Danica Kalemdaroglu joins me on the podcast to discuss her journey to becoming a teacher, important differences between apprenticeship and other types of teacher training, her secret sauce to teaching, and practical advice to building a fulfilling Pilates teaching career. Tune in!
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Danica is the owner and teacher trainer at Pilates 804 in Virginia, USA. She has taught Pilates for over 15 years and dance for over 25 years. She has a deep passion for movement and how the body works (and doesn't work), and has made it her mission to apply anatomy and kinesiology fundamentals in her Pilates classes. She offers in studio and online classes, workshops, and continuing education for Pilates teachers.
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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. I am [00:01:00] so excited today to have the amazing Danica Kalemdaroglu on with me. She is the owner and a teacher trainer at Pilates 8 0 4 in Virginia in the United States. She has been teaching Pilates for over 15 years. She's also a dancer and a choreographer. She's been dancing for like 25 years. And I'm really excited to talk to her multiple reasons. She's super neat. But one is that she did her training at the Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado. And that is where Maria Earle, who was also a guest on the podcast, did her training. So I'm excited to hear about her experience in that training.
[00:01:38] Mostly I'm just thankful that we were able to find a time to chat because she is doing all the things all the time. So excited. Thanks for coming on today. Danica.
[00:01:49] Thank you for having me. I'm super excited to be here.
[00:01:52] Yeehaw. Let's go. Tell me about how you found Pilates in your wild, adventurous life.
[00:01:58] Yeah, I wish it was a [00:02:00] wild, adventurous story, but it's really like it. I was an injured dancer. Um, I had always, I had been doing Pilates is part of dance training. Mat work, and you know, really calisthenic dance stuff all through middle school and high school. And then, um, I had a very serious injury to my meniscus when I was 16. And that is when my trajectory of my dance career very much changed.
[00:02:29] When I went to college, I did my undergrad at Goucher college. Inside the Pilates studio at Goucher college is where I first was laid upon a reformer and had the healing hands of the teacher look at me and say, Has anyone ever told you that your entire pelvis is misaligned and there's no weight going down through the left compartment, the left side of your leg and into that lateral compartment? And I was like, no, they told me not to do squats because that's what they told me in physical therapy. Right. They're [00:03:00] like, don't do squats. Don't hurt it any more. I'm like, okay.
[00:03:04] And it was that first 20 minutes on that reformer and someone actually putting my whole body back together and someone actually looking at the entirety of my body that made me fall in love with Pilates. And I was like, no more physical therapy. No, this is what I need. This is what I need. So I kept doing Pilates all through my undergrad. And then when it was time to get certified, I had had enough of being in Maryland and I sought out the Pilates Center. I sought them out because I had read about not only that they were a lineage of Romana Pilates and classical, but they had a, an alliance at the time. I'm not sure if this is true anymore, but at the time they had an alliance with Kaiser Permanente, which is the main health insurance out west in [00:04:00] Colorado. And their studio was used as alternative physical therapy.
[00:04:06] So as trainees we observed Pilates not as fitness, not so much as exercise, which obviously it is. Right. We know that. But we were really watching how to use Pilates to heal. And how to use Pilates to actually teach movement and educate bodies physically in space. And that's what drew me to the Pilates Center because being a dancer, I knew that I could go and learn the choreography, whether I wanted to do a classical program or a contemporary program. I know that I knew that I could go, I could learn the choreography. I could, I could perform the Pilates, right. And if I wanted to teach that way, okay, I can teach that way.
[00:04:56] But I really was interested in not only healing [00:05:00] myself and being able to rely on myself in space to help myself, but I get joy out of teaching by really watching someone come in one way, molding and working and shaping with them throughout the session, and then watching them leave a different person. And then the next time they come back, They're still slightly different. And then the next time there's an even different, a little bit more. And then the next time and the next time, and watching them grow and it actually connect to their bodies. And that is why I did not stay on the East Coast and hit it to New York and do Romana's program because I was like, am I going to New York? Or am I going out west? And I went west because I was like, I want, I want to know what that is right away, to be able to help people. And that is that I was probably the best decision for my career I've ever made. [00:06:00]
[00:06:00] It seems like becoming a teacher for you was really a natural thing that this is already something that you are connecting to. Can you share a little bit more about sort of what inspired you to shift gears from. Dancing to teaching Pilates. Cause that was, that was a second ago, but yeah.
[00:06:21] Yeah. Well, again, I wish that was like a more like exciting answer, but the answer is, um, I had to support, my husband and I. Well, so, um, we- my husband is a naturalized citizen and when we first got married, the government of the United States lost all his paperwork, so he was ineligible to work for about the first year and a half of our marriage. And I was fresh out of grad school, fresh out of the Pilates Center. And I was like, girl, you gotta go to work. So I figured out really quickly how to teach a lot of [00:07:00] Pilates a lot.
