Becoming a Pilates teacher is a long process that involves making mistakes, trying new things, and lots of practice at implementing new skills. Tune in to learn more about the learning process and reassurance that you are, in fact, on the right track.
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It's an old school psychology model that's stuck in my head. Learn more about the four stages of competence here.
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[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.
[00:00:56] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. [00:01:00] Today we are gonna be talking about the learning process of becoming a Pilates teacher. And I don't mean the process of you do module one, you do module two, you do, you know, injuries in special populations, you do the chair repertoire, and then you test out and then you're a Pilates teacher, not that learning process, but really the kind of internal process of learning, how to be a Pilates teacher, not so much checking the boxes and turning in your assignments and completing your course, but really going from someone who loves Pilates and wants to share it to sharing Pilates confidently or competently. Um, but that you're able to be a Pilates teacher.
[00:01:54] And one reason I've been thinking about this and why I'm chatting about it on the podcast today [00:02:00] is that I'm in this really cool and unique position where I am able to see teachers at all kinds of stages of this process from, I started my teacher training two weeks ago to I'm almost done and I've taught for hours and hours, and then beyond, as well, working with teachers who have been teaching for years and years and years and are real, um, artists and, you know, top of their game, like really honed craft.
[00:02:33] And I wanted to share this because, you know, as I'm interacting with these teachers at different stages in their teaching career and sort of teaching life, I wanted to offer some reassurance as well to teachers who are earlier in the process who may not have the scope of vision to see the trajectory of the path that they're on. Because, um, what they're working [00:03:00] on is very consuming and that's not to say that they're doing anything wrong or that there's anything wrong with that, but whenever we're in the middle of something, um, we can't always see the forest for the trees that we're in, uh, to use that metaphor.
[00:03:15] So this episode is really about looking at those shifts that happen as you are becoming a teacher and learning to be a teacher and offering some support, some advice and reassurance to teachers, wherever they are on their path, that um, that you're on the right track. Because TLDR like the, the short of it is you are definitely on the right track and what you're doing is awesome. Um, but I'd love to give you some perspective as someone who. Both in a part of the journey themselves, but also watching people through many stages of the journey.
[00:03:55] To share a personal story, when I did my [00:04:00] Pilates teacher training, I was already a yoga teacher and I felt fairly confident sharing my words and being in front of people and talking, which I know is a big, um, hump for some people to get over. Like that's a big obstacle, is getting comfortable being in the front of the room and everyone looking at you while you're telling them to do things, right. Um, that can be scary. And that can be a really big thing, uh, at, for people who are going into Pilates teacher training, who don't have prior experience leading group exercise potentially.
[00:04:37] So I was already a yoga teacher. And even before I became a yoga teacher, I was a kindergarten teacher. And even before I was a kindergarten teacher, I was a performer in high school and college, and very comfortable being on stage. And that's not to say that you don't get nerves, but just sharing my personal experience. Like I got over- not over the nerves, but I got used to being nervous [00:05:00] in front of people and doing the thing anyway, um, when I was a lot younger.
[00:05:05] But one thing that I think about both in being nervous sharing, uh, your words in front of people, but also, um, when I was teaching kindergarten and South Korea, I am working with these really young kids who are five, maybe six years old and the exuberance they have as kids and the, like the lack of fear and like the lack of ego and pride, that they're not afraid to say the wrong word or use the wrong tense, or like, they just want to share their idea with you and however they can get it out in whatever language they can get it out in. Like that was the priority. And then. As an adult, because most people come into teaching Pilates, you know, maybe in high school, if you're super duper young, um, but [00:06:00] likely in adulthood, maybe as a first career, often as a second career, uh, or after a career change.
[00:06:06] And as an adult, I can speak as myself. Like I, I'm sharing that, you know, I wasn't nervous about the speaking in front of people part, um, but I can relate to something I see a lot in the learning process and that's, you know, being worried about doing it wrong and this sort of perfectionism and wanting to be perfect at teaching Pilates, even though you just started your teacher training. Which I know, you think about it and you're like, yeah, that is kind of silly that I'm expecting to be really good at this thing that I just started learning how to do it.
[00:06:40] When I was teaching, uh, kindergarten, I was teaching in English and the kids were learning in English as well. Um, but I was also learning to speak Korean at the same time and I felt so shy and so nervous that I was gonna say the wrong thing or use the wrong tense or use the wrong level of [00:07:00] formality that I ended up not speaking a lot of Korean- I spoke more Korean then than I do now- but those are like the same blockers.
