Paul Schembri’s Wunda Chair experience
By: Kerrie Murphy | 12/05/2015
As an instructor of the Pilates Method – and as a member of the Pilates Alliance Australasia (PAA) – undertaking continuing education is a wonderful way to ensure one’s skills are being improved upon and refined. This not only keeps us ‘in line’ with Joseph Pilates’ original intentions of his work, but also provides an opportunity to place ourselves in the same trusting ‘beginner’s mind’ position that we expect of our clientele as we too learn movements, cues and repertoire that we either may not have experienced before; have lost touch with or are less familiar with.
On Saturday 11th April, I was fortunate to experience the amazing Lanette Gavran, a visiting instructor from Canberra, and to partake in her 1.5 hour Mat class, followed by a 3 hour workshop on the Wunda Chair. Having participated in a mat class with Lanette in June last year, I was excited to work with this dynamic and informative instructor once again and to test my own limitations, strength, flexibility and endurance and to basically, learn from one of the best in the industry – apart from Infinity’s own Kerrie Murphy of course!
The mat class moved from roll-downs and squats, through to the abdominal series, spinal articulations, back extensions, side lie work, support work and finished off with full body integration challenges. Lanette’s basic rule (and warning at the beginning of class) was that the class would be continual i.e. no stopping between exercises and that each exercise would prepare us for the next in the class. I love a good challenge and this class was no exception! In a mat class, there is just you and your breath, working against gravity on the mat, as you follow the (excellent) instruction and move from one exercise sequence to the next. What should be exhausting and annihilating becomes refreshing and energising and I can honestly say I met the various challenges put before me. That hour and a half flew by and I felt more than ready and prepared to face my ‘once-upon-a-time’ nemesis: the Wunda Chair!
“It is the only chair purposefully designed to Pleasantly Correct your present Deplorable Physical Condition. It’s the Silent Artist-Sculptor-Moulding, Forming and Correcting every Part of the Human Body – as you will it” -Joseph Pilates, in an advertisement for his Wunda Chair (Lanette’s workshop notes, page 3, source unknown)
I have to say that the Wunda Chair has become my most favourite piece of Pilates apparatus over the last few years primarily because of the solid foundational work I have undertaken in my own training sessions with Kerrie. On the Wunda chair, there is just a moving pedal, adjustable spring resistance (from very, very light to very strong and firm) and a small table-top like surface to interact with. Because of this, there is “the least amount of surface area or support for the body, and therefore exposes us to the ability to work more three dimensionally than other apparatus” (Lanette’s workshop notes, p.5).
Lanette guided us through some very familiar repertoire, and then added some interesting tweaks, themes and variations to each as informed by her own vast experience with other Pilates Masters such as the late Julian Littleford (his ‘killer Pike series certainly had me shaking and sweating!) Deborah Lessen and Blossom Leilani-Crawford: All instructors whom Kerrie too, has worked with and been inspired by.
Once the bulk of the new/expanded repertoire was presented and experienced, we were then given opportunities to create exercise programs for the Wunda chair with different populations in mind e.g. A pregnant woman in her third trimester versus an elderly client. As we worked through said programs, I took time to note Lanette’s verbal cues, hands-on techniques and modifications made as she moved from participant to participant.
To say that I walked away feeling strong & confident, with a new ‘bag of tricks’ to play with on myself and on my clients, is an understatement! I’m already starting to see small, but significant changes in the bodies of my clients throughout the last week since the workshop – hopefully they can see and feel those changes too! Paul Schembri.