by BASI Pilates

From Neuroscience to Pilates, Jim Velier’s Journey to BASI Pilates Teacher Training

Soaring Eagle

Jim is performing Soaring Eagle, an exercise created by BASI founder Rael Isacowitz and first photographed in 2004.

In the early eighties, I was a serious cyclist riding with local groups. My home town of West Allis, Wisconsin was the training location for the US speed skating team and during the summer many of the athletes would participate in weekly rides sharing their knowledge of training protocols, periodization, nutrition, recovery techniques and more. On most of these rides I was the weakest rider, and when the tempo or terrain crushed me I’d get dropped; however, there was always another rider who would drift back and tow me home. That was how I learned to ride a wheel and came to admire the selfless individual.

Like many I followed a college path, studying physiological psychology at the University of Wisconsin and eventually obtaining my doctorate in neuroscience from the UCLA School of Medicine. Leaving California, I went east for a fellowship at Harvard and a visiting scientist position with SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals. Microscopy and photography were my passions and I spent most days engaged in both.

At the turn of the millennium, my wife Jules, who for 25 years has sung to me the song in my heart, accepted a position in San Diego. The move provided an opportunity to focus more on photography and I worked as a digital imaging consultant and production artist. These were my “glow box” years, hours and hours of solitary engagement with the machine which eventually left me…squirrelly. I began riding with the local Masters racing group and Jules, loving her own experience with Pilates, suggested I consider it for off the bike strength training.

jim-teaser-front-bw-smCheryl Graeves was my first instructor and when she relocated in late 2015 I was introduced to Jennifer Curry Wingrove, the founder, owner and head instructor of Pilates on Park with whom I began formal training. It is a delightfully challenging experience to work with Jennifer because she is clearly capable of taking you as far as you are willing to go and she accepts no less than your best. When I said I was considering becoming an instructor she clapped her hands, smiled, and said go to BASI.

The first six modules were a wonderful form of immersion. Yes, check your ego at the door. Humbling but also equally motivating. I keep thinking, “ A crescendo of excellence, from Ofie to Sheri to…Rael in the spring”. An amazing group of people came together for those six days and worked and shared with gratitude and grace. I will always want more of that.

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