About Abe: "Outside the Pilates world, Abe is a crisis intervention advocate and operations manager for a non-profit. He found Pilates almost accidentally, but happens to be part of the original population targeted by Joseph Pilates’ fitness method: veterans. After an injury ended his running regimen and left him spending four years without a pain-free workout, a somewhat softer Abe discovered the power of Fuse’s 360 fitness with a focus on core stability. The hard work in mat class transformed his body and his pain, leaving him healthier and fitter than he’s ever been. In the Fuse method, Abe also found a lot of exercises familiar from the Army’s Physical Training program, but with a focus and burn that rivals what any drill sergeant could inflict (plus the music is way better). Abe’s a former Army fitness instructor himself, where he always thought misery was the point of exercise; but at Fuse, he’s learned that strength and endurance are not remotely incompatible with having an amazingly fun time."
Abe is certified in the Fuse Pilates method.
Abe was kind enough to answer questions for us in the latest installment of our featured fitness instructor series.
1. How did you become a Pilates instructor?
By being a total Pilates groupie. At Fuse, I found a studio that was warm and friendly and did wonders for my health and body image, and so I couldn't stay away. I guess I stayed long enough that they had to do something with me. But in seriousness, when I was offered a chance to get trained in the Fuse method, I jumped at the chance to learn the science and skill behind the discipline that had made such a difference for me, and earn the opportunity to share that with others.
2. What do you see as the biggest fitness benefits of Pilates?
Overall body health and strength. I've spent time in a number of fitness practices, and Pilates has given me a level of strength and body health that nothing else has. Pilates is the core of my fitness regimen, and even without extensive cardio, my heart rate extremely healthy and my endurance is strong. The muscle strength and toning that comes with a 360 approach and my own body's resistance (and occasionally, some springs!) is more even and balanced than anything I've ever gained at a gym, or on a track.
3. What are the essential elements of a great Pilates class?
An instructor with an extremely competent and technical knowledge of the body -- not just rigorous anatomy, but also how bodies differ, and how different bodies react to different poses and movements. But not just a knowledgeable instructor, but one who can translate that knowledge into intuitive language and cues that are accessible to students who are approaching an unfamiliar exercise for the first time. Hardcore doesn't have to mean hard to understand. It's also important for all classes to be balanced. Tailoring classes to specific areas for a laser focus on toning is an important part of what we do, but keeping the body whole means finding unique ways to work every zone, every time. Most of all, the essential element of a Pilates class is to have FUN. Great tunes, positive energy, and individual feedback and adjustments make the hard work of working hard easy.
4. What is your favorite class to teach?
Fuse's new Ladder class is an exciting addition to my repertoire, and my studio's offerings. It's a fun and super-charged apparatus class that adds an extra boost to upper body work, increases pacing, and keeps folks moving. Plus, it gives me a chance to roll out my thump-iest dance and funk tracks to accompany the sweat-generating moves. But I still have my deepest love for mat classes. Mat offers a chance to pare down everything to the pure resistance of your own body, and offers me a chance to interact with students at every level of fitness. No matter who you are, my mat class can challenge you, but keep you smiling.
5. What is the biggest mistake you see students make in class?
Getting too excited? Only kidding of course--but I do like to make sure that my students don't prioritize mimicking a range of motion over controlling their own movements. It's often tempting to focus on what an exercise should look like rather than the actual movements the body's muscles are creating and controlling. Unassisted gym workouts often lead people to think that good exercise means "powering through" a movement, rather than sustaining the muscle work with control and balance. When folks come to a Pilates class, especially for the first time, I love the motivation: my challenge is harnessing that motivation and helping students to maximize their achievement by finding deep balance and control and strength in movement. Also -- remember to breathe!
6. Please offer advice for someone considering Pilates as a form of exercise. Any first class tips?
Have FUN. That's not a platitude. That's the real deal. Finding what makes your happy place tick will keep you coming back, and will keep you fit and healthy. Find a Pilates studio where you feel a comfortable energy, and don't be hard on yourself. The greatest thing about Pilates is its potential to help anyone, regardless of their fitness level on that first class, so don't stress if you feel behind, or if you feel like your form doesn't look like other students--whose anatomy is always going to differ from yours. Your body is yours, and nobody else's, so listen to it, and try to internalize the instructor's cues in the way you feel a movement. Ask the instructor for tips if you don't understand a cue, or if you feel like you need to try something different. Questions are always welcome at a worthwhile studio. And always remember: the burning pain is progress; the sharp pain is a warning.
7. Do you have a favorite article of Pilates-related gear? What is it?
At Fuse, one of our favorite "toys" is a glider -- a thin disk that slides on the floor just a little too easily. With a glider under the hands or feet (and sometimes "and!"), the body has to work that much harder to stay balanced through some very unbalanced slipping and sliding. Controlling those little gliders is a fun way to test yourself -- and learn new things about your body. But as far as Pilates apparatuses go, the Chair...what a serious, full-body, challenging workout in such a small package!
8. Where/When can folks come take a class with you?
I teach at Fuse Pilates! We have two locations, in Dupont Circle (2008 Hillyer Place, NW) and in Logan Circle (1401, 14th St NW).
Mat class, Tuesdays at 5:30pm -- Fuse on 14th
Mat class, Wednesdays at 8:00pm -- Fuse in Dupont
Mat class, Sundays at 10:00am -- Fuse on 14th
Ladder class, Sundays at 11:15am -- Fuse on 14th
Check out this short promo video highlighting the Fuse Ladder.