The amazing Misty Lynne Cauthen joins me on the podcast today. She shares her Pilates journey, her insight into the Pilates industry, the importance of client-focused teaching in group and private classes, and the art of being a great teacher. Tune in!
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Misty is the owner of Dragonfly Pilates in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, and a Master Instructor for Balanced Body. You might catch her on Pilates on Tour, or online at https://www.dragonflypilates.com/. Connect with her on Instagram at @mistylynnecauthen.
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[00:00:00] Olivia: 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. I am [00:01:00] so excited today to be joined by Misty Lynne Cauthen, who is phenomenal. If you don't follow her on Instagram, you should. She is a leader in the Pilates industry. Uh, she works as an educator, a facilitator and a mentor to teachers all over the place. But she's based in California with her fabulous studio Dragonfly Pilates.
[00:01:21] I'm really thrilled to be able to talk with her because, uh, she's awesome. So thank you so much for being on the show today.
[00:01:27] Misty: Glad to be here. Thank you. But I have to correct you already.
[00:01:31] Olivia: Oh gosh.
[00:01:32] Misty: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
[00:01:33] Olivia: In Pittsburgh! Why did I think you were in California?
[00:01:36] Misty: Everybody thinks I'm in California. I mean, like everybody. I wish I was in California, but unless I am in soggy gray, rainy Pittsburgh.
[00:01:46] Olivia: Oh my gosh. Well, I apologize. In Pittsburgh. Then you are closer to me than I thought I was like on man, California, so far. Um, but you're only a little trip. Um, brilliant. Uh, so thank you so much for joining from Pittsburgh and [00:02:00] and I'm really excited too.
[00:02:02] I've gotten to meet Misty officially on Core Conversations with Martin Reid. If you haven't checked out my conversation there, definitely do. Uh, and Misty's there co-hosting as well, like a boss. Um, what a party.
[00:02:15] Misty: It was great fun. It was so much fun.
[00:02:18] Olivia: It is fun. And I'm appreciating the plants in your background. You can't see mine. They've been cut out. They're on the other side of that couch, but, so it. Uh, tell me a bit about how you got into Pilates, when you got into Pilates, and if you can remember back, what was your first class like? Like what hooked you in?
[00:02:37] Misty: So, coming from the dance world, I was always kind of Pilates adjacent. You know, we'd walk into a studio and there'd be dance, uh, Pilates equipment there and some poor broken person trying to save them on the equipment, which, you know, didn't really make a difference to me because I was immortal. So, you know, I didn't really need any of that stuff.
[00:02:58] But, uh, my [00:03:00] first official experience with Pilates was back in 2000 and someone opened a studio down the road from my house and they were doing a free week of classes. And I was like, Huh, well I haven't worked out in forever. I can use a free week of classes. With no desire to really make it any more than the free week of classes. And by the end of that first week, I had signed my whole entire life away. Any future children, any future proceeds to any future life I might have, were all committed to taking class at this Pilates studio, which, you know, was kind of a, a respite.
[00:03:38] It was a really good, um, way for me to get back into my body and get back to moving again cuz I'd been out for a while. It was great fun. And then after the first month I was like, Of course I can teach this. And that's really how I ended up down the rabbit hole churning and flowing and flipping and turning.[00:04:00]
[00:04:00] Olivia: I mean, that's amazing that you knew right away you were like, This is it. This is the thing. This is what I'm going to do. Um, how did you embark into teacher training?
[00:04:12] Misty: Well, I told the owner of the studio that I wanted to train and she recommended me to her studio where she did most of her learning from.
[00:04:22] And I went and took a class there and I said, Absolutely not. This is just not going to be a good fit for me at all, for so many reasons that, you know, I can look back on and say, Yeah, I made the right decision a hundred percent. But that led me on this really wild ride. Finding a place where I could find the right fit and the right the right style of teaching for me, which was tough because I ended up in Florida training and then I had to manage, you know, how do you get your hours? How do you do all of these things, essentially [00:05:00] in a vacuum, because my teacher here was not a teacher trainer. And, um, nev- I never really saw her that way. But, um, my only other option at the time was to go back to that studio where I knew I wouldn't fit. So I had to do everything long distance, which made it a whole lot of fun and made it quite the process.
[00:05:19] But I did get it done finally, and then I was like, Okay, time for the next one. So I did a lot of teacher training, a lot of exploration in the work at the beginning. You know, I really wanted to learn to be a teacher in all of the methods because why not? So then I realized, holy crap, I gotta work. I have to make more money.
[00:05:44] Olivia: I can't believe you did long distance, especially when long distance was really challenging. I think now there's so many options to connect with teachers and programs and do, uh, parts of it online. Do all of it online. Do you know, [00:06:00] just like occasional things, so huge props to you for figuring that out before we all had Zoom and we decided that this was a thing we were doing cuz-
[00:06:09] Misty: well, let me say, it wasn't really easy and it probably wasn't smart because you know, economically becoming a Pilates teacher in itself is expensive, even back in 2000. But then on top of it, the travel expenses, when I was working on my comprehensive, I was going back and forth to Philadelphia every weekend.