[00:07:09] Because those are the blockers that come from, I think, being an adult and being self-aware is we have this idea of ourselves as a competent and capable and delightful human beings. And then when we learn something new and it's hard and we don't get it right away, or we make mistakes, that kind of conflicts with our idea of ourselves and it can be difficult to reconcile. And one choice that you can make is to kind of shut down or not do that thing. And then you stay in your comfort zone and you don't learn that new thing. And then you stop speaking Korean. And now I'm here watching K dramas with English subtitles on still, even though in a decade, I probably could have learned how to speak Korean.
[00:07:53] Right. So I totally get that, that as an adult, putting yourself out there, trying a new thing can [00:08:00] be scary and can be difficult and can be really hard. And I, a hundred percent validate that. And where I see that coming up is you know, throughout the entire process of teacher training, but really at the early stages is where I'm seeing people who are being so hard on themselves and just wanting to be good at the thing that they've never done before. And this desire to already be there and like have finished this process and kind of jump over the clunky bits.
[00:08:31] And if you're in those clunky bits and I don't think the clunky bits ever entirely go away, you just get better at navigating them. Right. But that it's totally okay. And that's really evidence of real learning is that you are trying things and they don't always work. And I don't know if it, it would make you feel better, but I try things all the time in classes, with clients. And sometimes they work and I get [00:09:00] better at guessing which ones are gonna work, that's for sure, because you have lots of practice, but sometimes they don't work. And I think not getting hung up on that and just being able to move on and do something else or laugh at yourself, or even say, oh, that's not what I meant. Let's do this instead. You know, like all of that just comes with having tried things that didn't work a bunch of times. That's why the recovery looks so great when you've taught for a long time. Right.
[00:09:28] So, I guess I just want to chime in one more thing about that clunkiness is that it doesn't have to be embarrassing and it doesn't discount all of the amazing things that you are. If anything, it adds to them because you're willing to be brave and try the thing and trying the thing is 99% of doing the thing. It's just trying it over and over and over again. And, and that's really the heart of it. [00:10:00]
[00:10:00] Coming up after the break, I'm gonna talk a little bit more about how this process might unfold, not for everybody, but definitely some things that I've seen, uh, both in my journey. I'm speaking specifically about learning Korean because that's where I feel the clunkiest and just, you know, how the process goes, how we go and grow as we do. That's coming up next.
[00:10:29] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There, you can make a one time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.
[00:10:48] Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit [00:11:00] links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now, back to the show.
[00:11:26] I think I've talked about this before these stages of competence and I don't think it's the only model for thinking about learning, but it's one that really resonates with me. So I'll share with you, and that is this idea that if you draw an X and a Y axis on a grid that you've got these four quadrants and the first quadrant is unconscious incompetence. And that is that you don't know what you don't know. Like it is so [00:12:00] far from your radar that you don't even know that you don't know the thing. Right.
[00:12:05] And then when we start learning about something, whether it's learning to teach Pilates or learning a new language, we reach a place of conscious incompetence. So now we have a bit more exposure. Now we know what we don't know. And that is oftentimes where we start our teacher training process is, you know, as you start learning more things, as you begin, you know, practice teaching your classes and then you're like, oh, wow. Like there is a lot more that goes into this than just being good at doing the exercises. Right. Teaching Pilates and doing Pilates are two different skill sets. There's an overlap, but the teaching Pilates has a lot of stuff that you wouldn't have known about if you just did Pilates classes.
[00:12:56] So you start your teacher training and you're like, whoa, there's so much to learn. [00:13:00] It can feel overwhelming because it's, it is, it is so much to learn and you don't see it in your classes from your teacher. If you're working with an experienced teacher, when you're taking classes, you don't see all of that behind the scenes stuff that this podcast is really about, because you're just like enjoying your Pilates class. It feels seamless. Right? So then we've got our, you know, conscious incompetence. We know now that. We have so much to learn.
[00:13:29] I think the goal of teacher training is to get you to the next quadrant, which is conscious competence. That is, if you think about it and you work really hard at it, you can do the things that you're trying to do, but you have to think about it. There is a lot of brain power involved in it, and it is a conscious process. Maybe this is writing out all of your programs. Maybe this is writing out cues. Maybe this is rehearsing your class. Maybe this is. [00:14:00] You know, teaching the same class to yourself multiple times so that you can, you know, get the words out, saying it in the shower. I definitely did that for like my test out class. I was like practicing in the shower, hand dancing, you know, doing the, the exercises with my hands, how I would cue it, things like that. So we get to this stage of conscious competence that now we know we're no longer incompetent. Like we know what we're doing, but we have to really work at it to do it.
