Teaching has been in my blood since birth. When I was a little girl, I played school instead of house with my dolls. When I was in high school, I volunteered to tutor geometry instead of going to the mall. When I joined professional ballet company, I started teaching ballet classes at night to supplement my income. What I found was that I actually loved teaching more than performing.
The career transition from dancer to Pilates Instructor made perfect sense for me because it combined my love for movement with my love for teaching. So in 1998, I got comprehensively certified through Power Pilates NYC. After teaching Pilates full time for 5+ years, I decided to join the Power Pilates teacher training team. I did it to share my passion for teaching with others, travel more and boost my income. What I didn’t realize is that teaching teachers how to teach would make me a better teacher and fall in love with the Pilates method even more!
There is a clarity that comes when you have to explain to others not just how to DO an exercise but how to TEACH an exercise! It makes you think about the “why” not just the “how”. It makes you honor the process not just the end result. It makes you realize that every single thing you do and say as a teacher will impact on your clients. In 2012, I moved on from Power Pilates to pursue other Pilates pastures and gain some autonomy in the industry. I still do guest teacher trainings and lots of continuing education courses here, there and everywhere but my focus is mostly my family and my clients. Here are the 3 top lessons learned over my almost 12+ years as a teacher trainer.
1. Be responsible for what you say and do!
Once you become a Teacher Trainer, your apprentices will mimic and take notes on every move you make! If you show up 5 minutes late, they will show up 5 minutes late. If you chew gum while teaching, they will chew gum while teaching. If you use silly meaningless cues or swear words while teaching, they will too! Be present! Be professional!
2. Expect to give more time than just your hours teaching.
Although being a Teacher Trainer will inevitably bring in another revenue stream to your business, it is a lot more involved than just the hours you spend teaching clients and weekend seminars. You will need to set aside time for weekly meetings with apprentices. When your apprentices observe you, you will have to take time in between your clients to answer a plethora of questions. It used to take me 20-45 min to grade tests and write evaluations for each apprentice and then another 15-30 min to give evaluations and feedback to each apprentice. If you have a group of 5 or more apprentices, that is substantial!
3. Invest in yourself and always be a student.
No matter what “level” of teacher you become always remember the value of being a student. Take weekly lessons with other teachers. Make it your job to do Continuing Education regularly. Keep your energy cup full by getting massages, exploring other forms of fitness, reading a book, going to a museum, etc.
Remember that above all, it is important to understand that we are all in this together as students of the practice of Pilates, even when we are training future instructors. There is always something more to learn, some way to further refine and perfect your technique. Teacher Training is a wonderful way to give back to the proverbial “next generation” of Pilates instructors-and is a wonderful way to share both intel and technique with those who are just beginning to experience this, our shared art of Pilates.