Bob Hannum is a Certified Advanced Instructor of Pilates for over 35 years, creator and CEO of PilatesLessons.org, and author of several popular Pilates ebooks and videos. He was taught by the ‘Pilates Elder’ Mary Bowen.
Bob and his team provide Pilates instruction for any age and fitness level both online and in-studio featuring a unique teaching method that makes Pilates quick, easy, and inexpensive to learn.
We specialize in Pilates mat exercises which uniquely combine cardio, stretching, and strength training all in one 30-minute workout. These exercises were created by Joseph Pilates nearly 100 years ago and are now the most popular fitness method worldwide, used not only by fitness enthusiasts, but also by elite athletes and physical therapists.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to start your business?
Bob: It all began nearly 40 years ago with a serious back injury. I was facing surgery and a premature end to a dance and acting career. The ‘Pilates Elder’ Mary Bowen told me that Pilates might help. I had never heard of it, but with nothing to lose I tried it. Well, the results astounded me! Not only did I avoid surgery and medication, but I quickly returned to acting and dancing with more strength and confidence than ever before. Pilates was truly extraordinary, and I wanted to become an instructor and pass it on to others. Fast forward a couple years later. I was growing frustrated by the complexity of Pilates instruction among my colleagues. Spend a couple minutes on any Pilates forum and your head will start spinning with all the talk of physiology, kinesiology, anatomy – it’s overwhelming! It doesn’t have to be that way, and Joseph Pilates didn’t teach it that way. I decided to get back to basics by developing an instructional method – now available in ebooks and videos on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks – that makes Pilates quick and easy to learn. It’s been many years in the making and a dream come true.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share some of the advantages of practicing Pilates? How often do you need to do a workout to see some results?
Bob: The benefits of Pilates are so impressive that every elite athlete includes it in their conditioning program. You get strength from eccentric contraction, flexibility from dynamic stretch, development of core muscles unparalleled by any other method, no wear and tear on your joints, and a host of other benefits such as lean muscle, less bulk, increased balance, improved posture, body awareness, and the relief of most back and joint pain. No other exercise method does all this! Furthermore, you can get results quickly – after just one workout you can feel significant relief from most joint and back pain and a noticeable improvement in flexibility. In a week (2-3 workouts): greater strength and balance. In a month: greater endurance and mind/body integration.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the process behind developing a unique teaching method for Pilates and any challenges that you encountered along the way?
Bob: It’s been an adventure! Early on in my teaching career I saw rare film footage of Joseph Pilates teaching a beginner. I was shocked! He was very spare with instruction and athletic with movement, a stark contrast to what Pilates had become since Joseph Pilates died in the 60’s and the evolution of the technique was left up to subsequent teachers. I suddenly realized that although Pilates had more depth than most other exercise methods, it need not be so difficult and time consuming to learn unless physical injuries or other special needs are involved. It’s not brain surgery! So I embarked on a new path. I challenged myself to experience the depths of Pilates and find simple ways to speak about it. I avoided contact with other teachers. I didn’t even visit Pilates websites! It became a kind of meditation retreat lasting years! I explored each and every Pilates movement to find only those instructions needed to make it clear and safe. I tested this new language in my classes and students guided and encouraged me. I also discovered brilliant aspects of Pilates and came to see its creator, Joseph Pilates, as the ‘Einstein of Fitness’ – how fluid movement does not cause wear and tear on our joints like most exercise, how eccentric contraction develops strong and lean muscle without excess bulk, how dynamic stretch results in more range of motion than static stretch in yoga, and how Pilates uniquely combines everything the body needs for exercise – cardio, strength training, and stretching – into a 30-minute workout without equipment or a gym. Perhaps the most important discovery was that there is no need to know anything about alignment or breathing patterns or core muscles – 99% of Pilates instructor ‘speak’ – to benefit from Pilates. Every Pilates exercise works the core no matter what! Every exercise automatically leads us to better alignment, greater body awareness, and more. This meant that instruction can be simple, quick, and inexpensive. The ‘Pilates Elder,’ Mary Bowen, confirmed that Joe Pilates used very few words to teach his exercises.
I also added a rigorous dimension to Pilates just as I saw Joe doing in films. I wanted to get back to the basics and be sure Pilates was not just a wonderful exploration of movement, but also a great workout.
After establishing this new method of teaching, the next step was filming it which took over a year. I finished the project a couple months ago and published 2 ebooks that include HD video: “The Ultimate How-To Book of Pilates Mat Exercises” and “How to Do Pilates – the Complete Guide for Beginners.”
BusinessInterviews.com: How has the fitness industry evolved since you first started your career and how have those changes influenced your approach to your business?
Bob: Video has taken over this and every other industry where people are best served by seeing rather than reading instructions. Now with HD and streaming video, DVD’s will soon be obsolete. There will never be a substitute for one-on-one Pilates instruction so this is the next challenge: how to provide Pilates video instruction WITH personal attention. Skype may be the answer so I’m experimenting with Skype along with the usual avenues of telephone and email to connect with my customers.
BusinessInterviews.com: How important is social media to your marketing strategy?
Bob: Social media offer new and, in my opinion, better opportunities not only for marketing but also for connecting and sharing with colleagues and students. It’s exciting to explore this world, but also challenging to decide which social media to be involved with and how much time to invest in them. I My facebook business page has definitely generated more business by offering daily exercise tips and info at Facebook.com/PilatesWithBob. Daily Tweeting and Linkedin discussions are also helpful. I’ve yet to determine if Google+ and Pinterest have any impact on my business.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for 2014?
Bob: I’m completing several more ebooks with streaming video due to be published next year, “Fitness After 50: A Complete Guide to Living Longer and Better in Body, Mind & Spirit,” “Pilates & Golf,” “Pilates & Pregnancy,” and “Cardio Pilates.”
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