We sat down with Steph, the inspiration and heart behind KW Art of Fitness and asked her some questions on how she brought her dream of sharing the benefits of Pilates with clients in Kitchener/Waterloo to life.
What was your first experience with Pilates?
At the turn of the century (I’ve always wanted a reason to say that …) I took my first Continuing Education Course, Gait Analysis, for my Personal Training Certification (Can-Fit-Pro) continuing education credits (CEC) at Body Harmonics. At this point I had already been a personal trainer for a year or so and my curiosity had drawn me towards the “new” or perhaps the rebranded concepts of Functional Training (my interest lay in Paul Chek of the Chek Institute).
When did you know you wanted to become an Instructor?
Where did you become Certified?
After taking that first Pilates based workshop I started to do research on this thing called “Pilates.” Through heavy squats, boxing and a wet rainy summer of working in the landscaping industry, I had an SI Injury and tendinitis in both my hands, wrists and shoulders, resulting in major restrictions within my own functional and traditional weight training options. While doing my research on where I could become certified in Pilates, I came across Second Wind Pilates Plus that offered an in-depth Mat Pilates Certification Course in tandem with Integrated Movement Therapies. I signed up for that course with the intention of taking Pilates into my personal workout regimes as well as into my training with clients.
Between experiencing some brilliant options which helped to piece my body back together and realizing how complimentary Pilates is to my original training journey into ‘functional fitness’, I was hooked. I jumped into becoming a Pilates Instructor out of excitement for my own body and healing as well as what this may do for others who love fitness but may have some beaten up movement patterns, joints and muscles. It was a fantastic blend for me and in turn my clients. From there I went to an event called Pilates on Tour and had my first experience on the Reformer with this crazy little ball then called the “coach ball”… hook – line and sinker, at that moment I knew I would be figuring out how, where and when I would find or make a space that allowed for me to have a reformer.
What courses have you taken since?
- Can-Fit-Pro Personal Training
- Second Wind Pilates Plus:Mat Pilates, Integrated Movement Therapies
- Body Harmonics: Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Barrels
- Pilates for Neurological Conditions
- Check Institute: Primal Movement Patterns, Scientific Balance Training
- CPTN: Post Rehabiliation Functional Training: Upper Body
- Schwinn Cycling: World Class Conditioning
- Anatomy Trains in Motion
How did you get started after you became certified?
I was already a Personal Trainer at a large gym and had made a recent move to a small private training facility. That location did not have the space to allow for me to offer classes, so I went on to search out an option this being the Kitchener Waterloo Skating Club (KWSC). KWSC was home for my launching as a Pilates Instructor and I enjoyed my time working with both figure skaters and the general public. After a few years my business out grew the space availability within the KWSC and that is what started my search for the space we currently reside in.
Did you ever work in someone else’s Studio?
I have worked in large corporate gyms, small private training studio’s and at the Kitchener Waterloo Skating Club however this is the only Pilates Studio that I have worked at.
When did you dream up KW Art of Fitness?
Where did the name “KW Art of Fitness” come from?
My original education was in Fine Arts — I have been and continue to be an artist and interestingly enough that Bachelor of Art Degree has helped me more then I would have ever thought. The most direct help was the study of the body for Life Drawing — learning to see movement, moving parts, the action of energy and force (gravity, objects, action) through a body, and then trying to capture the essence of that on paper set me up for what it would take to learn, understand and then communicate movement and action to people. So, the name — ART of fitness is because I am an artist, my whole life has been about giving myself the opportunity to be an artist.
Growing up on a hobby farm I have been a mover and shaker since I was young, piling wood, ‘helping’ my grandpa, dad and older brother bring the hay in, carrying pails, riding horses, rock picking fields, weeding … leading into track and field (sprinting of all things … short but fast), badminton, kickboxing, boxing and among all those sports always was a great coach teaching the benefits of strength training. This lifestyle was coupled with my Mom who baked from scratch and created healthy wholesome meals, building in me the perception that FITNESS is about how we define it, and in fact, being “fit”, and teaching other “how to be fit” is indeed a form of art, the science, very important, the art in how to help others stay tuned in and interested in learning instead of following orders, that is an art, a very magical art.
And there you have it “KW Art of Fitness Inc”
Where did your studio layout inspiration come from?
My inspiration for the studio came from a few sources, most notably Body Harmonics and my impression of how Margot McKinnon had gone about setting herself, instructors and clients up. As well, it came from my work with my clients, what they need, how we could best offer this while including more people. I used my art background and my Mom’s design experience to utilize colour and layout to create an atmosphere of unique, energizing and personalized space for each person walking in.
Where does your inspiration continue to come from?
My biggest source of inspiration comes from when I am teaching, seeing how people move, what are people understanding, doing well, wanting more of … how can I keep myself and others motivated to really understand and learn about themselves instead of this thing we call ‘fitness’. Other times it is a small seed that is planted when at a workshop, watching another instructor teach someone, taking classes and private sessions myself or sometimes out walking the dog(s) reflecting on what stands out in my mind from the day before, what’s up for this day — whose on deck, how can I show up and be excellent for each client and in turn myself?
Because it is magical.