ConsciousControl Pilates is a series of mat classes designed to unlock your full potential. It emphasises the importance of learning, understanding and applying sound technique while progressing through a range of moves designed to develop core strength and enhance body awareness. Its detailed, carefully considered progression through six levels, starting with Foundation Essentials, makes ConsciousControl Pilates ideal for professional dancers who want to maintain a high level of conditioning and technical excellence, but is also recommended for anyone who is committed to their wellbeing.
ConsciousControl Pilates grew out of Darren Spowart’s work with elite dancers in companies such as The Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company and their need to have this level of guidance available at any time. Whether you want to achieve high level physical performance as a dancer or athlete, recover from pain or injury, or tone your body and look fantastic, Darren’s Pilates classes are designed to help you get the most out of your body.
“I have been involved in Pilates for more than 20 years and over this period I’ve seen it grow in popularity and development to become one of the most established training and exercise approaches in the world. Countless people at all levels of physical fitness and ability are discovering the benefits of good Pilates training – not just dancers. I’m truly passionate about this and I believe that the body awareness and control that correct Pilates helps you to develop can provide an essential foundation for any other physical activity you want to master or simply enjoy.
My love for both dance and Pilates has provided me with an outlook and satisfaction, where some 20 years on I am delighted to still be teaching both in person and through the ConsciousControl series. Anyone wishing to understand Pilates in depth, safely develop strength and flexibility, or receive the same training as a dancer will love ConsciousControl Pilates.”
Darren Spowart, a former dancer with the Australian Ballet Company and Sydney Dance Company, is an esteemed teacher of classical ballet and Pilates for some 20 years and a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is widely known to the world of dance and is a trusted health practitioner who is highly sought-after by many high profile and elite professionals. His experience has returned health and fitness to countless people and he continues to work with the medical team of the Australian Ballet.
After many years of teaching the elite dance companies of Australia, Darren is at last sharing his expertise with everyone. His series of Pilates DVDs is the only course in Pilates you will ever need.
ConsciousControl Pilates will take you on a journey of physical perfection no matter what your level of fitness is. Everyone will benefit from ConsciousControl Pilates.
Foundation Essentials is the most important entry level class of the ConsciousControl Pilates series. This safe introduction helps you to understand how to stabilise your neutral pelvis and spine, whilst challenging stability with isolated movements.
Whether this is your introduction to the Pilates mat class or you are already familiar with it, this level must be your starting point to this series and returned to many times over to check in on your technique.
It is imperative that you understand the technique presented in this level before moving to levels 1 to 4 as this forms the basis of your safe progress.
Level 1 is the next step on from Foundation Essentials. Many of the isolated movements are coordinated into more flowing exercises and intensified to gently increase the challenges to your body.
It is a slow moving class, allowing you time to feel the challenges and remain safe through your technical achievements.
Level 2 is structured very similarly to Level 1 with the addition of the double breath pattern. This encourages you to stay longer in the movement so you can sustain the load to the abdominal muscles.
This level is slower than Level 1 because of the time required when adding a breath. There is also the introduction of external rotation of the hips in some exercises.
Level 3 focuses more on the external rotation of the hips and spine to encourage a fuller range of movement of the body. There are many challenges to the oblique muscles of the abdomen by adding spirals to the movement.
This is the longest class in this series.
Level 4 requires the most endurance in this series. Your strength, determination and endurance are put to the test. This level links together some of the more challenging exercises to sustain the load to the abdominal muscles. It also includes build up repetitions to challenge your willpower through fatigue levels.
It is important to build your technique and strength from the previous levels before taking on Level 4.
Pre Performance Pilates is a short, fast flowing class designed for the dancer who needs to warm up quickly and thoroughly. It is also designed for the person who is short of time, but wishes to keep up their strength and technique – Great for a quick session before work!
This class should only be attempted once you are certain of your technique, strength and are familiar with the structure of the class as it flows non-stop whilst maintaining the integrity of the technique.
It is well understood that many factors contribute to weight loss and physical health including nutritious food, movement, adequate sleep and plenty of water. Anti stress techniques like meditation and walks in nature all aid in a healthy body weight. But exercising has consistently been shown to be the key.
Pilates has many benefits in shaping the body. We tone and strengthen the body without creating bulk. We create a leaner body because of the use of full range of movement in the exercises as well as shape the waist through the detail of core activation. The breathing patterns in Pilates also aids in the nourishment of the muscles and relaxation of the mind.
There is a large body of scientific research demonstrating that the most important component of the management and prevention of spinal problems is regular spinal movement and conditioning exercise.
