How to manage your energy and thrive in your first year as a Pilates teacher
As a teacher of……well, anything really, you are constantly giving energy to others. And as a new graduate teacher it is quite difficult to learn how to manage this kind of energy efficiently, especially when it’s something rarely spoken about in your teacher training.
If you are unable to master this skill quickly, your own energy reserves slowly dwindle until you’re left feeling uninspired, frustrated and isolated and with no motivation for your own workouts.
I found myself if this predicament in my second year of teaching. I was so fit and strong when I graduated but soon became exhausted after working full time in a corporate job and trying to build up my teaching experience. I was burnt out, running around from studio to studio and found I was not in the shape I was a year ago.
I was so stuck in a ‘rut’ that I felt like I was just another ‘ok’ instructor standing at the front of a room, rattling off a list of exercises…..instead of actually teaching and connecting with people.
Over the years I have seen many teachers struggling with the same thing. They are so busy running from class to class that they have forgotten why they loved Pilates in the first place. They get sick way too often, they lose their voices regularly, they work too many hours and have all the signs of ending up burnt out and fatigued.
Here are some steps I took that helped me have more energy and set myself up for a successful Pilates career.
1. I still have one foot in the corporate world. When I first decided to be a Pilates teacher I thought like many, that I would do the whole career switch thing. I thought that it would be amazing and I would have so much freedom. Turns out that it’s much harder than it looks to get the balance of making enough money to have the lifestyle you want whilst teaching.
So my solution was to never make Pilates my only source of income (at least for a while). That really took the pressure off and meant that I could work towards being a great teacher and student of Pilates without having the financial burden and stress of teaching more hours than I wanted to.
2. I stopped caring if clients liked me and took some time to really reflect on where my energy was going. It’s amazing how much more energy you have when you stop giving ‘shits’ about weather people ‘loved’ your class or not. This energy is far better spent on other things. It’s not that I stopped caring about the quality of my teaching it’s that I decided to be myself completely. This meant being confident and owning the space regardless of knowing that I didn’t know it all or as much as another teacher.
The fact is that even as a graduate teacher you know more than enough to lead a great class.
3. I was ‘picky’ with where I taught. This meant that I started to only teach at places that had the same values as me, where I could learn off other teachers around me, help others learn, give my best and also make the majority of my work close to home. If you find yourself teaching for a studio or to a group of people that don’t connect with your core values, you are never going to be able to give your best and it ends up draining your energy.
I got really clear about what my values were as a teacher and this helped me find my ‘people’.
4. I said no to extra classes and scheduled in rest periods before I really needed to. It’s really tempting to always take the extra classes as they came up, especially when you are keen to teach more. But I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t work weekends while I still had a corporate job. On my weekends I prioritised time for me, my own workouts and my family.
I would fill in wherever I could, but stopped feeling like I had to say yes every time I was asked.
I also scheduled in rest weeks from teaching and my own practice. Even by just taking the odd day off here and there were I slept in, took myself out for breakfast, and did other things I loved made me feel so energised and full of new ideas and inspiration.
5. I stopped over-planning and spent more time practicing. One of the best pieces of advice I got from my mentor was that it’s ok to teach the same exercises for a few weeks in a row, every class doesn’t need to be different and clients like having some form of predictability. This then allowed more time towards my own self-mastery and time to experiment (play), which gave me a stronger understanding and sense of how each exercise felt in my own body. Exercises then became second nature to me and easier to teach, which meant that I could spend more time assessing how my clients were moving during particular exercises and assisting them with any cues. Not only did my classes start to get fuller but I felt great in my own body as well!
I went from rattling off a bunch of exercises from a text book with little thought to meaningful cueing that really made an impact and spent more time connecting with my clients.