Students Make the Best Teachers
Between Christmas and New Years, I had the opportunity to do online training, continuing education, and to catch up on reading articles/watching videos about Pilates I had been saving for some time. I spent time learning more about influential people in the Pilates industry like Mari Winsor and Rael Isacowitz. It was interesting to learn how they found Pilates, where they trained, and how they grew their business. It was also interesting to hear their perspectives on Pilates, teaching philosophies, and the method as a whole.
The one resounding message that kept coming through was the best teachers continue to be students. The most revered Pilates leaders continue to take workshops, practice, do private sessions, and work on their knowledge. They continue to seek information about the body as new discoveries are made through science. I have always felt and told my students, there is no finish line with Pilates. It is a practice … one we do on regular basis with the hope of continuing to grow and learn more about ourselves. The message of being a student was one that I could really connect with!
Another message that came through was to be weary of the instructor who has taken one class and declared, “I got this.” There is so much to learn and understand … none of us can possibly have it all mastered. I am continually challenged by new students with unique bodies and unique past experiences, injuries or abilities. I love those challenges! I love looking for an answer for my students. Mari Winsor stated she taught for about a year before she felt really comfortable and really knew what she was doing. If you don’t recognize the name – she had the most successful health and fitness infomercial of all time and produced 30-plus Pilates videos that really brought Pilates to the masses. (My first video purchase before becoming an instructor was a Mari Winsor workout!) Despite all of her success, she continued to take workshops, take private lessons, and educate herself.
This week I had two brand new students come to try Pilates for the first time. It reminded me how much I love working with new students. Introducing Pilates to someone new is one of my favorite parts of my job. It is a special moment and a challenge all at the same time. Can I get this person to make the connection? Can I provide the right amount of challenge … not too much that they feel defeated and not too little they don’t see the point? Can I explain the importance of the breath and the alignment? Can I make it fun? These are the thoughts that go through my head working with a new student. The best way to do all of these things is to keep educating myself and learning from the greats. Learning is not limited to new movements but also new ways to explain, to cue, to motivate, to work with limitations, and to create a specialized class for each individual.
I feel fortunate to do what I love and to share it with wonderful students. I also feel fortunate to be able to continue to learn and be a student myself. Next time you are in class – I challenge you to learn something new! This could be stopping to really focus on what you feel doing a movement you know well, or asking for a new modification, or asking for more information about the muscles used/intent of an exercise. Dig a little deeper and you will reap the rewards! Pilates is a thinking exercise after all.