No matter how excited you are to begin your journey as a Pilates instructor, starting a new Pilates teacher training course can feel daunting.
However, knowing what to expect – and preparing a little beforehand – can help make those first days on the course more manageable.
This is why Ruth Smith, Physio, mat Pilates teacher and business manager at Complete Pilates, decided to share her experience of starting the Polestar Comprehensive studio equipment course. She does so here with her post on ‘starting a Pilates teacher training course: what to expect and how to prepare’.
Ruth will also be sharing her experience of the rest of the Polestar course as she progresses through it with a series of blog posts. To kick them off, here is her account of her first weekend.
Starting a Pilates teacher training course: my expectations vs the reality
I came into the first weekend of my Polestar Comprehensive course at Moss Pilates with mixed feelings on what to expect and how the weekend was going to go.
Having taught mat work Pilates for 10 years with training from APPI (another Pilates school) and 15 years of experience of being a musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, I was excited to learn more about the equipment side of Pilates.
I had heard from my Polestar-trained colleagues at Complete Pilates that the course would be more than I could imagine. They said it would be so much more than just exercise content. And they were absolutely right.
The first weekend is described as being focused on basic postural assessments and learning a selection of basic exercises on all pieces of Pilates equipment.
We did cover all of this, but the theme of learning for me was far more around the Polestar vision. This is quoted in their principles of movement manual as being: ‘To impact the world through intelligent movement, fostering awareness of self and community’.
What I learnt from my first weekend on a Pilates teacher training course
The idea of intelligent movement was explored so much through the whole weekend.
I found the idea of conscious movement vs blind or unconscious movement really interesting. We talked about how important moving consciously is, not only in terms of teaching Pilates, but also for the way in which we move and carry out our daily life.
I loved spending time exploring this, even with the simplest of exercises. One of these involved lying on the mat and visualising the outline of your body and its surface, going deeper into your body, then moving outside of your body and ‘looking down on yourself’.
Exercises like this really increased my self-awareness and my body awareness. This is what I try and achieve with clients when working on posture and movement. Thanks to this first weekend, I now feel I have so many more tools and ideas of how to explore and work on this.
As a Physio, I use tactile correction and manual techniques a lot to assist my clients with their movement and rehab. This first weekend of Polestar encouraged me to look at alternatives to this.
This meant moving away from tactile feedback and allowing the body to respond to verbal, visual cues and see what happened to the movement and breath. I discovered that this created an opportunity for movement to occur where before it had been difficult. It also gave the body space to move, which is ultimately what we are looking for with Pilates.
What I enjoyed most about starting a Pilates teacher training course
The teaching from Liz (Elizabeth Bussey, Polestar Educator and Craniosacral therapist) was very different to the usual teaching on a predominantly Physio-led course.
Liz encouraged me into wider thinking and awareness outside my current biomedical knowledge. This was taught in a very respectful way with no ‘power play’, as Liz described it, but learning from each other and acknowledging each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
I also really enjoyed the practical side of the course, which involved learning exercises – and I loved getting on the equipment to try them out. These exercises were presented in a practical and clinically accessible format, which I appreciated.
Specifically, this meant that any exercise taught to us was shown to relate to the movement and fitness screening we had performed on other course members. So, instead of being given a random list of exercises to learn, the exercises we were taught were designed to target the specific postural issues raised by these screenings.
This method of screening and applying exercises fits perfectly with the Physio assessments, problem list, goal setting routine I already perform with my clients. For me, it made the whole content of the course understandable and immediately usable.
Starting the Polestar course has excited me and motivated me to practise the movement, teaching and concepts of living that we explored – I can’t wait for the next weekend! It’s incredibly inspiring to come on a movement-based course after so long in clinical practice and reinforce the fact that there is still so much to learn.
How to prepare for starting a Pilates training course
1. Do the pre-reading
Doing the assigned reading puts you in a much stronger learning position and enables you to get the maximum out of the course. With courses like Polestar, there is so much given to you before the course with online videos and reading recommendations. It’s all there for you to take advantage of – so use it!
2. If you are not currently getting to class, get booked in
Book yourself in with an instructor from the same Pilates school. This will help to get you in the mind-set of that style of teaching and to prepare your body!
3. Bring layers of clothes
Moving between sitting, listening, practising exercises and practising teaching means you get hot then cold then hot again! Layers can help you keep your temperature in check.
4. Take a water bottle
Keep hydrated – you’ll need it to keep your brain and body alert!
5. Prepare your food
If there are no good food outlets nearby, make sure you bring a healthy, energy-packed lunch (plus snacks). These courses involve long hours and can be mentally and physically taxing. To last, you’ll need to fuel-up!
We’ll have more from Ruth and her teacher training course experience up on the blog soon. In the meantime, you can find out more about her Pilates journey by following her on Instagram.
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