When Bruce Hildebrand packed his bags and flew to the UK to study Pilates in 1999, he didn’t realise he was at the forefront of a major health and well-being revolution that would soon sweep the world. His goal wasn’t to find ‘the next big thing’ in fitness, it was to find the best way to deal with whatever aches and pains his future clients would present with. Pilates, he believed, would do just that.
He was right.
After half a decade of training under some of the world’s leading Pilates teachers, Hildebrand returned to Australia and co-founded Balance & Control Pilates, a Melbourne-based Pilates and Physiotherapy studio that serves clients in their efforts to live a pain-free life while training their body to reach its full potential.
Over 14 years, Balance & Control Pilates has grown into one of the city’s leading studios, serving over 8000 clients including Australian Ballet Principal Artist Madeleine Eastoe, model Megan Gale, and Australian netball stars Julie Corletto and Sharelle McMahon.
Of course, it was not just the studio that grew. At the same time, Pilates was steadily expanding into the phenomenon it is today (there were 60 studios in Melbourne when Hildebrand started; he now estimates there are over 4000).
Recognising this new demand from people wanting to tap into the power of Pilates, Hildebrand decided to employ his vast experience and skills to guide others on their path to become Pilates teachers.
Partnering with nationally accredited training institute Tensegrity Training, Hildebrand became a certified course provider, and started teaching Certificate IV and Diploma level courses.
He came to a quick realisation about his students: they shared a common background. A love of Pilates and desire to help others had inspired them to take a short course or watch Youtube tutorials before trying to run their own class in a community hall, or even in their own homes. The classes inevitably failed, and the teachers were left feeling disillusioned and confused as to why they weren’t succeeding.
“There’s a massive gap”, says Hildebrand on why this approach doesn’t work.
“Aspiring teachers who attend a short course are left with a feeling of ‘I don’t get this’ and (they) feel like a bit of a fraud because the knowledge of teaching the finer details of Pilates isn’t sufficient.”
The hopeful teachers are unable to see where the problem lies, but with his experience, Hildebrand identifies and leads new teachers in noticing these potential downfalls before they even happen. He notes that while the courses they’d taken in the past may have taught them the technical elements of Pilates, they had often overlooked the importance of developing the communication and mindset techniques critical to becoming a teacher.
What Hildebrand’s courses offer is a combination of both. By doing so, they provide a comprehensive foundation for the effective teaching of Pilates.
It’s as simple, and as critical, as that. Hildebrand recalls one student expressing their disbelief after teaching a supervised student-clinic class:
“Bruce, do you mean that’s all there is to it?”
When done right, says Hildebrand, yes, that’s all there is to it. It’s not complex, but to execute a successful Pilates class requires a specific understanding of all the elements at work.
His courses now have a 90% completion rate, speaking volumes for the support and nurturing provided to students throughout their learning. Hildebrand notes that the tension and uncertainty common in students at the start of the course is replaced by confidence and enthusiasm by the end.
“These aspiring teachers aren’t doing it for the money”, Hildebrand says.
“It’s a lifestyle choice. They are passionate about health and fitness, they have a commitment to doing something they love, and they want to help improve the lives of others.
We are excited to enable them to do just that.”