[00:06:29] For 10 weeks, so that's a six hour drive. Fortunately, I was going with a friend and they were very, very long weekends, and the only thing I had on my side was youth because , it was, it was certainly not the best of environments for a lot of reasons, but I loved the work so much, and even being new to it, I recognized the longevity of it, how it was going to help me personally long [00:07:00] term, and if it was gonna help me, it was gonna help anybody that I touched. So it made it worth it, especially to Visa for me to be able to, to do that because I was paying it off for a long time.
[00:07:13] But at the same time, I was able to fully immerse myself because I did recognize right away, this was costing me, it was costing me time. It was costing me quality of life at that point. And so I really, really made the most of it because I knew that I needed to get as much out of it as I could.
[00:07:34] Olivia: It's very intensive doing a teacher training and there's lots of people who listen to this podcast and they write in and they're like, There's so much and you have to invest so much time, so much energy, so much. And you're totally right that the longevity is there, but the upfront investment is huge.
[00:07:54] Misty: It really is. But then again, if you take a look at college, the upfront investment is huge as well. I [00:08:00] mean, I, I look at what we do as a trade. It is definitely a trade, and you would invest in anything as much as you would invest in this.
[00:08:10] Some things maybe a little bit less, but generally speaking, if you are looking for a job that you 1) are going to be able to do forever if that's your, your choice. 2) that there will be a need for forever. And 3) all you really have to do, I mean, not to say that you can just get, you know, certified and then coast and not learn anything else but. Technically you could do that and and coast on on easy street air quotes and make that money back in the short term or long term.
[00:08:47] That's not what any of us that are really committed to the trade do, but it could be done. So as far as I'm concerned, it's, it was just like more college for me, and that's the way I describe it [00:09:00] to my mentees and my teacher trainees that I train, I say, You invested in whatever degree you have. This is another degree and you have to treat it as such.
[00:09:12] Olivia: It really does have that vibe, and it's interesting in the United States that it's not classified the same way like an electrician or like a plumber or a mechanic, but it is very much the same sort of trade that like you're learning a skill set that you will be able to use to make a living if you so choose.
[00:09:31] Misty: A hundred percent. A hundred percent and it's a failing, I think on the industry's fault part, that nobody has put it out there and said, Hey, listen, this particular profession requires as much work, if not more, and really needs to be treated as a profession, not just something people that like to wear yoga pants do on, on, you know, weekday mornings. It's more than [00:10:00] that. It needs to be given its flowers. If you ask me.
[00:10:04] Olivia: I could totally see Pilates being like a trade school sort of situation that it's like an alternative, or not even an alternative, but just another career path that you could definitely take. And the same way, uh, you get certified to, you know, you need to have a license to be a contractor. You have a license to be a Pilates teacher. Like I could see it going that way.
[00:10:27] Misty: And wouldn't that be interesting? You know, I, we talk, I know I talk a lot about the legitimacy of the field and what we are doing and where we're going. And I think a lot of the sophomore issues that we have in the business are directly related to the fact that, you know, everyone's spinning around in circles and nobody knows where those circles are gonna end and what direction we'll be pointed in.
[00:10:52] And, you know, at some point we're gonna have to grow. Because if not, you know it, [00:11:00] it'll be harder for people to see where that investment is going because it's hard to compete against those big boxes and all of those other parts of the industry that really aren't any better. In fact, in a lot of cases, they're a lot worse than what most of us are doing, but they have the financial backing to support what they do.
[00:11:22] And it's, it's unfortunate that those that call themselves the, the pillars of the industry or the industry bodies or figureheads or whatever, haven't put this together yet, but for, especially for new people coming into the business that are like, you know, Hey, listen, I'm tired of being an accountant. I really want to get into Pilates. How do I make this work? Giving them the ability to see how it's supported and how there. The ability to keep it moving forward forever. Could really help to clarify where the industry is going as a whole, [00:12:00] but yet we haven't done it yet.
[00:12:03] Olivia: We can dream.
[00:12:05] Misty: Oh, the magical dream.
[00:12:07] Olivia: Um, so you have been teaching Pilates for a long time and you've seen the longevity in your own career that this is still something that you're doing 20 plus years. Can you tell me a little bit about how your teaching has changed and how you've evolved as a teacher?
[00:12:27] Misty: Oh my goodness. , um, night meet day, day meet night. Like it's such a big shift that I've, I've had, uh, you know, I think everyone when they start teaching is like, I'm gonna work with athletes and I'm gonna train these and hard bodies and da da, da. And then you grow up and you say, Oh, well, working with athletes is great, but it's like, ho hum, done that and ma.
[00:12:56] I think the biggest evolution for me is [00:13:00] seeing the huge value in working with people that need the work, not just those that want the type up by Tuesday. You know, anybody can get a type up by Tuesday, that's not a big deal, and then what happens on Wednesday? They've forgotten about you because they've hit their goal.
