Last weekend, sixty-five eager BASI students showed up to demonstrate their skills at the Centralized Testing in Costa Mesa. This format of examination, adopted by BASI in the US only about two years ago, has proven to be very successful. It puts BASI squarely in the forefront of Pilates education as an academy that demand the maximum, both of its teaching staff and its students.
A BASI student, wherever she or he studied in the US, is tested by Rael, the founder of BASI. or myself, the director of education – and often by both. All have to meet the same standard and are tested according to the same criteria. Those who pass have succeeded at the highest teacher training level required by BASI and begin their careers as Pilates teachers with the full confidence and backing of BASI.
Most individuals are competitive and want to excel; as a culture we would not have reached the accomplishments we have achieved without this edgy spirit. However, there are also those who want to be recognized as successful without doing the work it takes to actually achieve success. Image over performance, I presume.
Examinations seem to bring out the best and the worst in people. Some are very prepared and look forward to showcasing their work through a well-thought-out and appropriate session for their assigned client. Others, however, seem to simply show up, cross their fingers and hope they “get by”. In many cases, if they don’t do well, they just want to know when they can arrange to test again. Little thought seems to go into what this process represents or what this work really means.
If the goal is to just get by, then just getting by is all there will ever be; nothing outstanding, interesting or unique – just marginal, ordinary, mediocre work. Unlike much of our society, BASI does not celebrate mediocrity. Not everyone gets a trophy at BASI and people do fail – and, yes, they feel bad about it. But, much as we regret failing people, BASI’s job is not to avoid hurting feelings. It’s to produce the best Pilates teachers that we possibly can.
If we want to be appreciated for our skills, we need to have skills that can be appreciated. As Joseph Pilates wrote in Return to Life, “Physical fitness can neither be acquired by wishful thinking nor by outright purchase.” Truer words could not be said. Good things do not usually just knock on the door; they must be worked for. Nurtured, shaped, evaluated and then nurtured again.
BASI prepares people for careers. Hopefully, a life-long profession is ahead for each person who wants it. Instead of rushing through to touch the finish line, we should understand that there is no finish line! Just a never-ending journey of personal responsibility, professional accountability and ongoing assessment.
Learning Pilates, and especially learning Pilates with BASI, is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Those who succeed most are those who put in the most work. Examine your intentions and actions frequently. My advice to all students taking the Centralized Testing is to prepare well and be the best you can be. If you have prepared, put it out there; if not, try harder, work more efficiently and choose your mentors wisely.
I deeply appreciate the opportunity to work with the outstanding individuals that come through BASI and it is with great pride that I view the BASI organization as the standard that others measure themselves by. I am humbled by my opportunities and appreciate every individual who puts forth the effort to excel.