Taking Care of the Teacher

by Mary Monroe on Oct 02, 2012

Uniting the Industry

Pilates professionals talk about self-care.

What steps do you take to maintain wellness, balance and perspective? We asked instructors to talk about their self-care strategies and why they matter for career success.

Choosing Survival Strategies

“I make sure I schedule time for my personal workout. Sometimes, when I’ve been instructing all day, it feels like I’ve already worked out because I breathe so much for my clients! However, simply breathing is not the same as working out. A good cardio workout outside—riding a bike, swimming in the pool, hiking in the hills or jogging—brings my energy and spirits up. I also take other instructors’ classes. My favorites are yoga, Pilates, circus and dance classes. I may pick up a new movement sequence, imagery phrase or prop. It keeps me stimulated as a ‘forever student’ and as a teacher—there is always something new to learn.

“Recently I’ve also started to limit my time on Facebook and my time spent answering emails. I could spend all of my free time at the computer and use the excuse that I am promoting my business, but it just sucks my time and energy. Another great strategy is to occasionally go to the local Korean spa, where I can get a great body scrub or shiatsu massage, soak in the hot and cold pools, and stop talking for a few hours. My voice becomes fatigued if I teach too much, so being quiet for a few hours helps. Also, there is no Internet at the spa!

“Finally, any pet owner will relate to this survival strategy: I love spending time playing with and grooming my two long-haired cats. It’s relaxing, inspiring and rewarding because they are so graceful. They’re good Pilates role models!”

—Jillian Hessel, instructor, Los Angeles, California

Recognizing Limits

“When I first started teaching, I did 12- and 14-hour days because I thought the busier I was, the more successful I would be. I taught at three locations, ate protein bars in my car and went to drive-through Starbucks between classes. I ended up with health problems and a lot of pain, so I realized I needed a lifestyle change.

“I learned that you have to know your limits. I consolidated my work, and now I take at least a 2-hour lunch break, eat a proper meal and chew my food. I don’t work more than 6 days a week. I need at least 1 day off. I also take mini-vacations to do fun things that are a complete diversion from Pilates. I do integrated manual therapy (IMT), a hands-on energy practice, and I also do acupuncture every week. I do my own Pilates practice, but I don’t give myself a tough workout—I make it nice and relaxing.

“Self-care is so important to our health as instructors and also to our clients’ health. When I teach Pilates, I make my clients aware of their emotions and feelings. However, I try not to be opinionated or preachy about the importance of self-care. I just remind them to slow down and be as aware of their breath as possible, especially when they’re stressed or busy.”

—Lucy Garcia, Pilates manager, The Sporting Club, San Diego

Taking Breaks

“As the owner of a Pilates studio and a busy mom, I find it’s easy for my life to become overwhelming. I remind myself that I have the greatest job on earth and that everything is a matter of perspective. It’s amazing how mentally checking myself can help me gain clarity on a situation that is otherwise taking over my life. Getting out of the studio, even if it’s just for a 5-minute walk, or sitting with my eyes closed allows me to focus on something else. Anything else! I notice how the leaves blow in the wind, or I just reflect on the positive aspects of my job and life.

“I tend to get easily overwhelmed when my schedule becomes unbearable, but reminding myself that I need to accomplish only one task at a time allows me to breathe and calm down. Everything will get done eventually. I have also learned the importance of getting enough sleep. I prioritize getting to bed early every night, even if it means putting a hold on everything else. If I can’t go to sleep, I take advantage of the alone time by putting a clay mask on my face or giving myself a mini-manicure. Waking up knowing that I did a little something for myself makes me feel more in control of my life.

“As instructors we are constantly giving to our clients, but giving myself a little ‘me time’ lets me rejuvenate my body and mind. Then I’m back on track and doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life: teaching Pilates!”

—Lariesa Bernick, owner, Pilates of Eastlake, Chula Vista, California

How do you practice self-care and encourage your clients to take more time for themselves? We look forward to hearing from you!

IDEA Pilates Today , Volume 3, Issue 5

© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Mary Monroe IDEA Author/Presenter

Mary Monroe is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area.

1 Comment

  • Log In to Comment
  • Cynthia Logsdon

    Thank you for this article. If I may also add, I try, as Pilates itself exemplifies, to not demonstrate exercises using my "better" or "favorite" side more often simply because it is easier, more convenient or "more impressive" to see. And some of my more experienced clients insist on waiting while I quickly run through my 2nd side for balance :-)
    Commented Nov 29, 2012

Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Breathe to Lose Weight?

When a person loses weight, have you ever wondered where it goes? Scientists at the University of New South Wales in Australia have put toge...

Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Crous-Bou, M., et al. 2014. Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: Population based cohort study. British Med...

Does Exercise Order Really Matter in Resistance Training?

Research on resistance training design finds that the chief variables include intensity, volume, recovery between sets and exercises, workout frequency, equipment and speed of movement (Simão et al....

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

The Mythology of Modern-Day Dieting

Whether it was Rita Mae Brown or Albert Einstein who first said it, the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again an...

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More Than Just Bad Posture

Excessive thoracic kyphosis (ETK) is a disproportionate forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back, also known as the thorac...

Wake Up Your Glutes!

It’s a sad fact of modern life that the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body, often becomes inhibited and “turns off.” Ironically, this inhibition can be the culprit behin...

Anaerobic Training: Program Design

Most personal trainers design anaerobic workouts for their clients—it is an innovative strategy that helps many people reach their goals. Competitive athletes have been training anaerobically fo...

Meditation Can Stimulate Ideas

Next time you need to generate more ideas to solve a particular problem, try an “open monitoring” style of meditation, similar t...