“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn”
- John Cotton Dana
Chris earned his certification and Guild membership after completing Romana’s rigorous 600hr program. But he knew his Pilates education didn’t end there. He had so much respect for the depth of The Method that he sought out Jay Grimes who studied with both Joseph and Clara Pilates. For 8.5 years he commuted weekly from San Diego to Los Angeles for private lessons which he described as “mind-blowing every time”. He added “One hour of Jay’s wisdom was worth the 5hr commute.” Chris feels he achieved an even broader understanding of the Method because of Jay’s unique ability to simplify it.
Over 20 years later and Chris is still a martial artist because of the discipline, consistency, dedication, and time he has committed equally to his Pilates practice. He still takes private lessons, but also maintains a regular self-practice in his San Diego studio and his Gratz home studio. To him, self-practice is a vital learning tool because “Once you self-discover something, then it’s truly yours”. So he constantly strives to make the work his own while honing the skills and wisdom he learned from Romana and Jay. Chris ultimately merged his passions to create Pilates and Sports by Chris Robinson (formerly S6 Fitness) where he trains professional, amateur, and recreational athletes for peak performance. But also non-athletes seeking to move and feel at their own personal best. Plus he’s a Teacher of Teachers, hosting his own continuing education program, and conducting workshops for studios and conferences around the globe. Chris has also mentored Carrie South for the past 6yrs. He refers to her as “a true apprentice" and someone he proudly considers a reflection of himself as a teacher. Stay tuned to see how the legacy continues with Carrie…
Everyone’s journey toward becoming a Classical Pilates teacher is quite similar - a rigorous 600hr apprenticeship including written and practical tests to demonstrate our understanding of the Method and our ability to teach it. Carrie South has had a different journey. Having studied under the direct mentorship of Chris Robinson for the past six years, she’s what you’d call “a true apprentice”. When speaking with Chris you get a strong sense of how proud he is of the student she is and the teacher she has become. Through discipline, consistency, dedication, and time “she has become a reflection of me and my own training. I can see myself in her work with clients”. Carrie is now part owner of Chris’ San Diego studio where she teaches Pilates, Functional Training, and Bulgarian Bags as learned directly from him.
Carrie was originally a graphic designer. But when Chris started teaching corporate Mat classes at her company, she became a regular student and instant enthusiast. She recognized something distinctly different between Pilates and the bootcamp style workouts she was accustomed to. Pilates was less about moving for the sake of moving, and more about training for optimal physical function. Even after 2.5 years of just taking Mat classes, Carrie felt the depth of the work and was intrigued by the fact that she was constantly learning something new. That intrigue nudged her to reevaluate her career. Her own experience with Pilates taught her that “physical mobility is the number one thing that gives you freedom”. She wanted to offer that same freedom to others, so she approached Chris about the possibility of becoming a teacher.
Chris’ initial recommendation was that she shadow him for one month to ascertain if this was a career path she truly wanted to pursue. She ended up submitting her two-week notice to become his full-time apprentice. Carrie was excited about a new career that would empower others while constantly challenging her to learn and grow as both a teacher and a student. She believes that a good student is “someone who wants to be there, knows why they’re there, and gives you all of their energy”. And this is exactly how Carrie has approached her apprenticeship with Chris for the last six years. She started spending up to 5hrs/day with him at his studio, 5-6 days/week. Carrie observed him teach everything from Pilates to Functional Fitness and Bulgarian bags in private and group settings. And, she trained hard! In fact, Chris trained her in all three modalities until he felt she was ready to teach each one under his observation. Eventually Chris entrusted her with his own clients and she began co-running his studio.
Through her apprenticeship with Chris, Carrie has learned more than just the beginner, intermediate, and advanced system on all apparatus. She’s learned some of the nuances of effective teaching such as knowing when and why to teach someone a specific exercise. And how to simplify the work to make it more accessible. Plus the importance of trusting her intuition when making those choices. And through watching Chris, she’s also learned to honor the psychological component of teaching; how to navigate the needs, expectations, and personalities of different clients.
But becoming an effective Pilates teacher involves more than great communication skills and a theoretical understanding of the work. It’s something that needs to be practiced with a strong sense of discipline, consistency, dedication, and time. And, just like Chris, Carrie has never stopped being a student of the work. She continues taking virtual classes with him 3-5 times/week. And whenever he’s in San Diego, she takes private lessons too. “I don’t think learning Pilates is ever done. Chris is always talking about new things he learned or realized and that’s an inspiration for me to keep learning too.”