[00:07:02] But the transition to actually becoming the teacher was not hard for me because as a dancer, when you grow up dancing, you also grow up that student helper in the dance classes. And then I was teaching dance and I had my own dance classes by the time I was 15 years old. So in terms of when my teaching career started, that that was, that was my, that was my high school summer gig and that was my side gig all through college. And then it firmed up in college cause I was taking pedagogy classes and dance education classes and I learned about writing lesson plans and curriculum and K through 12 and adults like the psyche and how teaching all of them is different. I got all of that in undergrad.
[00:07:49] So when I said, I want my Pilates certification, in my mind. I was like, I'm going to get this Pilates certification and then I'm going to go audition for dance companies, and I'm going to be able to [00:08:00] make side money while I dance teaching Pilates. Yay. Yeah, that was my thought. And then, then I blew my knee again and then, and then I got married and then it was like, hello, you're a grownup with a busted knee. And you're really good at dance, but you're becoming a dance dinosaur. You know, if you're asked- if you're over like 24, it's like dancers in gymnast, you only have so long. Right.
[00:08:27] So teaching Pilates, it was like, all right, we're married. Your knees busted. You can do some, I did local performances and I started choreographing for myself. But in terms of being able to, you know, go to a big international company, no, one's going to take someone who's that busted that young. It just doesn't happen. So I had to say it's time to go to work. And I took everything that I learned from the pedagogy and all of the curriculum I had studied and dance education, [00:09:00] and I applied all of that to teaching Pilates. And I was fresh out of the program, and I want to say within six months of when I started teaching, I had, I was teaching 40 hours a week when I first started teaching because we, I had rent, we had, we had rent, we had student loans, groceries. We were young, so we didn't cook. We went out, you know.
[00:09:30] I mean, I've always been teaching. I think I had one job, I had one job once at a J-Crew and that is the only job I've ever had where I wasn't a teacher in some capacity of movement, whether it's some kind of dance or some kind of or me just saying, yes, I can teach that. Because there was a time where I was like, I've never done tap, but I've taught tap. It's true. There was a time where I was like, yeah, I will teach it. I'll [00:10:00] figure out a way.
[00:10:01] So it's quite nice now to just have to only teach one thing. One of my favorite things is I only, I only sell one thing. So, if you walk into my studio with a spine, you're getting Pilates. I only sell one thing.
[00:10:14] That's wonderful. Oh my gosh. Um, I will say my partner is also a naturalized citizen and there is so much stress already built into the process of becoming a citizen. That as soon as I heard you say that they lost his paperwork, I was like, oh my gosh, that'll set you back like three years.
[00:10:37] And I literally, we have, we have an actual apology letter from INS because I documented every single piece of paperwork. And when they were like, oh, well, you know, he hasn't filed this. I was like, no, we did!
[00:10:53] Here's the receipt! That's a disaster.
[00:10:58] And it was. [00:11:00] Whenever you're dealing with government, people, take a piece of advice. Document everything, Xerox everything. In triplicate.
[00:11:08] That's that's good advice. That's very, very true. Um, but yeah, my gosh. Talk about jumping into teaching and even when I was younger and I'm still young, I look back at me teaching 40 hours and I was like, yeah, that's not sustainable.
[00:11:24] So, yeah. And my studio at that time, I was working at, um, Excel, Pilates in DC, and I was working in their DC studio and their Annapolis studio and, um, Lisa and Carrie, the owners were so supportive of me. And when I hit like 32 hours, they were like, you're going to burn out. You really need to slow, slow it down. And they're like, we really need to slow it down.
[00:11:53] And I just looked at them and I was like, mm, you slow down. Okay. So like I'm 25. I'm married. I [00:12:00] got bills to pay. I don't have kids yet. So book me till I can't book anymore.
[00:12:08] Right now, if you told me to teach 40 hours a week, I would just turn around and walk away.
[00:12:16] That is wild. That is wild. Can you share a little bit about what the teaching program was like at the Pilates Center? Because you shared why you chose that as your program, but what was the training program like for you going through it?
[00:12:32] It was intense, personally for me. I was double, I was double teaming. I was finishing my last year at CU Boulder in grad school, which is a three-year graduate program in dance. And that third year I made sure that I was always at the Pilates Center. And actually also at that time, the Pilates Center had an alliance with CU Boulder. So as a dance performance and choreography [00:13:00] major for an MFA, coupled with going to the Pilates Center to get my teacher training coupled with also taking the curriculum classes of Alexander technique that were offered in the program at the time. My graduate degree is technically performance choreography and body somatics is what it says.
[00:13:20] Um, so part of me going to the Pilates center was also part of my graduate degree. So I had a different, I had a very unique mindset in that program because I was really in there not only learning Pilates, but really, really integrating it with everything I had been studying as a dancer, basically my whole life. And that's why I say I love working with movers.
