• Jena

Pilates Journey Part 3

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

I have the best news to report today, but I’m going to wait until the end to tell you. 🙂

On my last post about my pilates journey, I mentioned that I recommended pilates for a friend.  My friend eagerly followed my advice and ordered a pilates video and promptly injured herself.  This began a five year journey of learning to become a pilates teacher.

Because I had dance experience and had done a few pilates videos at home, it seemed “easy enough” to just transfer that information into teaching a class for the YMCA.  And sadly, this is about as far as many so-called pilates teachers get.  But this is where I started.  And I am so thankful for the Y.  They give people a chance to get started with something very inexpensively.  So, there was an existing pilates teacher at the Y, and she basically trained me in on some basic things, and bam! I had my own class.

But I was not happy with my own lack of training.  I guess it was my own appreciation for good training or my fear of injuring someone or just a general respect for the fitness industry that prompted me to explore my options of getting some training outside of the Y.

At first, I explored getting a general group fitness instructor certification from AFAA.  It was a cheap $99.00 investment that was a ticket to getting a basic understanding of fitness principles. If you want to teach basic fitness classes, I recommend AFAA or SCW for places to start.

Next on the list was a basic pilates training course.  At the time, my mentor recommended Balanced Body University or you might see it listed as Pilates on Tour.   I think the initial Mat 1 training was a around $350.00 or so.  I was almost ready to look into taking Mat II when I discovered Physical Mind Institute (PMI).  

During this time, I was hired to teach for the Wellness program at Hamilton Sundstrand.  The director there required me to have a pilates certification (Mat 1) in order to work with people there.  I have come to respect Wellness programs that require a certification in order to work in the fitness industry.

Working for the Wellness program at Hamilton Sundstrand has been very rewarding.  I still really enjoy that venue.  I love having the same clients year after year and really seeing progress in their “mind-body connections” as we refer to it in the pilates industry.  You could call it “lack of pain” or “strength” or just plain “looking good” which are all benefits of a dedicated pilates regime.

So, pilates has two parts or two tracks of training.  There is mat pilates–where everything is done on the mat with a few apparatuses like balls, circles, weights, or bands.  And then there is equipment pilates–where everything is done with reformers and chairs, arcs, etc.

The fundamental principles of pilates are the same for both types, but the training is very specific.  The equipment pilates training is an expensive investment in both money and time.  It’s the equivalent of being a specialized pilates personal trainer.

So, I took the plunge two years ago and signed up for the equipment certification.  I had been teaching mat pilates for about three years prior to this training, and I had taken a fundamentals course, so I was ready for the next step.

Well, a few things happened.  First of all, I never dreamed how difficult it would be for my brain to get all of the concepts.  I figured I was smart, experienced and rather bookish.  How hard can this be?

Exceptionally hard.  I felt like I had never done pilates in my life.  I had someone looking at me and my pilates technique and was the student and then the teacher.  I switched back and forth from being a teacher to a student and back again.  The book work, anatomical training, etc. was very challenging.

All the confidence that I normally had teaching mat pilates suddenly drained out of me when I got to the machines.  Why was this so hard?

Well the reason it is so hard is because it is complex.  The human body is complex.  Every body presents a new set of challenges for which there are a million different things in which to do on it.  Every muscle group is its own challenge, and every machine has its own nuances.  The Physical Mind Institute is one of the most respected pilates certifications out there because it embraces the body’s uniquenesses and takes physical limitations into account.  It’s not a one-size fits all way of teaching.  It’s not memorized choreography and a rote routine.  It’s real body work–catered to each client (in a one on one setting).

So, me in my little brain and my ever-so-human body were pushed to its limits.  But after two years of studying and teaching and learning, I took my test out exam.  And..

I passed!  

That’s right.  I just got the news today.  I am so overjoyed.  God has been so good to me.

I not only have personally benefitted from what pilates has done for my own body (five kids and all!!) but I get to do something I love–teach others a system that will make them stronger.


So, what is next?  Well, currently I am celebrating God’s goodness by offering a free class to my homeschool mommy friends at Hallstrom.  I will probably offer some free classes at Sundstrand to celebrate also.  But the real question is: when can I start teaching people on a reformer.. and like… get paid for it??  aaaaaahh… not sure about that yet.  I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.

 But if you are looking for pilates classes near where you live, I would look for:  a physical mind “the method” pilates studio/ teachers in your area. 

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