1998: Passionate about dance, movement and a whole lot interested in human movement as an area of study, the day I did Pilates and experienced it for the first time, my worlds clicked into each other. It made total sense although I knew diddlysquat at the time, I just knew… like when you know you’ve met the right partner – This is what I was meant to do and more importantly, I felt that this was my calling, to teach Pilates!

 

While studying Dance at the Technikon Pretoria, my very first lesson or rather encounter with Pilates was with Lynne Robinson. It was interesting, totally over my head at the time and very slow… however, everything was explained in great depth and I can still remember some moves and cues. Thank you Lynne!

 

As a student, I did everything with great enthusiasm… when it was interesting. Pilates popped into my life and it was the only thing I could talk, eat and sleep about. My friends had to bear with me and they thought I totally lost my mind on something that looked like it was from a dungeon where people were tortured. Today, 90% of them have their own Pilates studios. It was the most amazing time in my life and their support and willingness to be my guinea pigs was admiring. Thank you girls!

 

I cringe thinking back at some of the exercises I taught, the stuff I tried, not knowing why there is a strap at the end of the reformer and thinking the safety chain was a funky tool. O, how I thank the angels that they looked after me. Those days I played, tested stuff, experimented and today I think that is why the equipment feels like good old friends to me. 

I also learned a hell of a lot from Debra Gush, thank you for opening the window into an unimaginable world, I’m forever grateful. The attention to detail, function, and precision is a trademark of Debbie that will rub off on you and be a steady companion throughout your teaching career. 
                       

 

1999: I got my first job! Part-time at a physiotherapy practice in Sandton with Joanne Enslin de Wet. OMW was that an awakening. I had to work with people dealing with very painful conditions, injured sportspeople, professionals, etc. Luckily the in-service training was excellent and sitting in on patient treatments was the in-depth background that would serve me for many years to come. Thank you Joanne, you have no idea how you enriched my life. 

Then an opportunity presented itself to attend a Pilates workshop in Cape Town by the renowned Master Teacher, Rael Isacowitz. I had to go!  I had never flown before and I just started to earn money, but, I spent it all and I was on my very first Boeing to Cape Town. It changed my life and some serious training was on the horizon.

Working 12 hours some days, studying dance and Pilates was tough, but I loved every minute. I worked at three studios at one stage. Sleeping in studios to minimize traveling. I taught at a Rugby stadium, Loftus Versveld at one stage. In dance studios, offices, just about anywhere I could.  I also enjoyed a good party when there was one and then worked just as hard the next day. Life was full, exciting and my drive to make a success of this was burning in my belly. Pilates was new in South Africa and I was going to have my own studio… one day…

I started studying with BASI Pilates and Stott almost at the same time. I was privileged to get my training in South Africa from Kristi Cooper, Sally Anderson and Rael Isacowitz. How amazing!

                       

It was interesting times and I decided that BASI was the way I wanted to go even though I was working at the Stott host studio. Interesting times indeed but I never looked back. BASI Pilates became my Pilates haven, but more on that at another time. 

                     

 

The question that fast-tracked my plans was: ‘why don’t you open your own studio in Pretoria?’.

I couldn’t give any reason why not and so the process began. I asked my dad for a loan. To this day my dad doesn’t really understand what Pilates is and finds it ridiculous that people would pay for exercise, but my parents’ unwavering support and belief in me kept me going. I had to pay back every cent and I did. I learnt so much and I was only 23 at the time. I think too stupid to know what I was getting myself into and too driven to let anybody tell me anything else.

Driving up and down the highway there was a board with a company’s name, IT Intellect on the side of the road. The world ‘intellect’ really resonated with me. Knowing that Pilates was a mind-body type of exercise, I thought the combination of ‘Body’ and ‘Intellect’ really encompasses the whole meaning of what kind of studio this would be. A place where we work body and mind through quality exercise. 

Body Intellect was born in October 2000!

My baby! It was opened in a revamped double garage size room with one of each piece of equipment. The address: 105 Dely Road, Ashley Gardens.

I still remember the night before I opened my doors, the anticipation, all the boxes standing at the door, all my papers ready to be filled in by my new clients (it was paper, pen, and fax back then). I was trembling, the excitement was too much. My red Volkswagen, Chico was packed to the brim.

There was no such thing as social media in the day and I placed an ad in the local newspaper. Waiting for that first call…Luckily somebody did phone and I had my first client.

My first Body Intellect client, I remember Mynhardt van den Bergh to this day.

As an educator, I often get the question: ‘how do you start a studio?’ and my answer is very simple: ‘with one client’. There is just no other way to start this journey, it always starts with your first client and it grows from there. It’s hard, it’s tough, it’s heartbreaking, nerve-racking, joyous, the ultimate happiness and most rewarding thing ever. 

 

I was set to embark on the most amazing journey. The people I’ve met along the way, the things I got to do and see all because of Pilates. I hope to take you on my journey and share with you the last two decades of Body Intellect and everything that enriched it on both a personal and professional level. I’m filled with gratitude that a small business like Body Intellect has come this far and has become a landmark on the corner of Brooklyn and 14th Street in Menlo Park. 

Chat soon.

Theo Botha