Welcome to the 2nd installation of Pilatesology’s newest blog series featuring our amazing members!
Member Profiles will highlight all types of users across the Pilates spectrum: devotees, enthusiasts, novices and teachers.
Lali Diaz-McDonald, owner of Pilates Puerto Rico, lives in San Juan and has a full roster of clients that affectionately call her “The General.” Hers is the only studio in Puerto Rico dedicated exclusively to the Classical Pilates Method of Exercise.
1. Give us a little info about how you found the Pilates Method:
Lali Diaz McDonald: I first heard the word ‘Pilates’, 15 years ago, from my husband who said it was an “interesting” form of exercise he had seen in the US. He was unable to explain what it was or how it was done. At the time I was a dedicated gym-goer and we were living in Quito, Ecuador. The word stuck in my brain for years as we moved from Quito to the West Indies, places where at the time, Pilates was still unknown.
I don’t know why but Pilates was something. And whatever it was I wanted to try.
One day, 8 years ago, a Pilates class opened at my gym in Antigua. I registered and as I continued to practice I fell in love with it. Power Pilates was the closest Pilates Teacher Training program to the West Indies and the rest is history. I completed the comprehensive Power Pilates Teacher Training program.
When we moved from Antigua to Nevis in 2009, I opened a successful home studio.
I fell in love with teaching as I experienced again and again that the Method works.
2. Tell us a little about you and your background.
LDM: Originally from Peru, I hold a degree from Universidad de Lima in Communications. While in Peru I worked as a journalist covering international affairs. I moved to Quito, Ecuador, where I pursued a degree in International Relations, met my husband, moved to the West Indies and now live in Puerto Rico.
3. Tell us about your Pilates studio!
LDM: In January 2014 I founded Pilates Puerto Rico with the intention of creating a dedicated space for Classical Pilates instruction. My hope is to be able to share the Classical Method with as many people as possible on the island.
Pilates Puerto Rico is a small boutique Studio equipped with Gratz and Teague apparatus. It is the only dedicated Classical Pilates Studio in Puerto Rico.
I believe in personalized instruction and Pilates Puerto Rico offers small group Mat classes and private lessons on all the Pilates apparatus. I have also designed a post-natal Mat/Apparatus class which caters to women with after birth issues. It has been very successful in helping the women I work with regain strength and wellbeing.
I hope to continue the legacy of Classical Pilates and attract more teachers to Puerto Rico by bringing, in the near future, a certification program to the island.
4. What types of content do you view the most? Do you have favorite apparatus, interviews, teachers, classes, workouts or workshops?
LDM: Classes, workshops and interviews are the content I watch the most. One of the apparatus on which I’ve gained a lot of insight, through Pilatesology, is the Reformer. And I just got a Cadillac for the Studio so I’ll be watching many Cadillac classes and workshops.
5. Has the site helped you to improve your teaching skills? If so, how so?
LDM: Definitely. Living in a place where the possibility of observing or training with Classical teachers is seriously limited can be very frustrating. It makes the process of learning how to teach all the more challenging. Pilatesology bridges that gap for me on a regular basis. I watch classes and workshops with a keen eye for detail, picking up as many verbal and tactile cues as well as techniques as possible and then incorporate them into my own teaching. Up to now, I have never watched a class without learning something.
Without doubt, attending workshops and learning with a teacher are the prime ways of learning Pilates and how to teach it. However if that is not possible I find a site like Pilatesology to be a strong and well-rounded resource.
6. Have you gained insight on a particular skill, body issue or apparatus?
LDM: When I started teaching at Pilates Puerto Rico I was surprised to see that many of my clients had scoliosis, a condition I had not worked with before. I consulted Pilatesology and the classes by Jay Grimes and Lauren Stephen were particularly helpful. Likewise the post-natal classes were a very useful resource for designing the Pilates Puerto Rico post-natal class. The classes by Lori Coleman-Brown and Molly Niles Renshaw have been particularly useful.
7. What speaks to you about the Classical Pilates System?
LDM: That it is a holistic approach to health and well-being. I am always in awe at the awareness it brings to the human body. Without fail every person I have worked with, even after a first class, has said how the awareness of their body has been heightened and how they use what they learn in class in their daily lives. I have seen how Pilates not only works towards balancing the body, it also brings harmony to the lives of the people that practice it. This has been my experience.
As a workout method I appreciate that if you follow the system in the order, sequencing and progressions with which it was intended it works for everybody and every-body. Every exercise can be taken to its essence or expanded to its full potential so regardless of age, gender or physical condition, there will always be an appropriate workout for the person in front of you.
8. Are you new to Classical Pilates?
LDM: I am not new to Classical Pilates, all my training and certification is through done through Power Pilates. However, living in remote places, far from the Classical Pilates community has been challenging. It has only been in the last year that I feel I have come closer to the original method through my classes with Andrea Maida and my exposure to the wider Pilates Community.