[00:13:42] And in that program, it was intense. It's intense. If you're not going to try a couple of grad school with it, looking back on that, I'm like, how did I do that? Because there's no way I can do that now. No, no, no, no. You know, to be young, but it [00:14:00] was, I mean, I was in that studio, like a part-time job, 20 hours a week. Observing, watching, you go through the steps, you start observing and you're working out, you go through the lectures, you- then you start testing, you get your rights to student teaching. You start to do teaching and it just gets, it's amazing how much information and how nurturing that environment is.
[00:14:25] And now that I'm on the other side of it and also a teacher trainer myself, it's amazing to me that they can pull it off because it's such a commitment for the trainees, for the apprentices, which that is why now, today we have so many modulated teacher training programs that are either more accessible, easier to get through.
[00:14:52] And I think there's good and bad with both. You know, to doing the full apprenticeship, like you're going to get an [00:15:00] insight into Pilates that you're not going to get if you're just doing module based a weekend level here, weekend level there, and trying to try to teach at the same time that you're trying to get those modules done.
[00:15:13] And. I didn't have that issue of trying to figure out like, okay, I just learned reformer. Now let me figure out how to get my reformer clients, which is what I see a lot of new teachers struggling with today. Like, in the process of figuring out Pilates in their body. And then it's like, oh, now you're also teaching.
[00:15:32] Whereas at the Pilates Center and in more traditionally based apprenticeship programs, which take a whole lot of time, take a whole lot of money. Yes they do. And so to the module programs, they all cost about the same. If you really, really price it out to get a comprehensive certification. None of it's cheap, but being there and having such great teachers around and Rachel, Amy, and Deb, and there were numerous other I've got to study from Kim [00:16:00] Hirosh who was Kathy, a Kathy Grant descendant. I got to go out into Denver and study with Cara Reeser when she still had her studio out there, she just recently moved, you know? And, um, there are so many people who have come through the Pilates Center that are doing great, amazing things that it's great to run into them all the time. I think now that because of being online, it's like everybody's everywhere, but no, one's really anywhere.
[00:16:24] But being able to just be completely immersed in the genius of these master teachers gave me a pedigree of education and Pilates that I think that a lot of newer teachers going through module based programs are really trying to find, but it's so hard to find a way to do that. Because he can go spend 20 hours in the studio, right. And not get paid for it. Right. You're paying, you're paying to be there. [00:17:00]
[00:17:01] It's interesting because I have, you know, two minds about how teacher trainings work, because, um, before I became a Pilates teacher, I was a yoga teacher. And I appreciated when I was doing the yoga teacher training that the first thing they had us do was like immediately start teaching. On like our first day, they have a start teaching. And in some regards that's great if you're trying to get over the anxiety around teaching in front of someone and leading people through movements.
[00:17:33] But on the other hand, if you hadn't, like you said, had Pilates in your body beforehand. If you didn't already know what the movements were beforehand, then you're doing these two things at the same time, which is kind of, you can't do either of them very well to begin.
[00:17:52] Right. Right.
[00:17:53] And I feel like we kind of like write it off and we say, oh, well, you know, being a teacher is a lifelong learning process, but I also [00:18:00] see that we could probably help with that a little bit more potentially. And you are right about the price of things too, because sometimes you're paying your tuition. You're paying to take classes. You're paying to not be paid to teach classes sometimes as well.
[00:18:18] I've been talking to a lot of teachers and a lot of things that I hear about what people want and continuing education or things that I feel apprentice based programs cover, but not necessarily module based programs. And I see them wanting more and they're out there trying to figure out what they missed, where their gaps are, fill the gap. Right. Um, and I see a lot of that being, you know, what do you do on the business end now that you're out there and you've got the certification. How do you recoup that money on that teacher training?
[00:18:59] And it's one of the [00:19:00] reasons I try to keep my teacher training relatively affordable, because if you can't make your money back that you invested in your training within 18 months, I take issue with that. And I don't care what modality of movement it is with, whether it's yoga or Pilates or anything like you should be able to recoup that investment within 18 months, maybe two years, maybe 24 months, you know, but it shouldn't take a decade to get your money back when your teacher training because you are investing in yourself.
[00:19:33] And because yes, we are teachers and great teachers are lifelong learners. You know, you're going to invest in continuing education. So don't, you want to invest in continuing education and actually learn new things that are actually going to help you progress, yes as a teacher, but also, how are you going to work with you? How are you going to keep the clients coming in and keep your clients happy? How are you going to transition with working [00:20:00] online now? Like that was something nobody really saw coming. Boom. Here it is. Right. But it is, it is tough. The amount of money that it takes to become trained.