[00:13:19] But when you're working with people that come to this work, they wanna be able to get down on the floor with their grandkids or they've had an injury that they need to come back from, or they, they just don't understand their body and they really want to feel like they can build a relationship again with their body that, you know, is lasting. Those are the people that I love to work with.
[00:13:42] So in working with those people, my teaching has become a lot more compassionate. It has definitely, And I'm not gonna say it's like Easy street here. Like anybody who knows me, who just heard me say that is like liar! [00:14:00] But I do. I absolutely come to it from a place of compassion and recognizing and hoping that the people that I work with recognize that there's no judgment. I'm not comparing from place to place from day to day, I'm wanting you to feel your best. I'm wanting you to have the experience in your body that you want, that you dream of.
[00:14:25] And uh, before I don't, I never really saw it that way. It wasn't really that deep. It was like I'm having so much fun half murdering people, and that's okay.
[00:14:37] Olivia: I think as a new teacher, kind of reflecting on how I've changed, I definitely had that where I was like, Well, I have to show that I'm like a really good teacher and a really tough teacher, so I'm just gonna like push, push, push, push, push. And I see my teaching now very similar to you. It's almost like you're just offering your hand and you're like, Hey, can I show you [00:15:00] something? Like, can we try something? And so much more magic unfolds when you just let it, instead of sort of superimposing your plan of, you know, what teaser looks like and what we're gonna do today even- and that's not to say that you don't have goals for your clients. You're not working on things, but it, you get like more openness and more freedom when you kind of-
[00:15:25] And I don't even know when that transition happens. I've been like interrogating that a bit for myself, was like, when did I stop, like micromanaging my classes. Like where did that shift happen? Where I was just like, eh, let's do some Pilates .
[00:15:38] Misty: That's so interesting that you say it that way because I feel the same way. It's like there was this place where, I don't know, the stars aligned and you know, you read the tea leaves and all of a sudden there was this magical shift to, you know, from that Instructor Drill Sergeant [00:16:00] Micromanager to that teacher, nurturer, facilitator, mentor role.
[00:16:06] And, um, you know, it, it was interesting being in the studio environment when that happened because there's so many things that change in terms of the way you look at your clients and the way you interact with your clients and the, the clients that you choose to work with versus the ones that slide over to other people that you work with.
[00:16:30] Olivia: I think just getting comfortable sliding clients over to other people is also a skill and kind of knowing yourself enough to know when you're gonna click with someone and when you're gonna mesh with them and you're like, Yes, this is someone I can work with versus- you know, it's, it's not an audition and anyone who works with me, I don't want them to think of it as an audition.
[00:16:53] But when we meet for the first time and we try some stuff and we explain what the reformer is, and we do some footwork and talk about all of [00:17:00] our movement experiences in our lives, as much as I'm getting information about them, I'm also kind of figuring out like, is this a good fit? Like, Is what you're looking for, what I can offer? Or do you really want that drill sergeant?
[00:17:14] Cuz now I don't even do drill sergeant. That's not even my vibe. Like if someone's looking for that super sweaty, push, push, push class, I'm like, hey, like let me send you to someone who does that because that's actually a lot of work for me to do. It's like pretend to be that person.
[00:17:27] So tell me a little bit about how you found your niche. Like who are your people that you just love working with, you can work with 'em all day. They just energize you. How did that process kind of shake out for you?
[00:17:41] Misty: I'm going to give you probably the most vague answer on that that I can because it's not, It's so much about the fit and feel. That, you know, I do still have a few type up by Tuesday clients, and I do still have some very, very, even [00:18:00] in the virtual environment, some very, very high needs post rehab clients and everyone in between. I, um, I really, it's almost like I get this feeling in the back of my neck, so to speak, you know, when we're doing the intake or whatever it is, I can feel when we're going to mesh well together.
[00:18:24] And those are, you know, my favorites, whatever their need is. And I, I will say, do I have a, a favorite, favorite type of client? Really it's just the person that really wants to be there. And that wants to learn and is in it for the long haul. You know, one of the things I say is that we're in this together. We're walking hand in hand. I'm not walking in front of you, dragging you up the hill. Uh, I don't want to drag anybody uphill. Um, that's too much work.
[00:18:53] So, you know, for me it's, it's really just about that place of [00:19:00] balance and, and flow, and do we flow well? And if we don't flow well, hey, it's not a problem to me. We can still at Dragonfly help you get to where you want to go. But the, we may not be me. It may be someone else in, in the, the list of teachers that we have.
[00:19:19] Olivia: And I think part of it at least comes from working with lots of people and spending a lot of time working with people. The more you work with people, the more, it's not even a red flag, but you just see, you just notice things differently. You notice, okay, this is what this person needs, this is what I can do. Is this a fit? Because I think especially for one-on-one sessions, which is what I think we're talking about a bit more, um, where that really matters. Cuz you can have a group class of like everybody and we're gonna do fun stuff. Uh, but for one-on-one sessions, you've gotta.
