Entering into a new career is a big life change and is often scary. This is especially the case if you have personal and financial obligations to negotiate.
In this blog post I’ve put together two lists to help you navigate starting out. First, a list of things I got right and wouldn’t do differently. Second, a list of things I wasn’t prepared for and wish that I had known from the outset.
4 things I got right
I didn’t overthink it
In the words of Nike’s advertising people: Just Do It. There is no other way for a move this big. And if you’re leaving an office career behind, it will always be there if you want to go back. Don’t let people scare you into thinking it won’t. After all, you can’t cross the ocean if you’re not prepared to lose sight of the shore.
I prepped hard
Moving from my old career into my new one took time and I put a lot into preparation and a lot of sacrifice was involved. I worked full time during my training, saved money and used annual leave to revise for exams. Once I was qualified, I networked and met many studio owners to get a good overview of the local Pilates scene. Networking is a skill to take with you throughout your career, don’t ever stop. And take business cards (I didn’t and I regret it).
I didn’t listen to haters
The overwhelming majority of people were supportive about my career change. It was cool, refreshing and brave. There were however people who thought it was too off the wall and one person even told me it was a waste of time. Ignore these people. It’s either insecurity or jealousy that drives that reaction and you don’t need that in your life.
I was selective about who I went to for advice
I didn’t canvas the opinion of lots of people about anything in relation to starting out as a Pilates teacher. If someone hadn’t made a success out of a similar change off the back of their own efforts, I wasn’t willing to give too much oxygen to what they thought. And when it comes to your marketing, ask a small handful of people who will give you an impartial opinion. If you know people in marketing, even better. Everyone turns into a graphic design and copywriting expert on being asked anything related to marketing. Be discerning. All opinions are not equal.
4 things I wish I knew
Finishing the first teacher training is the tip of the iceberg
Finishing my initial matwork teacher training felt like such an achievement – and it was. But there was so much more to learn and there still is. You will evolve as teacher. I wonder if any of us reach point where we think we know it all. My favourite senior teachers all have one thing in common: they keep learning for themselves.
Never ignore your own practice
Once I got busy teaching, I started to let go of my own practice. Huge mistake. There is a direct positive correlation between keeping up your practice and how good a teacher you are. It didn’t take me long to realise this, but I wish I had never made that mistake.
There is such a thing as too busy
When you start out it’s so thrilling to see your client list expand. It’s important to know when to stop. I used to think that 35 hours at a desk was the same as 35 hours in the studio. It isn’t and by the end of my second full year of teaching I was exhausted, irritable and putting on weight. Everyone will have a different “number” in terms of hours they want to work. Somewhere between 20-28 is generally seen as sensible if this is your full-time job.
The level of dogma in the industry is unhealthy
A sad reality is that there is a lot of inflexible thinking in the Pilates industry. Don’t get too influenced by it and be discerning about what you consume on social media and the company you keep in real life. Keep in mind that there is always more than one way to do something. It’s not about better or worse or right or wrong. Different is more often than not a good thing. There‘s a long way to go in this industry to accept that diversity is the key to thriving.
I hope this helps those of you starting out in the Pilates industry!
Leave a comment if you think I’ve missed something out – I love hearing from new teachers.