If learning to do the Pilates method is like mastering a foreign language, then learning to teach Pilates my seem even harder!
With learning to teach you have the added pressure of having to pass a test, people watching and possibly critiquing your teaching skills, students potentially comparing you to other teachers they have worked with in the past, and hoping your client walks away feeling like a million bucks as they float out of the studio.
I was chatting with a freshly certified teacher recently and while she had passed all her exams yet she was still a little nervous about getting a job in a new studio.
Totally understandableÃ¢â‚¬¦.I mean, who knows what these clients expect, and will they want to work with a new teacher? What if they have injuries and/or limitations? What if? How will you know if you are ready?
This is for all the new teachers out there: I dont know if you ever really “feel” ready! It just happens to be one of those things: you just have to go for it.
Remember, you are trained, but you are also still learning.
There is so much more you will learn – that cannot necessarily be taught in a training- that you will learn just by teaching day in and day out.
Here I’m sharing some beginning teaching advice to let you know we all go through this sort of anxiety and its totally normal but its part of the process. And it DOES get more comfortable with time and practice!
TEACH WHAT YOU KNOW
Teach the exercises you have done yourself, the ones you have practiced teaching your fellow trainees and friends.
When you speak and teach from what you have experienced in your own body, you will feel more confident and connected with your student(s).
I would always get a bit nervous when teaching an advanced student as a new teacher. I learned that (even advanced) students can always use tips and reminders about fine tuning any exercise and making sure everything happens from the powerhouse!
I remember feeling a bit deflated when I realized the learning was really just beginning when I became newly certified and began teaching. I felt like I had such a long road ahead of me, and I wasnt sure I would ever get to be as inspiring and effective as my teachers had been. (I was spoiled by having great teachers and they know who they are!)
Continuing to take classes, private sessions and even just playing around with movement on your own helps you relate to what your clients experience.
When I take lessons, I am working out as a student, but taking notes in the back of my mind for when I teach the same movements and exercises to my clients. So for this reason, choose teachers that resonate with you and who leave you feeling not just worked out in your body, but inspired as a teacher as well.
We all have Pilates “blind spots” and continuing to be a student and working on your own physical weaknesses and imbalances helps tremendously when it comes to honing your teaching skills.
Plus its super important to prevent burnout as well as injuries. Take advantage of books, videos, and online resources if taking class is not always possible. Inspiration is everything when it comes to teaching!
BE PREPARED AND FLEXIBLE
True story: I did a yoga teacher training many years ago. I had spent hours working on my final “exam” class. I practiced the poses, I practiced the cues, and I memorized the sequence and number of breaths for each pose. I was responsible for filling the class too, so I asked my friends to come and also invited the teachers whose classes I had attended while in the training. (Asking my teachers was a bit out of my comfort zone!)
And then I prayed that people would show up so I didnt look like a loser teaching a yoga class to just my teacher who would also be “grading” me on this class.
Thankfully a few of my friends and even a couple teachers showed up. I proceeded to teach this class that I had written down and practiced a million times.
I had decided to start everyone out in Virasana (one of my favorites, basically a pose where you are kneeling).
One of my best friends was in the class and she was looking very uncomfortable, fidgeting and shifting her position. Turns out she has terrible knees. I went over to try and help her get more comfortable with props. Everyone was breathing and looked pretty relaxed.
Then once I got my friend all settled, other people started shifting and moving out of the pose. The class hadnt even really started yet! Yet they had all had enough of that pose.
This really flustered me as I had no back-up plan, and while I was super prepared, I wasnt flexible enough to think fast to get everyone in a place where they could be comfortable and relaxed.
The big lesson I learned that day: its ok to abort your original plan and go with whats in front of you. My teacher, Romana, used to say all the time that how you teach depends on the body in front of you.
Your preparation is the training you have done.
Your flexibility is your presence and attentiveness to your student.
I would love to hear what you think about the endless learning of and teaching Pilates!
Till next time!