In this blog series, Becoming a STOTT PILATES® Instructor, we’ll be following Paige Schuman as she progresses through the STOTT PILATES Certification Program.
Ask any well-rounded instructor how they cater to the needs of a variety of clients— from elite athletes to seniors and pregnant women— and they’ll tell you that it all comes down to continuing education and experience, both of which will make you more employable.
That was Paige’s goal from the start— to learn as much repertoire and get acquainted with as much equipment as possible to acquire the skills needed to work with any client at any Pilates studio.
That’s why she signed up for the full STOTT PILATES Comprehensive Program, including the Advanced Program (Level 2) and the Injuries and Special Populations course.
“I always knew that I wanted to work with a diverse range of clients, including injured and older clients. I’m someone who likes to learn as much as I can, which is why I decided to do the full certification course. As an instructor, you have to be able to switch it up, adapt and modify your program for every client. That’s the type of working style I thrive under,” she says.
Paige took the Advanced Program at the Toronto Corporate Training Center— a six-day course from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“They were long days, it was very exhausting and challenging on the body, but it really elevated us to a different level with the focus being on how to increase the challenge for clients through choreography, coordination, pace and flow,” Paige says.
Not everyone decides to do their Advanced training immediately after completing their Level 1 training. But it’s always something you can do later, either all at once or as a series of courses, once you’ve started teaching. A student in Paige’s class who’s already a STOTT PILATES instructor decided to take the Advanced Program to add more value to his clients.
“You never know how far or how quickly your client will progress,” Paige says. “There are quite a few exercises that you can take from the Advanced repertoire that you can apply to Intermediate clients, such as the Snake.”
“The more options you can choose from, and if you plan to be in this business for a long time, you want to have a lot of exercises under your belt that you can pull from so you and your clients remain engaged,” she says.
In the Injuries and Special Populations course, which took place over four days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Paige learned about different physical challenges and injuries that clients might have and how Pilates can aid in the rehabilitative process.
“You gain an understanding of how someone is affected by their injury or physical challenge and how to approach it and modify the movements so they’re safe for that person, and also you learn what movements wouldn’t be appropriate for them,” Paige says.
For instance, if a client presents with a clicking hip, that means they generally need to work on their local stabilizer muscles, reduce their range of motion and use low loads, she says.
“It’s a very in-depth course and I would definitely want to audit it at least two more times because there is so much information there. Prepare to have your mind expanded!”
Practice teaching and exam prep
In order to gain certification and before registering to do their exam, students must complete a minimum number of observation, practice teaching and physical review hours.
Paige has now started working towards completing her 100 hours of practice teaching (her apprenticeship). Before beginning, she had to undergo an assessment with a Merrithew™ Instructor Trainer to ensure she was ready to teach family, friends and external clients.
Her tip to other students is to schedule sessions as far in advance as possible and book recurring appointments with interested clients. “I have 83 hours already reserved in my calendar,” she says.
And as she’d hoped, her clients represent a range of demographics. “I’m working with a woman in her second trimester. I have older clients with aches and pains, a dynamic mother-daughter duo, and office workers.”
Teaching clients has also helped her identify areas where she needs to review, something she does almost every night. She analyzes her cueing technique, reviews anatomy and the repertoire for each piece of equipment.
“The best way to practice is by teaching, by putting in the hours. Once you start interacting with clients, you’ll realize how much you know and have retained from the course. When I started the program, I was anxious about remembering it all, but I think because of how the course is structured and taught, it really does sink in.”
Paige plans to write her STOTT PILATES Exam in December once she’s done her apprenticeship. But for now, she’s just going to focus on enjoying and learning from the teaching experience.
“I love teaching clients. It’s been easy to slip back into it because I had the experience of working as a barre instructor. The time with the clients goes by so quickly and it’s just really enjoyable for me and for them. It makes me so excited for my future career ahead.”