After 12 years of teaching mindful movement exclusively in Toronto, Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer and Education Programming Coordinator Rie Sakamoto boarded a plane to Korea in May on her first teaching adventure abroad.
The teaching trip to Lee Ji Won Pilates at the Gwanghwamun location was eye-opening— not only did it reaffirm Rie’s passion and love for teaching, but it also showed her how well-regarded Merrithew’s education is all over the world.
“The students were amazing: hardworking, punctual and diligent. They had great questions. It made me realize how grateful I am to be in this position, to meet amazing people like them and what a rewarding job it is,” Rie says.
Rie was the Senior Mentoring Instructor Trainer to new Instructor Trainer, Sungmin Kim; together they co-taught an Intensive Mat-Plus™ course. Rie also led two workshops, STOTT PILATES® Postural Analysis Review and STOTT PILATES Intermediate BOSU®.
While it was Rie’s first time teaching through a translator, she says the experience was seamless and the students’ keen interest in what she had to say gave her a boost of confidence.
“I’m often hard on myself, but I felt really good about my teaching because the students were so appreciative and encouraging,” she says. “The students understood what I was teaching really well and they progressed so quickly. That made me feel great.”
An education worth sharing
While the co-owner of Lee Ji Won Pilates, MinJoo Kim, had initially trained in a different Pilates method, after she discovered Merrithew's STOTT PILATES training, there was no turning back.
In a place like Korea, where the Pilates industry is booming, choosing the right training really matters.
“She saw the quality of our education and wanted all her instructors to be trained by Merrithew,” Rie says.
“I’m so proud of our education. I really believe that our method is the best because it’s based on the latest principles of exercise science. Our courses are well-organized, in-depth and detailed. I was so happy to see how much they appreciated our education and it made me feel really motivated to continue being a good representative.”
Bonding over mindful movement and beyond
Despite the language barrier, Rie became close with the group, bonding over meals after class.
“The people, they’re so passionate and dedicated and truly warm-hearted. We talked about a lot of things, not just Pilates, but life. I feel like I made lifetime friends over there,” she says.
“Rather than going to the tourist spots, I got to spend time with the people there. That was the highlight of my trip,” she says.
And now that she’s traveled once to teach, would she do it again?
“In a heartbeat,” she says.
Travel Q&A with Rie Sakamoto
Places you’ve been with Merrithew: Korea
Best food discovery, so far: Kimchi water. “It tastes amazing!”
Present brought from Canada: David’s Tea
Souvenirs brought back: Korean cosmetics, Dior lipstick and a framed photograph of the group I taught