“The advanced level is mastery of the basics”
― Ray Mancini
Becoming a Pilates instructor is a journey that promises growth, connection, and the opportunity to share your passion for movement with others. It's a path that can be incredibly rewarding, but like any journey, it comes with its fair share of challenges and unspoken realities. As I reflect on my own experience as a Pilates Instructor and also a business owner, there are a few things I wish I had known before embarking on this path. While the technicalities of Pilates exercises and anatomy are at the forefront of training, there are dimensions to this role that often remain unspoken.
This journey encompasses much more than memorizing routines or honing teaching techniques. It's about becoming a vessel of inspiration and empowerment for those who seek your guidance. As an instructor, you hold the power to create transformative experiences, to nurture connections, and to facilitate growth in both your clients and yourself.
Here's a list of those unspoken realities that, from my perspective, I wish I knew before becoming a Pilates Instructor
The High Cost of Training: More Than Just Financial
When you embark on the journey to become a Pilates instructor, you're likely aware of the financial investment required for training. The cost of certification programs, workshops, and continuing education can add up quickly. However, what's often not emphasized enough is the emotional and mental investment that comes along with it. Pilates training is not just about learning exercises and anatomy. It's about developing a deep understanding of the body, honing your teaching skills, and embracing a growth mindset. This journey demands dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to confront your own limitations. The investment goes beyond dollars—it requires time, energy, and an open heart to fully absorb and embody the teachings. But then, you finally get certified and you think you’re ready and you go out into the real world to showcase your abilities, only to find out that you know very little lol … It takes YEARS of good ears, eyes and practice to begin to understand what a client actually needs at any given moment...YEARS!! Which takes me to the next reality.
The Power of Continuing Education: Evolving Alongside Your Practice
Becoming a Pilates instructor is not the end of the road; it's the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning and growth. Your initial certification provides a strong foundation, but the Pilates world is constantly evolving. New research, techniques, and approaches emerge, and it's essential to stay updated. Continuing education isn't just a checkbox—it's a commitment to being the best instructor you can be. Engage in workshops, attend conferences, and seek out opportunities to expand your knowledge. Embracing continuing education not only enhances your teaching skills but also keeps your passion alive and ensures that your clients receive the best possible guidance.
The Value of Self-Care: Nurturing Your Own Well-Being
In our profession, we’re focused on helping others improve their physical and mental well-being. However, in the midst of teaching, it's easy to neglect your own self-care. Prioritizing self-care is not a luxury; it's a necessity. Regular movement, mindfulness practices, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are vital. Remember that you can't pour from an empty cup. Nurturing our own well-being isn't selfish; it's an act of self-preservation that allows us to show up fully for our clients. When you prioritize self-care, we model healthy behavior for our students and create a sustainable foundation for our career.
Navigating Toxic Environments: Protecting Your Energy and Mental State
As a Pilates instructor, you might find yourself working in various settings—from studios to fitness centers, and even private sessions. While some environments are nurturing and empowering, others can be toxic and draining. Toxic environments can manifest in various ways, from unhealthy competition among instructors to unrealistic expectations from management. It's important to recognize the impact of toxic environments on your energy level and mental state. Pilates instruction requires you to give your all—physically, emotionally, and mentally. When you're constantly navigating negativity or unrealistic demands, it takes a toll. Protecting your energy and well-being becomes paramount. Seek out environments that foster growth, support, and positivity. Remember that your well-being is essential to your effectiveness as an instructor.
Understanding Business Numbers: Beyond the Studio Walls
Understanding the financial aspect of your business is equally crucial. Navigating the world of business numbers—expenses, income, profits—can be daunting, but it's a reality that requires attention. Tracking your business metrics not only ensures sustainability but also empowers you to make informed decisions and set achievable goals. In this category I would also include the importance of fostering a strong online presence. Social media platforms, a professional website, and online marketing can potentially expand your reach and connect you with potential clients. Embrace the digital landscape as a tool to share your expertise, showcase your offerings, and engage with a broader audience passionate about health and well-being. Not comfortable into the whole "selling yourself" vibe? Guess what? Unless you have become a Pilates Instructor as a hobby, or have ample resources, reality is, you're going to need to promote your services for as long as you are in the profession. There is no other way around this. The analogy I always have in mind is this: no matter the scale, every business functions like a living ecosystem—a dynamic interplay of offerings and consumer needs. Just like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Amazon, who already possess substantial market presence and financial prowess, constantly refine their marketing strategies to attract consumers, every business—regardless of its size—shares a similar requirement. They recognize that resting on past efforts, can lead to stagnation, while embracing innovation fuels growth and captivates new audiences.
The Dance of Self-Responsibility–Oh Boy This is a Big One…
Your journey to becoming a Pilates instructor equips you with a wealth of knowledge, from anatomical intricacies to exercise techniques and the art of mindful movement. In the past, I was made to believe that if my clients were not progressing, that means I am failing them as an instructor. Oh boy this is a big one…
Your expertise serves as a compass, helping clients navigate the nuances of their practice and understand the intricacies of their bodies, from anatomical intricacies to exercise techniques and the art of mindful movement. HOWEVER, while you are equipped to provide the proper tools and guidance, ultimately clients should take responsibility for their progress! If they attend only 40% of the only session they have weekly, there is no way they are going to exhibit the results of consistent training. Clients need to be encouraged to develop a deeper connection with themselves, fostering a sense of ownership over their progress. You have the responsibility of presenting them with a program that meets their goals and needs. Clients, on the other hand, should become active participants in their wellness journey, making choices that align with their goals and aspirations. This is team work!
The Art of Client Communication
Effective communication is the backbone of any successful Pilates practice. Your ability to listen, understand, and address the needs of your clients directly influences their experience. Beyond verbal communication, body language, empathy, and even active listening play pivotal roles in creating a supportive environment. Developing this art of communication enhances the connection you share with your clients and fosters an atmosphere of trust.
The Spectrum of Individuality
Pilates is a practice that celebrates individuality—it honors the uniqueness of each body, mind, and journey. As an instructor, you'll encounter a diverse spectrum of clients, each with their own motivations, goals, and limitations. While some might resonate deeply with your approach, others might find a better connection with a different teaching style or instructor. Recognizing that not all clients will align with you isn't a reflection of your capabilities—it's a testament to the rich tapestry of Pilates instruction. Your role isn't just about imparting knowledge; it's also about creating an environment where clients feel seen, heard, and respected, regardless of their personal preferences.
I'd love to hear about the insights, challenges, and victories that have shaped your path. Join the conversation and share how you've navigated the unspoken realities, embraced empowerment, celebrated collaboration, and honored diversity in your pursuit of holistic wellness. Your unique perspective adds to the vibrant tapestry of our Pilates community.
Let's journey together!
Until next time.