INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT – ALLISON HANSON
By: Lisa Kent
Her friends call her Ali. A Midwestern girl from Montezuma, Iowa, Allison has made her way around the globe and from coast to coast only to land back in the heartland to raise her family. Growing up, as an athlete, dancer and runner, she has enjoyed all types of fitness training into adulthood. Due to chronic hip pain, she stopped running, which in turn brought her to Pilates as a way to learn how to use her body more efficiently, and pain-free, in exercise.
I’ve always been active, but have definitely changed my attitude towards fitness since starting Pilates. I love the mind/body connection – there is no way to separate the two, though I think when I was a hard core runner I tried my best to disappear into exercise rather than immersing fully into my body. I’ve never been stronger than I am right now, and I’ve never felt more confident about taking up my space, both physically and mentally. I fundamentally believe that physical and emotional fitness are the cornerstones to a healthy and happy life. Joseph Pilates said, “Physical fitness is the first requisite to happiness,” and this has proven true for my life time and time again.
Becoming an instructor of Pilates was a perfect fit for Allison who has a Master’s degree in secondary education and has been teaching her entire adult life.
I taught English in Japan for two years, I taught history for eight years to high schoolers in California and Minnesota, and I’ve always coached youth sports. After becoming a parent, my focus changed and Pilates was a natural progression that combined my love for physical fitness with education. My sister, Teresa Mees, introduced me to Pilates over ten years ago. When she was diagnosed with MS, Pilates became crucial to overall health. She taught me the beauty of helping people realize their bodies’ full potentials in a safe environment. When I decided to go through the comprehensive Pilates training program through Polestar Pilates, Teresa took the course for the second time, in part so we could do it together. I am so grateful for her tutelage, expertise, and patience through that extensive training process. We also had a ton of fun.
It was in the fall of 2014 that Allison started teaching at Wilson’s. She is a PMA®-Certified Pilates Teacher and a graduate from Polestar Pilates. She currently teaches Mat Pilates along with 1:1 training using standard Pilates equipment like the Reformer, Trapeze Table, Ladder Barrel, and Chair at the District location. Her specialty credentials make her uniquely qualified. As a PMA®-Certified Pilates Teacher, she creates and implements safe and effective individualized programs for apparently healthy clients to improve health and fitness through exercise and physical activity. The goal of a PMA®-Certified Pilates Teacher is impart the knowledge, skill and confidence for clients to exercise for a lifetime. By awarding the title of Certified Pilates Teacher, the PMA-Certification program is formally recognizing the Pilates teacher who has provided evidence that he or she meets accepted professional standards. There is no doubt that Allison applies this expertise to her work with members. In combination with her delightful personality, she uses her knowledge to literally changes the lives of those she works with.
I want to help people learn how to use exercise to build themselves up, both physically and emotionally. There is nothing better than helping a person feel stronger and more capable. Confidence to move with better posture, flexibility and strength translates to a better quality of life outside the gym. I enjoy watching people smile with pride when they accomplish something with their body that they didn’t think they could do. It can be as simple as sitting in a chair without pain, or as complicated as doing a handstand on the Pilates equipment.
Though highly technical, Allison doesn’t take herself too seriously. While the words pelvis, sacrum, sitz bones and scapula litter her vocabulary, she can just as often be heard employing user-friendly terms like “tucky butt” and sexy beach shoulders.”
I know I’m not the only instructor at Wilson’s who cheers when people learn to soften muscles. I always joke I’m going to give away stickers for neutral pelvis discoveries, soft muscles, front hip softness and long spines.
It’s obvious she is motivated by a love for the work. Allison doesn’t hesitate when asked why she continues to teach.
This is such an easy answer: I keep doing this because of the people I get to work with. Every day I get to watch people move in ways they didn’t know they could. Most days someone expresses gratitude about how Pilates has allowed him to move with less pain. It is so uplifting to work with people who love Pilates and who trust the method to help them improve their quality of life. My favorite moments are those “breakthrough” moments – when a person realizes that she can be both soft and strong at the same time; when a grandpa realizes he can get on and off the floor to play with his grandkids; when a client can climb stairs without using the railing; when a student can paint a bedroom over the weekend without shoulder pain; when my mat class students start teaching each other from their own Pilates experiences. I love what I do, I love where I work, and I love the people I get to interact with every day.
As for her personal life, Allison’s priority is her family. To them, she gives tirelessly, to her husband and two children with whom she lives, and to her sister, Teresa—also a Wilson’s Pilates instructor—and husband and kids who all live next door. Allison stays close to her mother back in Iowa, particularly now after the sudden and unexpected tragic loss of her father a year ago.
Pilates focuses on having balance throughout all aspects of one’s life. Teaching Pilates at Wilson’s has allowed me to keep working while parenting my two greatest loves – Jaden (9) and Malia (7). I am able to teach while they are in school, and be home when they get off the bus. This makes me so happy, and I know how incredibly lucky I am to have this professional flexibility. My husband, Dustin, has always been unwaveringly supportive throughout my training and teaching.
Allison Hanson: Balanced. Strong. Knowledgeable. Kind.
Wilson’s Group Fitness: Brighter. Because of her.