By Erin Naymark
Ayanna has dedicated her life to teaching movement arts and fitness with nearly 40 years of experience teaching movement & dance and over 6 years teaching Pilates. Ayanna has also performed in numerous stage concerts, music videos, movies, and television shows. Ayanna is a certified group fitness instructor (ACE), pilates instructor, certified personal trainer, and Level 1-2 Precision Nutrition Consultant.
Ayanna is passionate about teaching Pilates and says, “My experience as a lifelong student has made it possible to help each client work their mind and body together to find their center.”
Ayanna teaches Privates, Semi-Privates and Contrology Classes at Westwood Pilates. Read on to learn about Ayanna’s passion for teaching Pilates, her practice and her advice for aspiring Pilates instructors...
What do you love most about Pilates?
I love that when I think I’ve got it, there is always more work I can do! In Pilates, the work always becomes deeper, you can always continue to grow and not stop the learning process. I also love how Pilates develops the mind-body connection – which is part of the challenge. Pilates feels good. You see results quickly – more flexibility, strength and lean muscle mass.
What challenges you the most in Pilates?
I have found that Pilates helps me find and connect to my center. Sometimes I get frustrated when I don’t “get” an exercise immediately or remember it later! I also find it difficult to find the two-way stretch which is found in every Pilates exercise.
What are your biggest strengths as a Pilates student?
I am a very disciplined student. I listen to what the teacher has to say and I try to follow that path and make small corrections to my practice. I aim to be completely in the moment in class and act upon the instructions at the time. I trust my teachers to guide me through the exercises in a way that is right for my body and my practice. After all, the instructor sees me and what my body should be doing! I try to be a sponge and absorb everything the instructor is telling me to do.
How about as a Pilates instructor?
As an instructor I have a very good eye and I can see the shapes that the body should make and how my students can each get there. I love seeing the body, think, move and connect. I am also able to maximize the client’s experience by keeping them moving, motivated, and engaged for the entire session. I have studied hard to be able to help the client work the mind and body together and to find their center.
I am an experienced and compassionate teacher. I love teaching and consider it my gift. I have taught dance, Pilates and fitness for many years to many different populations, from high school students to older adults and everything in between!
If you were trying to convince someone who has never tried Pilates before to come to your class, what would you say to them?
Pilates will change your entire life. If you come consistently, you will see results. You’ll feel better, become toned, flexible, strong, and more alive. Perhaps most importantly, you will walk with more confidence and purpose!
Looking back on your Pilates career, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud that I continue to understand the work more in my body as I continue to practice Pilates on a daily basis. Not only has Pilates become a huge part of my life, but it is my passion. With Pilates, I have let go of things in my body that no longer serve me and changed some of the old habitual patterns that I had kept for many years. This is my journey.
What would you say is the best thing about being a Pilates instructor?
The best thing about being a Pilates instructor is the opportunity to see so many different human bodies in front of you – and see how every individual is special and unique. Every time I train a client, I learn something new which keeps me constantly engaged and able to grow.
What would your advice be to prospective Pilates instructors?
Find a classical school with a great curriculum and teaching Contrology method as Joseph Pilates intended it. The studio should have a comprehensive training program with the best teachers – who exhibit traits like knowledge, awareness, and compassion.