What habits help make a happy, healthy Pilates instructor? Our full time instructor Jas tells her story.
Since starting my career in Pilates I have had a lot of people tell me how much happier I look now I am following my passion. This is in fact very true! I have never been happier in my career than I am today. In saying this, I have learnt a few important things in my short time as an instructor. I think of these as habits that I practice daily to ensure I stay a healthy and happy instructor.
Although teaching is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun, it can also be physically and mentally tiring. As an instructor you are there to ensure your clients feel great during and after their workout. This means that you must give 100% of yourself to your clients each class. To ensure I show up energetic, positive and on the ball for each of my classes I try my best to practice the following 5 habits each day! I highly recommend anyone who is considering becoming an instructor / is an instructor to adopt these habits.
1. Make time for your own practice and workouts
This is the most important habit for a happy and healthy Pilates instructor!
After a morning or evening of teaching sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is a workout. Even though you are not necessarily "working out" while teaching you are still exerting a lot of energy. You are talking, correcting, walking up and down the class room and demonstrating; it is a full on job!
No matter how tired I may feel after teaching I know I will feel 100 times better if I make time for my own workout. For me, exercise isn't just about my physical appearance; it is also about my mental health. When I work out I switch off from everything else and focus on the task at hand, my body and my form. Therefore, it is incredibly important for me to carve out time to exercise for my mental health.
I also want to ensure I stay fit and set a good example for the clients. By making time to work out on a regular basis I grow stronger, fitter and feel better physically. However, most importantly, when my own practice improves I feel I am a better instructor and can help my clients to improve their practice also.
I try to go to as many Pilates classes as I can! Not only does this help my personal fitness and strength; I learn from other instructors. I pick up new moves, new ways of doing different exercises or even different ways of explaining an exercise. I also go to a gym where I can train in different ways. I do weights and cardio to mix up my routine so I am always challenging my body.
2. Pack healthy snacks to eat between classes
As an instructor you will work all different hours; sometimes very early and sometimes late at night. I personally hate teaching on a full stomach as I don't want to feel sluggish while demonstrating. Therefore, I usually won't eat one big meal before a big shift of five classes. Saying this, I also don't want to get 'hangry' if I haven't eaten enough either! So, I find it really important to pack easy and healthy snacks to have quickly in between each class.
Snacks I find easy to have between classes are nuts, fruit, veggie sticks or yoghurt. Keeping hydrated is also very important when talking so much! I make sure I always have a water bottle by my side when instructing. When I give breaks to the clients to have a drink of water I have a sip too!
3. Pre-planning class programs
Every instructor is different when it comes to class planning and you need to figure out what works best for you. Some instructors can walk into a class and can make the work out up as they go (particularly if they have been teaching for a long time)!
When I first started instructing I would spend a lot of time pre-planning my classes and writing them down. This helped me feel prepared, calm and confident and helped my classes flow nicely. My favourite saying ˜Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!".
However you decide to plan your classes, I recommend that you have options in the back of your head to give to clients who may have an injury or be pre or post natal. Pre-planning this will help the class flow better. You don't want to be stuck on the spot having to think of a different exercise for one client while the rest of the class are waiting!
After teaching full time for a while now I have grown the confidence to not have a complete workout written down. Rather, I jot a few dot points down. Saying that, I always plan options for injured, pre and postnatal, beginner, immediate and advanced clients.
Depending on where you teach you may also have the ability to look at who is booked into your class prior to the session. If you can have a quick glimpse over this before the class begins it can also help you come up with variations in advance.
Another habit of healthy and happy Pilates instructors is to make time to research different exercises and observe other instructors. I find social media platforms like Instagram and Youtube really helpful tools to give me fresh ideas for my workouts. It is so important to mix your classes up and keep things interesting and challenging for your regulars.
4. Find your style of teaching and make it yours!
We all have our favourite instructors that we like to go for whatever reason. As an instructor you naturally want people to like your instructing style and to want to come to your classes. My biggest piece of advice is that there is no way you can make every client happy. One client might absolutely love the way you teach and another may not like the way you teach. You simply cannot please everyone! That's a good lesson for life too:)
All you can do is be authentic and true to your style of teaching. Feeling confident while teaching will reflect in your classes. This will make your clients feel at ease, comfortable and enjoy their time during their class. This is why you and they are there at the end of the day!
It is so easy to compare yourself to other instructors, especially when you first start out. I know this because I definitely did this and sometimes I still do. However, I cannot stress enough that no matter how much you try and teach like someone else, you won't do it better than they do! Likewise, if someone was to try and teach like you, they wouldn't do it as well as you do. So find your groove and stick with it. You will be happier and more satisfied if you teach the way you feel most comfortable teaching!
5. Make time for self-care
The last, but certainly not the least habit for a healthy and happy Pilates instructor: make time for self-care!
As mentioned earlier, being a Pilates instructor can be both physically and mentally draining. You spend so much of your time ensuring your clients are enjoying themselves, getting a good workout in and performing the exercises correctly and safely. Therefore, you must make time to also ensure you are being looked after!
Make time on a regular basis to do the things that make you happy. These things help you feel rested and rejuvenated so when you teach you feel energised. Things I like to do are:
- reading a book,
- being outside either walking, bike riding or even laying in the sun,
- listening to a podcast (here's my current fav),
- getting a massage and
- going out for a delicious meal with family and friends.
Whatever it is that makes you happy do that! It is only going to make you a HAPPIER and HEALTHIER instructor.