving. It is crucial to determine whether the student is in pain or if he/she is anticipating the pain. I need to determine what is stopping the movement, and if the reasoning is neurological, mechanical, structural, or muscular.
I think Doc continued coming to class because he could feel the benefits of the types of movement we were creating. I moved him from linear movements (something he was accustomed to with competitive biking) to tri dimensional movements, something I've learned to use with my dancing background. It is those rotation based movements that caused the most hesitation for him, that's how he injured himself... in yoga (a common injury when all those "organic" yoga poses when not taught properly.)
There was also the clinical issue of the hip replacement. He had lost the ability to create power and activation of his glutes and hamstrings. I think he kept coming because the pilates machine allowed him to move freely without pain, allowing him to control his range of motion. Doc could see that my instruction was primarily to teach him segmental movement patterns - a phrase he taught me!
Instinct and my own experiences have taught me how to create these exercises and movements (correction, I don't create movements... I just put them together) but the Doc has helped me to realize the importance and efficiency of these sequences.
From him I have also learned the beauty and benefit of regression. As trainers we are always pushing the body forward. However, with injuries there is an element of regression that needs to be recognized. There comes a time when the body literally can not be pushed any further. You are forced to step back, analyze, and recognize that there are times and circumstances when the only way to escape the pain is through surgery. Injury is like a puzzle, all pieces need to be considered and all alternatives tried before the final surgical procedure. As much as I hesitate with surgery as an option, Doc helped teach me that at some point surgery is okay. He helped me understand that regression doesn't necessarily mean stepping down and staying down, sometimes it's the only way forward. It is all part of a process.
He has pushed me to be diverse in order to accommodate the necessities of those in my care. There are times in class when I am dealing with hip replacements, 60 degrees of scoliosis, arthritis, ACL repairs or knee replacements ect. No matter the circumstances of the class you have to learn how to make movement work for everyone.
So thank you Doc, for the opportunity to be both teacher and student. Without realizing, you have become a mentor to me. It has been an honor to both teach and learn from you.
Dr. Paul LaStayo, Pt, PHD, CHT,
The Pilates approach to movement and exercise had never been a major focus of mine until I began working with Camilo. As a Physical Therapist for almost 30 years who has always understood the potential value of Pilates practice for rehabilitation and fitness, I never felt a flow or restoration of movement in typical Pilates classes. All physical therapists agree that a strong and healthy suite of core muscles is good for almost everything, and we prescribe strengthening and stretching exercises on a daily basis. Pilates with Camilo, however, is a movement-experience that extends beyond core strengthening and flexibility. The ability to implement movements via Pilates-based techniques that enhances normal body motions that have deteriorated due to age and/or disease is where Camilo shines. Camilo has an innate ability, stemming from his experiences as an athlete/dancer and student, to facilitate movements that have been lost over time. As a competitive masters athlete myself I have benefited greatly after hip replacements in both legs and nagging back problems. Camilo’s approach to restoring movements via Pilates has helped me over the past 2 years so that I am now moving closer to how I moved as a young child. I am using what I have learned and practiced with Camilo and the result has been extraordinary as it relates to my recreational and competitive activities. I am a big fan of how Camilo engages his clients in purposeful movements that incorporate Pilates for overall health and wellness.