For as long as I can remember, I have been a teacher. As a kid while many youngsters played dress up, or played with their dolls, I was busy teaching classes with my dolls and stuffed animals. There was never a dull moment. Assignments were always due, corrections were always applied, and feedback was always given to my students. I’ve always known that teaching has been the driving force within my passion for movement, and living well. The desire to teach Pilates and connect with clients came rather simple and I’m so inspired by how teaching Pilates has influenced me.
My Apprenticeship at Body Balance Institute has allowed me the privilege of working with a variety of clientele at all times. Some advanced and some beginners in their pilates practice. I’ve had the opportunity to teach privates, semi-privates, and classes at both BBI’s main studio location and also work at PGA Tour Headquarters and PGA Entertainment. I teach Pilates Mat Classes, as well as other mixed apparatus classes (Reformer, Chair, Barrel, and Trapeze / Tower). From the start of my journey into teaching Pilates, I knew that I wanted to learn it all. Having the knowledge and experience and working with the four main pieces of equipment that Joseph Pilates engineered and created was important to me. Each piece works in a different way, yet preserves the integrity of the method and pushes the physical body to different degrees. This opens the form up to a variety of individuals with different fitness and wellness goals.
Last August, is when I began my journey as a Pilates Instructor. It was July when I officially decided to move back to Jacksonville, Florida after living in New York City for two and half years. The decision did not come easy. Packing up and leaving my community and everything I loved about the culture of NYC, only to return “home” was not how I pictured pursuing my dreams. But I wouldn’t have it any other way at this point. I can remember emailing BBI for the first time and asking about enrolling in education programs through Balanced Body. I knew before I decided to move, that it was integral to my education that I connect with the Pilates Community in Jacksonville. For months I researched for the best option in Jacksonville to begin my training. That search led me right to BBI. Not long after I emailed BBI to get more information about registration for training. Later, I receive a call explaining that the studio was starting an Apprenticeship Program. Vicki Sullivan, the studio owner then interviewed me and that’s when I knew this was just the community I was looking for!
A few weeks into August I emailed my “Apprenticeship Application” into BBI with the hopes of being accepted into the program. I was called back for a second Interview and then packed my bags and moved to Jacksonville. (Fun fact, before moving back to Jacksonville, I went straight to Atlanta, GA to complete my first Pilates Certification Course – Mat 1!) Little did I know, I would be the first to officially be a “BBI Apprentice”. Along with many perks, such as free BBI Pilates Classes, Workshop Discounts, a part time job, and Mentor currently working as a Master Trainer in Pilates, the Apprenticeship has come with it’s challenges. Always being under the eyes of outstanding instructors, taking time to study and complete personal practice hours while teaching full time, and fully funding my education and apprenticeship not so easy… It has all come at a steep price, but I have worked very hard to save money so that I could pursue my Full Comprehensive Pilates Certification.
One of the biggest take-aways from being an Apprentice is to always give yourself permission to “mess up” and continue to learn as a teacher. No one, not even the greatest teachers, will ever be perfect. Whether you learn something from your failures, or you learn something from another teacher or course you take, they are both just as valuable. There are so many wonderful continuing education courses out there to delve into once the “main chapter” of the Pilates Certification Coursework s complete. In fact, through Balanced Body, we are required to do at least one continuing education course annually. As Joe used to say (according to PMA). ”Remember Rome was not built in a day.”, and “Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” Giving oneself permission to “stop and start” regularly is so important, and a key part of growth. All things typically begin as merely a thought or idea, then transpire into reality after a great deal of planning and discipline combined. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and critic. With being a dancer and semi-perfectionist, it’s been hard at times to allow myself permission to make mistakes. It can be VERY intimidating working under the same roof as some of the incredibly intelligent and experienced Instructors here at BBI. There is most definitely a standard, and fulfilling that has always been a priority for me. Just a few months ago, I was humbled by my expectations that I had placed on myself and hit a learning curve. I am grateful for having a great relationship with Balanced Body Master Trainer, Kristen Sullivan. Her guidance and mentorship throughout this process has provided me with perspective and encouraged me to always push myself as an instructor. Among many things, I will always remember her saying “Look at the body in front of you”. That’s where you begin. Everyday we learn something new about the practice through our amazing clients! We are so lucky to work in a field where we get to truly listen and see each other. Every session and class is an experience for both the teacher and the client. You build relationships, and it’s so refreshing to really get to know your clients. Pilates is so much more than just exercise and that’s one of the main reasons I absolutely love teaching it. It changes people’s lives.
It’s hard to believe that July is already here and that by the end of August, it will be a year since I started the process of becoming a “Certified Pilates Instructor”! If all goes as planned I hope to be finishing up my Apprenticeship and complete my Final Certification Test Out by September. I will then take the PMA(Pilates Method Alliance) online test so that I am also PMA certified. My hope for the future with Pilates is to be able to travel and teach Pilates to communities around the world that need it. I have an interest in working within the scope of the Medical Field with “special populations” (those with either Motoneuron System Disorders, those that may deal with body image issues, and also athletes and dancers). I am hoping in the next three years or so to begin my journey into Graduate School in pursuit of developing programs for those populations of people. I would like to provide them with better access to both Pilates and Gyrotonic® practices. I’m not sure where life will take me next, but I am so glad that Jacksonville has and will always be home for me. I highly recommend the Apprenticeship through Body Balance Institute. I was able to immediately begin my teaching hours and the facility has been incredible to practice and teach at. The community of clients and teachers is one like no other and energy is truly uplifting and so encouraging every day! Getting to work right alongside and take class regularly from Balanced Body Master Trainers and other professionals has been such an inspiration to me, as both a student and a teacher.
According to Pilates Method Alliance (PMA), “ First generation Pilates teachers, who knew Joe, maintain that he and Clara would be very happy and proud of the popularity and growth of Pilates. However, it is less clear how he might feel about the influx of “quickie trainings” available for would-be instructors wanting to be trained in a weekend or two. Joe worked at length with his own teachers, allowing them to assist and then finally teach after sometimes as long as 2 or 3 years of training and apprenticeship.” Having the opportunity to jumpstart my Pilates Instructor Career through a program like the Apprenticeship through BBI, was everything I was looking for when I started my search for coursework. It’s so neat to me that in many ways this is the way Joe intended for Pilates Teachers to learn the method and become teachers. My last workshop will be July 23-24th, can’t believe it! I feel confident with the material I have learned over the past year and am thrilled to see what’s on the next page of this Chapter!