Levelling Up

“Show me your bookshelf, or the courses you take, or the questions you ask, and I’ll have a hint as to how much you care about levelling up.” (Seth Godin)

First of all, if you don’t already follow Seth Godin, go do it now. The man is brilliant, not just about business, and the business of business, but also many other important life issues. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll see plenty of his quotes, I’m an absolute fan.

So what does “Levelling Up” mean? In this context, exactly what he says. Look at the books on your bookshelf. Do they reflect your current interests? Topics that are near and dear to your heart? Do you actually pick them up, read them, refer back to them?

When I finished my comprehensive pilates teacher training, my teacher (a very wise woman) said to our group, “Don’t go home and put your manual on the shelf. You will need it now more than ever. Just because your training is ‘finished’, doesn’t mean that your learning is.” And in the months and years following, teaching real clients, and also on my journey as a teacher trainer, I have used that same quote over and over again. Because it really is true. Even now, for me 15 years later, I am constantly referring back to my manual, and using it as a guideline when questions arise.

To further that thought, what DOES happen after you finish your teacher training? What courses do you take? What conferences do you attend? This is the make-or-break point for most pilates teachers. You teach, day-in and day-out. You get into your little groove, your way of doing things that work for your studio or clientele. You forget things. You get stale, bored, wonder why your clients aren’t making any progress.

The good news is, there is an abundance of information out there to further your education (that’s also the bad news, so buyer beware!). There are online sites with videos from well-respected and creative teachers. There are conferences all over the country. And if you love to travel, there are conferences all over the world. Go to them. Enrich yourself, come back to your students with a refreshed, energized attitude and see what happens.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Specifically “why?”. Not in a judgmental, or threatening way, but in a curious, I-want-to-know-more way. Go to those conferences, but don’t just sit there taking notes. Ask questions of the presenter. Volunteer to be a body on demonstrations. Engage with other participants. Sometimes I think this is where the real learning occurs, when you surround yourself with like-minded individuals, and can learn and share with one another.

This is what it means to level up. It’s really about staying current, staying fresh, continuing your education, and bringing your teaching to it’s best level. I have a good friend, who also happens to be a pilates teacher, and she told me that she tries to spend at least 15 minutes a day either reading a pilates book, watching a pilates video, or checking out what’s new on the pilates Facebook groups she follows. What a fabulous idea! Try it, and see what a powerful impact it can make, not just on your teaching, but on your entire outlook towards your clients and your studio.

Go ahead. Level Up.


What is Your Why?

When prospective teachers come to their very first pilates teacher training weekend, I always like to ask them “why do you want to teach?”. It may seem like an innocent question, but the answer can be quite revealing, and can also help future teachers clarify their career direction. 

Some people are just curious about the Pilates method, and want to understand it better. They are most likely avid students already, with either a solid mat practice and/or apparatus practice. They want to figure out the inner workings of this movement method that is such a big part of their life. They may or may not intend to ever teach. And that’s okay. 

Some are motivated by a dynamic teacher, someone they want to emulate. They see this person as a role model and they want to do for others what this teacher does for them. They want to encourage, inspire and empower students and share their love of the Pilates method. And that’s okay, too. 

Others are at a crossroads in their life. Either between jobs, looking for a different career, or even looking ahead for something they can do in retirement. Some may be leaving relationships, or moving to another city. They see teaching pilates as a way to initiate change in their lives. And that’s also okay.

What they all have in common is a reason why. As an already-established teacher, can you identify your “why”? And recognize that from that very first teacher training weekend that it may have changed? 

It’s important to be able to answer this question, and it might take a little soul-searching. Has your teaching become “just a job”? Is it now simply a paycheck? Do you feel like you need a different direction? Do you feel stagnant in your teaching? It might be time to evaluate your “why”.

A team-building workshop I attended recently had us explain to a complete stranger why we were doing what we were doing. We were told to use three steps: (1) before xxx, I was _____. (2) I found xxx through ____. (3) now that I do xxx, I can _____. Be succinct, be direct, be positive. It helped me clarify why I chose the work that I chose. And it helped remind me of the importance of knowing my “why”. 

Whatever your reason, know what it is! Every successful person will tell you to make goals and write them down. I would add this “why” to your list of goals. It will help keep you focused, give you a clear career path, and help keep your teaching joyful, motivational, and rewarding.