Why Pilates instructors are more like Narwhals than Unicorns

Ah yes, the magical unicorn stands as a fabulous yet distant symbol of our modern obsession with a magic pill that will “fix” you. The lore around unicorns stretches way back to the ancient Greeks. Nowadays we see it everywhere with double rainbows coming out of its eyeballs. If you find your magical unicorn and possess the mystical candy canes, its special healing powers will heal its rider.PilatesUnicorn

We all want our unicorn to fix our aches and pains. But the problem is, where do you find a unicorn?

My suggestion is to instead, look for a narwhal. Unlike unicorns (and Santa, sorry kids), narwhals really do exist — in the Arctic waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia to be exact. Narwhals aren’t lacking in legend or lore, and have been called the unicorns of the sea. Narwhals are symbols of imagination, deeper awareness, freedom, discovery, and beauty.

I believe great Pilates teachers share some of these characteristics with the sea-unicorn and the best part is they may be working in a Pilates studio in your very own city.

A good Pilates teacher can offer the promise of a better life. A better life without pain, tension, and with all the good stuff you want to do like sit, stand, pick up your child, run, golf, dance. Whatever it is you want to do, no matter the point you are on your life path, Pilates sees where you are and can take you where you want to be. Read More

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Just Ask Questions.

Fit4Real_JustAskQuestionsWe’re getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I’m flying to New York City to spend a few days with my mom. I’m pretty excited to spend a few days just wandering and enjoying her company. Well I’m there my mom and I are taking a session from Anula Maiberg at Sixth Street Pilates in the East Village Manhattan. Yeah, Pilates!

Before I head off I wanted to share a quick video about asking questions. Good communication is the foundation for any successful relationship. When teaching, it’s important to recognize your clients nonverbal communication—facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and body language. It’s really common as a new teacher to miss these nonverbal signs that signal that the client is not getting what they need. Perhaps they are bored or not being challenged enough. You’re trying so hard to get the exercise cues out, give good corrections, and remember the exercises planned for the workout that the “conversation” your client is sharing with you gets lost. To help avoid this, I suggest asking good questions of your class and checking in along the way. Asking good questions will immediately make your teaching more responsive. Read More

Lessons Learned From Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone (& Why You Should Take Your Pilates Certification Exam)

I just returned from a week of learning and testing at the STOTT PILATES® headquarters in Toronto, Canada. I was being tested on my knowledge of the Cadillac, Chair, and Barrels in order to increase my Instructor Trainer credential to include teaching instructors on these apparatus. It was a ton of work to prepare both physically and mentally, but now that it’s all said and done, I gained so much from the process.Fit 4 Real Comfort Zone And Pilates Certification Exam

When I push myself to complete a challenge I step outside of my comfort zone. I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, with being judged, or with possible failure. Fear of the unknown is really powerful and can make anyone consider giving up on their dreams. But I swear that every time I’ve poured my blood, sweat, and tears into my dreams, just like Bruce Springsteen, I come out a winner…“Talk about a dream, try to make it real, wake up in the night, the fears so real…badlands you got live it everyday…”

Every system of Pilates instructor certification is different. But for those of you who choose a method like STOTT PILATES® that requires you to complete a practical and written examination, it isn’t uncommon for trained instructors to never take their exam. About 30% of the trained STOTT PILATES® instructors take their exams. I’m sure there are many reasons for this. But if one of the biggest reasons (usually the one that creates lots of excuses) is fear, then I want to help you! Read More

What Nancy Hodari Can Teach You About Owning a Successful Pilates Studio.

Fit4Real_NanciHodariNancy Hodari, founder of Equilibrium Studio in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has been an inspiring entrepreneur since I met her in 2000. I had registered for my Pilates certification courses and came to her looking for a studio internship. Immediately, I knew she was extremely smart and knowledgeable about business, a dedicated and clear leader, and a dynamic force in the world I wanted so much to be part of.

Fast forward 12 years. Over the past few summers I’ve traveled back to Michigan to guest teach STOTT PILATES workshops. Nancy is still an inspiration. It’s amazing to see how her studio has evolved over the last 15 years! I recently sat down with her to ask her a few questions about studio ownership and the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Read More

How I Created My Dream Job

MyDreamJobMany Pilates instructors dream of owning their own studio. The dream is pretty common. However, looking back over the last 9 years of having my business, I realize that I had no idea what challenges were in store. I had no idea how much I would need to grow. I had no idea how hard and rewarding this path would be. And there’s no doubt I have made mistakes. But the skills I have gained are immense.

I have always been obsessed with physicality, dance, and design. After college I was still pursuing dance while I found myself taking on marketing and design projects for small movement related businesses just for fun. I created studio logos, websites, flyers. I even began to get hired for fitness photo shoots because I understood movement. My best friend and I started a design business specifically for Pilates studio owners and health clubs.

While working professionally as a designer and dancing, I realized I wanted to train to become a Pilates instructor. I researched all the training options and decided on STOTT PILATES. I relocated and enrolled in training courses.

My mom is a communications expert and I realized that I too enjoyed reading books about interpersonal communication and teaching philosophy (My favorite by Parker Palmer The Courage to Teach). I wanted to better know how to communicate so understanding is achieved so I read and read.

While teaching as an apprentice instructor, I learned from my Pilates mentor not just how to teach but the business of running a studio. I also watched her work really incredibly hard to keep her studio running. I helped her open a second location and watched her struggle to make it work.

As I continued gaining experience as an apprentice, I worked with another mentor while she opened a studio and began publishing several Pilates books. I help her with designing the book, photography, and she even asked me to write a chapter. Read More