[00:20:12] I do have a question for you because you came out of this apprentice based program, which I almost see now popping up around the cool people on Pilates land, in the wild, such as yourself, that apprentice programs are coming up as almost like a post doc kind of program. That you've done your training and now you're looking for that apprenticeship because I feel like the big thing that we have a shortage on is time. Everyone wants to be trained so that they can start working to recoup their massive investment as soon as possible. And then like we're saying, you know, there's something missing. Like I really feel like I need more guidance than just the choreography.
[00:20:56] So, yeah, I just, I've been seeing those [00:21:00] sort of like whether it's a mentorship program or an apprenticeship program, because there's something that it just takes time to get good at it.
[00:21:08] It takes time. It does take time to get good. You do need a mentor. You really, really do if you want to be a practitioner of Pilates. And this is something that I make a delineation for in my own brand of myself. And this is not to say one is better than the other, because the reality is in this industry there's room for every type of teacher and for every person's persona as a teacher, there was room for all of it and it was all necessary.
[00:21:40] With that said, there is a difference between the teacher of Pilates who is approaching from a fitness mentality and how fitness wellness we're going. We're doing exercise, calisthenics, which that is really what Pilates is. Pilates is fancy calisthenics. [00:22:00] It's real fancy calisthenics, and in root of it, that's what it is.
[00:22:03] But at the same time, you can be a practitioner that is healing and working with bodies and shaping their perspective and educating and being this movement educator within that, you can also be fitness and do fancy calisthenics but doing fitness and fancy calisthenics doesn't always mean that you're actually practitioning and really getting into the body and helping that body find something new.
[00:22:35] I see a lot of teachers who start off out the fitness route and then they get, they just keep falling in love with teaching and they keep falling in love with it, and then they want to know more and then they realize, wow, I didn't do the apprenticeship. I didn't really have someone that I could really come to and say, all right, so when I'm looking at a pinky toe. And I know that that pinky toe is throwing off that sciatica, what do I [00:23:00] do? And to really be able to have someone say, yeah, okay, so this is stomach massage. This is awesome. Not everybody's going to look like this. Let's play with it. Let's do these things. Because again, and whether it's an apprentice based program or not, you're trying to learn how to do Pilates at the same time you're learning how to teach Pilates that's hard. And in the apprentice programs, they draw out the program long enough that you feel like you can get comfortable with both. Whereas in a shorter module program, it's just wham and bam and now go figure it out. And you don't necessarily feel like you have that mentor figurehead that's going to be there for you to answer those questions. And then yes, they're out there searching to fill the gaps, to find mentors after the fact of being certified.
[00:23:48] And like I said, I get requests all the time. And a lot of the questions I will get will be about things that in the short answer, I want to say, well, if you would just come to my training program, I cover all [00:24:00] of this in my program because it's part of it, but not everyone can come to Richmond. So I created a mentorship online that's going to be open for enrollment now.
[00:24:12] Somaphyx happens January through March. 10 week program. And. It's where I'm trying to actually do exactly that. Be a mentor and help teachers who are on this journey of hunger. I call it a hunger journey cause they're they want more information and they want to up-level their body smarts and their teaching skills and like hone their teaching voice past what they were told to do, just to get the exercises in and get the class and dah, dah, dah. They really wanted to take that leap into being a practitioner, or they just want to stay a fitness instructor, but be really freaking good, like really, [00:25:00] really.
[00:25:04] 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.
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[00:26:01] So looking at your teaching journey from where you started over 15 years ago and where you see yourself now with this super awesome mentorship program, how has your teaching changed or how has the way you look at bodies changed or how do you even think about Pilates differently, potentially?
[00:26:23] Um, I would say that I have become much more of an efficient teacher coming from dance and studying with so many different forms of movement. Like people have to realize that as a dance student, if you're going to college for dance, you're not just like showing up and like going to dance class every day. You are, you're studying choreographers and people who were invented movement techniques. You're looking at Ron Laban on, and you're looking at, uh, Mabel Todd and the thinking body, which trickles all the way down into our work. You're [00:27:00] looking at what all's, who a lot of people who are also contemporaries of Joseph Pilates during a time when there were no physical therapists there, there was like, you had to go seek out these people who were thinking about movement. And that goes all the way then into the branches of dance, the difference between Lamone and Martha Graham, which there's a lot of Graham in Pilates, people need to realize that like a, like a lot.
[00:27:28] When I started out and I was young, I still had this dance teacher mouth, which is very visual and like kind of long winded because the right dancers or artists were trying to paint the pretty picture. And now as I'm older, I'm like, I'm only going to paint this picture of your hip socket so much. So here's what I want you to do. It's a ball and a socket. So let's, let's make it do the thing that a ball and socket does. Because the more I can stay efficient with my [00:28:00] mouth and my cues and how I use my body in space to help teach, because that's something, a lot of teachers don't realize how we physicalize ourselves as teachers in this space affects the session.
