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Alexandra specialises in treating chronic pain, Hypermobility/EDS syndrome, acute lower back and neck pain, knee and hip osteoarthritis, RA and more. With 20+ years of combined experience, she has established herself as a trusted practitioner of Traditional Osteopathy and the Classic Pilates Method. When treating pain, Alexandra focuses on the body as a whole not just symptoms. Guided by the principles of Andrew Tailor Still, the founder of Osteopathy trusting the body's self-healing mechanism. As an osteopath, she is dedicated to encouraging and facilitating this natural healing process while strengthening with Pilates for long-term success. My passion is education, healthy and strength.

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You've had the privilege of working under the guidance of renowned figures like Romana Kryzanowska in NYC and Mari Winsor in Beverly Hills. How did these experiences shape your teaching style?

I am still amazed that I was able to study under and be certified by both Romana and her daughter Sari at the legendary Drago's Gym in New York City. I knew Romana was exceptional, singular, and passionate about the work, but only gradually over the years have I come to realize the enormity of the opportunity I had stepped into. It’s a longer story for another time about how I ended up at Drago's with Romana (a dance story, like many of us), but that was a very special place at the time. I also had the honor of being around the clever and endearing Mr. Dragos himself and studied and worked weekly with Edwina Fontaine, Jerome Weinberg, Cynthia Shipley, and Pam Pardi. Just thinking about all these brilliant and talented people brings me chills of excitement, all those memories of Drago's Gym where it was all about the work, sweat, and laughter! When the elevator door opened directly into the studio, you could feel the irresistible buzz in the place.

Romana was one of a kind with contagious energy. I remember being amazed and amused by how she made each individual feel like superstars. She always emphasized, “teach the body in front of you.” No matter what limitations each person had, whether a hip replacement or a shoulder injury, she would work around the injury. She would make people work hard, get sweaty, and then gently address and strengthen the sensitive area. Towards the end of each session, the person would leave feeling good, positive, and empowered.

Each of us who studied with Romana has a little piece of her teaching quality that remains with us. No matter who comes to me, for example,one of my patients with a prosthetic leg, often leaves my studio feeling stronger, more flexible, and more confident after each session.Because, after all, he is more than his prosthetic leg; it is about the whole body. My client is not a leg; he is a whole person. And I attribute that ability to teach for the whole body but around problem issues to Romana’s inspiration and modeling the Method as Joe intended.She would always push us to our limits saying, “Don’t make me sleepy,make it more gutsy,” or “Put some guts into it.” And for some strange reason when training with her, I would always want to give 110% and not any less; I didn’t want to disappoint her. I always felt she deserved only my very best effort, and I think most of the other students felt the same energy and motivation. All the Pilates I knew was Romana’s style and all the wonderful military-like structure that came with it at Drago's, which I still remember fondly. Moving to California alone was in itself a big difference from the east coast. Working in Hollywood and Santa Monica at Mari Windsor Studios, I learned so much about people and business. Mari had learned that well and was passing this treasure to me in a very practical sense, how Pilates meets business models and personality types. She was such a businesswoman full of life and love for Pilates (and chips)! I learned to read people and therefore give each person a different type of workout that would suit not only their needs but also their pace, repetition, intensity, and goals. For example, why did they come to Pilates in the first place, so I can help them achieve their goals and not mine. Mari taught me to make sure I acknowledge and accommodate different personality types.

For example, if I had a person with a high-intensity personality that wanted a hardcore workout, perhaps to look good for a movie or a modeling job (very common in West Hollywood), I wouldn’t ask them to memorize the names of each exercise or to perform like a Pilates apprentice by getting their own straps. I might ask them to add or remove a spring, grab the long box as part of their workout, etc., but rather just get them moving so they can see results in their bodies. These individuals did not come to see me to become a Pilates teacher; they came to look strong and beautiful, the classic Hollywood vibe. Or sometimes I had people that were a bit more easily distracted and couldn’t remember what movement is next, no matter how long they may have been doing Pilates. I would just continue to be patient and keep them moving, not expecting too much but meeting them where they were at that time.

Both of these women were highly influential in mydevelopment as a teacher. They both left an indelible impression on me,specifically in how to understand the client-teacher relationship. AsMari used to say, always give them what they came to accomplish. AsRomana used to say, give them “one pearl at a time,” or one valuablething every time they train with you.

"our goal is to get each individual moving with intention, not just powering through a movement, striving for honesty in each and every movement."

Pilates has undoubtedly made a profound impact on the lives of many clients. Your clientele includes a mix of real people, elite athletes, and even celebrities. How do you customize your Pilates sessions to meet the diverse needs of such a broad range of individuals? Are there specific Pilates techniques that resonate universally, regardless of background or fitness level?

I customize my Pilates sessions based on the simple wisdom from Romana, that I must teach the (specific, unique, special) body in front of me. I give each person what they want and need, so they see the value of each lesson. In my opinion, I try to meet people where they are and push their fitness level just up to their individual limits. One of my clients recently said, “Alexandra is infectiously positive, friendly, and quietly reassuring.” While I recognize each individual’s limitations, I can at the same time see their potential. I think that’s really the differentiator between a good and a great Pilates teacher (or any teacher for that matter). Do you see the body beyond the one right in front of you? Are you simply trying to give somebody a good workout, or are you collaborating with them to create something new and beautiful, in their body, that never existed before? People want to see results, and the Pilates system is an intelligent and effective way to exercise, but it is so much more. And Pilates requires an intelligent and empathetic person to deliver this intelligent and empathetic Method. After all, what makes a good teacher is caring about people.

