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Blog Spotlight Interview: Amanda Christodoulou

10th June 2019 by Katerina Liapis, MSPT


Introduction:

Amanda Christodoulou is a Pilates Instructor based in Miami, Florida. As a trained dancer, she naturally transitioned into Pilates, later becoming an instructor after several years of practice. She merges her love of movement with a spiritual approach, creating a sacred space for her clients to transform on all levels. For more information, follow her on Instagram @pilates_body.

Q: Hi Amanda – thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Tell me about your background and how you got started in the fitness industry – how did you decide to become a Pilates instructor?

A: I was a dancer for most of my life. It got to a point in my dance career when I felt that I either needed to officially make that my career or do something different. I walked into a Pilates studio and I fell in love. The energy inside the building felt similar to how I felt when I went into a dance studio. I practiced Pilates for several years before I made it my career. As the industry changed in such a way that made Pilates more accessible, I decided to get certified and I made the shift to doing this full-time.

Q: Where do you teach your classes? Do you focus on teaching individuals or groups?

A: I work out of a private gym called Anatomy and I operate my business, Pilates Body, from within that space. The facility prides itself on recovery – they offer modalities like cold plunges, hot tubs and infrared saunas in addition to their gym and training services. My team offers group classes but most of our business focuses on individual and duet sessions. When clients book together, they don’t have to necessarily be at the same fitness level – a good instructor should be able to keep each person where they need to be.

Q: Is there a certain philosophy that you maintain when you are training your clients?

A: I have a very close relationship with most of my clients. I want to teach people about their bodies so that they become aware of how to apply what they learned from me into their everyday lives (e.g. how to maintain appropriate posture when they are holding a purse, driving, sitting or standing at a desk). I actually have more male clients than I do female clients. In addition to taking sessions with me, they all strength train with a trainer at the gym so they apply the Pilates principles to their strengthening sessions. I also train quite a few trainers. People need this work so badly – we break down our bodies so much to be fit and do this all day – the trainers are often my best clients.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being a Pilates instructor?

A: My favorite thing in the world is when you see the lightbulb go off in people’s heads. Pilates is so intricate. When I see people understand exactly what they need to do and how to do it, it’s very rewarding.

Q: Can you tell me more about how Pilates has impacted your life personally?

A: I didn’t have any injuries at the time that I started taking Pilates. I found that once I actually dove into the practice and my training, I started learning about the different habits and compensations that I had adopted. I realized that my body was hypermobile, which I had relied upon as a dancer. I became very aware of what work I needed to do to improve my joint integrity and keep my body safe and healthy. It almost felt like I was let in on a secret that I didn’t know before.

Q: What is the most rewarding outcome that you have experienced so far with a client?

A: The most rewarding relationship that I have established is with a client who I have been working with for almost 6 years who has fibromyalgia. I had actually met her when I was teaching a Pilates class at a local yoga studio and then she elected to work with me privately. Her ability to exercise had been limited for years because of her pain. She used to cancel on me frequently when she had days with more pain. Now, she doesn’t miss her sessions as she has learned that she is able to exercise without making the pain worse. She has progressed to also being able to work with a personal trainer. She used to not be able to get out of bed and now she can do so much more. Our relationship goes a lot deeper than just Pilates. She had always been told that the pain was all in her head and that she needed to take medication for the rest of her life. Pilates has really changed her life and that is inspiring.

Q: Whole body vibration is a foreign concept to most people. Do you recall how you first heard about it and what your impression was?

A: The first time that I came across whole body vibration was many years ago – I don’t think I had become a Pilates instructor yet. I had tried a vertical unit when I worked with a personal trainer – I actually disliked it because it made my allergies flare up. That was the end of it for me. I later tried a different type of unit in my chiropractor’s office which was pivotal – that felt very different than the unit I previously tried. This was a much better experience since it was more tolerable. I also had a better understanding of why I was using it. In this case, the chiropractor explained that he was using it to help me maintain my adjustment. I found that having the purpose explained to me ahead of time was very helpful.

Q: When you first became aware of Hypervibe, did you know what makes it different from other whole body vibration units on the market?

A: I wasn’t completely aware of the differences between Hypervibe and other units until I spoke with Brie. I mentioned to her the experience that I initially had with the vertical plate and she explained the difference between vertical and pivotal plates. I didn’t have any adverse reaction when I tried the Hypervibe.

Q: What appeals to you most about using whole body vibration with your clients?

