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The Power of Connection and Celebration BASI Learn From The Leaders 2019

by Andrea Smith

January 4, 2021

Waking up early on the morning of May 18th at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, before the hotel would be buzzing with participants from all over the world for a very special Learn From The Leaders Conference, I spent some time meditating. Usually these types of events can be a bit overwhelming for an introvert like myself, so I wanted to be prepared. The previous two days of the BASI Faculty and Host Summit had been very full and incredibly inspiring. Taking a few moments to acknowledge and appreciate what a gift it is to be a part of this company, this BASI family, and to be there celebrating with everyone, felt necessary and humbling. I wanted to continue riding that wave in order to connect with people from a grounded place where I could bring my most authentic self out to learn . . . and to play.


It was a beautiful sunny Southern California morning when I headed down to the plaza. The place was a frenzy of men and women wearing workout clothes on their backs and excitement on their faces. Everywhere I turned I saw old friends, new instructors that I had trained at one of our courses, Instagram superstars, and international powerhouses of Pilates. Some traveled all the way from the UK, Russia, Italy, Greece, Japan and Korea, to name a few. Volunteers were happily scrambling to check everyone in and hand over their welcome packets, which included a cushy new mat and a very nice, high quality BASI Systems backpack. Vendor booths like BASI Flex and Pilates Nerd were assisting their first customers as we all settled in for breakfast. When the brightest star of all, our founder and guru, Rael Isacowitz, made his way to the microphone to welcome everyone, he was greeted by roaring applause and beaming smiles. Rael, the center of our BASI universe, gave a warm and heartfelt opening address. We were then led through a relaxing group meditation, and I watched in awe as everyone found a moment of peace. A profound calm rippled through the crowd, and suddenly I knew that I was not the only one who needed to breathe.


It would be an intense couple of days of movement classes, workshops and talks, exploring a wide range of subjects taught by our incredible faculty. We would delve deep into analysis of the C-curve, spinal abnormalities, gait deviations and back extension work. We would play on the spine corrector, the jumpboard and the revolutionary BASI Systems F2 equipment. We would be led through a variety of movement flows, each with its own focus and personality. The richness of this work always amazes me, as does the talent, knowledge, skill and dedication of our instructors. When BASI Pilates teachers speak, the world should listen. We are pure magic!


On that first day, Tash Barnard’s “Standing Mat Pilates” class was no exception. It was a creative and challenging flow that combined the fundamentals and footwork (basically slow, painful squats performed in the footwork positions) with core and balancing exercises. I was forced to drop right into a state of mindful presence in order to survive, and it felt amazing. Carrie Smith’s presentation of cutting-edge neurological applications to the Pilates repertoire had me feverishly taking notes and asking question after question (yeah, I was THAT girl) and still felt hungry for more. A lively jumpboard workshop taught by Cindy Reid gave me more new exercises than I’ll ever be able to teach, but I find practicing them to be just as fun. I spent Day 2 with our Australian Faculty and Licensees, husband and wife power couple, Jordanna and Shayne Smith. Shayne shared his personal experience of retraining his body and gait after a horrific accident, as well as demonstrating innovative ways to use the BASI Systems reformer. Jordanna enlightened us all in just how tight and dysfunctional the pelvic floor and psoas can be. Having had a baby just 16 months ago, my body responded immediately to the techniques she led us through. It dawned on me that, as instructors, we spend so much time working the muscles, contracting and strengthening—what a powerful thing it is to find release.


Another way that we Pilates instructors like to release is through enjoying a meal together, and through laughter and dancing. When we get together for a party, there’s no better place to be than with this crew. Saturday night’s “One Family, Bright Future” celebration took place in the amphitheater outside and did not disappoint. As we entered the festive space and walked down the brightly decorated runway, flanked by poster-size photos of our BASI family with inspirational quotes, we saw Booty Barre founder, Tracey Mallett conducting interviews with guests. Italian concert pianist, Federico Tinti filled the air with rich, elegant classical music, expertly played on a baby grand piano. We ate, we drank, we danced to a phenomenal live band called Jungle Fire, and we joyfully celebrated each other. During his speech, Rael spoke at length about what it means to be a part of this special group of people, how far the company has come in 30 years, and where we are headed. It began to hit home for me at this moment that Rael and BASI Pilates have truly reached a milestone. He then presented generous gifts to his LFTL dream team, including Operations Manager, Stella Hull-Lampkin and Photographer/Marketing Coordinator, Veronika Reinert. He stood and took a bow to the illustrious group of Honors students that have completed the Legacy Program. Then it was his turn to receive a gift, presented by BASI Faculty, Brandon Gamble in the form of a custom-made surfboard on which all of the BASI logos had been printed. There is no doubt that this man is loved and appreciated by all and is hopefully enjoying himself in the ocean as we speak!

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The icing on the cake would come on the final day of the conference with Rael’s “Hour of Power” mat class, which was also live streamed on Facebook for the world to see and enjoy. As the more than 300 people lined up their mats in the massive conference room, I took it all in one last time. Off to my right was a small group of about five women huddled together, arm in arm, whispering words of encouragement. To my left I saw a beautiful older woman standing with her eyes closed, slightly swaying and smoothing her hair back, centering herself for the challenge to come. And challenging it was! We rocked and rolled, we curled and Teasered, we Corkscrewed and extended ourselves beyond what any of us thought possible. Although we weren’t always in perfect unison, Rael’s extraordinary energy flowed through us and we breathed together as one, fully immersed in the work we love.

It is this love, and the love we have for this community, that keeps us all coming back year after year. Spending time with like-minded individuals from across the globe lights a fire deep in my core. A fire which I will use to fuel my teaching, elevate my clients, and inspire the next generation of BASI instructors.

Until next time, LFTL!
NEXT UP: BASI LFTL Germany 2020
June 26-28, 2020


Source: From the BASI Gazette – Issue 05

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