[00:28:14] And we need, I had one side of teacher telling me, like, if you go into a room of kindergartners, they're only going to behave as well as you do. Which if you've ever taught little kids, it's absolutely true. It is absolutely true. If you go in and you're in a humdrum mood here, you're going to have a real bad class. It's not going to go well.
[00:28:36] So as I've gotten older and I've been teaching more, I, and I, you know, I've read more about Joe's history and read more from those who studied with him who became teachers and who did not become teachers, the more it's just about the work. So let's just like get to the thing and do the thing because the work works. It [00:29:00] absolutely works.
[00:29:00] And making myself kind of cut back on that dance teacher way of being a teacher and really come into my own as a Pilates teacher, I would say that I, I am so much more of an efficient teacher than when I was young and being able to look at a body and say, this is what I see. This is what I know. This is what they don't know. This is what they don't feel. So let's find the one thing that we today can get them to figure out, which is the whole root of my way to approach lesson planning, like teach one thing and I've got a whole free posium amount about that right now if people want to sneak onto my bio links and check that out.
[00:29:44] Um, because lesson planning is, again, one thing that I see that a lot of teachers aren't taught how to do, you're taught how to do the Pilates. So either you follow the order or you make a whole bunch of movement flows and put it together.
[00:29:56] In my teaching journey, I started off, I was like, we're [00:30:00] going to do the classical order. You know, how boring. It's so boring. I'm sorry. I can not teach stomach massage, but so many times in a day before I'm like just scoop. Jeez. Um, at the same time, it is exhausting to constantly have to sit down and keep making up new pieces of choreography that is exhausting. Some are in there as a blend is a meeting in the middle where you can actually formulate lesson plans on the fly and quickly, and as I've grown as a teacher, I have learned to do that in the shower or brushing my teeth or in the car on the way to the studio. I do not spend more than I would say 10 minutes a week planning for my entire week because one thing I've also found the more I plan for a class, the more that plan is going to get thrown to the wind when somebody comes in and they're like, oh, let's play and pick a ball [00:31:00] and I tripped over the dah, dah, dah. Now my elbow doesn't work.
[00:31:06] So it's like, you make a plan and then they mess your whole plan up and you just got to put it all together. And in my years of teaching, I've gotten pretty good at just shifting gears and saying, all right, this is the thing we're going to do. We're going to do this for the next 50 minutes. And then I'm gonna give you homework. Then when you come back, it's going to be better. And then we're going to do something else, or we're going to expand on this more. And then they keep coming and then they keep coming and then they keep coming and then amazing things happen.
[00:31:35] And they're getting the fitness and they're getting the fancy calisthenics. But they're healing and they're learning and they're growing. And that is what satisfies me and who I am like, okay. I don't know how I'm actually ever going to retire from teaching because what the hell else am I going to do?
[00:31:53] You've brought up a couple of things that I want to circle back to. And one of them is that I feel like a lot [00:32:00] of training programs are setting you up to teach group classes, and they're setting you up to just narrate a movement experience and we'll hope for the best. Like, of course there's some adapting that happens, but I think that it takes so much confidence in your teaching, so much knowledge that you've shifted your self as a teacher from trying to remember the next thing you want them to do to really looking at what they are doing, and then changing based on like what you're actually seeing. Like you're looking at them beyond, are they going to fall off of something? And you're really like, Hey, you know, that's kind of not where I want it to be. And then having the, kind of the ability to like step back and be like, all right, well, we were going to do these other six things, but what I actually want to do is talk about that hip and where it is and why it's like that.
[00:32:54] That's something that happens, I think, a lot more in private sessions as a [00:33:00] necessity, you're working one-on-one with someone versus group where you're kind of ready to like, lead the band through.
[00:33:06] I absolutely agree with you. In private sessions, you're really able to like get into that spine, you know? Cause it's just you and that's fine. Um, um, and a lot of people don't know this about like super, super classical studio, super super traditional studios, which I love to be in them, but I also love to leave them because well, it's a lot.
[00:33:35] Um, but in, in, back in the day they didn't teach classes. They only taught privates. Classes came about because of the development in the industry. In a lot of traditional and classical studios, because there weren't as, as all the reports say, there weren't. Joe didn't teach classes except for when he was up in, um, Jacob's Pillow. And [00:34:00] that's where you see him teaching group mat classes and actually teaching group classes.
[00:34:03] But, you know, and as, um, in Caged Lion, John Steel writes about how everybody came in, did their own workout. He did, he did privates with you until you were ready to like, just kind of do your thing and everybody was open gym, do your thing. It's- so this idea of group classes really is, is a product of the development of the Pilates industry in the fitness world.
[00:34:27] And for the studio owners out there, it's way more lucrative. The more bodies you have in there, the more you're going to make as a studio owner. So if you're going to run a teacher training program, you're going to try and make teachers that fill those classes because that's your business model. And I know a lot of teachers who love teaching group classes and only want to teach group classes, but it's, uh, it takes a whole different level of energy that you have to keep up. As that teacher, [00:35:00] I could teach 20, 30 hours a week, but I can't teach 30 group classes a week. I can teach 30 privates a week, no problem. I can't teach 30 group classes. Right.
