Interview to Pilates Instructor and Postural & Presence Advisor Alexandra Prigent-Labeis
Alexandra Prigent-Labeis: Visiting Master at SHA
From February 29 to March 5, 2016, SHA will welcome Alexandra Prigent Labeis, the founder of PILATES EXCELLENCE, acclaimedPilates Instructor and Postural & Presence Advisor to CEOs, athletes and artists, as well as businesswomen and dedicated moms.
Alexandra’s unique method has helped clients achieve major health and wellness successes, creating healthy, efficient and beautiful bodies.
How can Pilates help us improve our health?
The Pilates method is a unique holistic approach that aims at restoring the flexibility of your spine and strengthening your deep stabilising muscles. The emphasis is placed on the stabilising muscles of the trunk, which help us to stand up tall, give proper support to the spine and encourage good joint mobility. Pilates focuses on length and flow rather than tension and contraction in order to create long lean muscles and to improve postural alignment.
Breathing techniques and concentration allow your body and mind to work together towards a healthier body. Although relaxation is not the ultimate goal of Pilates, many people express a sense of serenity and piece of mind after Pilates sessions as a result of the intense concentration and body awareness required to perform the exercises.
What makes your technique unique?
My teaching style is quite cerebral, with a strong focus on details and fine recruitment. I am passionate about making you understand why and how deep “invisible” muscles can make a big difference supporting superficial muscles to create a healthy efficient body. There is no magic behind my technique. This is all human anatomy and love for movement. My favourite moment – and it always comes- is when a client suddenly says : “This is incredible, it actually really works! “. For me this is the beauty of Pilates. It just simply works.
What is ‘Body Intelligence’ for you?
To me body intelligence is a way to access my body through my brain. It is a cerebral approach allowing greater control and awareness. It combines deep understanding of anatomy and biomechanics, as well as concentration techniques. It is a fascinating and powerful skill that literally changed my life and that I now research and teach.
Why stretching is important for everyone, not only for athletes?
In our joints and in our muscles we find sensors that provide information to the brain about movement, muscular length and muscular contraction. These sensors are called proprioceptors. They give us information about our own physical existence when we stretch.
Stretching makes you more body aware and makes you feel alive. Whether you like stretching or hate it, you will certainly agree that it is an effective mean for you to immediately and mechanically experience your own physicality. Being conscious of your physical self is the absolute prerequisite to change your postural behaviours to maintain greater body alignment.
I actually wrote an article advocating for stretching in our daily routine.
Which tips would you give to someone who wants to enhance his or her body posture in his or her daily life?
Practice Pilates regularly and book a Posture and Presence coaching session with me of course !
The most important tip I can give is to focus on your feet and their « relationship » to the ground. Most people focus on their shoulders when you ask them to show their best posture. But your body alignment starts with the ground. You need to use the floor to re-align your body. Trying to be aware of your feet anchoring into the floor in an active manner is the cornerstone of your new posture. This is the first exercise I teach in my Posture & Presence programme. If I had to summarise it :
1/ Feet Parallel under your hips (not wider)
2/ Body weight in the centre of your feet (not resting on one hip)
3 / Push the floor away and feel the floor resist back and generate energy that will then travel up through your leg and body.
What added value do your workshops have? What do you do to achieve it?
My workshops on Posture and Presence offer a dynamic interactive framework to experiment the technique in a fun, practical and accessible way.
Everyone leaves with the tools and knowledge they need to take action immediately and change their postural behaviours for greater presence, self-confidence and impact. I focus on various topics depending on the audience, topics such as : “How do I bridge the age gap? I am confident about my technical expertise but the age difference works against me”, “How do I maintain presence and gravitas when I must remain silent?”, “How can I make femininity and professional respect mutual catalysts instead of having to balance them as antagonists?”, “How can I fight my impostor complex?”.
When I teach a Pilates workshop I like to focus on a specific challenge that is often overlooked in group classes. That can be for example, positioning your elbows and how it impacts the alignment of your wrists, shoulders and neck. Another example is understanding what intercostal breathing is and its impact on deep abdominal work. The way I do that is again through precise anatomical explanation and a step-by-step approach to the actual Pilates exercises.
How could a good body posture influence our personal and professional lives?
Where you see charisma, presence and confidence, I see posture, alignment and body awareness. The way you walk, the way you stand, the way you physically manage stress, your general posture impact how people view you. More importantly it impacts how you feel about yourself hence how you perform.
How could your method contribute with SHA?
I was first invited as a Visiting Master at SHA in September 2015 and I was very impressed by its holistic approach of wellbeing. SHA’s mantra is « be the best version of yourself ». It resonates deeply in me and I think my teaching in Pilates or Posture and Body Intelligence is aiming in the same direction. I want to empower people to feel and look better. I think the first step towards a better posture and a greater health is learning and understanding. This is why I believe in Body Intelligence within SHA’s programmes.
For more information about Alexandra Prigent-Labeis or to check availability, click here.