Part 2: Who am I to tell you?
Who am I to tell you how to do Pilates? I use dubious cues l, laugh at all my own jokes, boss you around like mad, yet I’m not perfect... far from it, I have wobbly bits, I have days when the makeup goes on better than others, my cardio fitness could be so much better and I often let my posture slip.
I came to Pilates in my thirties after my first child and up until then felt out-of-my-depth most of the time professionally. Pretty much from the moment I started my degree in business studies! Looking back it wasn’t the right choice, nevertheless it started me on a career path in marketing. I was always good in interviews... I quite often got the job, but then I was not quite making the fireworks I wanted to in the world of marketing. I was good at writing and creative, which comes in handy when doing in-house marketing. I even did PR for a bit... but honestly I always felt I was blagging it!.
I joined EQ to manage the business and look after reception, my marketing background finally came into good use. I built a website, updated documents and made us more computerised! I loved knowing everyone, I’m great at faces and names. When I decided to be a Pilates teacher it was a Monday I think. The phone wasn’t answered much that day as I did three Pilates classes. And so my life took a different path, perhaps the one I should’ve always taken, to become a teacher. Nearly 10 years later here I am. I’ve found my niche in teaching, but people don’t all need the same from their teacher.
I realise that people start coming to Pilates for one reason, but they keep coming to our Studio for many more. For some it’s nothing to do with learning, it’s companionship, a sense of being part of a club, for the friendships they make. Others couldn’t give a stuff if their Spine Stretch Forward looks more like they’re sending a text than sequentially flexing their spine and that’s Ok. Some people do not like correction of any kind... that’s harder to swallow but I’m nothing if not a trier so I battle on. Some people hear the same cue over and over, but one day they tell me “Linda taught me this last week and gave a me the most amazing, life changing cue (the same cue btw) that has transformed that exercise.” That’s OK too, because on that day the stars aligned and the body and brain were receptive to that instruction and it doesn’t matter who delivered it.
Some people come to class to learn about their bodies, to make changes and I love that. Others hate the mirrors, I understand that! Some like the awful license-free music we play, others openly hate it. Some like my jokes and enjoy a giggle. Others are more serious. Some people like detail, others want to get on with it - they don’t come to my classes if they can help it. And that’s OK. I love people to leave my classes with a takeaway, a feeling, a lightbulb moment, a new way of thinking about or doing an exercise. But some people just don’t need that. I’ve come to learn, you cannot convert everyone. Especially in just one hour a week. But if they keep coming to class I’ve done my job.
As teacher we are responsible for providing a safe place where people can be themselves and get whatever they need from their class on that day. I love Pilates, I love how it empowers people, how it makes them feel - but let’s be honest the same can be said of many other forms of physical exercise.
I’m no different from your child’s swimming teacher or your personal trainer. I adore watching people progress, becoming stronger and succeeding. I love watching people develop not just physically, how exercise builds confidence, helps recovery from illness or injury, gives the strength, stamina and robustness to live with illness and battle mental and emotional problems.
Yes I push and encourage, correct, correct, correct. Because seeing people achieve what they thought they couldn’t is amazing. I love the faces people pull when doing thigh stretch. I’ve threatened to launch a competition to find the best thigh stretch face in the studio. We’ve started the unofficial over 70’s ‘walkover’ club and in some classes we’ve set Christmas challenges to accomplish an exercise by the end of the year - the ones that push outside of the comfort zone. Those exercises that look frankly ridiculous and the physical/ functional benefits are questionable; but if they conquer it they’ll feel bloody awesome!
When other teachers cover my classes, there’s often a stab of self doubt - however fleeting - that my clients will all move to their class! That’s OK.It makes me human. I’m not the world number one Pilates Teacher. But I am the only ‘me’ in the world. And if they did move (aside from the unbearable, crushing blow to my self confidence) that’d be OK! If people connect with one teacher over another we should encourage and embrace that. You always had a favourite teacher at school, this is no different!
So who am I to tell you... I’m your teacher.