The Movement Practice
July 2017 | Sofia Simeonidou
Amy is a teacher. She is a Pilates Instructor. BASI certified, Gyrotonic® and Gyrokinesis® certified and trained by Cori Doetzer, with whom she worked together for 12 years in New York City. Amy's also an entrepreneur. She's the owner of The Movement Practice, here in Amsterdam. And she knows who she is. That's one of the things I take away from our interview story. Amy knows who she is.
Who are you?
I’m a mother, a wife, a Pilates Instructor. I’m a choreographer.
What about your background? Were you a dancer?
I was a ballet dancer when I was a child. I was a focused ballet dancer, really serious about it. I used to leave school early to go to rehearsals. I’d train all night. I didn’t have the ballerina body so that was a struggle. But I loved it. I loved training and dancing.
I didn’t continue as a professional dancer. I had an injury, I was also a serious school student, and so I went to college instead. I was fortunate enough to have some very special modern dance teachers so I switched to modern dance and started choreographing also in college. The science labs and the dance classes were always in the afternoon so I sort of moved away from the idea of doing science. I just did enough to fulfill the course requirements and I became a literature major.
I can’t live without movement in my life.
And from medical school to Pilates?
Well, this is where Pilates feels really close to medicine, close to the movement science. When I got into modern dance and moved to NYC it all started to fall into place. For me, it’s all movement and that’s why I called the studio, The Movement Practice. Pilates was a way to connect. Working with resistance and working with the equipment. It can be clinical, go into sports, into rehabilitation; it can go into many directions. And you also use your hands when teaching. So it was like connecting all the dots. I think it was something really essential for me. Movement was always very important to me. I can’t live without movement in my life.
Tell me some more about The Movement Practice?
Originally it came with this idea of practicing. When I was living in New York, it was always on my mind to find my own space. I came to Amsterdam to do a 2-year Master’s in Choreography and I started teaching Pilates. That was in my house with just one machine back in 2008. Then one day I looked across the street and there was a 55m² space for rent waiting for me. It was challenging to take that decision and move my practice there, but it was a natural step forward. I later got a business partner. She was very Pilates oriented, she was BASI trained, so our practice space grew into 2 rooms. And gradually it became what it is today. A place where I'd like to see everyone grow, a learning opportunity also for teachers to move further with their teaching and classes.
So that’s how you became an entrepreneur?
It was always like this. I don’t even think I ever had a proper 9 to 5 job. After I graduated from college, I did a couple of different things to support myself financially (including an office job for a while) but Pilates came into my life around that time. I lived and worked in New York since 1991. I had my dance company, I was producing shows, but teaching Pilates became my side profession. Pilates was a gift that was given to me. I was trained by Cori Doetzer with whom I worked with from 1994 until 2004 when I moved to Amsterdam. The rest you know.
Having my own company was about my vision. The Movement Practice isn't so much about me. It’s about all the people in it; it’s something that’s evolving organically. I always imagined it more as a center of different disciplines for everyone interested in growing.
What about your courses?
Oh, we offer a variety of courses. The BASI system and the way it’s structured allow us to give each time something different to our training classes. For example, for the people who never had Pilates before, our semi-private courses are a very good introduction to the world of Pilates. Since 2010 we offer 3 private packages, so you can come in, and for a lower rate, you get introduced to mat work, equipment work, and the concept of Pilates. This way you will be able to have time to feel which direction you want to go. What type of training is best for you? It’s a financial investment, especially if you want to work with the equipment, that's why I want to give people the opportunity to experience everything before they make a decision.
What is it about Pilates and our body?
Well, the special thing about Pilates is that you’re learning how to access the deeper muscles of your body, the core muscles, and at the same time learning positive movement patterns that create balance in your body and lasting postural change. So you are re-patterning and this you can bring into all aspects of your life. Pilates is also a body and mind practice. In that sense it is closer to Yoga because you’re working on awareness – but awareness as a pure physical practice. The way you’re working your body reflects how you live, how you take it into your walking onto the street. It’s something that will change your life. It’s taking on a bigger meaning. What does it mean to feel your deep muscles, how are your feet connected to the ground, and how’s that changing how you walk and how you balance? And how you relate to people, don’t forget that. When you begin to change your thinking about your body, it’s like an echo effect. It’s a radical practice.
What makes The Movement Practice different?
I’ve been working on developing Advanced Education Courses from BASI. Courses bringing trainers at master levels. Ever since BASI came in, we feel much more comfortable with injury, we have Pilates for Injuries and Pathologies. We have Pilates for Pregnancy. We have some amazing teachers coming in, guest teachers specialised at what they do. The variation in the schedule (Ola offering DeepWork, Susanne Pre&Postnatal Pilates, Jimmy advanced classes, Carolina kids Creative Movement and Ellen Meijer with extra care Pilates and recently Yoga Tune Up® and release work), there's good training for everyone to enjoy.
You need to have a good team to support you.
What are the challenges running a business?
I’ll start by saying that you need to have a good team to support you. It’s essential. I’m better as a teacher that's for sure. I’m a bigger picture thinker but I'm not a really organised person. And that’s where my studio managers come in. They manage the teachers, the administration, and they are so much more than that. I let people evolve, be productive their own way. That's my management style, with all the pros and cons. I also have a busy personal life. In between teaching, and running a business, and taking care of my family, I need more time. So yes, time and prioritising your time is a big challenge when you are an entrepreneur.
Is it a competitive market?
Yes. A lot of Pilates in the US became mainstream and started having trouble attracting people. There are changes. The studios in London and New York are working with new equipment. I think there’s a lot of fitness trends and the market is saturated.
What gives you energy?
Moving gives me energy, connecting to myself. Teaching gives me energy. Teaching in a balanced way is energy.
What’s success to you?
To really see bodies changing. This is the goal, that people’s lives are changing, that’s what makes me feel successful. Everyone’s becoming more intelligent in their bodies. It’s not really financial.
A book that changed your life?
I enjoyed the 100 Years of Solitude. I remember the feeling of being in this sort of magical fiction that continued. I remember more the sensation when I was reading it, and less the actual story. And then a lot of African American authors as well, and children books. The Giving Tree. It felt so sad, I remember not really enjoying reading it. But then the simple concept of giving, pure giving, it’s a noble pursuit. It’s like a reminder that it doesn’t need to be more than that.
Any upcoming events at The Movement Practice we shouldn't miss?
We are looking into having more reformer classes. Ellen Meijer is doing two Yoga Tune Up® workshops this fall, we have another comprehensive BASI teacher training starting the last weekend of September running 4 weekends through March 2018. We will also add a second Creative Movement class every Tuesday afternoon, and two apprentices will be joining the team. Then we have our kids’ classes. I’m looking also into throwing another socks party in October. It’s sort of an open house; we recently got a new logo so one more reason to celebrate. And just a lot going on, bigger projects, working with kids, teenagers. I’m always discussing with teachers. I’m always open to new ideas. How we can interact with culture in a different way. If the right person comes through the door, there’s that.