Have you ever taught 6+ hours of clients and walked out of the studio without making time for your own Pilates practice? I’ll be the first to admit, that I’ve struggle with this since founding my studio over ten years ago. But as instructors we need to be at our best for a host of reason — one of the biggest being we love Pilates and that’s why we got into this field!
So when Cara Hazelton from Precision Pilates approached me with this post, I had to share it with all of you!
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Believe it or not, being a Pilates teacher is a very demanding job. We push, pull, stretch, balance, stabilize and move our clients every day. We use heavy equipment that needs to be pushed into place, or even lifted. Our bodies demonstrate exercises for clients when we have not yet warmed up. To make things worse, we often put our own workouts on the back burner when the studio schedule becomes overwhelming.
Something Needs to Change!
Our bodies are the number one priority in our business and without them we cannot teach. We must remain strong and stable – this is the only way we will be able to teach for years to come. Not only is it important for us, personally, but our bodies are an example to our clients and must be a reflection of the benefits of a strong, healthy Pilates practice.
We cannot enable a double standard. How can we, as teachers, expect our clients to commit to regularly scheduled lessons, complete their homework and continue to learn from us if we are not a shining example of the practice we are preaching? We cannot ethically teach a method unless it is an integral part of our own lives and bodies.
Teachers must strive to be the Olympians of their sport.
Professional Athletes and Olympians practice their sport between 12 and 20 hours a week, which doesn’t include the hours of studying and cross training that they also put in. In one decade, an Olympian puts in between 6,000 and 11,000 hours of dedicated time to their sport. Our clients, those who come to class twice a week for a private lesson, will only complete 1,000 hours in that same decade. In order to be the best teachers we can, we must aim to be like the Olympians. We must continue to improve our understanding of Joe’s body of work and give our clients what they pay for.
Believe me, I know it is difficult to maintain a regular practice. Life is busy! Being in the studio, raising children, caring for family members, allowing your social life to survive and getting enough rest is too much to fit into a day. But staying on track is key.
Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that help me keep my practice up even when life gets hectic.
1. TAKE REGULAR LESSONS
Taking regular lessons with a teacher in my studio keeps my practice fresh. I commit to a time each week and either pay for it or trade them a lesson. This show the other teachers that you are serious about what you do, that you are committed to the work and it also gives you a whole hour to let go and breathe.
2. ATTEND A WORKSHOP
This can be an expensive goal to set, but put aside a budget and some time for at least one workshop per year. This continues to expand your knowledge, keeps your practice fresh and allows you to meet new people in the Pilates world – all of which make you a better teacher.
3. USE RESOURCES
Online resources like Pilatesology, Pilates Anytime and Pilates Avatar are great ways to receive some guidance, learn something new and get your at-home workouts in. The internet is always there first thing in the morning, or at 10pm after you have finally finished the studio record keeping. There is no excuse for this one!
4. SET A GOAL
Is there an exercise other teachers can do that you are dying to master? The one leg tendon stretch on the reformer…maybe? The full hanging twist series on the Cadillac? Or maybe you have a goal outside of Pilates – like skiing the black diamond run, completing half a marathon or hiking a 3,000m peak. Whatever your goal, Pilates is designed to help you achieve it. Use Joe Pilates’ brilliant method and craft your path to the finish line.
5. ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO JOIN IN
No one wants to run the race of life alone – so encourage those around you to get in the game and reach their goals, too! I schedule workouts every week with teachers in my studio. Sometimes I workout with an advanced student or apprentice. It is also a job requirement in my studio that my teachers workout at least three times a week, so I build workout time into their schedules. We are all in this together and in order for us to be at the top of our game, we all must practice.
I never said a personal practice would be easy, but I firmly believe it is worth it. The benefits for yourself, those around you and your clients is unmeasurable. It may take sacrifice and scheduling, but in the end your body and mind will thank you.
Cara owns an Authentic Pilates studio in Fredericton, NB, Canada. She has been teaching for more than a decade and enjoys working with her regular clients as well as teachers from around the country who come for her expert teaching, workshops and down to earth way of being. Cara is an athlete who loves to run, bike, ski and hike with her family whenever she can. If you happen to catch her sitting down, she’s likely savoring a cup of coffee or glass of wine.