When students come to me to ask about my Teacher Training Program or they are going through the Teacher Training Program I have found that the same questions come up for them about teaching Pilates. Some are questions that come before the journey of teaching begins and others as they are learning and seeing what actual teaching entails for them.
I remember when I decided to become a Pilates teacher, over 25 years ago, it was because I was already in the fitness industry and had been for so long. I taught group classes of aerobics, boxing, swim aerobics, Spinning and more. I stumbled into Pilates when I was the Group Fitness Director at a private club. I was having knee issues from teaching all the classes and I was really concerned that I would end up having to have knee replacement and I was way to young to be on that train! One of my teachers had a small space in a church, with just a Reformer and a Cadillac and as we chatted one day she said you have to come and get on the apparatus! We met that Friday afternoon at her little studio and she put me on the Reformer. I just remember thinking “why did I not know about this before? “ My body just reacted immediately and it felt so amazing. I was hooked and seeing her every Friday afternoon, and funny I still continue my own practice every Friday with my teacher.
Once I found out this was a great thing, Pilates my Teacher said you need to teach Pilates. I think I actually laughed out loud and said “ I can’t teach this!” She led me to my Mentor and Teacher Training Program so for me, all the questions were not there. It was just this natural path of continuing my fitness career. This in my mind then was another form of fitness along with my classes to teach. Of course the more I learned about Pilates, went further into my training I realized this was not just a fitness exercise but, so much more.
Pilates has come a long way since then and more people are aware of what it is and many see it right away as a career and a way to make a living. There are many questions that now come up that for me I never thought about at that moment. Some come up before they start the journey of the Teacher Training and others as they learn more and see what teaching really is about.
Here are those questions that come up every time:
Can I make a living teaching Pilates? Some students have corporate jobs and are not happy. They love Pilates and want to teach but, they don’t know if they will make money. This is not a question I give an absolute yes or no to. Where you teach, how much you teach figure into what you make. Are you teaching classes? Privates? are you an employee or Independent Contractor? How many hours are you working or willing to work?
How long does it take to learn to teach Pilates? I touched on this in a blog on finding the teacher training program for you which you can find HERE. If you are doing the full Comprehensive then it is a year of study and learning before testing out and exams. Doing modules or levels can take just as long depending on how many or how often they are with what you need. My answer to all is to be a Certified Teacher it takes a year.
How do you figure out what to do with a client when they come in for the session? When clients come in and they are moving you will start to see things that maybe “shout” to you as a teacher. The shoulders seem to be up in the ears and so tense, or one leg is stiff or seems to be not as mobile. Maybe they aren’t breathing deep and seem stressed. It can be a simple little thing or some issue that is going on. You are leading them to full body movement as best as they can in that hour.
If they have an issue like disc or shoulder or an injury how do you know how to progress them? Depending on the issue there will be things that the client isn’t able or ready to do but, you can work them in a range of movement that is giving them strength and mobility to help in their daily life. Something as simple as learning to sit and be lifted during some exercises will help with those disc being compressed and give them the feeling in the outside studio world.
What if I am not physically able to do an exercise can I still teach it? I tell my students there are building blocks to every exercise and we as teachers and our clients can take it where they can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it is movement, a practice so you are doing what you can do when you can. It will change over time and your journey as it does for your clients.
How do I find clients to teach? Depending on the studio you teach at or gym setting will determine how you find clients. Some studio’s you will be an employee and they will feed you those clients, at a gym you may have to market yourself a bit but, maybe they help and fill you as well. Some studios you may be an Independent Contractor and have to market and find you own clients.
How do you build a schedule with clients? When I first decided to do Pilates full time and leave the group classes behind I took any client no matter what day or time that the studio owner gave me. I never gave up a client to adjust my schedule to what I wanted. It took years and years but, I pretty much am were I want with my schedule but, if you want clients then you need to be open to whenever you can.
How do I not get burn out in my teaching? Continuing to be the student is key. I still do deep dives in my own Pilates Practice, and with my Teacher Training Program and the teachers at my studio we have a monthly 2 hour workshop that is a new topic each month. They get to deep dive each month It is time to refresh, ask questions and go over things or revisit them. It is important to also get away from Pilates and take that vacation, do other things, get away from your studio and clients.
How do I get clients to not cancel last minute? This falls into a category of setting boundaries! This is something I stress in my Teacher Training Program with new teachers because if it is not set firmly in the very beginning with your clients you will never get it back. Late cancel, they get charged. Payment due, they pay.
How do I maintain clients over years and years This is one I give a workshop on as I have many tips for this. To put it simply here as a teacher you need to show them what Pilates is doing for them. How it is improving their life outside of the studio. Show them how they have progressed, show them where you are guiding them. listen to their goals and stay focused. it is not your time to visit with them and be friends. You are the teacher. Show them. They will be yours forever.