[00:19:54] I, I almost, I'm thinking about a, a client I have who's new and for me it was figuring out when [00:20:00] she was smiling cuz she has like a very stoic face. And so when she does this like little smile and I was like, Oh, I am getting through to you because if you think my jokes are lame, like you're gonna be real having a tough time because I have lots of jokes and they don't get better. They only get worse . So finding that someone who's like sense of humor was like, Oh, she does think it's funny. Okay, we're good. We can keep going. Like we can keep vibing. I think that's part of it, at least for me.
[00:20:24] Misty: Well, and I think too, you know, that that's important. I, I think in a, in a group environment, like everyone thinks that you can just kind of slot together a group. But one of the things that I'm known for is teaching group sessions that feel like privates. So that is, I call it group alchemy, right? It's a curated group that tends to draw itself. Um, and maybe there's some steering on my part that I don't recognize, you know, I don't know. But what I do know is that when the right group comes together, you can take them [00:21:00] anywhere and they don't all have to be in the same, of the same ability level, but they all have to be of the same desire or the the same motivation in terms of we are here because we're here to work, we're here to move.
[00:21:17] And privates, yeah, they're certainly gonna be easier because it's just that whole one on one dynamic, which is great. But I also feel like in a group, the group will work together to push the group, even though they're not talking, even though they're not, who knows what they can do? They're not doing it. They're all in. And that level of motivation allows me, that intrinsic motivation in them allows me to be able to teach and push and help them grow in the way that I believe that they have told me they want to go.
[00:21:51] Olivia: That's a powerful distinction because in group it sounds magical. Like I want that group experience, um, for [00:22:00] people. And I think if you have a class that you teach consistently for like months and months and years and years, you'll get that group of people they kind of like filter and filter out. It's a, it's a big, I don't wanna say it's a big ask, but it's like, it is a commitment from you as a group fitness teacher that like, this is gonna be a class that I'm gonna keep for a while so that it can sort itself out and then we can go on these adventures together and, and we can learn a language that makes sense to everyone and we can kind of figure ourselves out.
[00:22:31] That's a really interesting way of thinking about group classes. I hadn't thought about it like that before and it's kind of awesome.
[00:22:38] Misty: I enjoy the group dynamic and I remember back in the day thinking, Oh yeah, you know, I'm gonna teach these private lessons and I'm gonna be blah, blah, blah, and who cares? Really it was I, I learned really quickly that people wanted to have a group experience, and I also learned really quickly that time slot means [00:23:00] everything. So it didn't matter how much. I said, Well, this is going to be you know, intermediate group of whatever, nobody cared. They signed up for what they wanted to anyway, at least when I was at a club.
[00:23:13] So I had to really learn really quickly how to make that group experience make sense to everybody that was in there. And I did have my hard lines, you know, I went to the ownership of the club and I said, Okay, if you are going to say, Anybody can come to the class and I can dictate who is what and what is who this much, when I really need to have this much control over it, then what I, what you have to do is give me a few bones.
[00:23:41] Bone number one is that I have to have an advanced class, advanced only. I have dominion over it. So if I need to throw people outta that class, I don't want the lady that's 15 minutes postpartum, she's got her baby on her back and she's gonna try to take class. No, I don't want her, I will not take her. You'll fire me first.
[00:23:59] You [00:24:00] know? So it's, it was being able to make my demands known, Okay, I'm going to acquiesce on these traits, these points, but you have got to give me this and then I will do whatever with this program I can to make it. And they did. I was the only Pilates teacher at that point. So by that, at that stage, once I took it over and just demanded what I wanted.
[00:24:24] I wouldn't advise that to everybody. My personality type just kind of allows me to demand things at times, but it worked out. Then I was able to build this big beautiful program that, you know, people who didn't want to take Pilates cuz they didn't know what it was. Men that thought we laid around in tutus all day and blew bubbles, you know, all of these other things came into the class and wanted to try and wanted to be a part of it. But that was because I recognized groups are gonna congeal in their own way. You can steer people one way or another, but there's always going to [00:25:00] be some person that says, You know what, no, I know I can't do this. I know I've only taken four other classes, but I will be okay in your intermediate class.
[00:25:11] Not my favorite, but it was possible because nobody could tell me that it wasn't. I just wasn't hearing it. You know. We have to make sure that we meet our people where they are. And that's what Pilates is really.
[00:25:25] Olivia: Right. I mean, that's the whole business. That's how we progress exercises and take them from, This is a shoulder bridge to, this is one tippy toe on the foot bar at the highest point, and you're doing a handstand like, I don't know, stuff happens in Pilates and it's wild and wonderful.
[00:25:40] Misty: That's right. Exactly.
[00:25:48] Olivia: 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 [00:26:00] to support the show. There, you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.