[00:14:30] And then probably the entirety of your teaching journey beyond that is moving from conscious competence to unconscious competence. And that is. You don't even think about what you know anymore. It just happens. If it was you doing an exercise, now we've got that muscle memory. It just happens. I don't have to think about teaser, teaser. You just say teaser and my body knows what to do. I don't have to think about it. [00:15:00]
[00:15:00] Um, and then when you're teaching, someone comes in and they have a wonky shoulder and you're just like, that's totally fine. I've got you, you know, the modifications are there, you change your plan on the fly, that's all there and it just happens.
[00:15:17] One of the things that I love about teaching teachers and kind of guiding them through these stages of becoming, uh, consciously competent and then hopefully also unconsciously competent Pilates teachers is I really get to see this or rather I really get to see the impact that practicing teaching has on your teaching and on your confidence. And this is why when people come into teacher training and they're like, I did all of the work for, you know, the first two months, like all of the online coursework and, you know, I did six classes last week and like that that's awesome. And I love that enthusiasm. [00:16:00] But it also just comes from practice and from digesting and letting your brain make that shift from short-term memory, what you crammed into your brain, to long-term memory that you can recall with ease and it's really practice.
[00:16:16] Oh gosh, there was a really funny, I wanna say it was a TikTok I may have seen it as a Reel, but there was a funny video of a, you know, symphony musician and people were saying, oh my gosh, it's incredible that you can, you know, play this instrument so beautifully. And they're like, you know, I just practiced a lot. And they're like, oh, you must have some natural talent. And they're like, no, I really just practiced a lot. And they're like, oh, I wish you know that I could be as good as you at this. And they're like, yeah, you definitely can if you just practice.
[00:16:49] So the moral of that story is ripping the bandaid off and teaching as much as you can, especially in teacher training where you're getting [00:17:00] feedback from your peers, from your trainers. Um, but also just teaching a lot, teaching yourself, teaching your friends, teaching your family members, getting into studios, teaching lots of people, lots of body types, lots of ages, lots of abilities, and really embracing the phase of learning that you're in.
[00:17:20] That if you're in that, oh my gosh. There's so much to learn that you approach that with, instead of it being like overwhelming. Oh my gosh. There's so much to learn. It's like exciting. Oh my gosh. There's so much to learn. Like whatever I learn is going to add to what I know and what I can do, um, with my skillset.
[00:17:40] And then when you get into that conscious competence phase, where you're thinking about every cue that you say, and every exercise transition. My original lesson plans that I would write for yoga would be pages long and there would be pictures. And I would write down what I would say. There was a time where I was trying to sync it to music as well. And it was just like so [00:18:00] much planning. Which now I look at and I'm like, geez, that takes way too long. Um, I can't do that.
[00:18:07] But at the same time, I'm really glad that I took the time to do that because the reason I can teach now is because I did that, like that is, I moved that from consciously working on it, super hard to having it on the back burner and making that shift is huge. And you, you can't skip it. Like you can't just jump to the smooth teaching. You gotta get through the clunky, mixing things up, and misnaming the exercise and people looking at you, like, what do you want me to do? Like that confused face? Like that's all part of it and really embracing that and being there and slogging through because there is an end to it, right. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And the more you practice, the faster that light approaches.
[00:18:56] I think as teachers, we see this happening [00:19:00] with our students as well that we see them going from, I don't know anything about Pilates to, oh my gosh, this is so much harder than I thought it was, to, ooh, I can do it, but I have to really, really think about it, to I'm just doing it. And whether you're teaching Pilates teachers like I am, or you're teaching Pilates students in your classes, being able to step from where you are in the unconscious competence, that teaser, uh, breeze. Like, I don't even think about teaser. I just do teaser and moving it and being able to explain beyond, I just do it and actually breaking it down and teaching it to someone.
[00:19:38] Whether you're teaching someone to teacher, teaching someone to do an exercise, that's really the value of a teacher is making this unseen work that happens in your brain, happens in your body, making it seen in order to teach it to someone. That's really the beauty of teaching. That's the art of teaching. That's why there can never be enough Pilates teachers [00:20:00] because every person will have their own way of teaching, of explaining, of relating to their students, to their colleagues. And all of those perspectives are so, so valuable.
[00:20:12] So wherever you are in your journey know that it is a journey. This isn't a game of snakes and ladders. We can't skip ahead three lines and just get to the finish line and be done. We have to go through, but that's the fun part. That's really, that's the learning process like it, when we come up with a pill to become a Pilates teacher, I will be the first one to let you know, but as of now practice and just moving through where you are is, is kind of the, the practice.
[00:20:43] Huge thank you to all the supporters on Buy Me A Coffee. I appreciate your contributions to this project for being part of this project. What an absolute party looking forward to chatting with you in the August coffee chats. I hope you have a great couple of weeks and I will talk to you again soon.[00:21:00]
[00:21:08] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
[00:21:31] The adventure continues. Until next time.