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PMA Teacher Training Summit 2016

PMA Teacher Training Summit 2016

PicturePhoto by Pilates Method Alliance

As I reflect on the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) Teacher Training summit that Elisabeth and recently attended, I’m struck with how far RedBird has come as an organization. At this 5th PMA summit to finalize the parameters and guidelines needed for Pilates Teacher Training Schools to move toward state licensure as valid vocational training schools, there was much passionate debate about the future of our profession and the importance of growing up well-educated teachers through the ranks of our schools.


Developing RBTT (RedBird Teacher Training) was always on the radar for our organization.  I founded RedBird because I wanted to provide an ultimate movement experience that created vibrant, functional, powerful bodies and minds.  I wanted to bring people into an experience that required their full attention because the focus on precision and detail absorbed their concentration and cleared their minds.  I envisioned that over time, as I had experienced in my own life, that this level of concentration and commitment with movement would develop or enhance powerful, confident, and by extension, compassionate and courageous individuals. From the beginning we were clear that the origin of our movement strategy would be Pilates, but that we would layer that philosophy into every movement modality we offered, so that each client would be educated on the benefits of precision-based movement.  I have witnessed many powerful client transformations over the years due to this philosophy.
In the boutique fitness industry, there are two choices for growth: You can grow a business around yourself, and those that connect to that migrate towards you.  Or you grow an organization that is sustainable, built on systems that embody your beliefs and vision, run throughout your organization, and can be replicated.  We chose the latter and have committed ourselves to that goal.  The RedBird Teacher Training School is one of our most important systems for achieving that goal.  As I sat in the summit listening to many smart, well-educated professionals talk about their teacher training schools, I realized that we are on the right path.  Elisabeth and I made a commitment several years ago that we would hire only from within and that every RedBird teacher would be a graduate of our training program.  We started our school in 2012 and now employ nine teachers from two different classes, five of whom are PMA certified teachers. We prepare our graduates to pass the PMA national certification, the only true certification in our industry. We are currently training our third year class.

Our teachers represent and embody our philosophy. The RedBird Teacher Training School gives us the system to replicate our belief systems, our values, and ourselves.  Those who teach for RedBird have undergone a rigorous year of training in anatomy and biomechanics and the full Pilates repertoire.  They are trained to pass the PMA exam to become a nationally-certified Pilates teacher. They are not only some of the most well-educated Pilates teachers, but some of the best teachers that can be found anywhere.
As my vision also became Elisabeth’s, we experienced together the labor, blood and sweat it took to get to where we are now.  I see the strength of our teaching staff and how they each, in their own unique way, exemplify what RedBird is and what we stand for. And I experience daily the vibrancy of our community, which is the pulse of our organization.  It is a powerful thing to see one’s vision in full manifestation. 
However, as RedBird begins its 9th year in August, I realize that we are just beginning.   Our plans include an online platform to bring RedBird classes and education outside the walls of our studio, new studio locations over the next few years, and a state-licensed teacher training school that will grow and produce more excellent teachers.  We will continue to provide programs that change and transform those who experience them.  Most importantly, we will continue to laugh, sweat and live together in this shared dream that is RedBird. I am grateful for the inspiration and guidance that the summit provided, as well as for the community of Pilates professionals it is providing. Beyond that it offered a new perspective and pause for reflection that is important as we continue to develop.  It’s good to get away and get altitude to see where you’ve been and refine the dream of where you’re going.   

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Article by Lee Vallely, Founder and Co-Director RedBird Pilates & Fitness

Lee Vallely has dedicated her life to movement and wellness. After an eight-year career as a professional ballet and modern dancer in New York and San Francisco, and 20 years as a teacher and consultant in the health and wellness industry, Vallely saw a need for a higher level of education and a commitment to the precision of movement.In 2007 she moved from teaching Pilates for other clubs, and developing and managing large corporate fitness programs in Austin and around the country, to teaching small-group training programs. RedBird Pilates & Fitness has grown every year since then, necessitating four moves to progressively larger studios. Lee and her team of teachers—all handpicked from RedBird’s intensive 450-hour teacher training program—provide high-touch, technically oriented classes using a definitive methodology that emphasizes precision movement and proper body alignment.

Earlier in her career, Lee was the national director of corporate sales for Gold’s Gym International. She designed and built the chain’s first corporate sales division and managed their national sales team. Prior to Gold’s Gym, she was an owner of eight Austin-based World Gym locations, where she won Best Corporate Fitness Program for five consecutive years. Lee spent her early years in the fitness industry as senior fitness director for the YMCA of Austin. Lee is a BASI and PMA-certified Pilates teacher, a certified trainer through the American Council on Exercise and an accredited fitness specialist with the national YMCA. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham with a specialization in dance.