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[00:26:44] And I think you've also really touched on people who wanna have this group experience as well. And even, you know, the guys you're talking about who are like, Well, I wanna get in on this. Like, this sounds really cool and I wanna be part of. And one of the things we offer when [00:27:00] we have a space, and it could be a space that you own, it could be your own studio, but it could be a class that's your class, is we're creating this space for connection.
[00:27:08] That even when they aren't talking to each other, like I, I go to a yoga studio and there are people whose names I don't know, but I know where they put their mat and I know that they're always at the 9:00 AM hot and you know, we just like nod at each other. And it's like something about doing something that's challenging but so good together and being in the room together and kind of cursing the teacher out together because it's hard, but we're still gonna do it and we're gonna do it for each other as much as we're doing it for ourselves.
[00:27:34] And I think recognizing that as a teacher and then making the most of that is, is something we can really add to those classes that makes them special for the people who are in there. Because we're like all in on the joke together.
[00:27:50] Misty: Yeah. Yeah. You know, we drive that resonance as teachers. It's that energy flow, that sharing that [00:28:00] we, we can either facilitate or we can deny, but if we deny it, we're denying the the potential for a really powerful, meaningful experience for people at my studios.
[00:28:16] When I had my brick and mortars, it was not uncommon for a new person to come in being terrified and leave with the whole class and for them to go down the street and get a cup of coffee. Like that's what, Okay, I'm gonna give myself credit. That's what I created. But it was because I'd seen so many places and spaces that were not welcoming and did not encourage that. The teacher didn't make it a point to introduce the new person that came in. And you know when, when you do take that extra moment to make sure that people get, get to be known, people want to know them and you know, isn't it about relationships again, [00:29:00] more than the type up by Tuesday?
[00:29:02] Olivia: It's not just Pilates. It is a lot in Pilates. And I think as Pilates teachers, we, that's what we talk about the most, but just that group dynamic, just being together, working on something. Because I don't personally understand runners. I know there are people who love running and I understand the benefits of running, but I am not a runner. I run late. That's mostly what I do. And-
[00:29:20] Misty: I run when chased.
[00:29:21] Olivia: Exactly. But, but just. Yeah, just being in a group, being together and as a teacher, recognizing that we, as much as we're leading the class, we're, we're acting as a role model in a lot of ways. And by really stepping up. And even though we get shy when someone new comes into the class, I'm also like, Oh gosh, it's a new person. Like I gotta go say hi to them. Like, cuz I'm an introvert so I'm like, Ah, people.
[00:29:49] But we like, that's part of the job. Putting that nervousness that we have, and maybe you're teaching, you know, at a new place and you've got all this stuff going on, but like really [00:30:00] stepping up, really being professional and knowing that, just going over, introducing yourself to that person, Hey, like, I think you'd be really great next to this other person. They've been taking my classes forever. Like you can always look to them if you feel lost and then they just feel like big exhale and then they're gonna come back and they're gonna grow and they're gonna do cool stuff.
[00:30:19] Misty: Absolutely. I totally get that too, because my. As I'm getting older, my extroversion is becoming much more reluctant. So, you know, it's sometimes it's like, Oh, I have a new person today. You know, it's like the worst thing in the whole wide world, but, you know, once I turn it on, it's like, Oh yeah, what, what was I whining to myself about? Its such a waste of time. Gosh. You know, and, and seeing how it makes them, like you said, exhale. Gives them that place of, okay, I am being seen here. It's a big deal. And like you said, we do [00:31:00] talk about this in Pilates cuz that's where we live, but it, it's anywhere.
[00:31:04] Think back to like high school when you had to do the group project and you were put with the people that weren't your normal mates and you had to deal with, you know, all those well, okay, well what do you do after school? All of those, you know, basic information gathering questions, but it's, it is who we are, right? We're tribal, and if we can break down those tribal walls that we tend to build things can kind of happen for the good.
[00:31:31] Olivia: That's awesome. And I, I think that's a great way of thinking about it as well, that we can- like everyone's nervous in a new situation. Like I got into Pilates after working as a yoga teacher in a studio that offered Pilates and walking by the reformers for like a year and being like, Nope, never, torture, gosh. That's, It was like a allegro. So it's all like black and steel. And I was like, No. Um, But then when I got in the class, luckily I was friends with [00:32:00] the teacher, so that, you know, kind of boundary had already been breaking down, broken down.
[00:32:03] But she introduced me to the other people in the class and, Oh, I think you're gonna love Barbara. Like, she's got your sense of humor. And just even though like I was already friends with this person, I saw that as a teacher, you have that power to take this person who's like, Look, you know, my partner told me to go do this. They said it was good for me. And then for you to really feel like you're part of it, that you belong.
[00:32:26] And in a place where so much stuff can happen virtually. And you know, so many people are working from home. We're not interacting with people that much. That might be the only time that you really see people, or I work with clients who are older, who are retired, and they may not see people very much except for this class that they come to take with you. Or maybe just that one on one with you. But that human connection is massive. It's everything.
