I love my Dad. I really do. But every time we talk via Skype (since we live in different countries it is the most convenient way to communicate so far) he asks me whether I plan to gain a new profession or apply for any job. “But Daddy, I have a job already: I am a Pilates instructor, a personal trainer, you know,” – “But it is not even a real thing!” And I am absolutely sure that every Pilates instructor experiences once in a while that questioning from others (not only relatives) whether their job is worth doing.
Why is it so? Think about all those images of personal trainers from TV series: they are bulky weirdos, obsessed with healthy living. So, in this article, I want to share my thoughts and stories of my colleagues of what it takes to be a Pilates instructor, besides posing in the Teaser in fancy pants and traveling overseas from one conference to another.
But first, let me be clear: it is not that I feel unappreciated or ask for applause and thank -you cards. And of course, it is not about complaining. I am really happy to be a Pilates instructor & fitness nut. But I owe showing the full picture to my inner justice warrior (and to my lawyer background).
Let’s face it: not all of us train celebrities and run TV shows. More than that, sometimes it is hard to get testimonials from clients who lose weight due to Pilates. In our society, it is kind of embarrassing to praise your personal trainer, like it is somehow bad to admit that you actually do something to lose weight after birth or want to improve your posture… The real work is behind the scenes, and sometimes you need to remind yourself what it is like – to be a Pilates instructor. Please welcome
Ten Reasons Why being a Pilates instructor is, actually, a real thing
1. For starters, you have to run classes (surprise!). The quantity of them depends on you, of course, but to make it enough for a living, I believe it is within the range 4-10 classes a day, from 45 min to 60 min sessions each. Actually, it is already a full-time job.
2. You continually develop yourself and broaden your professional horizons. Of course, you need to continue education if you are keen to be a better teacher than you were yesterday and if you don’t want to stick with the same exercises repertoire forever. And, of course, you need to take workshops if you have more than one client: no two bad postures are equally bad 😉
3. You travel tons. And not only from one gym to another, but also interstate Pilates-related conferences, workshops, and retreats. Traveling adventures come naturally to the lifestyle of a balanced mind&body expert. 🙂
4. At some point in your life, you become a businessman or launch your own studio. That one is not natural or easy to handle issue because most of Pilates trainers are open-hearted people who are glad to serve and ready to share their passion without deep thinking about retirement.
5. But of course, you learn to deal with the previous point. You run you blog or FB page, you write and publish a book or articles in magazines – you do your best to make money with your passion. You take marketing, design courses, branding, customer service courses…even thinking about MBA program to keep it rolling. Suddenly you realize that you have many practical skills and knowledge besides Pilates.
6. As Pilates teachers, we actually bring the value. We do change other people’s lives for the better. The beauty of Pilates is that it is not only about the body image but also about health and quality of life: Pilates exercises prevent lower back pain, beat the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and relieve stress. What’s not to love?
About a year ago, I got a two-minute phone call from the mother of one my clients. She thanked me for saving her daughter from an (unnecessary) plastic surgery: before our classes, the girl was convinced that surgical intervention was the only way to fix her body image problems. Our regular Pilates classes completely changed her outlook over a short period. After that call, I felt like I won a billion dollar court case. She became healthier and eventually – happier.
7. Pilates teaches you humility. And that is good for your soul (or karma, whatever). Pilates is not about performance for others or a body image for its sake. Pilates is about health, strong core muscles, and healthy spine. How are you going to present those? Pilates is such a natural, practical way to strengthen all the muscle groups, nurture the joints and take care of a complete body, that when you think about Pilates body, you imagine a healthy body in general meaning of this world (I love to write about Pilates benefits in detail). There is nothing to show explicitly for public, as there is no need to parade your common sense or literacy. And this concept inevitably extrapolates to your life perception in general.
8. Being a Pilates instructor is like being a Superman or Catwoman: everything is easy when you are core-crazy. Seriously, all-day walking and sightseeing? With pleasure! No sore legs or aching back. Want to try a new sport such as cycling, running, golf and tennis, sailing? Perhaps, it is not going to be easy, but super strong deep abdominals, all muscle groups being in the balance and a habit to pay attention to details will make a learning process simpler. Always dreamed of dancing in a non-visually offensive way? Pilates has already made your moves coordinated! I believe it takes a lifetime to discover all Pilates benefits.
9. As a Pilates trainer, you are a mix of philosopher and psychologist. In the post “Confessions of a Personal Trainer: What I Really Think about Your Last-Minute Class Cancellation” I share my journey of trying different approaches to late cancellations, no-shows, and make-up classes. The strategies range from a strict cancellation policy to no-cancellation policy at all; and what I have learned to overcome the biggest hurdle for many personal trainers – last minute class cancellations from clients.
10. (This one is my favourite!) I believe the essence of Pilates instructor’s work aspirations – healthy living promotion, invention and implementation of working solutions to common health problems, in particular, caused by sedentary lifestyle – is much needed by a large society and, thus, is worth doing.
According to World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. Already by 2014, more than 1.9 billion people of 18+ years had problems with excessive weight. Common health consequences of overweight and obesity are cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and a stroke), which have been among the leading causes of death; diabetes; musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling disease of joints); and some types of cancers, including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon.
The good news and a call to action is that overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable. It is extremely important to improve modern nutrition habits and physical activity patterns on local, regional, and global levels.
Pilates instructors, with their principle “Pilates is a way of life not a bunch of exercises,” significantly contribute to the creation and development of supportive environments for people to encourage the latter to make healthy living choices. Isn’t that huge?!