[00:35:13] I think a lot of programs are trying to cater to what the business model of that studio is. So if you're a teacher out there looking for a program, look at what the business model of the host studio is because that's what kind of teacher they're trying to make you.
[00:35:33] And it's hard for me when I'm trying to find new teachers because there are so many teachers who are being trained in this way to teach group classes. And in my studio, I run it as a, as a healing practitioning studio. We teach majority privates. I do have small group classes and by small, I mean three people, six at max [00:36:00] and that was pre COVID. I was still gonna to wait for COVID to go away before I can get back to six people in an apparatus class. And like 12 people in a mat class. That's it. That's where I tap out.
[00:36:10] And it is very challenging if you've got a group of 12 people on a reformer and let's say it's 12. All right. Let me set up this anxiety attack for everyone real fast, because if you're a teacher and this is happening to you and it, and it stresses you out, I want you to know that it should stress you out and it is okay that it stresses you out. If it doesn't, it'd be weird. Right.
[00:36:31] But like say you got 12 beginners. Two of them have done footwork before. The rest of them, have no idea what's going on. And on top of that, maybe one of them does a whole bunch of CrossFit and is like super fit, but then there's like postpartum mom, who's still nursing. Right. And you're sitting there going. I have to keep them safe. I gotta make sure they [00:37:00] know how to use the equipment.
[00:37:01] I gotta make sure they don't fall off the equipment. I gotta make sure they can actually do the things I'm asking them to do. And I have to be able to give corrections so that they know that they're like being seen so that they keep coming back. That just made my heart, skip a beat, thinking about how much pressure. Like that is so much pressure. But again, that is a trained that is a training module, and that is a teaching reality in so many business models in studios. And there is a way to still get into people's spines and help them and correct them. It's not going to be as efficient as if you are in smaller groups.
[00:37:43] Quite honestly, I think one Pilates teacher watching five bodies is enough. Five for me is like, my eyeballs can't watch any more legs. Like I cannot, I can't see you. I can't see more than five pelvises at once. But [00:38:00] there is a way to still, with your teaching voice, guide that class, it takes time to figure out and it would be best if you could figure it out in smaller numbers. You know, three, four or five people in class, if not a private.
[00:38:17] But then again, I also, and the biggest problem I see with that is not even how scary that whole scenario that I set up is. What I see in that is that it doesn't give you as a teacher, the room to try new things and figure out what kind of teacher you really are. Because if you've got all these people in this class and you're just trying to get them through it and keep them safe while still teaching, you don't even have time at the end of the end of it to go: what, what did I take away from that as a teacher, right? Whether it was a good class or a bad thing. Right?
[00:38:55] I've seen teachers teach great classes, lots of people, [00:39:00] and then I'll ask them: so how did that enrich you as a teacher? And they're just like, what? And I'm like, you don't even know what happened during there, because you were just so like, boom, boom, boom, boom. Let's do this. And now we're out of this and it's like, but you as a teacher, how did it enrich you? And I think as people teach, they start to want that more and more. Otherwise, here it comes: you get burnt out. If you're not being enriched as you teach as a teacher, you will get burnt out.
[00:39:35] And you have to also as a teacher, give yourself the right to be, to evolve, and maybe you start teaching those big giant group classes, and then you realize now I'm ready to move on to something else and try something new. Yeah. Yeah, it's hard to do that. If you're stuck in someone else's business model that doesn't satisfy you as a [00:40:00] teacher. And I'm thinking of a couple of my friends right now who are going through this because it is, it is a growing kind of like it's a growing chat or conversation.
[00:40:12] So you've been dropping little advices constantly throughout this. And I don't want to minimize those, but when you're looking at this situation and this situation that your friends are in as well, what advice would you give teachers who are, maybe they're new at teaching. Maybe they're like you and they're coming out the gate and they're like, I need to be a marketable Pilates teacher and say yes to everything. What advice would you give to that person?
[00:40:41] Oh, wow. There's so much to say to that person. First, breathe. Breathe, please. Breathe. Cause it's going to feel like such a pressing issue and pressing problem. And it's like, you know, take three breathe. Breathe, first off.
[00:40:56] Right now we're coming off because of it in a pandemic and I am very much a [00:41:00] realist. Everybody needs to make sure they can pay their bills. Okay. So this is a thing I say to my children. I'm like, you deserve to be happy. You can absolutely be happy. You can have everything you want. Sometimes you're going to have to do stuff you don't want to do and so you got to pay your bills.