[00:32:52] Misty: It's huge, and because there's so much less of it these days, people [00:33:00] are really retreating for a thousand reasons. You can blame politics, you can blame Covid, you can blame all of the other things that we've been dealing with societally over the past while now. People have gotten away from those human connections in their general lives.
[00:33:18] So when we have the opportunity, humans together in a group. I think we as again, the teachers or facilitators or whatever you wanna call us, have a responsibility to make sure that that is a safe and joyable, well curated experience.
[00:33:35] And PS it's not just about teaching bodies because, I mean, it's not like walking meat sticks here. These are human beings with emotions and feelings. You know, it's not you, you're not teaching the slim gyms. It's more than that.
[00:33:53] And I guess the reason why I say this is because I hear all the time people saying to me and, and their teaching, [00:34:00] you know, I took class at a studio that, you know, they never talked to us. It was just like at the start of class, they came in, they said hi, they taught class and they. And you know, when I look back and I ask them about it or whatever it was, they would say things like, Well, you have to keep it all about Pilates. Well, that's super cute, but one, people aren't just Pilates, people aren't just their bodies. People aren't just, Nobody is just.
[00:34:29] There's so many more things that go into it, and if you give people that opportunity to be human being, not meat, then they can absolutely have a better experience because they feel recognized and believed in and all of those things. So don't we have a responsibility to do that?
[00:34:47] To me, the answer's yes. But you know, for other people, I, I get, I get why they wanna keep that division, but I think. Well, one, I'm not a big fan of rules and boundaries [00:35:00] for any reason other than, you know, personal safety. Um, but I, I think that we're really, really missing the boat when we can do more than just bodily help to somebody.
[00:35:12] Sometimes, you know, you don't know what a simple, hi or how are you today can do for a person's affect in general.
[00:35:22] Olivia: I always make it a point to check in with clients before class, whether it's a group or a, or a one-on-one session, because you know, finding out that someone's dog is in the hospital is gonna change how you interact with them. Finding out that their kid just went away to college for the first time. And, you know, they're nervous and they're stressed and, you know, maybe standing front splits is not what we're gonna do today. Like, maybe we're gonna like, play it a little bit nicer and kind of take care of ourselves. We'll have, have space to have feelings that aren't just, oh, my, my neck sore.
[00:35:55] Like, but like, my heart's sore because my baby's all grown up. You know? And [00:36:00] I, I think that you're right on the money. For people with all of the vast human experience that we have, um, not just aches and pains and moving and grooving for sure.
[00:36:13] I would love to hear your sort of professional career path that is still pathing, but like how did you go from a teacher who was teaching in a studio? You were the only teacher in the studio. How did you go from there to opening your own studios and running your own program? Like tell me the winding path of your life now that you can reflect a little bit on where you've come from.
[00:36:36] Misty: Oh my gosh. It was such a meander through. God only knows what. So I was teaching at a club and I, I grew this program into, uh, I don't know how many pe- teachers were there when I got fired, but I was fired because one of the teachers got into a fight with management, and so [00:37:00] they fired both of us.
[00:37:02] The reason why they fired both of us is because I was kind of like the defacto head of the program of nothing. So, I don't know. I, it was bizarre, but I didn't even really realize I was fired. I just, you know, the girl that got fired called me and said, And I think you just got fired too. It's like, Wait, what? What do you mean? And then later on I got a voicemail saying that I was fired. So, and that was interesting. I was kind of walking around like, What, what happened? I don't know. Nobody's talking to me. But then there was this huge uprising and mutiny at the club and you know, a letter writing campaign and picketing, and it was bizarre.
[00:37:46] I was like, for me, like, it's cold out, go inside. So anyway, they tried to bring me back out, but after that I, I was teaching Pilates for a friend as well and I said, you know, I'm just gonna stay in my lane over here. [00:38:00] And then that had to change cuz she was having some mental health stuff and I needed to get out to save my own life.
[00:38:07] So I was like, Oh, you know, I'll just open a studio. How hard can it be, whatever. So in three months I own the studio ordered equipment, did the whole nine, and I taught by myself for a while and I was going crazy because we were busy. It was a very busy place in a very short period of time. And while I loved it, I started my studio when my son was only 18 months old. So, um, that was a lot.
[00:38:35] I opened and it was like in June and then in July I got a call from Al Harrison at Balanced Body saying, we are looking for master instructors and we've heard about you, we'd love to, to talk to you about the opportunity. And I said, Sure. At that point I was also going through training with Peak and cuz I love training and uh, you know, [00:39:00] Sure, let's do it.
[00:39:01] So the next year I became a MI. So they literally, things just kind of happened and I taught by myself for a while, and finally I said, I can't do this by myself anymore. Like the demand was such that it didn't matter how I was raising my prices or whatever, I couldn't stay in front of it. And uh, so I started trying to bring people in and that's when things got really hairy because how do you bring people in?
