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Brooke Siler is the Pilates guru named one of the top pursued trainers by Vogue magazine, author of the New York Times bestselling book 'The Pilates Body' and owner of the celeb haven, re: AB Pilates studio in New York. Brooke is a certified Pilates instructor who is one of the few to have trained under the tutelage of Joseph Pilates' Protégée Romana Kryzanowska. Brooke's re: AB Pilates studio has become the Pilates destination for a multitude of stars including Zooey Deschanel, Liv Tyler, Lauren Hutton and Rachel Weisz. As the founder of the re: AB Pilates Teacher Certification program, Brooke now trains the next generation of Pilates instructors.
What sparked your initial enthusiasm for Pilates?
I was taken by the intelligence of the method and challenged by its athleticism. When I was first introduced to Pilates I had already been in the fitness world for many years and was a gym-junkie. I was strong, but bulky and had little to no idea about strengthening from my center outwards. It was all about arms, legs, abs, etc, as if each was its own entity with no relation to the other. The Pilates method made sense on so many levels and only in class I knew it was something special.
How has the 15 years of experience in fitness training, played a role in your fitness perception?
I see people working out hard but not always smart. The more I understand about the body the more I recognize that our goals are - and should be - individual. Of course there are some basic truths about body mechanics that may prevail however how, when and why an individual moves is actually a pretty personal act.
As one of the first people to make Pilates accessible to the masses, how have you changed the nation's opinion on the matter?
You'd have to ask the masses. ;) I can tell you that I hope I have brought attention to Pilates conscious movement, personal responsibility - and ability! - to care for one's physical self with Pilates, and maybe highlighted the athletic potential of working toward owning a Pilates Body.
Vogue named you as one of the top pursued trainers, what is it about your training that makes you unique?
I'm incredibly passionate and come at a session much like a trainer or a coach. I work you past your comfort zones because I believe in your ability (possibly) more than you do. Plus I have a sharp eye for line and strong hands for adjustment. People like that.
In your bestselling book, "The Pilates Body," what are your top Pilates tips?
Use visual images to engage your mind and body. If I tell you to "Sit tall as if your head were touching the ceiling," you are not only using your mind to create neuro-muscular connections, but also employing myriad muscles you may not even know you have!
Quality over quantity. Each movement has a prescribed number of repetitions (or, as I like to say, "chances to get it right") because - assuming you are doing it correctly - you are working your muscles so precisely and efficiently that doing any more than needed is silly.
Sound movement initiates from your center. In Pilates physical energy is exerted from engaging your center to coordinate the movements of your limbs. In this way a strong foundation (what we term "the Powerhouse") is built upon which we can rely for strength and support during the tasks of daily living.
BREATHE! Breathing is the first and last act of life, so it is imperative that we learn to do it correctly. By employing full inhalations and even fuller exhalations you are not only triggering key support muscles of the torso, but also freeing the accessory muscles of the neck and shoulders from undue tension. Proper breathing patterns also help to control the movements of your Pilates practice and beyond.
How have you helped celebrities such as Madonna and Liv Tyler sculptor and tone with Pilates?
The same way I've helped every other client that I've taught - agreeing on their individual needs and then working them out. By listening to the needs of my clients we are able to create goals which they can strive toward throughout their Pilates sessions. In this way the Pilates work is working for their unique and individual needs as opposed to being generically imposed upon them.
Why do you think your re: AB Pilates Studio has become the Pilates destination of choice?
re: AB's tagline is "Authenticity. Passion. Purpose." What those words mean to me is this: "Authenticity" means that I am true to the teaching of Joe Pilates and was trained for more than a decade by Jospeh Pilates' own protégée. I continue to work with, train, and hire, others who believe that the work of Pilates is not a system that needs to be changed, but a system that expands to fit all who desire to really learn it. "Passion" because knowledge is one thing and enthusiasm is another. At re: AB we have both in spades. "Purpose" means that we do not teach random or generic Pilates, but instead tailor the sessions to fit with the needs of our clients and strive to meet their fitness goals. And I stand by those key words as what defines us as a studio.
As the next generation Pilates instructor, what are the key skills you want to instill in your students?
Authenticity, passion and purpose You've GOT to LOVE, Love, Love Pilates to be an excellent teacher.
How can Pilates be used to target bikini-baring parts of the body?
Pilates is already a target for those bikini-baring parts of the body - we call it the Powerhouse - and it is the initiation point and purpose of why we move every other part. Pilates is truly a TOTAL body workout!
When targeting the arms, how does Pilates +2lb weights fire up the guns and build muscle?
Pilates is more than a mat and 2lb weight. Pilates is a system of specially designed apparatus that utilize up to about 100lbs of resistance. Sessions are created for the needs of the individual and we have more than a dozen pieces of unique apparatus to create, what's physically needed, for a strong, healthy, efficient body.
As a former student of the Pilates Master Romana Kryzanowska, what was the most important lesson you learned about Pilates through her teachings?
It is the most wonderfully genius method for the body…and….don't even think of teaching it if you're not madly in love with it!