[00:41:16] Figure out what your next goal is like, what's your next goal? Right? And just pick one thing. Don't, don't brainstorm a whole whiteboard of goals, you know, like, no, just like one thing. And start in your day to day practice of teaching and your day to day practice of the Pilates yourself. Okay. Cause you have to keep practicing Pilates yourself. And start making daily goals that you can have to get to that end goal. Like I'm going to do this today so that it helps me get to this. Right?
[00:41:50] So say you're that teacher, who's burnt out teaching all these group classes. You want to get more privates. So what can you do [00:42:00] while you're still paying your bills? Right. Cause you can't just, you know, say, bye I'm out. I quit. Maybe you can. You're awesome. Right. But if you want to get to that place where you're working with, say your goal is to work more intimately with clients. Cause that's what we've been talking about. Like what are you going to do today to help you to get to that goal?
[00:42:21] Are you going to do something as simple as make a five minute workout video, slap it on YouTube, put the link in a QR code, and let people scan it on the phone after you teach a class and you say, I got some homework for you guys. Try this. Start building your own following out of these big group classes that you're teaching right now.
[00:42:43] I understand when people are going, when I'm in non-compete, I'm wondering how to compete and the studio and this map. Um, if you're an independent contractor, No, you're not. If you're an employee, okay. But I don't think a studio owner's going to be upset at you at all [00:43:00] for saying, Hey, I made this free little YouTube video if you guys want to check it out. Cause everybody's got a free YouTube video. Right. As long as they, you, as long as you're not saying, Hey, I'm teaching privates over here for only 20 bucks. Come on. You know, they're not your studio owners not gonna be mad at you. And if they are, then your next goal should be finding a studio owner that supports you.
[00:43:26] Right. But you can make little steps every day to getting to that change. And yes, you've got to be creative about it and, you know, If you don't like you do when you don't like technology and you don't like making videos, I am sorry to tell you, you got to get over it because it's the only way in this day and age to scale your business, scale you as a teacher, scale your persona and your brand. And you might be teaching that to somebody else's studio. You are still your own brand inside of that studio. [00:44:00]
[00:44:00] And good studio owners make it, make their teachers a team, but they also respect the fact that their teachers are individual people and need different things. Right. And that's, those owners are we're out here. I promise, we're out here. There's more of us than you think there are. We're out here, but you've got to start making the steps now.
[00:44:24] My advice is don't wait, don't wait. And it doesn't necessarily mean invest more money in your training or your continuing education. It doesn't have to mean that. It can mean more- so like, even if you, I did this for awhile, I, I went through a period where like I subscribed to like everybody's newsletter, just to figure out why they wrote newsletters, what the next email was going to be. And if I clicked on this link, what would happen? Right? It's like you use everything around you as [00:45:00] research, right?
[00:45:00] You can do continuing education on Instagram for free. If you're like, I'm going to research and try and figure out how this person did this. Like I'm doing that on the business end now. I'm like, oh, funnels more. Cause I don't have any degrees in marketing. I had no background in it. I'm trying to teach myself.
[00:45:22] And same things goes for, if you want to set a new goal for yourself as a teacher and move further into a different place in your career, you do have to take baby steps because unless you can just, you know, call your sugar daddy and quit your job. Okay. But there's so much that you can do in little steps to really get to that big goal and still pay your bills.
[00:45:51] Can you also share because I'm sure as people are listening, they're like, wow. Danica is amazing. I lead with that. I lead with saying she was amazing. [00:46:00] Can you tell us a little bit about ways that teachers can connect with you and hang out with you and take advantage of your amazing work that you're doing?
[00:46:08] Yes, I would love to. So like the first way, obviously, you can come to Richmond, Virginia. No, not, not gonna, not going to happen for like everyone in the world. Gotcha. Um, so I started Pilates 8 0 4 online, my online platform, pretty much like, you know, COVID. I had already always been teaching online. I taught, I had privately with zoom clients before COVID hit. So my transition to teaching online was just like Monday to Tuesday. Um, but I didn't have anything in terms of coursework, right? Now I was just doing the zoom classes and that got very tiring trying to like, hold down the house, the kids, the things. That I got exhausting. So I actually stepped away from doing those zoom classes pretty much as soon as I possibly could. Cause I did not enjoy [00:47:00] them. I did not.
[00:47:01] But I started creating courses. So on my online platform, which is pilates804online.com. I've got a movers mat membership is for people who are like, I don't like equipment that is like getting on the floor and I use it in my clients, use that a lot as their homework, which I suggest to anyone out there have a way for your clients to digitally access free homework. Not only does it tell them that like you care and they can work out at home and makes your job easier because they stay in the work without you. Right.
[00:47:37] And I also do these, I just did one yesterday, F Bomb Friday workshops, where, um, as part of my studio, we do staff workouts pretty frequently. We have like one big staff meeting every month. And then the rest of the time we just work out. So it's like this, you just turn the camera on and put these out. So there's a great way to work with me.
