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Response from JoAnn Graser, new President of PMA 1/25/21:

Thank you for your email.  The PMA has been at a crossroads and I now feel we have identified our path forward. We are committing to taking actionable steps to create an environment where every member feels they belong.

Jennifer Hudson has been retained to assist with our communications and we are in the process of finalizing the engagement of a DEI consultant who will help us to re-form the board and hire the leadership necessary to move the organization toward our goal of real inclusivity.

There will be more information forthcoming this week about concrete plans and actionable steps. The PMA will provide updates on a regular basis assuring transparency in all areas of the organization.

I do hope that one day in the not to distant future, you will submit an application to join in sharing your gifts with the community at a PMA conference.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Jo Ann Graser, NCPT

President, Tensile Strength Studio & Barrington Yoga Loft

President, PMA Board of Directors

847.387.3610

www.tensilestrengthstudio.com

My reply 1/25/21:

Thank you Jo Ann Graser very much for your response.  


I am aware that the PMA was initially founded on fighting the trademark lawsuit to prevent insularness of the Pilates community and displayed principles of inclusion by celebrating Kathy Grant, Lolita San Miguel, Ron Fletcher, and Mary Bowen’s work directly in conferences.  I understand that the PMA was able to hold the space well enough for the political divisions of classical/contemporary to not be so divisive in recent years to keep membership only to one side or the other.  I understand why PMA sought to create a 3rd party certification so that the profession of a “Pilates Instructor” would rise to the same professional standards that doctors, lawyers, nurses, massage therapists and many other professions require in order to practice their services.  The PMA did many great things, but it had a major blindspot that was now exposed. 

Now is an opportunity for your organization to be held accountable and right the ship on race relations, or decide to pass the ship (meaning the knowledge and experience of offering all the infrastructure you did since 2000) off to new inclusive leadership, rebrand and implement successful new infrastructure that updates the national organization to 2021 political awareness and action.  That includes openly denouncing white supremacy and not sugar coating it with equity and inclusion statements. Extremist thought can not be ignored, for ignoring it is tolerance of it.

I think the steps you are taking are in the right direction, but as you may agree, it is not up to white people like me to decide if these steps are welcoming or not to the Black Pilates community.  That is up to the Black Pilates community to decide. I would recommend reaching out directly to upset teachers in the Black Pilates community for suggestions on how to heal this hurt as they will be able to answer that question best.  


Thank you for being in conversation with me.

Respectfully,


Mariah P. Sotelino, Owner & Educational Director

Insight Pilates 

Learn the Art of Teaching Movement 

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END wHITE sUPREMACY

An Open Letter to PMA from Insight Pilates:

Dear Jo Ann Graser, Katie Santos, Suzy Levi, Elizabeth Anderson & Tanya Nieto-Winzey,

CC: Nikki Steward, Stella Hull-Lampkin, Tabetha Koylass, Eurona Tilley

January 24th, 2021

I have been a PMA member on and off since 2000, am PMA certified and until recently, was thrilled for the opportunity to present at last year’s conference, and was patiently awaiting the Zoom opportunity for my slated presentation on “The 7 Movement Families” for May this year.

I am very grateful for this opportunity, however, I am not comfortable associating myself with PMA at the moment.  I read your blog post apology “We Got it Wrong. Again” and I don’t think it’s enough.  You have “Covid Protocols” on your main menu to keep everyone safe from biological viruses and yet you haven’t directly addressed white supremacy, a mental virus.  Your apology is hidden on your blog with a vague title that screams you would rather just keep it quiet.  While your planned survey this Feb 15th is a step in the right direction, PMA still remains stained as an unsafe place for Black Pilates instructors.  Until I am assured that the anti-racist actions PMA takes actually does create a safe space for Black Pilates Instructors, I rescind my participation in this year’s conference, will not renew my membership, nor my NCPT third party certification.   I am aware of my inherent racism as a white woman and the privilege that exists for white Pilates instructors especially as the default Pilates Body/Cover of the book/marketing images/star of the show/front of the line.  I don’t need to know all of the details of what went down in this recent conflict in the PMA board to stand in solidarity against the tokenism of Black people.  Black Lives Matter is not a new cause for me that just arose this summer, this is how I was raised.  

I do plan to take my ideas elsewhere to share with my Pilates community in a safer space.  I do plan to receive financial gains from my own ideas, as that is any human’s right to earn a living, however, I am aware that all great ideas stand on the shoulders of those that came before them.  I specifically do not intend to find personal gain in my protest to not participate in PMA this year.  I intentionally am not centering the BLM movement on me.  I do not claim to be trained in the field of organizational development and civic engagement.  I am a Pilates Instructor with the values of honoring, protecting, and respecting cultural inclusivity.

