Sign up to our newsletter:

Gratz Pilates has initiated a series of monthly interviews with some of our prominent instructors to allow them to tell their story and discuss the current challenges in our industry.

We are proud to present the interview with our friend Olga Burkova from Moscow and share her history, as she reflects upon the present situation and hopes for the future.



ABOUT OLGA BURKOVA

World and European Champion in sports aerobics and international presenter (master classes given at the largest and most prestigious fitness conventions in the world: England, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Finland, Israel, Mexico and USA).Olga is the first Russian instructor who was invited to conduct master classes on the world's largest annual convention for fitness professionals IDEA. She is author of the first book in Russian about the Pilates method, PhD of Pedagogic, certified Romana's Pilates trainer, level 3. Olga has 25 years of experience in fitness and 18 years of teaching Pilates.

"Over the years of my sports and fitness career, I have had the opportunity to conduct lessons and master classes in more than 20 countries, observe the development of fitness technologies, and the emergence and development of new programs in different countries. And only now, having accumulated enough practical experience and knowledge, I can say with confidence: I know what each of us needs, how we can not only improve our body and gain a tonus, but also "get stronger" spiritually. And the name for all these tricks is the Pilates system. Not so complicated and accessible to everyone without exception.


Please share any family or childhood memories or interests related to sports, hobbies, education, music, health and fitness history

Throughout my childhood, I was engaged in gymnastics and dreamed of becoming a coach. Having entered the State University of physical culture, I already trained children and loved my work very much. Once, an American team of sports aerobics came to the university to demonstrate a new sport to us. A week later, I was a member of University team and started learning new elements that required not only the flexibility and stamina I had, but also the strength I clearly lacked. But I always knew how to work hard and soon, together with my partner Yuri Siukhin, we won the Russian, European and World Championships.

I started working as an aerobics instructor at the World Class Club - first fitness club in Russia in 1993, until one day I took part in Pilates classes. I was fascinated by these exercises, my body naturally understood it, and I decided to learn more about it.

"The equipment has professional standards--like all other brands--but when a professional works on Gratz, they immediately feel the difference. With Gratz, your work is safer and more efficient. So we started our transition to a fully-equipped Gratz studio and never looked back."


What brought you to Pilates? Please describe your evolution as a student, apprentice and certification, organizational alliances, etc.

Around 1994, I traveled to the States for the annual IDEA conference to give classes and workshops. People all over the world went there because it's all about fitness. At the exhibition, I got acquainted with the Pilates equipment of another brand, because Gratz did not participate in such events at that time. I continued my fitness education and published a book in Russian called "Pilates Exercises". A few years after the publication, I received my PhD in pedagogy, presenting the results of research the effects of the Pilates system on the body of women. Around the beginning of 2000, I met Romana's Pilates school. The coaches of this school conducted training that is similar in appearance, but with different equipment. And that was my introduction to Gratz. I discovered the difference while working on this particular apparatus. The equipment has professional standards--like all other brands--but when a professional works on Gratz, they immediately feel the difference. With Gratz, your work is safer and more efficient. So we started our transition to a fully-equipped Gratz studio and never looked back.

The Romana Pilates School invited us to participate in the certification program, and in 2011 Jamie Trout came to Moscow to teach the basic seminar. After that was intermediate seminar with Javier Perez Pont, and then advanced seminar with Cynthia Lochard. Afterward, we took private lessons, more seminars and workshops with the best teachers of school - Daria Pace, Sari Mejia Santo, Cynthia Lochard, Juanita Lopez, Trish Garland, Marjorie Oron, Anthony Rabara, Cynthia Shipley and many others. In 2012 we had one certified trainer in Russia, but today, there are 76 of them.

In 2016, Marina (who now works with me in the mind and body studio) and I received level 4, which gives us the possibility to participate in educational program as a coach. Today, we achieved level 3, which we are very proud of. Our studio has become a Pilates Training Center and a representative of the Roman's Pilates school in the former USSR.


We continue to work with clients, many of whom have previously tried training on other equipment, but now they began to understand the difference and the power of the Pilates method on the body. For me, being a trainer of trainers is very interesting, because the details of the method are revealed more and more every day.

Most people started Pilates because of an injury, but I found it by accident. I wanted to do this because it is useful for everyone. It's for all people, and the bottom line is that you can always get better and better, regardless of your age and possibilities. There is no finish line. My clients tell me how well they feel and how gradually they too look better. But what's more interesting to me as a teacher is that the more you study the exercises, the more questions you have about its potential.



What do you love about teaching Pilates and teaching clients? What about your training, teaching teachers, and how do you see yourself as a leader and influencer?

Teaching clients feels like you are in the medical field. There's a lot of difference between the professions, but I love when people start to understand the main idea. They see the changes both physically and mentally. Joseph Pilates said, "After 10 classes, you will have a new body". I had one client who came to me on our tenth lesson and she said to me, "This is my tenth class. I have to start to feel it by now." And now she's absolutely in love with the work. It may not be my work, but it feels good to help people feel better, and smile more. When you are helping people, it is a big responsibility because it is their livelihood. You can't just be a good trainer- you also have to be like a psychologist. Pilates is a way of leading. When we teach clients, it is a very intimate contact sport. We have to collect a lot of different skills, and that's what I love about it. I want people to find their possibilities. I also want to find this possibility in myself. For trainers, it is a little bit different.
 
It makes me happy to see my students becoming very good coaches, that they love this system as much as I do. The Mind and Body Studio has changed the life and profession of many of our students. It's a small step towards a better world, and small parts of me change in the process. Pilates is a small part of my income, but I can't stop teaching. I hope that one day it will be possible to just stay with Pilates and we will have more time to integrate this work into everything we do. I never have enough time to train myself.

Due to the pandemic and global health emergencies, COVID has financially impacted the Pilates Community and particularly studio owners pretty hard - how are you dealing with the challenges?

Like most studios, we were closed for about 3 months and like everyone else, the mood was terrible, but we decided to find something good in the current situation. We sought new knowledge and skills so that once we to return to normal life, we will be even more invigorated practicing Pilates. At this time, we organized online meetings with students of the school to discuss the theoretical part. We all learned how to work with Zoom, which will help us in the future to reach our students all over Russia, because we now have about 70 students in all cities of the country. During the lockdown, we tried to support our customers as well, conducting online classes with small equipment or without it. After opening on June 23rd, we had to adapt to the new rules - from limit the number of clients in the studio to strengthen the cleaning rules for stronger disinfection. I think once things get back to some semblance of normalcy, we'll be more relaxed and enjoy Pilates more.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE PILATES COMMUNITY WILL ADJUST TO THE NEW REALITY MOVING FORWARD?

I think we will return to our normal lives, but with some new knowledge. For instance, when you teach online clients you will have to explain more clearly especially for trainers. Trainers have trouble using the right words. Maybe they talk a lot or talk too little. We do this training for our students and this really helps. I hope it will finish soon and we will be able to relax more and enjoy ourselves more and appreciate our freedom.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE CLASSICAL EQUIPMENT to work out in?

It's hard for me to single out my favorite equipment. Different clients are better served by one or the other device, and I myself want to practice on different equipment every day. I admire the set of equipment, the connection of each apparatus with the rest, the completeness and wide choice of means for trainers to achieve the best results. I will never get tired of admiring the Pilates method and the Gratz company, which brought us the uniqueness of each device created by Joseph, and the complete set of all his apparatuses and devices.


READ MORE ABOUT OLGA BURKOVA