[00:39:29] It's, it's, it's hard when, as you know, there's a worldwide Pilates teacher shortage. It. And especially finding people that really fit into my ethos of it being a community, not just a place where people sweat and leave. That was really tough. But eventually I found some people and I was like, Oh yeah, I'm gonna open five studios and sell. How hard can it be? Um, idiot.
[00:39:52] So I opened my second studio about five years after I opened my first studio and like 15 [00:40:00] minutes in, I was like, I'm never opening another studio again. This is terrible. This is hard. It wasn't, again, it wasn't about it being hard. It's when you're really focused on building a community and you have so many personalities to manage.
[00:40:14] So you're talking about the, the community personality. Every single one of the clients has their own quirks. Then on top of it, you have to add the teacher personality, the landlord's personality, the weather outside. I. I'm known as the studio that's always flooded. I water problems every studio I've ever had, even in my house. There's always some sort of flood to do with that. And um, I just really thought I need to really focus on growing these studios, but that took me out of growing myself as a teacher for a minute.
[00:40:52] And then in 2017, I was like, I really just wanna get back to learning and growing [00:41:00] myself. So that's all gonna make me a better teacher anyway. And I still love this teaching thing. So I, you know, got back in and dug deep and I was like, You know what? I want to be teaching more people how to be teachers. And I'd been doing teacher training all that time, but I wanted to get more into mentoring because I feel like I have something to say and I think it's a little bit different from the general approach, which is all exercises all the time, but there's more to that.
[00:41:30] And so I started developing that end of myself as well. And you know, then the pandemic happened. Boom. I was like, Oh, there goes that studio piece cuz I'm not doing that again. But I still teach and I still mentor and I still love it. So things have worked out.
[00:41:50] Olivia: I love that. And I think whenever we refer to Covid in the future, we should just be like, and then the pandemic happened, period. And that's the end of it, and we're just done.
[00:41:59] Misty: You know, that's [00:42:00] really what it's been for me because I think, and don't get me wrong, the, the gravity of it has hit in fits and starts, you know, periodically through. But you know, we were closed down by the state on March 15th. I think by March 17th we had a full virtual studio going, because I'm not one to let my brain be idle and I kind of saw it coming. I'd been out in LA in February and I came home and I said to my partner, this crap is going down. It's, it's terrible. It was the Walking Dead in LA airport. We are gonna set up because this is gonna happen. And everyone was like, Misty, calm it down a little. You're a little high strung. You're like a Yorkie over here. And I'm like, Yep, yep, yep, it's gonna happen. I had hand sanitizer throughout the studios. I was like, demanding hand washing. Not that people didn't wash their hands, but just in case they weren't like, I saw it coming. So when it actually happened, I was like, Oh, okay, [00:43:00] well, I'm ready.
[00:43:02] For me, the hardest part was when they were telling people, Okay, now it's time to reopen. And I was like, No, it's not safe. It is not safe for my clients. I've got too many clients of special circumstance. I will not reopen. And that cost me, it cost me a lot of money in lawsuits with one of my landlords, Tons of cash. I would do it again tomorrow because I kept my people safe.
[00:43:28] Olivia: Can you share a bit more about your mentorship program and kind of the, the things that you're working on that are really lighting your fire and your passion?
[00:43:38] Misty: Oh, this is a long conversation. I'm gonna try to keep it really short. Um, for me, again, it's much more about the idea of how to teach, how to be a teacher, not what to teach.
[00:43:54] So I think the best teachers are the people that teach from deep within, [00:44:00] right? They teach from their heart and soul. You can give them, you know, here's how to fold a brown paper bag. Okay, now teach them how to fold it. And a good teacher can make folding a brown paper bag the most delightful and interesting thing in the world.
[00:44:14] Again, that comes from knowing yourself and, and knowing what goes into teaching, not just what the act is and that's really where, where my mentorship program is going. It used to be, you know, how to teach these exercises better from an exercise perspective, but now it's how to, how to build your craft from a whole person perspective. You as the whole person teaching whole people that are going to come in with all of their stuff and all of their junk. Oh, and PS. You have your own stuff and junk as well, and you can't pretend like that doesn't exist because it never [00:45:00] goes well. You can fake it for only so long and then the bottom falls out.
[00:45:05] So it's bringing all of those things together. It's talking about learning styles and teaching styles, you know, it's, it's the psychology and the pedagogy of it all that I just really enjoy and I think that that's what's going to help us maybe. Be a little bit more mature as teachers.
[00:45:26] Olivia: That was beautiful and concise. I don't know what you're talking about, Misty. That was like very well framed and together.
[00:45:33] Misty: I don't know how that happened because you said it in, in my mind I was going, yippee! but I wound it down. Hey, thanks.
[00:45:40] Olivia: No, that, that's incredible and I think that you've really identified a missing piece for teachers.
[00:45:47] It's so funny, but because you say it, it sounds so simple, but it's like it's you, like you are the missing piece, like all of you is the missing piece.
