Gratz approached and collaborated with Romana's Pilates with the scholarship concept and Daria Pace immediately suggested that Chris Hoguet would be a deserving candidate for the scholarship in the Teacher Training Certification Program. Gratz is currently supporting Chris Hoguet as he attends the Romana's Pilates Certification Program in South Florida and trains at Pilates in Paradise with Christi Allen and at Daria's Romana's Pilates studio in Ft. Lauderdale. Chris's tuition will be paid for by Gratz Pilates and our intent is to support Chris on his journey as an apprentice and for him to share the process and to allow Gratz to follow his journey and share his thoughts and evolution throughout the process.
Chris is a former Special Forces military officer and combat veteran and he retired in 2014 after a distinguished career and at that time Chris started taking some Pilates classes offered by Romana's Pilates instructor Kerri Bender in the Florida Keys. Please read her account of meeting and working with Chris below. We will be sharing an interview with Chris as well as observations from his instructors, photos, and eventually videos of his Pilates training.
Kerri Ann Bender
Romana's Pilates Instructor Trainer - Level IV
1. Where and when did you first do Pilates work with Carrie and the Dolphin project initially?
Pilates was a recommendation of my Acupuncturist (Candice Nelms). She knew of a program offering Pilates to veterans. I didn't know anything about Pilates, thought it was the other Yoga thing but since Candice recommended it I agreed to go to be polite. Thats when I met Kerri Bender. Kerri had worked with Island Dolphin Care (IDC) and Gratz to organize a program for Vets and others that attend IDC's events.I still didn't know what to expect and thought maybe I would be with 10 or 20 others leaning to do some of that other yoga stuff. I was surprised at what Kerri was offering (one-on-one sessions) and her dedication, attention to detail, exacting standards, but also able to adapt to the not-so-flexible-me. Somewhere around the third or fourth session we did the Push Through and I felt my lower back just open up. I knew then that there was something to Pilates, not just an exercise program.
2. Please confirm a little more background on your history prior to studying Pilates- where you grew up, what sports did you participate in, what were the years of your military service, and any other details that you are comfortable sharing with us and the Pilates community.
I grew up in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Played Little League Baseball and grade school football because my dad made me join. I wasn't any good at either. Didn't play anything after that.In 1982 at age 19 I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve as an Officer Candidate and attended the first phase (6 weeks) of training after completing my first year at Penn State. Later I switched programs to Army ROTC. I was Commissioned in the Army in 1986 and Graduated PSU with B.A. in Telecommunications technically in 1987. I enter active duty in Sept 1987 and retired at the end of Jul 2014 as a Lieutenant Colonel (O5).
3. What have the first few months of teacher training been like?
The past few months have been a bit eclectic. Separating standards from techniques has been the challenge. A physical challenge that has existed from the beginning of my Pilates practice has been to accept that the "No Pain No Gain" and "run till your numb" mind sets don't apply.Learning the nuances of the proper technique and then keeping that in my mind-body. Old bad habits are hard to replace. Another physical-mental challenge is to incorporate good Contrology techniques into my Instructing practice and training, i.e. how I stand, bend, adjust the apparatus, etc... After that the challenge of the Instructor Training is developing my own methodology.
4. What apparatus do you enjoy working on the most ?
The Tower. I'm 6' 4" @220 lbs, I can easily fit and I my feet don't hit the vertical bars when using leg springs.
1. Having completed the basic portion of the teacher training program, is there anything that surprised you or was easier or more challenging than anticipated in the basic program?
Having completed the Basic seminar of Romana’s Pilates Instructor Trainer program has been informative and also challenging. One of the main challenges for me was separating the Syllabus from the technique of teaching actual bodies. Each instructor I have worked with has had their own unique way of presenting the information to their clients, unlike the Basic seminar which seemed to me to be more of a black & white definitive structure. This was an adjustment for me...one could liken it to speaking the same language, but with many different dialects. Each variation on technique was different from how things were presented in the Basic Seminar, but also effective. Coming from a military background, this fluid way of teaching the same information with so many different approaches was both a surprise and a challenge for me.
2. Have you noticed a change in your body and mind as you get deeper into the Pilates method and practice and study more intensely?
I am happy to report that my reduction in pain and discomfort continues as I continue to consistently practice Pilates. I credit this to my private lessons and hope that my future teaching, once I complete my Instructor training, will be this beneficial for others living life with pain and body functionality issues.
3. How is it working as a teacher and leading a client through the technique, inspiring, and directing them during a class?
At this point, I am focused on learning the safeties and the syllabus. I am working to understand the exercises in my own body and to learn who each exercise is best for and how to build an efficient and effective Pilates lesson. From my experience thus far with a number of Master Teachers and Instructor Trainers I know the inspiration will follow. I have been fortunate to already study with Sari Mejia Santo, Juanita Lopez, Rhonda Celenza, Javier Perez Pont, Daria Pace, Moses Urbano, Enza Arrizza, Kerri Ann Bender, Anthony Rabara, Hosana Ganem, and Christi Allen Franchini. They are all inspired and deliver this work in their own special way and I’m sure to find my voice in it as well. I find that the classical Pilates community has some similarities to the Special Operations Community. With a willingness to try, you will earn your way, quality is more important than quantity, people are more important than equipment or apparatus, and good instructors cannot be mass produced.