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Why Pilates Instructors Should Take Pilates From Other Instructors

August 8, 2019

by Bonnie Zeitner

The owner of the studio where I work recently posted a photo of himself working out. He wrote, “Most times I feel I will never move as good as I’d like, but then I remember it’s the practice that makes it fun.”

He’s so right. It IS the practice that makes it fun and I can’t think of a better way to make something fun, than by sharing it with another person — like another Pilates instructor!

When I became a Pilates instructor I had no idea that I had become part of a bigger community. I had no idea there were so many people practicing so many different methods of Pilates, until I took part in a Pilates challenge on social media. I was suddenly exposed to people all over the world, sharing their Pilates practice. So much diversity, knowledge and passion for Pilates, everywhere!

I started sharing my own Pilates practice on Instagram. I would regularly post my photos and videos, but before I would post them, I would edit them. What I found was that I wasn’t always moving the way I felt I was. I would go back with a critical eye and self correct where I needed, take another video, and so on and so forth (sometimes many, many so forths). It was (often times) exhausting. The edit sessions would often turn out to be workout sessions, and I wouldn’t say they were necessarily fun.

When you practice Pilates alone there is no real fun. There is no one to see the tension in your neck, either. There is no one to distract you from your list of responsibilities. There is no one to share in the humor over your feet shaking uncontrollably in the straps or watch you nearly cry squeezing a Magic Circle. There is no instructor to exclaim, “YES! That is what I want to see!” when you finally find that mind-body connection. There is also no guided hand from an instructor to help you into your position, no proper cue, no new perspective.

Again…no “fun.”

The fun comes from a shared experience. I’m lucky to work in a studio where many of the instructors train together or take sessions from one another. We also teach and take sessions with other Pilates students. I know not everyone is lucky enough to work in a studio such as this. Some instructors may work solo — out of their home, someone else’s home, etc. Some may work within another business structure: a physical therapist’s office, a gym, a chiropractor’s office, etc. In situations such as these; instructors might not be able to be around other instructors—to teach or take sessions from them. It can be isolating.

Before I became a Pilates instructor I’d spent most of my life working out solo: running, weight lifting, yoga, etc. My workouts were my time to tune inward. I liked being isolated. But now I love going to a class or taking a session with my friends at other studios. From the moment I started the course to become a BASI Pilates Instructor, I was changed. I fell in love with practicing with my colleagues. Teaching and learning from one another while growing in our practice was invaluable, and dare I say…fun. Not to mention, when you let someone else teach you, one teaches…two learn.

Yep, that’s right – the person teaching is also learning. And shouldn’t we always be learning. We are, after all, forever students. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” She is joined by Ben Franklin in her sense of togetherness: “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”

I currently train a client who is also an instructor. She’s had a weekly session with me for almost 2 years now. She has shared that she realized how much she missed having her own time as a client, like she had during her BASI training process. She missed having someone else’s eyes on her form and alignment, as well as receiving tactile feedback. She now loves the challenges she gets during our sessions and she loves that she is pushed harder than she would push herself. She also feels that the studio where I work has given her the opportunity to be a part of a larger Pilates community, where she learns from other instructors (which in turn is beneficial to her own clients).

As her instructor, I find that I am challenged a bit more (in a good way) because I have to stay on top of my game. She knows spring settings, she knows breath patterns, she knows executions. She can also do things many of my clients are not able to do, so it’s fun to experiment with advanced moves when I teach her. She keeps me up to date on repertoire, for sure!

Again…one teaches, two learn.

Now, I also know instructors who love to take a Pilates class when they travel. I wish I could say I am one such instructor, but every time I go on vacation there always seems to be so many other things I want to do (sad, but true). However, that’s not the case for them. They love to go to a class, to move their bodies, to learn new things. They love to step out of the role of “instructor” and have someone else tell them what to do, when to breath. They can just focus on the elements of Pilates. They also work harder, to please their new instructor! In a new studio, they can be one step further removed from being an “instructor” and can just be a brand new client, in a new studio, with a new feel, a new structure, a new overall experience. All of which allows them to put themselves back in the shoes of being a new client when they train, so they can be better instructors.

So, what are you waiting for? Find an instructor to work with. Make time for yourself. Keep learning so you can be the best for your clients and yourself. If it’s not financially possible to have a Pilates session, consider asking another instructor if you can trade services or maybe even just practice together. Take a group class. Be creative. By continuing to work with another instructor, you are bettering yourself and others. Even William Butler Yeats says, “Education is not about the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

So take a class, a private, or even practice together…light the fire…be the change to better yourself and your community.

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