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Alycea Ungaro is a leading figure in fitness and wellness, renowned for her pioneering work in Pilates. She introduced early mat Pilates classes in NYC and expanded her influence with best-selling books like Pilates: Body in Motion. Alycea has trained celebrities and created innovative products like Portable Pilates™. As a licensed Physical Therapist with a Master's in Clinical Nutrition, she founded the Real Pilates Teacher Training program, graduating hundreds of instructors globally.

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How does your training with Romana and your early experiences influence the way Real Pilates trains teachers through the Real Pilates teacher certification program? Furthermore, how does it impact your mentoring of instructors at your studios who work with clients of all ages, physical conditions, and those with special needs?

We have to go back in our Pilates time machine to fully answer this question. My ten years studying Pilates before I ever met Romana really laid the foundation for the type of instructor I would become. Working with Romana for the next ten years gave me the depth and breadth of this incredible body of work. And because I was able to experience the work as a young dancer, and then up through pregnancy, spanning multiple injuries and multiple decades of life, I had a broad experience to pull from. I felt called to "carry the torch" of Romana's training sharing the teaching techniques and tools that she taught to me but in order to be an impactful mentor I pull a lot from my training as a physical therapist. There is a distinction between a fitness trainer and a caregiver just as there is a distinction between clients and patients. I have found that having both of these skill sets allows me to listen harder, and adapt more fully to the growing and changing needs of our community. At the end of the day, remaining a student so that I can personally keep learning allows me to stay connected to the learning process and continue to develop our education content each and every day.

Our training program is living, breathing, evolving content. We are always trying to improve our materials and our presentations so we can provide learning opportunities to the broadest pool of potential teachers. My approach has been to marry the old school paradigm with a fully academic course load, essentially doubling the learning that is offered within a comprehensive 600 hour program. Creating and improving content is how I like to spend my time as an educator. Ultimately I feel I can be of the greatest service by cultivating new instructors to go out and build the Pilates world they want to live in.

Real Pilates' certification programs have seen remarkable growth globally, offering top-notch teacher development. Can you discuss leadership challenges and strategies for maintaining program excellence across diverse locations?

We're growing around the world and it's exciting! While it was not my intention to build a Host Studio network, we have enjoyed the expansion as it allows us to forge partnerships that enrich each of us individually and our respective companies. Supporting classical studios is a passion project for me and giving them the tools to build their teams is the best way I can help. Each Host we work with, becomes part of a robust community of business owners that generously shares their time, experience and wisdom. Expansion across all business sectors is always a threat to the success of a business. Infrastructure has been our biggest challenge as we try to not just keep pace with growth, but get out in front of it. Staffing and systems are key to maintaining program consistency and excellence. Access is also critical. Our group is in constant communication and that open exchange keeps the entire operation moving forward in a  positive and productive manner.

Our leadership has been remarkably consistent with very little turnover since we began teacher training in earnest in 2013. This means we are lucky enough to have a team with deep "institutional knowledge", and I think that helps everyone stay clear eyed about where we are going - since everyone knows where we came from.

"There is a distinction between a fitness trainer and a caregiver just as there is a distinction between clients and patients. I have found that having both of these skill sets allows me to listen harder, and adapt more fully to the growing and changing needs of our community."

(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!

Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of Real Pilates and its impact on the global Pilates community? Additionally, how do you plan to further innovate and evolve the certification programs to meet the changing needs and expectations of aspiring Pilates instructors worldwide?

Plans are overrated. I'm more of an "opportunity knocks" kind of person. But there are a lot of opportunities and a lot of choices in the coming years.  The community will dictate and determine some of our evolution. I don't believe you can stand still in a moving river. But our core mission will remain to preserve the lineage of Joseph Pilatesas he passed it onto Romana Kryzanowska and as she passed it down to me. Our teaching methodologies, use of technology and the elevation of our standards and goals will keep being enhanced, tested and improved for as long as we remain a part of the Pilates industry.

Speaking to the future of Pilates, I see two simultaneous expansions happening. The broader Pilates world of evolved techniques is ever expanding. But classical Pilates is also expanding. We are training more teachers than before. I see more young business owners than ever. And while it seems that the consumer demand is driving this escalation, I like to think that we are also contributing to this growth by fostering a love and respect for Pilates but especially for the Pilates profession.

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