Meet Studio BE’s Pilates Instructor-in-Training Vanessa Caesare. A California native, Vanessa has trained a variety of people, from elite NFL athletes to people who are sedentary or new to Pilates. Her advice to new and seasoned Pilates enthusiasts? “Stick with your Pilates practice, and invest in your long-term health!” 
STUDIO BE: Vanessa, would you introduce yourself to our readers?
VANESSA: I’m a California native who moved to Northern Virginia 15 years ago. At the time, I had a two- and five-year-old and loved being in an area where, as a family, we could enjoy all four seasons. I fell in love with Virginia from the minute I got here.
Being active has always been a part of my life. I have always felt it is important to move every day if possible. As a kid, I enjoyed dance, track, and volleyball. Then the workout craze of the 90’s hit—VHS tapes, Kathy Smith, The Firm, Callanetics, I’m pretty sure I had them all!
Over the past ten years, I developed a love of running. In the last few years, I’ve taken it up more seriously as a distance sport. I am currently training for my first Marathon in November.
STUDIO BE: When did you first become involved in Pilates? What drew you to Pilates over other forms of exercise?
VANESSA: About seven years ago, I began taking a few Pilates classes here and there, and I decided to get some DVDs to continue my practice at home. I realized that it just isn’t the same without an instructor, so I joined a gym that offered Pilates classes. From that point on, I’ve considered it a necessity in my fitness routine. It relieved my neck pain, loosened up my lower back and made me feel stronger while at the same time feeling lighter and more relaxed. As a runner, I credit Pilates as to why I have remained injury free, despite all the hours I spend pounding the pavement.
STUDIO BE: You are currently an apprentice working through your Peak training and certification. For those of us who don’t fully understand all that entails, could you fill us in? 
VANESSA: Peak has an amazing training platform that equips you to succeed at teaching classical Pilates. The comprehensive training program that I am going through has three levels. Each level has hourly requirements that you have to meet, as well as a final assessment that includes written, practical, and teaching components you have to pass.
I have completed Level 1, which requires you to log a total of 200 hours through workshops, personal practice, practice teaching, and observation. You are then certified to teach Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Ladder Barrel through low intermediate exercises. What I love about Peak is that it not only teaches you what to teach but HOW to teach so that your clients reach their potential and get the most out of their practice. I look forward to completing my Level 2 certification this winter.
STUDIO BE: What has the PEAK Pilates training program taught you about yourself? What has surprised you most? 
VANESSA: That I need to be more patient with myself. At first, I wanted to know everything there is to know. I wanted to be able to execute the exercises perfectly and have every session with every client be amazing! I could go on, but you get the picture.
What I am trying to learn is to enjoy the process and the feeling of discovery. It’s an exhilarating feeling when I have an “aha” moment and something that at first seemed like a big question mark in mind and body suddenly makes sense
I think what has surprised me the most was learning the complete transformative and restorative benefits of Pilates. As a student, you know you feel better, your pain subsides, and you move through space differently. As a teacher, you learn the physiological reasons why the body responds so fully to the workout system. I have come to understand the anatomical response of the body to the movements being executed. That is fascinating to me.
In fact, I now prepare people I talk to about Pilates by saying, “You don’t mind if I nerd out on Pilates for a second.”
STUDIO BE: What are your long-term goals as a soon-to-be Pilates instructor? 
VANESSA: Long term, I look forward to completing my Level 3 Comprehensive Certification through Peak and becoming fully certified. I also look forward to the continued educational opportunities afforded instructors. I think staying curious in life is really important and part of becoming a good Pilates instructor requires you to stay hungry for new ways to bring the basics to life in your own mind so you can teach them with passion. That’s the type of teacher I hope to be.
STUDIO BE: Are you currently taking clients? If so, tell our readers a little about your strengths and the kinds of clients you enjoy working with.
VANESSA: Yes I am! I think one of my strengths is educating my clients as to the “why” of something. If you know why you’re doing an exercise, for example, it gives you more control and confidence. It fosters a strong desire to accomplish the exercise from a more mindful place.
That being said, I really enjoy working with people new to Pilates. The growth is so evident, and in just a few sessions, you see them gain awareness in their bodies and strength in their core. What’s really exciting is when they comment how amazing they feel, and the pain they have struggled with for so long is now gone! Those are the moments that are so gratifying for me as a teacher.
STUDIO BE: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or Pilates? 
VANESSA: I would like to reiterate the idea of patience. Since becoming an Instructor, I have taught a variety of people from elite NFL athletes to individuals who are completely sedentary. Across the board, there is a desire for instant gratification, instant results. While you will feel a difference immediately, true, life-changing results take time and consistency. Stick with your Pilates practice, and invest in your long-term health. To quote Joseph Pilates, “In 30 sessions, you’ll have a whole new body.”