[00:45:55] It's not just- I, I feel like I've seen a shift, at least with the Pilates [00:46:00] people that I hang out with, that there is more focus on our clients as people and all of the stuff that they've got going on, and that their goals are bigger than having a strong core.
[00:46:10] It's really about being able to carry their grandkid or things like that, and their grandkids keep getting heavier. Like kids are great training tools because they just get bigger constantly. Yep, yep. And, But I think that you've found something else and that's that you as the teacher and how you do you for this class in this Pilates place, is is an ingredient in the mix as well?
[00:46:35] Misty: Yeah, I think a lot of people say it right, because, you know, we've had nothing to do, but listen to people talk on social media for the past couple of years and, you know, everyone's like, Oh, but it's the whole person and blah, blah, blah.
[00:46:48] But that's still an external focus. You know, it's, it's, it can just be word vomit all day and still never really improve because there's, there's [00:47:00] two ends always. If you are teaching somebody, if someone's being taught, I should say, then somebody else has to be doing the teaching. Who is that someone? What does it mean to them?
[00:47:11] And we've all been in situations where we've been taught by somebody who says the right things, but when you look into their eyes, it is just like a barren wasteland. They're not there. They don't care. And that comes through. So, you know, we're gonna have those barren wasteland days, but how do we own it? How do we work through it? How do we present ourselves and the work that we're presenting in a way to the person that's receiving it that keeps them feeling valued, keeps them tuned in, and keeps them wanting and feeling ready to learn with us.
[00:47:52] Olivia: You've touched on lots of amazing points throughout our conversation today, but if you were going to give advice [00:48:00] to a new teacher who is just starting and I, I refer to it as the note card phase where you're like writing out all of your class plans. I have boxes of note cards that I wrote for plans, like I was gonna forget footwork or something um, very vital, very vital part of the, of the teacher journey. Um, but what advice would you give to those people who are in training programs, maybe, or they're brand new teachers?
[00:48:26] Misty: Teach for yourself first. It's not about impressing your teacher trainer, it's not about teaching the best roll up that has ever been seen on the planet Earth and in all of the Marvel cinematic universe and all of it. It's none of that because at the end of the day, who cares? What really, really matters, I think, in being a teacher and learning to teach is that connection.
[00:48:59] You [00:49:00] can be a not great teacher that produces great results, or you can be a fantastic teacher that produces terrible results because you might have all of the knowledge, but you just don't really have the ability to communicate it from a place that reaches people. That's what people need to recognize is that, again, like I've said, it starts from within.
[00:49:28] Perfection is never the goal. Mastery is never the goal because you will never- There's no end. It's not like, Oh my goodness, I've taught the best class in the world. Now I get to retire to Shady Acres. There is no Shady Acres. There are no tap dancing gnomes and fairies. Like, it's not happening for you because it doesn't exist.
[00:49:47] But what does happen is that growth journey where you're able to say, You know what, I'm still lit up by this work every single day. [00:50:00] Even if it's not my best day, I still push forward, not because it's the way I feed myself, but because I really, really, really love where I am and where it's going. That doesn't come from the, the note cards. That comes from being in the work.
[00:50:19] Olivia: And I think after you write a thousand note cards, at least for me, you realize, you know, this note card actually isn't where the teaching is. Like even if we did footwork, I mean don't do footwork for the whole time, your people will hate you. But even if we did like just on different spring settings, the whole class, um, but even if we did, if we're connecting and communicating and on the same wavelength as the people were with, if they're seen and valued, it would not matter because that's really the teaching. That's the art of teaching and our craft really.
[00:50:52] Misty: It's the experience that matters.
[00:50:55] Olivia: I totally agree. Um, is there anything else that you were really [00:51:00] excited to talk about that I didn't ask you about that you wanna share before we wrap?
[00:51:06] Misty: We talked about mentoring, which is my favorite thing, so I feel great about it, but I just wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to chat with you and, and you know, meet your people on your platform. Because, I mean, first of all, you're super funny and you tell bad jokes, which I love because I can't tell jokes. It's like not really a skill of mine. So I love it.
[00:51:32] And secondly, you. Being in this industry for a long time, it's just nice to talk to people that are just really, really still in it and love teaching for teaching. And so to have the opportunity to chat with you about teaching is has been great. So thank you.
[00:51:50] Olivia: The feeling is mutual. It was so great to chat with you on Core Conversations and talking right now has been awesome. And just so that people listening know, I've been muting [00:52:00] myself, I've been laughing the entire time, like it's, it's obnoxious on a podcast to just laugh constantly. So I mute myself. But, uh, Misty, your sense of humor is Remarkable. And what you've shared is really needed, I think, in the industry, and I really appreciate you taking the time, coming on and sharing your perspective.
[00:52:18] Misty: Well, thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:52:30] Olivia: Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teacher's 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.
[00:52:53] The adventure continues. Until next time.