What I’ve Learned From Mentorship
I’ve been fortunate to have had several amazing mentors so far in my career as a Pilates teacher. I can honestly tell you that I believe mentorship has made the most significant difference in my professional development as a teacher. If you’re a Pilates instructor who’s looking to improve their teaching, I encourage you to find a seasoned mentor.
Through a friend, I was introduced to my first Pilates mentor, Aimee McDonald-Anderson (she’s in the photo to the right and still teaching in Michigan so look her up if you’re in the Midwest). I had just begun my STOTT PILATES® teacher training. She welcomed me into her studio where I practice taught, observed her sessions, and met with her on a weekly basis. During our weekly private sessions I honed my physical practice and asked tons of questions to clarify issues that had come up during my practice teaching. Even after 14 years of mentorship from Aimee, she continues to be a tremendous support.
Through the years I had other wonderful mentors who I greatly admire. Each mentor offered a different perspective on teaching but all have helped me to grow as an instructor. In looking back, here are the three biggest insights I learned from my mentors.
Belief in Oneself
Early on, my biggest hurdle was myself. I didn’t have confidence so I would teach as quietly as possible so no one would hear if I said something “dumb”. Aimee McDonald-Anderson never judged, and just offered sound feedback and encouragement. I believe she saw my potential before I could— a truly incredible gift to be given.
Think Beyond the Manual
After becoming certified I continued to solidify the foundation of my teaching, but I was also encouraged to explore ideas beyond my coursework. I explored everything from ways to add small props, to incorporating aromatherapy, to rehabilitation techniques, and more. At the advice of my mentors, I still attend conferences, workshops, and continuing education trainings. My mentors knew continuing to learn would keep my Pilates fire going.
My mentors taught me to put myself out there as a teacher. And today, I know one must be vulnerable in order to be a great teacher. In taking risks as a teacher, I personally grew and my students thrived. Mentors will guide you towards smart risks and steer you away for unnecessary ones.
Let’s remember that the work of Joseph Pilates lives on largely due to mentorship. And that this mentorship is what has made the field of Pilates flourish and grow since Joseph’s passing in 1967. You and I are now the future of the Pilates method. So, I encourage you to find a mentor that you admire and respect. I believe this work may take your Pilates teaching to new heights.