[00:47:58] Um, and then [00:48:00] I do have some on-demand coursework, um, anatomy and kinesiology plus movement fundamentals because I am an anatomy nerd. And that is really the basis of my approach as a teacher trainer and teaching movement and teaching Pilates. Like you've got to know the rules of the body and how we work as simple machines. Like you've got to know.
[00:48:23] So I've been working for the last year and some change to really get coursework up that's digitized on demand. And that's what Somaphyx is. You've got self study of my A and K course combined with weekly seminar meetings that we're going to have live, and I've expanded the curriculum of what A and K is to put it directly into the studio on the equipment. So we will really, really the week where we're doing the module of the shoulder. We're going to really work shoulder pathologies inside the studio so that you can [00:49:00] immediately take applied anatomy to your clients.
[00:49:03] Because if there's one thing I see across the board in training programs where there's one gap it's in anatomy and kinesiology. For me, that is again the secret sauce of my teacher training program and the trainees that I have worked with. I see the difference in them taking the time with the A and K that I make them take. I see the difference in them as teachers, versus teachers who come in to interview with me and they say they studied anatomy in their program, but then I find out that it really is just kind of memorization, some flashcards, and you know, like a easy, true, false test. That's not how a mover learns anatomy and we're movers. If you're a Pilates teacher, you're a mover., like if no one's told you that, I'm gonna tell you that. You're a mover before you're a [00:50:00] teacher. Okay. You know that right.
[00:50:02] But movers can not learn anatomy just by looking at a book and going, pectorals, check. We have to physicalize it so that then we can help our clients physicalize it. Right. So you can take my A and K on demand course as is right now, if you want to just go do it. But if it's going to be so much more, if you joined me for Somaphyx, um, and this is the first time I'm really doing a lengthy mentorship, but this is an in 10 weeks.
[00:50:38] Uh, if you were in my teacher training program, this would be a, this whole thing would be one weekend lecture. This is how it gets done at my studio, is it's one weekend lecture that is done right at the beginning. And then we start doing beginning movement stuff, and then we would go into the first [00:51:00] weekend of beginner exercises and it's done in one weekend, however, it's spoken throughout the entire training program because it all comes back to this approach.
[00:51:13] People test out with me, they always finish and they're always like, that was- for those, who've been to grad school and if you've ever defended a thesis, right. That's what I've always said to me. They're like that wasn't so much a test that was really like defending a thesis. Like why, why am I making these choices? And I'm like, I know your last test with me. That's all I sit there and do I sit there and go, why did you choose parallel? Why? Why did you choose tabletop? Why did you choose to do extension right here? There's no wrong answer. You just have to be able to give me one. Right. Like, you just have to be able to answer it. If you've been to grad school, you were like, you're nodding your head. Cause you're like, yup. That's what grad school is like. It's just a whole bunch of why.
[00:51:59] I've been [00:52:00] wanting to work with more teachers more and more. And I'm really trying to capitalize on the good part of COVID and that we are so much all closer with technology. And I am bringing that into my teacher training. And it will probably replace the majority of my in studio apprenticeship. Because it is very hard as one person to run an apprentice based teacher training program. And I think that's a big reason you're also seeing them disappear.
[00:52:32] Aside from our industry having this model of like module based programs and, you know, teachers who teach classes, it is so much on a teacher trainer to do those weekend lectures and do those weekend seminars. And it takes you away from your family, which causes stress in your house. Um, and it's one of the brilliant things about the Pilates Center. That is another reason why it works so well and why trainees get such a great [00:53:00] experience going through there is because there's more than one teacher. There's more than one person to go to when you are stuck. And there's more than one person looking at you from across the room.
[00:53:12] You know how many times I thought I was just like alone doing my workout in the Pilates Center and next thing I know a mentor and teacher trainer would walk by me and be like, no, your breathing's not right. Try again. And I'd be like, where did you come from? Whereas the majority of programs out there, it's like me, it's one teacher training. And, you know, that's the majority of programs and that is, that is very taxing on that one teacher trainer.
[00:53:41] So I'm, I'm really trying to expand my offerings, not only to reach more people, but also to make it easier on myself because it's hard. It's really hard to try and be that one trainer.
[00:53:52] I really appreciate you taking the time and sharing your wisdom and your really fantastic sense of [00:54:00] humor. I mute myself when Danica is talking, but I was laughing the entire time. So thank you so much for sharing your time and your expertise. I really appreciate you coming on the show today.
[00:54:11] Thank you. I had such a great time and I've been a fan of yours for so long because I've, I've listened to many of my friends on here.
[00:54:19] All the cool kids are on the podcast. It's true.
[00:54:20] Yeah, I know! All the cool kids. All the cool kids. It's actually- are you ready? It is my first podcast!
[00:54:26] Congratulations. You crushed it.
[00:54:37] 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 [00:55:00] podcasts.
[00:55:01] The adventure continues. Until next time.