The specific actions that I would like to see PMA take to change the culture of exclusion for Black Pilates trainers are (if you have taken any of the actions below or other anti-racist actions, already, please point me to relevant resources for me as a former PMA member, so I can learn more about PMA’s anti-racist actions as I watch PMA’s culture heal):

1.) Make your public apology from the current PMA board and leadership directly to Nikki Steward, Stella Hull-Lampkin, Tabetha Koylass, and Eurona Tilley for the recent unacceptable intolerance of their grievances that came up for them as Black Pilates instructors. Say their names.

2.) Send an email to all current PMA members and any former members that may have not renewed due to let members know exactly how PMA will welcome all people as human beings and won’t ignore race as an issue for Black People and People of Color. 

3.) Commit to continually educate yourself on anti-racism and be self-aware of inherent racism by listening to Black voices.  Read books by Black authors such as Angela Davis, Layla Saad, Ijeoma Oluo and taking webinars from Black Women who speak openly about race to educate White people on their subconscious bias like Catrice Jackson, Monique Melton, and Sonja Herbert of Black Girl Pilates.  Learn the facts, study history and self-reflect using critical thinking.

4.) You took the right step in hiring Jennifer R. Hudson of ThinkBeyond Public Relations to consult PMA on their D&I strategy.  I would like to see PMA offer free training for all PMA staff and members in anti-racism (specifically to deal with inclusion for Black People) and diversity and inclusion (a broader term to be anti-discriminatory in general). If PMA truly is going to, as you, Elizabeth Anderson said “better represent and support our beautifully diverse community in every way… will ensure every member feels honored and celebrated”  then PMA needs to get out in front of racism and denounce white supremacy.  We all saw what happened when leadership failed to denounce white supremacy.  Silence is Violence. 

5.) Create a strategy for addressing grievances from all staff and members that includes grievances of racially motivated aggression/harassment/assault and include it in your non-profit staff handbook.

6.) Put your money where your mouth is: Boycott white supremacist sympathizing businesses and support & donate the movement of Black Lives Matter and specifically to Black small businesses. Donate for COVID relief now for Black families. Make a donation or take a Pilates session at black owned Pilates studios.

My choice of donation today was: Soul Fire Regenerative Farm since sustainable farming heals the planet and Soul Fire is embodying healing of the planet and from ancestral trauma.

This email serves as an exit from our Pilates Content Workshop Presenter contract for the PMA conference this May 5th-8th, 2021. Specifically, I no longer agree to the Content Exclusivity clause and will present “The 7 Movement Families” whenever and to whoever I plan to.

In the future, if I see that PMA does truly achieve a culture of inclusivity, I will be open to submitting my work to contribute to a national Pilates community led by The Pilates Method Alliance.

Respectfully,

Mariah P. Sotelino, Owner & Educational Director

Insight Pilates 


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Spine Flossing can be done anywhere- on your stairs, a bench, arm of a couch.

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The Art of Teaching Movement

Instructor teaching a client how to perform Swan on Pilates Chair


Learning is about layering information. At first pass, we gather an initial understanding- maybe we grab onto a few facts and we think we “know” the material. However- at what point do we truly “get it”? Insight Pilates believes we can always deepen our understanding of a movement- each time we come to practice Pilates we can gather new insights. Every day we can learn something new. There is great value in the educational process of learning movement. If your goal is mastery of self in movement or mastery of teaching movement to your client- Insight Pilates is your resource. In this Blog, Insight Pilates discusses the biomechanics of the exercise in terms of joint action and planes of movement. Then we go beyond biomechanics and discuss what can you be feeling while you are doing the movement? What movement concepts will help you better execute the move from the correct chain of muscle engagement?

In this Blog, you will gather crucial information on how to be safe while executing the exercise, how to spot your client well, and be aware of what is the fitness goal of an exercise. A vital aspect of teaching movement is how well can this body (your client’s body- or your own body) execute the movement. We all have our gifts and our curses. Learning the Pilates method can mean learning more about your own strengths and weaknesses. It is in the struggle to obtain ideal movement that we learn the most about ourselves as we overcome out limitations. Insight Pilates believes in striving for excellence, rather than perfection. You are invited to follow this Blog to enhance your learning process: Register here for the Insight Pilates newsletter.