Pilates recognises that it is the brain that controls the mobility and stability of the body and that this is a multidimensional process. Kinaesthetic focus, motor learning, rhythmic breathing, individualised practice, and global core control are all engaged as part of Pilates practice to facilitate activation of specific muscle groups in a planned functional sequence, emphasing not just strength or flexibility, but also the quality, precision, and control of movement.
This makes Pilates the safe and smart way to keep your spine healthy and moving well.
From the moment you commence the ConsciousControl Pilates series, you’ll notice that every movement is narrated including entering and exiting the exercise. This is meant to engage you mentally and physically to bring your attention to the task ahead. This also allows you to focus on all the instructions that are spoken as there are many aspects of coordination required. Most importantly, the work is in the movement.
The challenges to your core strength and stability come from the movements themselves and not just the end of the movement. The words Conscious and Control are what makes this series effective in your development and progress.
The most important aspects to your safe progression is in your understanding of each exercise and the accurate execution of them. With this comes strength and control of your body which will enable you to progress to the next level.
I recommend finding time for at least 3 sessions per week of Foundation Essentials for a minimum of 2-3 months before progressing forward. Once you are familiar with the sequences, you could add Pre Performance Pilates to your daily routine which only requires 15 minutes of your time.
“Pilates is a really important part of what we do in our injury prevention program. The Australian Ballet over the last number of years has implemented an holistic program for the dancers, not only to look after their injuries from day to day management but also to prevent ongoing injuries and the Pilates program we have in place and Darren’s part in that has meant we have actually dramatically lowered the amount of injuries.
We employ Darren Spowart for our Sydney seasons because it is the most physically demanding season for our dancers. He has an incredible knowledge for what we need to get the dancers to achieve during this season.
His strengthening program is incredibly unique to him. With all of the mat classes he provides for our dancers, there is a huge turn up. As these classes are done in their own time, it is a testimony to his great knowledge and also his great popularity with the dancers that so many come to his classes before their work hours.
I think the wonderful thing about the ConsciousControl program is that we have the opportunity when we are away from Sydney and the company aren’t able to work with Darren, we have the opportunity to have this set of classes that the company can go back to and revise and continue to work in this method which is great. I highly endorse this program.”
Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet
“I have come to know the work of Darren Spowart since I came to Australia to begin my role as Director of the Sydney Dance Company at which time Darren began to teach regular morning classes for the dancers of the Company. He quickly made himself invaluable to us all, providing support and professionalism on many levels.
Darren Spowart’s ballet classes are grounded in a highly developed knowledge of classical training and provide challenges that strengthen the dancers’ command of their technique.
In addition, Darren has taught Pilates to the Company, through classes that help us to achieve the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility and awareness in order to support efficient and graceful movement. Pilates is now seen as crucial to underpinning a dancer’s technique as a dancer’s body is at its most functional when it is strong, efficient and flexible.”
Director of the Sydney Dance Company
“As Dance Director of Sydney Dance Company, one of my goals for the dancers is training them in such a way that their bodies are at their strongest, most efficient and elastic they can be so that they are free to create uninhibited, powerful and dynamic movement.
I regularly schedule Darren Spowart to teach at SDC. His combination of a perfectly planned Pilates mat class followed by a technically demanding yet foundation laying ballet class is perfect for the enormous demands that these excellent dancers meet every day.
As an ex-dancer I have personally benefited from his classes so am delighted that he continues to work with us at Sydney Dance Company.”
Dance Director of the Sydney Dance Company
“Darren’s attention to detail and knowledge of the body makes him an outstanding teacher.
Darren’s concentrated and meticulous delivery of exercises is one of the building blocks that allows Bangarra dancers to gain a greater understanding and strength of the classical technique.”
Rehearsal Director at the Bangarra Dance Theatre
“Darren has privately coached me for Pilates for many years. Knowing I feel and see results readily, I always look forward to his direction, and positive calming energy.
Tailoring each session to my individual needs, his keen eye, intuition and expertise gives me confidence and strength. I give him my complete trust. Darren has been an instrumental part in rehabilitating my body to performance level after the birth of both of my babies.”
