by: Jessica Schultz
Are you about to enter a teacher training program for Pilates? Are you considering teaching Pilates? I would love to share with you the best advice I ever got before entering a teaching training program:
Memorize. Your. Order.
Don’t just think you know the order or feel like you could probably guess at the exercise that comes next. Commit it to memory.
I studied Pilates for many years before I thought about teaching, and I worked out at a studio where I was in a trio every week. But I hadn’t fully committed the order to memory. And every week I’d pick the Reformer next to the girl who did, and I follow along slightly behind her, mimicking her transitions, but never really owning the exercises and how they connect into each other. This is the essence of one of the Pilates principles, Flow. And without Flow, I couldn’t work on other Principles, like Concentration. I couldn’t focus my mind because it was racing to guess what exercise followed after another.
So one day my teacher took me aside and told me I wouldn’t really progress until I committed the exercise order to heart, and she let me borrow a book by Romana Kryzanowska and Sean Gallagher, and I sat with it every day. I read in on my lunch break, on the bus, whenever I had a spare moment, and I learned my order. I really learned it and tried to picture and feel each exercise in my body, and without even realizing it, that was the first step on my path to becoming a teacher. Committing the order to memory made me commit to Pilates and to the systematic thought put into his methodology. It changed the way I worked out. I got more out of my lessons, and my teacher was right, I did progress faster, just by putting a little bit of mental energy into the process.
I didn’t become a teacher until years later, but the people in my training who didn’t know the order on the first day struggled. Their minds were like mine in those lessons years ago, struggling to make sense of what came next. They missed other information about technique or teaching methodology because they were still trying to remember the order. It’s really hard to teach what you don’t know, and trying to teach Pilates without knowing the exercise order is like trying to sing a song in public you didn’t memorize. It’s not fun, it’s stressful, and you can’t be in the moment enough to really make music.
So, if you’re considering becoming a Pilates instructor, commit the order to memory. Register for your training and get your materials as soon as possible. Own your information, then have fun and learn the nuances of the movement and the science of teaching. You’ll have the solid foundation for not only a successful training, but a lifetime of learning.
Jessica Schultz is a graduate of the 2013 Peak Pilates™ Master Instructor Camp, Master Instructor for Mat, and Peak Comprehensive Certified instructor living in Portland, Oregon. She has been called “One of Portland’s most qualified instructors” by PDX Magazine and was a Round One Finalist for the Next Pilates Anytime Instructor Contest. She also earned a Masters Degree from Portland State University in Science and Teaching in 2004 while concurrently finishing her Pilates certification. Her full bio is available on her website www.jessicaschultzpilates.com.