by BASI Staff
Three BASI Pilates faculty members, Jennifer Pearlstein, Amy de Sà and Leah Stewart, gave generously of their time and expertise to teach a Mat Work Teacher Training Course to students of The Wooden Floor in June. The course was donated by BASI Pilates.
The Wooden Floor is a nonprofit organization in Santa Ana, CA, which annually gives 375 underserved local youth the tools to live fuller, healthier lives through a unique approach grounded in dance. The organization describes its mission as being “to empower low-income youth from diverse backgrounds to strengthen self-esteem, self-discipline and a sense of accomplishment through dance, academic, and family programs.”
The experience is described by Jen, Amy and Leah.
In the week prior to teaching at the Wooden Floor, I became more and more nervous. Why so nervous? I have taught the course countless times, especially modules 1 and 2.
I guess I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the girls would be young, 16 – 21 years old, which is an age group I’m not used to working with. How much knowledge would they have? Do they know Pilates? Do they know anatomy? All these concerns and thoughts were running through my mind.
It’s volunteer work; I want to do a good job. It’s BASI’s first time doing this…
And then the day arrives.
I get there an hour early, just to be sure, and I’m shown to our room. I set up the books and sign-in sheet. Then I go into the main building and see a young girl with a mat. I ask if she is doing the Pilates course, and she is. I introduce myself and sit down to chat with her. She is Sophia, a soon-to-be junior in high school; bright, personable, outgoing and excited about Pilates. I am starting to feel at ease.
I look up and see Kristy Santimyer-Melita, who I have known for years from the BASI faculty. I hadn’t realized that she was our contact at the Wooden Floor. I am happy to see a familiar face, and she proceeds to show me around.
The Wooden Floor is an amazing place – three huge dance studios with grand pianos, locker rooms, computer and study room, and social services. It has a 100% high school graduation rate and many of them go on to college. A truly amazing organization.
As Kristy is showing me around, we see one of the dance instructors preparing for class. It turns out to be Jennifer Bossage Bonfil, another BASI graduate whose course I assisted on. Small world. I find myself more and more at ease and I feel so special to be a part of this amazing organization and to be a part of the BASI family.
Now it’s time to teach. We had 10 people in the course, all eager to learn and teach Pilates. As we do the introductions, I find out that one girl is going to UCLA next year and another to Boston College. I am impressed by their participation, their ability to understand and remember the material and their movement.
As I reflect on the weekend, I am so privileged and honored that I was a part of the first Wooden Floor BASI mat course. Thank you to all who made this possible
Amy de Sà:
It’s about helping others, giving back and offering opportunities. That was my experience teaching the BASI Pilates Mat Course at The Wooden Floor. The group consisted of 10 wonderful girls, hard-working and with a desire to learn something new; to empower their minds, bodies and their future. A seed has been planted.
I taught the last phase of the course and it was truly a joy to work with them. They were dedicated, disciplined and enthusiastic. We finished the weekend with great inspiration. It is important to share our passion and dedication to Pilates and educate those with a desire to learn more; especially for those who would not have had the ability to do so otherwise. It may make a huge a difference for them.
It is a new path for these young women, learning how Pilates can benefit their own bodies and in turn how it can greatly affect a vast population of people through teaching the work. The process of the mat course also requires the students to have self-discipline and will build self-esteem, all of which are important elements for their lives.
The BASI mat course can be the beginning of a career path for many of these students. It gives them an education, a sense of completion, empowerment and an economic resource that they may not otherwise have experienced.
It was such a joy to teach the young women at the Wooden Floor. As a long-time dancer (and one who rehearsed and performed at the Wooden Floor center) I was drawn to teaching this group of dancers. I was inspired by the group’s focus and thoughtfulness, they appreciated every moment of learning and movement, understanding that Pilates is a beautiful gift that we can share with others.