Principal Artist with The Australian Ballet
“Pilates has been my chosen strengthening, balancing and fine-tuning complement to my dance training since I was 12 years old. I have worked with many Pilates trainers in the time since, and I believe Darren Spowart’s wisdom in this field is unsurpassed. He has a unique holistic approach and deep understanding of a professional dancer’s needs, which results in a workout which focusses on a shared goal of excellence onstage, career longevity and of course general well-being. From traditional classical ballet to niche contemporary companies, every professional dancer will do a ballet barre in some form every day of their career. The value of a good ballet barre is something that can’t be overestimated – a means to ‘check in’ to the body in the morning, to smooth out kinks after a gruelling show the night before, but foremost to continually strengthen and streamline technique. Darren Spowart has gone through the conventional ballet barre with a fine-toothed comb to produce his own take on it that is as considered as it is challenging. I have never felt so ‘on my legs’!”
Dancer with The Australian Ballet
“Working with Darren is essential to the maintenance and development of my physical conditioning as a dancer with The Australian Ballet. Darren’s attention to understanding and depth of knowledge about fine tuning the body has contributed greatly to improving my own physical conditioning and awareness and has given me the ability and confidence to perform at an elite level. It is a pleasure working with Darren and the physical rewards are worth the challenge.”
Dancer with The Australian Ballet
“Darren has always motivated me to work with Pilates. I love the many challenges and the rewards that come with doing his Pilates program.It helps me keep fit and fine tuned for the rehearsals and performance coming up. I do Pilates because of Darren Spowart. His classes get me back on my feet and dancing. It is an essential part of my training.”
Dancer with The Australian Ballet
“As a professional dancer, I take great pride and care in the way my body looks and feels. Darren Spowart’s Pilates classes are a must for anyone wanting to look good and feel great.”
Dancer with The Australian Ballet
“Darren Spowart’s pre-performance warm-up is the ideal preparation for a professional dancer. The combination of the pilates and ballet barre gives the dancer a thorough work-out that stretches, strengthens and most importantly warms-up the entire body for the workload ahead. The warm-up is functionally devised to not only physically prepare your body for the demands that are involved in a professional performance, but also mentally give a dancer that sense of control and mental alertness that is just as equally important. Not only is the warm-up a vital tool for a dancers performance preparation, but also a necessity throughout a dancers career to help maintain an injury-free and physically fit body. I recommend it to any dancer looking to push their careers to the next level, and above.”
Dancer at Sydney Dance Company
“Pilates and Ballet technique with Darren Spowart are the best kind of medicine. It’s hard work but its also smart work. His thoughtfully designed exercises and combinations target the specific needs of professional dancers and anyone else with a keen interest in training, sculpting and strengthening their body. For me its the noticeable changes and progress in my body that I value most.”
Dancer at Sydney Dance Company
“The instruction is very clear and easy to follow and I love the creative mix of exercises. The most helpful thing for me is having Darren constantly bring my awareness back to the basics. Watching the dancers move with such precision and grace really encourages you to do the same. Even if you’re relatively fit, you’ll still find these classes challenging.”
“Love love loved my first Foundation Essentials session. I haven’t felt this relaxed for months. Henry was such a good boy and had an extra long nap so mummy could have some time to herself. I’d watch the demo whilst focusing on my breathing, listen to the focus and then close my eyes and listen to your voice guide me. It was amazing, you seemed to remind me to lower my shoulders or lift my abdomen at exactly the right time. Telling me when to exhale and inhale was perfect for me as I tend to forget to breathe and as you said in the introduction, breathing is so very important.
I’m now sitting on the couch feeding Henry, shoulders back and down, neck long, abdomen engaged, I feel so much more comfortable. Thanks Darren. Looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow.”
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Foundation Essentials is the first and the most important class in this six part Pilates training program. It is the groundwork to understanding a safe and proper technique. You can only benefit from Pilates if you know how and what you are doing.
Foundation Essentials takes you through isolated moves unique to Pilates to build your knowledge and skills, which will later be coordinated into more exciting sequences in levels 1-4.
It is a complete exercise experience in itself but more importantly, it’s crucial that you commence with this level to develop the basic foundations of my series so that you may progress safely through the levels.
Solid understanding and sound technical development: This trio will consolidate your progress and the challenges will reward you with a balance of strength and flexibility.
In addition to the individual moves in Foundation Essentials, Levels 1 and 2 coordinate these with flowing and sustained movements to enhance endurance, coordination and willpower.
You’ll notice a real progress in your body’s tone, balance and posture.
The ultimate package in the ConsciousControl Pilates series: Six progressive levels to take you from the beginning stages through to the Pilates body you’ve always wanted.
This complete Pilates course allows you an uninterrupted progress to Pilates perfection. The variety of classes in the full series will ensure you will always maintain dynamic fitness, great shape, strength and flexibility.
This full series has previously been exclusively available only to members of the Australian Ballet.