My Pilates Journey - Elaine Kwok
"Everyday is different, and poses different challenges, depending how the body is feeling, as in life"
What got you interested in Pilates?
I've been into movement and sport from a young age and have always enjoyed an adrenaline rush - from hiking Mt Kilimanjaro, kayaking, multi-discipline adventure racing, mountain biking and long-distance running. I trained and taught martial arts for over 25 years and hold a third-degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate, a Japanese full contact style, and have competed in Australia and internationally.
Overcoming knee injuries sustained from long-distance running were key reasons I took up Pilates. And, combined with my martial arts training, I discovered I could apply similar aspects of mind-body control discipline to my Pilates practice.
My first taste of Pilates was in a Reformer studio in Sydney in 2005. That year I moved to Melbourne and taught group fitness for over 10 years at gyms and went to Reformer and Mat classes, but it got to a point where I needed to learn more. I undertook comprehensive teacher training through Authentic Pilates Education International to understand the entirety of Joseph Pilates’ system and how it helps improve our bodies.
What have you gained from doing Pilates?
Pilates makes me alert and aware of myself. It’s an intelligent system for the body.
I love how Pilates is a system of challenging and fun exercises that improve the entire body. Every day is different, and poses different challenges depending how the body is feeling, as in life.
It helps me every day, from getting out of bed, reaching, lifting, balancing; and movement in everyday life. It’s helped with my body alignment (which I’m always working on) and developing more internal strength, both physically and mentally.
What motivates you?
I’m interested in helping people to improve. I enjoy Joseph Pilates' classical method as it was originally taught, finding it strengthens and supports the body, whilst being challenging, restorative and meditative.
I enjoy motivating clients to continually improve their bodies and minds.
What’s so different about Pilates?
I get a whole-body workout and feel really calm. I focus awareness of that sensation in my clients’ Pilates sessions.
I’ve tried a range of exercise regimes and fitness programs. I've participated in many fitness classes for over 20 years and have done a lot of yoga. But in Pilates I've found the best sense of connection with my mind and body while building strength and flexibility. Now I understand far more about my body. I wish I had started earlier but accept it doesn’t matter; you can start anytime and still reap the benefits.
What do you specialise in?
My focus is on classical Pilates. Why? It stems from the work of Joseph Pilates who developed this system and my goal is to maintain the integrity of Joseph's fundamental principles of whole-body health, commitment and breath.
I’m especially interested in helping our aging population. Everyone needs to stay fit, be well and look and feel their best so they can ‘grow older yet feel younger’.
I’d also like to see more men doing Pilates as they can benefit from this discipline to gain more flexibility and improve sports performance. It complements so many sports, including running, golf, soccer, footie and surfing.
What’s your Pilates goal?
It’s a continual journey. I love to learn so I can delve deeper into the Pilates system and bring out the best for my clients. I attend regular workshops with well-known international instructors such as Kathi Ross Nash, Olga Tamara, Sandy Shimoda and Miguel Silva.
What’s your favourite exercise?
Athletic exercises with flowing movements, such as Boomerang on the mat and, especially full hanging on the Cadillac. I also love all the Barrels as you can do so much with them.
What do you do in your spare time?
What spare time? I enjoy teaching and practicing Pilates (you may see me ‘hanging’ around), cooking, writing, golf, travelling, the outdoors and spending healthy, happy time sharing wholesome delicious food with family and friends.
“Create a better life for yourself, get started”
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