By Amit Younger
BASI Pilates was established in 1989 by Rael Isacowitz, who is considered to be one of the leading figures of the Pilates world today. The acronym BASI stands for Body Arts and Science international, which is both the name of the academy’s holding company and an affirmation of its approach to Pilates studies. BASI education is profoundly anchored in anatomy, physiology and scientific principles, and at the same time places a great emphasis on the aesthetic quality of every movement.
The mission statement of BASI Pilates is to create and maintain professional standards for the teaching of the method and to preserve and perpetuate the gift of Pilates by educating teachers of the highest calibre. The sole purpose of BASI Pilates is to educate Pilates instructors and continue developing this education to be on the cutting edge of the discipline for the duration of their careers.
Today, the BASI Pilates network extends to over 20 countries and encompasses thousands of graduates. Teacher training courses are on the go constantly, in over 100 locations around the world.
BASI Pilates is considered a ‘contemporary’ school of Pilates. Rather than advocate doing the work, building the apparatus and sequencing the exercises exactly as Joseph Pilates did many years ago, it aims to maintain the essence of Joseph Pilates’ work and at the same time encourage its students and teachers to use scientific knowledge as the basis of the evolutionary process- adapting and adjusting the work to serve their clients’ needs best.
The BASI approach embraces the idea that an exercise programme should always be constructed with the “whole” in mind. The body is the most intricate of instruments and an imbalance in one area will invariably lead to imbalances in other areas. Therefore, while paying special attention to a particular area, according to one’s needs, a comprehensive programme should always be administered.
In terms of teaching tools and methodology, two main elements are in the forefront of the BASI approach- Movement Analysis and the ‘Block System’. BASI teachers believe that in order to fully understand a movement and in order to apply it in the most appropriate way, the movement needs to be analysed. This also allows the teacher to select exercises intelligently according to the desired result and based on the clients’ needs, goals and ability. The BASI Block System is the nucleus of the BASI approach to the Pilates method. It is essentially a filing system of the entire repertoire placed in a sequential structure. Having a structure not only allows BASI teachers to compile a comprehensive programme but also to be creative and adapt to the specific needs of each client without compromising the concept of the “whole”. The Block System helps the teacher maintain flow and order in the class as well as run a studio environment smoothly without compromising the quality of the work.
Pilates teachers are creative beings. Joseph Pilates himself evolved and changed the work continuously. One needs only look at the various teachers that studied with Jo and observe the differences in their work and lineages to recognise this fact. The BASI belief is that the creative-evolutionary process in Pilates is a natural and good process as long as the integrity and quality of the work is upheld. Take a look at some of our classes on yoopod.com and see how we use the same theme and work towards the same goals in many different ways.
I would like to end this post with one of my favourite quotes from Rael which, in my view, summarises well what so many Pilates teachers and students feel about Pilates. “Endeavouring to master Pilates felt like learning to crawl and walk again. This humbling process, which taught me how to move with ease and flow that I had never before experienced, inspired me-and at times frustrated me. Apparently I had embarked on a lifelong journey of learning and practice that would deepen my understanding of movement and offer me a path to physical and mental well-being”
Amit Younger graduated from the BASI teacher training programme in 2001 and was a Teacher Trainer for BASI for nearly a decade.