Inside the Pilates Studio: Alisa Wyatt
Alisa and I met in 2007 at a classical Pilates workshop extravaganza in Big Bear, California, called the Big Bear Intensive. It was a lovely event, spearheaded by the irrepressible Siri Galliano and featuring Jay Grimes as well as a host of other luminaries.
I had been in California for only a few years at that point and Alisa was new to the area having just relocated from New York City. We were some of the only teachers that were trained through Romana and Drago’s Gym (now True Pilates NY) so we got to talking and had a great time. Over the years I saw more and more of Alisa each time I would attend Jay Grimes events as we were both smitten and taking lessons with him whenever possible. Running my own Pilates business was new to me and Alisa had a way of making her business look confident, polished and easy. I would look to her as a way to promote and model my own studio as I gained more and more experience and clientele. Recently I discovered in addition to our voracious appetites for all things Pilates, we also happen to love love love Queen. Coincidenza?
1. What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?
Alisa Wyatt: The Boomerang because of it’s fantastic name and the fact that it always makes me smile, even when I goof it up. It requires strength, stretch, control, and a letting go of all the dumb stuff in your head. You can’t think about your To Do list during The Boomerang.
2. What exercise is your least favorite? Pick only one.
AW: Ha ha, I like that you only want one least favorite exercise. I used to have a long list but then I realized that the exercises I didn’t like were the ones that my body really needed and I stopped disliking them. But if I was forced to pick one it would be Swan on the Mat. I love all the other Swans, but on the mat I have this brain block that makes me think there’s a 50lb. sandbag on my shoulders. I’m looking forward to the day the sandbag comes off.
3. What turns you on creatively, mentally or physically about the Pilates method?
AW: I simply love movement and learning, and Pilates puts the two together which is completely satisfying to me. Even after 14 years of study, I’m still discovering how to move better myself and that continually renews my passion to teach. Creatively, I get to rediscover how the method applies to each body I work with, and then watch that person transform.
4. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
AW: Hanging out with my husband, regardless of the activity. Cupcakes come in a distant 2nd.
5. What to your mind would be the greatest misfortune?
AW: Losing the ability to move.
6. What is your favorite Pilates word?
AW: Right now my favorite Pilates word is ‘zest’ because it says for me what Pilates gives you. Here’s the quote that inspired my love of zest: ”Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.” – Joe Pilates
7. What is your least favorite Pilates word?
AW: I’m not looking to create controversy with this but Neutral Spine / Neutral Pelvis (which is it anyway?) has always frustrated me. I get the idea behind it but I think the term over-explains or perhaps misinterprets a concept in Joe’s original work that is really quite basic: lengthen your spine as much as possible from top to tail and pull your stomach in to support that length. Keep that happening as you do some cool moves that by-the-way also have amazing health benefits.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
AW: Professional athlete. I didn’t participate in team sports as a kid and I can’t say I have any real talent worthy of this dream but I love the dedication that athletes give to their sport. The all-consuming nature of it appeals to me.
9. If Heaven exists, and by some chance when you arrive at the pearly gates Joseph Pilates is also there, what would you like to hear him say to you?
AW: “Now you are an animal.” (quoted from 2/12/62 Sports Illustrated article)
10. What did you learn today?
AW: Don’t wait to have fun.