Leading Pilates instructor Mo Sherring has returned from a workshop in Spain led by Lolita San Miquel, the only person still alive to have been certified to teach Pilates by Joseph Pilates himself.
Mo was specially invited to join select instructors at the unique workshop, held at Sitges near Barcelona. In addition to training with Lolita on Matwork and Equipment, Mo had the opportunity to talk to her about Joseph, and the vital role the Isle of Man played in the development of Pilates.
Mo, who runs the Pilates Studio Isle of Man in Onchan, explained: ‘It was an overwhelming experience. There were only 20 people invited to attend, coming from all over the world, and we had the unique experience of working with Lolita for more than six hours each day.
‘She is one of only two people to have been certified as an instructor by Joseph, having trained with him at his New York studio, and gave us a wonderful insight into the man. Some people are aware that Joseph developed the Pilates method while an internee in the Isle of Man, and Lolita said he would often be asked about that time while working in New York.
‘She said he described his time here as good, and it had provided him with an amazing opportunity – the time to work on his method. He was a working man, who never had time to develop the method. When he was interned, he finally had that time, and worked on what became Pilates with patients at the old hospital and with fellow internees. It was amazing to hear from someone who spent time with him, just how important the Isle of Man was in the creation of a fitness method which is now known and practiced around the world.’
Lolita also revealed that the Universal Reformer, a familiar piece of equipment which can be found in any Pilates studio, was developed in the Isle of Man and its history lies in the humble hospital beds of World War 1.
The workshop was organised by Master Trainer Michael King, the highly regarded tutor Mo trained with.
New York-born Lolita, who is this year celebrating 56 years of practicing Pilates, is one of the two remaining “Distinguished Elders” of the Pilates Method Alliance. After a distinguished career in dance – she was a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet for over ten years and Ballet Mistress for Ballet Hispanico for three years – Lolita moved to Puerto Rico in 1977, where she founded Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico and Pilates y Mas, teaching, training and certifying teachers in association with Polestar Pilates Education. She retired from Ballet Concierto in 2005, after 27 years as Artistic and Executive Director, and at the age of 70 started a new career, dedicated to teaching the Pilates Method.
Mo said: ‘I have been teaching Pilates for more than 20 years, but there is always more to learn and different or new ways to train and teach. Being invited to this Masters Series workshop led by Lolita was a great honour, but also a wonderful opportunity to develop my skills further, and bring great benefits to those I teach Pilates to in the Isle of Man.
‘Lolita is also the embodiment of one of Joseph’s favourite sayings, that you are only as old as your spine is flexible, and that if you have a flexible spine at 60, you are young. Lolita is 80, but, as she says, she is young.’
Pilates is a method body conditioning which promotes flexibility, muscle strength and endurance in the legs, abdomen, arms, hips, and back by concentrating on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing and developing a strong core, or centre, and improving coordination and balance.
Mo offers a range of classes and sessions at her studio in Onchan and venues around the Island, with programmes suited to all ages and experience levels. To find out more visit www.isleofmanpilates, call 625772 or find Pilates Studio Isle of Man on Facebook and Twitter.