Regarding the universality of the technique, I would say thatit is not necessarily a specific Pilates technique that resonatesuniversally; instead, it is an attitude that resonates with everyone. Wetailor each session according to our clients’ goals and needs as astart, and often just allowing people to move without being too pickyabout technique (that comes gradually and requires patience). So, ifthere were one Pilates technique that resonates universally, it would bewhat I call “The 3 Keeps”: keep them moving, keep it simple, and keepit concise (namely, your cues). Your goal is to get each individualmoving with intention, not just powering through a movement, strivingfor honesty in each and every movement. The intention of moving withcontrol, that is the universal Pilates technique or Method which weotherwise know as Contrology. As Romana used to say, Pilates is stretchwith strength and control, and the control being the most importantpart.

(Naomi Corti, one of Brooke's clients)

Naomi is a young, talented, powerful, professional ballerina. She found me over three years ago, and we've worked together ever since. We connect 1:1 online, always fun because she has access to various apparatus with her company facilities in NY (though they do need a Gratz Wunda Chair up there, I have to say!). She joins live classes often as well, from Mat to Chisel to Wunda Chair class when she has the space between performances and rehearsals.

*Naomi Corti, member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet

Her power and range areincredible, as you might expect. I'll always remember that when she cameto me, it was upon the recommendation of an older principal dancer whotold her that if she wanted longevity as a professional ballerina, shemust find a Pilates teacher she trusts! And so here we are. She's acomplete joy to work with and to know. So dedicated to her Pilates andher body care... you know, she pulls out her toe corrector as part ofher warm-up routine daily :) I'm so proud!

Your educational journey includes graduating with an Osteopathy degree. How has this deepened your understanding of the body, and in what ways do you integrate osteopathic principles into your Pilates practice?

Becoming an osteopath has deepened my understanding of the body in ways I never thought were possible, but most importantly, it has taught me to trust the body more instead of doubting it. Joseph Pilates seems even more brilliant than before, now that I’ve been entrusted with the philosophy and methodology of the founder of Osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still. I’m not as clever or brilliant as Joe or Romana, by any means, so I had to undertake an 8-year journey of higher education in Osteopathy to better understand this brilliant system we know as Contrology. As a new teacher, there are so many unanswered questions and doubts that one can exit a training program or conference confused or discouraged. After learning and, most importantly, continuing to learn (we are all very much forever students), I can affirm unreservedly what Joe said, that “movement heals,” which was also affirmed by Andrew T. Still, that “the body has self-healing mechanisms.” Statements like these empower people to trust their amazing and intelligent bodies as powerful gifts, rather than fragile, dysfunctional machines in need of invasive and constant repair (surgery) and unnatural supplementation (drugs).

Given the synergy between Pilates and Osteopathy, I can no longer be a Pilates teacher without putting on my Osteopathy hat, too. Different from before, I always start my first appointment with any new client with a case history, which I like to call a “life history.” I spend the first 20 minutes sitting down and talking to the person about their body, any previous injuries, surgeries, medications, anything that I can do to understand them beforehand, and therefore, how I can most positively impact their bodies. Then I take them through some basic movements to see what they can and can’t do. Then we start playing and having fun using the Pilates system, where a lot of things are revealed quickly. I see the imbalances, compensations, tightness, weakness, and strength. However, I’m very careful with my words to my clients. I almost never use the words “pain,” “dysfunction,” “abnormality,” or any words that will make an individual feel hesitant to move. I refrain from “fragile,” “frail,” or any words that would make the individual feel doubtful of trusting their body’s ability to heal or causing fear of movement. After all, I do believe that the body has a self-healing mechanism and that movement heals, so let’s keep moving! I like to think that as an osteopath, I can treat people using my healing hands, and I can make people stronger with Pilates as a long-term plan. I tell my patients, “Be active with Pilates, so you will not need passive treatment. Just move.”

More About Alexandra Bohlinger

Alexandra specialises in treating chronic pain, Hypermobility/EDS syndrome, acute lower back and neck pain, knee and hip osteoarthritis, RA and more. With 20+ years of combined experience, she has established herself as a trusted practitioner of Traditional Osteopathy and the Classic Pilates Method.

When treating pain, Alexandra focuses on the body as a whole not just symptoms. She educates and treats from a wholistic approach. No prescription or surgery, instead she uses her hands to bring people back to healthy. This philosophy is guided by the wisdom and principles of Andrew Tailor Still, the founder of Osteopathy;  where he trusted that the body has a self-healing mechanism. As an osteopath, Alexandra is dedicated to encouraging and facilitating this natural healing process.

Alexandra graduated from Osteopathy in London UK at the British School of Osteopathy, to deepen her knowledge of the body, pathologies and injuries. She had a well round experience in London where she worked with a variety of individuals. Pregnancy, babies to senior, Sport clinic, HIV patients, obesity, diabetic and neuropathy patients to name a few.

She is now in East Grand Rapids, Michigan where she owns Alexandra Osteopilates studio/clinic, fully equipped by Gratz Pilates apparatuses.


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