Updated: Oct 22, 2019
We sat down with Katrina Ward, Education and Courses Manager at Elixr School of Pilates, to learn more about what to consider and how to make the transition between full-time corporate work and Pilates teaching more ‘comfortable’. Whether you’re new to the fitness industry or thinking of making a career change, there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge into teaching fitness full-time.
teaching more ‘comfortable’.
1. Make sure you love your craft (be it Pilates, Yoga, etc)
This might sound obvious, but seriously - do you LOVE your craft? To make sure, do it regularly for an extended period of time and make sure it suits your body. Do you enjoy speaking in front of groups of people? Are you passionate about fitness? These seem like basic questions, but take the time to make sure it’s the right decision for you.
2. Choose a training that’s right for you When it comes to choosing a teacher training there are a few things to consider. Look into where your favourite teachers have trained. Look up online resources. Call the institution and ask for references for past students and ask them if they’re working.
3. Be careful not to get over-excited, quit your job and start your training.
Try to choose a course that fits around your current schedule. Check requirements for practical hours and exam dates, etc, and make sure this is something you can commit to.
4. Set yourself up for success Start your training and go all in! When choosing your dates, factor in all family commitments and social engagements. Look into what practical hours are required. Take the time to make friends in your course and start to create a network of fellow Instructors. Learn your anatomy. Try to attend classes where you did your training and elsewhere to experience different teaching styles.
5. Take (and pass) the exam The pointers below will help you feel prepared. Don’t rush your exam, if you aren’t ready let your institution know and see if you can do it at the next intake!
Practice teaching on complete beginners (not just people in the course). Rope in friends and family who know nothing about fitness - this will help with cueing and language. Know the exercises - names, breath patterns, movement patterns, how to get safely in and out of exercises, modifications and progressions. Speak confidently and look presentable. Practice your lesson plan (understand how movements link together and how the class feels in your body).
6. You passed First things first- if you’re new to the world of Fitness Instructing, you’ll need to sign up for your First Aid and CPR courses. Next is insurance, there are a few different options, but make sure you get Freelancer Instructor Insurance to cover you in any venue. Start to teach gradually by keeping an eye on YPC or Facebook to pick up substitute work. It can also be a good idea to start to work in gyms or with corporate wellness programs. It’s important to understand that you need to build your schedule up gradually using all resources at your disposal. Be sure to keep in touch with existing contacts and attend classes at various different studios to continue to build your network.
7. If you enjoy teaching, make the leap… As your schedule fills up, you’ll naturally need to make the decision to leave your existing job, or go part-time if that’s an option you’re interested in.
There are few things to take into account when you’re taking the leap to life as a full-time Instructor:
Class timetables change - you need to have money set aside in case your studio drops classes without notice.
You’re likely to work as a contractor; therefore, teaching doesn’t allow for sick days or paid leave.
Avoid burnout. It will be tempting to take on every single class that you’re offered. Don’t do it. It is important to have at least one day off per week. Also, if you’re teaching early morning and late night, ensure you rest during the day.
Maintain your own practice and find another activity that you enjoy doing as your hobby.
Katrina also provided words of wisdom about her own experience shifting from the 'corporate world' to teaching:
"One of the most rewarding things for me about moving from the Corporate World to Pilates teaching is the continuing education and knowledge you build. Your first teacher training should never be the only training you do. Continue to build your knowledge and repertoire. It can be done simply, for example through Matwork with Props and Reformer with Props workshops, and make sure you do your Pilates and Pregnancy workshop so you feel confident to look after pre- and post natal clients. From there, there are many other great courses, Pilates focused or other, than can enhance your knowledge"