Inside the Pilates Studio: Mejo Wiggin
Left to our own devices at the end of last year’s Classical Pilates Convention UK we happily chatted in the bar/cozy fireplace lounge until 3am. Giggling, talking about Pilates (of course) and full of post-conference adrenaline.
My late night date with Mejo was one of the many unexpected gems of that event. Not to minimize the post-convention take-away curry…
Needless to say I can’t wait until this year’s event!
I first saw Mejo teaching at a California event many years ago. She was teaching a lovely workshop on the Barrels and how to use them. She has a lovely demeanor of uplifting energy and intensity – just what you need for Pilates, right? You feel you can do anything.
Did I mention she is an amazing aficionado of the Arm Chair? She can also be seen on the Romana Kryzanowska Legacy DVDs and you’ll be thrilled at some surprising exercises she does.
Hint: When’s the last time you saw a Long Spinal Massage on the Reformer LIKE THAT?!
Visit mejowiggin.com to catch this amazing instructor as she travels the globe sprinkling us with her wonderful Pilates mojo…uh, Mejo…hmm…coincidence?
1. What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?
Mejo Wiggin: My favorite exercise in Pilates is doing the full splits, the Grande, at the end of a reformer workout. I don’t do this exercise often because to do it, you really need to do the full reformer workout in order to stretch out your body, align your body, and to mentally prepare for it. Otherwise, you will not be able to do it very well. The Grande splits require concentration, balance, and complete control of your apparatus, your body, mind and spirit. It looks effortless, yet I find it very empowering.
2. What exercise is your least favorite? Pick only one.
MW: My least favorite exercise is the Long Spine without using straps. It’s my least favorite because I think that is more of a man’s exercise. Men are built differently; they have a higher center of gravity than women. They can do the long spine without straps with less strain on their body. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, that was one of the exercises I had to demonstrate in The Legacy DVD with Romana!
3. What turns you on creatively, mentally or physically about the Pilates method?
MW: Every time I personally do Pilates I am more inspired. I find something new within my own body that I look forward to sharing. Also, I’ve been studying more with Jay Grimes. He is such a gifted Teacher who studied directly with Joe. The way he explains things when he teaches is absolutely brilliant. I’ve been doing the short box for over 20 years, but after a lesson with Jay, it completely changed the series for me. Who would have thought a simple exercise series that I’ve been teaching for so long, is suddenly new again and feels so different! Thank you Jay!!
4. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
MW: I do not have any children of my own, but I have a niece and two nephews that I absolutely adore. I have always been very close with them and took a large role in their upbringing. When they were young and barely able to form sentences, I could understand them through their expressions and actions. At that age when a child comes up to you and puts his/her arms around you and just wants to be held, it is the most rewarding feeling. The feeling of unconditional love that children express through their eyes, their actions, and expressions, is absolute bliss.
5. What to your mind would be the greatest misfortune?
MW: In my opinion, the greatest misfortune has already taken place, and that was 9/11. What a devastating day that was! I knew a lot of people that were in the towers that day. Some of them were intuitive enough to get out in time, but many people didn’t make it. In my eyes, that was the day that changed everything in this country, most importantly – our safety. Prior to that, the US had never experienced terrorism, apartheid, genocide, mass violence, etc. that other countries face on a daily basis. 9/11 opened our eyes to different cultures and radical philosophies that now threaten our homeland security. The world has changed, and that is the greatest misfortune.
6. What is your favorite Pilates word?
MW: My favorite Pilates word is “lift”. I use that word for so many things when I teach. “Lift” can mean draw your powerhouse in and up, lengthen your spine, sit up straight, stand taller, or don’t look down. Ultimately, telling my students to “lift” raises their awareness and elevates their spirit. Just saying it elevates mine!
7. What is your least favorite Pilates word?
MW: My least favorite Pilates word is “Advanced”. I hate when teachers use that word, and even more so when students say it!! I tried as much as I could at my studio to refrain teachers from using that word. The minute a teacher mentions the word “advanced”, Pilates becomes a competition. Students suddenly want to know if they are “advanced” or more skilled than other students, especially if they’ve been studying awhile. When a student feels they are being categorized as Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced, there is a sudden pressure to learn more exercises and to do new things. It takes away from the personal journey a person experiences with the work.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
MW: I have so many interests other than Pilates, but a common theme is that they all have to do with the arts. I graduated from F.I.T. (B.S. in Marketing and a minor in Fashion Design). I used to take a lot of drawing and painting classes in school and earned a scholarship in High School as being “The Most Promising Art Student”. I started dancing when I was 3, performed in Stock Theatre, have an eye for Interior Design, and can’t wait to take up photography someday.
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?
MW: What a question! If I die and go to heaven, and Joe is standing there at the pearly gates, I first hope that he would recognize me! I hope that Joe would already know who I am, and he would be proud of me and my efforts to preserve and spread his work.
10. What did you learn today?
MW: It is not often that I reflect upon my achievements and my career. I get so caught up in the daily life that I don’t often realize how happy and grateful I am to be in a profession that I am passionate about. This exercise made me realize that I am right where I should be. My purpose is to teach, uplift, and change the lives of people through movement.
I enjoy teaching today even more than when I started 20 years ago. I have met some incredible people and have built many strong relationships with colleagues and clients that I am proud to have as friends.