Pilates Instructor of the month: Jillian Hessel
Where do you teach?
My teaching tips
Breathe and stay in the moment. Pay attention to the correct form for each exercise. Do your best NOT to let your mind wander. If it does, don’t judge yourself harshly—just come back into the moment and keep on moving! Remember to always treat your body with respect, and it will repay you in kind with many years of good health.
Favourite Exercise and reason why
Hiking outdoors, water workout, ballet class, hip hop, Pilates and Yoga.
Pilates: HomeBody DVD – It is fun to do, easy to follow, restorative, therapeutic, and a good workout.
In a nutshell, tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the industry
I was a professional ballet dancer into my early twenties, and then I switched to modern dance. I had continuous pain issues with my back, due to a double curvature of the spine (scoliosis). I found Pilates in 1981, and re-invented myself as a dancer thanks to Pilates and its’ therapeutic effect on my body.
I always knew I wanted to teach Pilates, not dance classes, once I retired from performing. Well into my thirties, I taught Pilates and continued performing onstage. I formed my own personal training business based on Pilates exercise in Los Angeles California in1988. Back then, most people had not even heard of Pilates, let alone knew how to pronounce it!
I began training Pilates teachers almost immediately as my business expanded. This was way before there were actual certification programs out there for Pilates teachers. I feel lucky to have studied with many of the original teachers trained by Joseph Pilates himself: Kathy Grant, Carola Trier and Ron Fletcher are my main mentors, but I also studied briefly with Eve Gentry and Romana Krysanowa. I have created my own fusion of these Master Teacher’s work, plus added my own take from my dance and yoga experience to my teaching.
I have made many fitness DVD’s both for the general public, and also for Pilates teachers. I also have written a book, “Pilates Basics,” which is designed to go along with an instructional DVD, “Pilates for Beginners.” I am proud that this duet of products was the first multi-media kit on the market specifically to teach people unable to travel or afford instruction at a Pilates Studio how to do Pilates at home
Most recently, I have been experimenting with group classes set to music. I feel the addition of music will help reach a wider audience, and with the epidemic of obesity in the USA, this is of the utmost importance. My group class is called Dance-ilates, and it is a fusion of Pilates, Yoga & Dance. It’s lots of fun to do, and it’s not intimidating for beginners.
Do you have a motto or mission statement?
I want to help people everywhere discover that it’s not so hard to get into shape, and I want to guide and inspire them to get into the best shape of their lives.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
I’m intrigued by the new internet technology – podcasting, downloading, Skyping, Apps, Tweets. I want to reach a worldwide audience with my expertise, so I can pass on my passion for fitness. I want to continue traveling, teaching clients and other Pilates instructors, inspiring people to get into better shape for the rest of my life.