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Fighting crime and teaching mindful movement, all in a day’s work for this Merrithew® Instructor Trainer

Kelley Berting - Regina Police and Instructor Trainer

When Kelley Berting is not investigating financial crimes as a sergeant with the Regina Police Service, she travels throughout the Canadian Prairies teaching STOTT PILATES® and ZEN•GA® to students and clients as a Merrithew® Instructor Trainer.

Kelley’s path to Pilates began in 2000 when her vehicle was struck by an impaired driver while she was on duty. It was her first year on patrol and hoping for a long career in policing ahead, she knew she had to address her shoulder and back trauma before it got any worse. She started going to physical therapy and then a friend recommended Pilates.

She signed up for mat classes at her local community center. While she found them a bit slow-moving at first, after a few weeks, she started to notice a difference in her pain and discomfort. She joined a Pilates studio and became a regular mat and Reformer client.

In 2006, after two years of regular practice, and with a background in dance and group fitness instructing, she decided to enroll in the STOTT PILATES program.

Kelley Berting seated on the Reformer
Kelley Berting stretching on the Reformer

“It was really because of the difference it made in my own body. I felt so much better and I felt like I’d healed myself from the inside out. It changed the focus of my exercise. As a police officer, I still have to maintain a high level of cardiovascular and physical strength, but I felt like my overall health and body awareness had improved,” she says.

Besides the physical benefits, as a newcomer to Regina, Saskatchewan, Kelley was also still looking for a community in her new city— one that would provide a positive outlet from her day job.

It took her two years to complete the full STOTT PILATES certification while still working full-time as a police officer. Over the next few years, she also became a ZEN•GA and Total Barre® Qualified Instructor.

Once an instructor, she had to figure out how to fit her classes around her policing schedule, which mostly meant teaching in the evenings and on weekends.

At one point, she was doing shift work in the major crimes unit and had her Pilates clients on a group text chat. If she got called out to a crime scene during their scheduled class, they’d be some of the first to know that something was happening in the city and she wouldn’t be able to make it. Fortunately, her clients were very understanding of her dual career and it only ever happened once or twice.

“Time management is key to success. I still use a paper journal/agenda to track my work schedule, along with setting out yearly goals for course scheduling,” she says.

For Kelley, instructing has been the ideal second job because of the flexibility it offers, allowing her to pick when she’s able to teach.

Driven to help others

Kelley in Police uniform

Both policing and instructing are jobs that involve helping others, something Kelley has always been very passionate about.

With an increasing emphasis on the mental health of first responders, the mindfulness and breathing control taught in Pilates has helped Kelley manage stress on duty. Meanwhile, her policing career has provided some perspective in the studio— reminding her to let things go and have some self-compassion.

“Policing is a difficult career; you witness some terrible tragedies, you’re there to help people on the worst day of their lives and you see many negative aspects of society. When I head into the Pilates studio, it’s a positive environment. Being able to have that positive interaction with clients after a hard day at work helps me find balance.

“Policing is also a physical job where you have to carry around an extra 25 to 30-pounds of equipment, putting undue stress on your joints. Participating in a regular Pilates practice has helped me remain injury-free for most of my 21-year career.”

Pilates in the Prairies

Kelley took her training to the next level in 2009, becoming a Merrithew Instructor Trainer specializing in STOTT PILATES and then ZEN•GA in 2013. Now she uses much of her vacation time to further her education or teach courses at Merrithew Host Training Center, The Core Connection in Regina, and at Chelsea’s Pilates in Saskatoon and To the Core Pilates Studio in Lloydminster, Alberta.

“When my students receive their email from Merrithew advising them that they passed their exams, I am so proud! I love being able to guide and mentor students through their own education journey,” she says.

Kelley with her students holding the Twist Ball

While she admits that it is still difficult to juggle two careers that she adores, she has learned how to set a schedule that allows for time with family and friends and walks with her two Alaskan Malamute dogs.

It helps that her husband has also embraced mindful movement.

“My husband Paul has been a regular at my Tuesday night Reformer class for about five years. He often jokes that he could substitute for me when I am away (which will never happen) but it makes me happy that he has made Pilates part of his life.”

Rapidfire Q&A with Kelley

Favorite piece of equipment or prop: I love the Cadillac, but recently my new fave prop is the Twist Ball.

Favorite exercise: Teasers with the Push-Through Bar.

Cueing tip: You don’t have to say everything during the first repetition!

Staying motivated as an instructor: Take time for your own workouts and continue to challenge yourself to learn new material and change it up.

Coming up with new programming ideas: I am committed to taking my CECs every year. Most years, I take more than is required. I also feel that it’s okay to be creative and play in the studio and come up with your own variations to common exercises.

Preparing for the STOTT PILATES exam: Don’t try and study everything at once; break the material down into chunks. And most importantly, you have to know it in your own body, so personal practice is the key to success.

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