My Learn From The Leaders Experience

by Ashley Ritchie

About 19 years ago I was sitting at a birthday lunch. I was at the stage in my life where my eldest daughter, Chelsea-Ann was going off to play school in the mornings and being home in the afternoons. My son Stuie, was soon to follow suit. I was teaching ballet at the local ballet school in the afternoons. Something had to change!

My love for dance, movement and the human body was what I wanted to continue doing. What were my options? On my right at the lunch table was JOANNE Enslin-Madden, a well-known physiotherapist in Johannesburg, South Africa. JO was/is also a Stott trained Pilates Instructor. She suggested I try a Pilates session at her studio. I was there the next day!

Theo van der Riet-Botha was my instructor! I suppose the rest is history! Within a month I enrolled into New York Classical method of Pilates. (At this stage BASI had not yet come to SA.) A year later I was led to a workshop that Rael Isacowitz was teaching in Johannesburg at the end of certifying/evaluating the first South African course!

I was blown away! I fell in love with BASI Pilates and Rael! The science behind the movements, the explanations on why and how made sense! Movement for functionality and improved quality of life gave me purpose greater than teaching exercise!

I was privileged enough to redo my Pilates certification through BASI and was certified by Rael Isacowitz in 2001.  My hunger for knowledge grew. I attended my first conference in Australia in 2002. Rael and Karen Clippenger were the presenters. Jet lag never had time to set in. There was so much sharing of information in the most generous and inspiring way. It was unconditional and never ending. I suppose it is much like a parents love and commitment for a child. I had found a mentor, a guide, a friend and an extended family that I belonged to that would always be there for me.

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As an attendee, Karen Clippenger fascinated me. I am convinced she has little X-ray units on her finger tips! I wanted to know and understand the body like she did and still does.

Rael’s passion captured my heart and soul. Nobody in the world matches his ability to observe a body move, correct it skillfully to perform with such precision. Rael is the master of cueing. He can cue with his eyes closed. He feels you move with his eyes and hands. His senses are on high alert. His brain is carefully scanning for the perfect cue for each individual in the room.  His passion is infectious. What an inspiration and the greatest influence I have had in my Pilates career.

I came away from that first conference in Australia understanding the journey had only just begun. There was an exciting, adventurous road of exploration ahead. I wanted to do it with my BASI family and draw on the experienced minds around me to guide me along the way.

Body Mechanix studio became the Host Studio for BASI Teacher Training certifications. Not long after that Theo appointed me as a BASI Faculty member in South Africa. A new journey as a BASI educator had begun.

Theo has organized many Learn From The Leaders (LFTL) events in South Africa and I have been privileged enough to be presenting with Rael, Alan Herdman, Kristy Cooper and Samantha Wood, JO Enslin Madden and many more.

The South African Team has ventured across the Atlantic Ocean many times to attend the Summit and the Californian Learn From The Leaders to soak up the passion and absorb all we can.  Each conference is better than the last and more enriching.  As the years passed and the layers of learning became deeper.  Concept get challenged, boundaries get expanded and our minds are blown away yet again.

The development of the BASI Advanced Education “Pilates through Pregnancy and Beyond” evolved over many years of research. Having had my first child in my 20’s, the next in my 30’s and my last child at 40 plus motivated me to take the pre and postnatal workshop into a 3-day program. The first two days being Prenatal and the last Postnatal. This program has taken me around the world. In 2016, I will be presenting in 12 different locations across the globe.

As a presenter, I always feel I am the greatest learner. The attendees’ input and questions pose the opportunity to question what I am presenting. This keeps me updated with the latest research on Pre and Postnatal Pilates.

For the 2016 LFTL, I am presenting a 3-hour Postnatal Workshop. The time will allow an introduction into the area for a basic understanding of how to work with postnatal clients. The challenges a postnatal client may have and what you need to consider as a Pilates instructor for their continued exercise program.

The 2016 LFTL Conference has an array of topics with experienced presenters to choose from. There is so much to choose from. If you have an interest in a particular field, play in that area. You will be drawn into the BASI family and the greater Pilates world where you can truly experience a sense of community stronger than any other.

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I hope to meet you at the Pre-conference  3-day “Pilates through Pregnancy and Beyond” course in Costa Mesa or the Postnatal 3 hour workshop at LFTL.

California, let’s breathe and celebrate every moment of life- just because we can! There is no other conference you will experience that is anything like this one! Immerse yourself in the never ending sea of knowledge that is going to be shared because – Every breath does count!


For more information on the Learn From The Leaders, 2016 CLICK HERE

For more information on Pilates through Pregnancy and Beyond course CLICK HERE


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