A: The way that I use it most of the time in my sessions is what we refer to in Pilates as “sweetening the deal”. Throughout a Pilates session, I use various props. I liked to use the end of the session to either challenge a client further, or to help them recover or stretch, depending on what is needed. I use the Hypervibe to enhance the client’s experience because it’s so unique. If I’m going the challenge route, it’s amazing how quickly that the client can get the heart rate up and literally get the muscles shaking. It adds such value to the experience. When I have clients do anything on the Hypervibe, it really connects the person to the present moment – it’s very grounding. We tend to use footwork in Pilates to do that. This is the same type of sensation that can be felt with the Hypervibe. It also helps a person focus – for example, it’s harder to continue to carry on a conversation while on the unit, so it forces the client to be more attentive to what they are doing in that moment.

Q: How have your clients reacted to using the Hypervibe? Had any of them used whole body vibration prior to working with you?

A: Very few of my clients had used a whole body vibration unit prior to being exposed to it with me. They have reacted to it in such a positive way – it’s like a reward to them.

Q: Have you experienced any relief from pain using the Hypervibe? Can you give me some examples of exercises that you have done that have been particularly helpful?

A: After my pregnancy, I had significant pain in my lower legs. I have been experiencing pain that I have never had before since I’m petite, especially when I carry my baby who is now 22 lbs. I like to combine myofascial release with the vibration – I will put a lacrosse ball or a peanut on the plate and work on the restricted area. It’s such a relief – it’s amazing. I’ve recently worked with a Rolfer. I have found that lying on the plate with my buttocks in the center and my back on a box while placing my heels on the wall is so helpful. The vibration makes its way up the back of my legs and it provides so much relief.
Q: Have you been using the Hypervibe in the context of group classes or mostly during individual training sessions?

A: I have been using it individually as I don’t teach group classes, however, it can definitely be used in a group setting as we learned during Foundation Training Course.

Q: Please share a little bit about your experience in taking the Hypervibe Foundation Training course – what did you feel was most valuable about it?

A: I loved learning how to work the full body. The way that the course was broken up into different series allows me to cross check what I am planning to do with a client and what I want to emphasize so that I can focus on different aspects of bodywork. I also loved being able to connect with trainers from everywhere. Everyone was so talented and offered so many different ideas.

Q: Did you learn any new information since taking the course and did this influence how you use the Hypervibe now vs. how you were using it prior to the course?

A: I love that I learned how to use it in a continuous flow manner. I had been doing all of the exercises on a short timed basis. Since taking the course, I have been using the override setting which allows me to set the timer to the 10 minute continuous mode. By using this option, it has allowed me to create flowing routines with clients.

Q: Have you witnessed any particularly successful outcomes with your clients? Did you have any clients who were doubtful about this modality who expressed surprise at the effects after using it?

A: I’ve experienced that quite a bit. Clients have been very surprised at how hard they are actually working. If I have them work on continuous flow of movement where I change the exercise without rest breaks, such as an arm series using light weights, they are so surprised when they feel the challenge right away.

Q: In what ways has the Hypervibe added to your offerings?

A: It’s allowed me to offer something unique and it enhances clients’ body awareness. It also provides a great way to approach recovery exercises. At our facility, we are more contemporary in our approach. People come for a workout, however, we are stressing the aspect of recovery. We focus on helping them loosen up the body to allow for deeper stretches. I am also very spiritual in my practice and I have recognized that people carry ‘energetic’ tightness. When you get on the Hypervibe, it forces you to let that go and it helps you get to the next level.

Q: Have you come up with any new exercises or creative ways in which to use the Hypervibe since taking the course?

A: I have been able to apply all of the traditional mat Pilates exercises as well as contemporary variations now that I learned how to create a flow. It hadn’t initially clicked for me to do certain exercises but now that I have the option to keep the vibration going, I am able to take the client through a series of movements without stopping. I was really able to take using Hypervibe to the next level after I took the course at KIMA with the other trainers.

Q: It’s great that you have been so receptive to learning about whole body vibration and all that it has to offer. What role do you see yourself playing in raising awareness about it in the fitness community?

A: I post about it through my social media stories which has created an interest in how I am using the Hypervibe in my business. Also, in the facility where I work, we have definitely created awareness about whole body vibration. I’m very open to more ideas about how we can promote it.

Q: What is your ultimate goal for your business in 2019?

A: I started my own teacher training program for Pilates – a Pilates Body Certification. I have added a Hypervibe training module into my program. This has inspired other trainers to learn how to use it and to integrate it into their sessions. One of my personal goals is to learn more about how to apply whole body vibration to help women recover from postnatal pelvic floor issues. I have a number of friends and clients who have experienced significant pelvic injuries as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, whose recovery has been limited. I think that the use of whole body vibration for these issues would be extremely beneficial. It’s very important to create a movement to empower women to heal and I think that the Hypervibe could be used as a tool for this purpose.

Amanda, thank you again for taking the time to speak with me – it was a pleasure. We will continue to follow your offerings and we are so pleased to have you representing us as one of our Hypervibe Ambassadors. #teamhypervibe

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