To be or not to be, that is the question. For those of you who follow my social media, you know that I took the plunge earlier this year and attended a live POP Pilates instructor workshop. Prior to attending the workshop, I had zero experience teaching a fitness class, so you can imagine how nervous I was. Long story short, my efforts proved to be worth it, and I am now a certified POP Pilates instructor! If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about whether or not you want to become a POP Pilates instructor. Let me put your mind to rest by debunking what it takes to be an instructor and what to expect during the process.
Do you have what it takes to become a POP Pilates instructor?
This is the burning question that makes people hesitant about becoming a POP Pilates instructor. “Do I have what it takes?” Personally, I think the answer to that is yes. If you are reading this post right now, there is a reason you’re so passionate about POP Pilates. Maybe Cassey influenced you to reach your fitness goals, and you’d like to do the same for others. Maybe it’s the support of the community that really inspires you.
Whatever it is that drives your passion, that is the reason I think you have what it takes to become a POP Pilates instructor. Don’t worry about being at the fitness level as someone else (more on this later). If you genuinely want to see other people succeed and you are willing to learn how to make it happen, I think you’ll be a fantastic instructor.
The best thing is that POP Pilates instructor workshops aren’t limited to people in the United States. There is an international program you can complete online!
What to expect before and during a POP Pilates Instructor Workshop
When you sign up for a POP Pilates instructor workshop, you will receive access to an online instructor-in-training portal. There you will find the choreography you will be using at the workshop. You don’t need to memorize the entire workout. Two weeks before your workshop you will be assigned a single track that you will teach to the class. Don’t stress!!! The workshop is a judgment-free zone. The track assignment is just so you have something to practice with at the workshop.
On the day of, prepare to devote eight hours of your day to moving, grooving, and most importantly, learning. You will meet people of all fitness levels with different levels of teaching. There will be people like me, with zero experience in teaching to a group, to people who teach multiple group fitness classes. You will start off with an hour-long master class. From there, you will break down the moves and learn to teach them. You will also learn teaching techniques that will help you conduct a safe and effective class. Finally, you will put everything you learned to use and take turns teaching your track assignments.
Again, the workshop is a judgment-free zone. Regardless of how many years you’ve taught, if you’ve taught at all, everyone is at the workshop to learn. Nothing you do at the workshop will be graded as part of your final evaluation. You will, however, receive feedback that will help you pass your video evaluation.
Tips for the workshop
Eight hours is a long time to dedicate to learning a single subject. At the same time, it might feel like it’s not enough. Here are a few tips to make the best use of your time at the workshop.
- Eat before the workshop. Or at least bring some snacks. You do get a break in between, but it’s hard to focus on an empty stomach.
- Bring something to take notes with. You get a printed version of the instructor’s manual at the workshop. You can take notes directly in the book, or take notes in a notebook and transfer them later.
- Be open-minded. This is especially true if you’re new to teaching. Put aside your worries and think about growing. Remember, everyone had to start somewhere!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your master trainer is there to help you succeed. Plus, a question you have might be one that someone else has, so there is no shame in asking.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn. Instructors make mistakes during classes too! If it happens, it happens. Just keep on going.
- Learn from each other. Is there a fellow instructor-in-training that just makes you go, “Wow! They know what they’re doing”? Instead of comparing yourself to them, use their skills as a learning experience. Be inspired!
Becoming a certified POP Pilates instructor
The final step to becoming certified is using everything you learned at the workshop and submitting a video evaluation. The exact requirements may change from when I filmed my evaluation to when you do yours, so be sure to read through your own rubric and emails. For my evaluation, I had to teach the first three tracks to a class with the camera facing me as if it were my student. I did not need actual participants, but I had to teach as if I did.
My video was about 12 minutes long from start to finish. It was also unedited, just like a real class would be, so you saw everything. All the perfectly executed moves and the not-so-perfect moves were submitted to the evaluation team. This does not mean I didn’t try my best. It just means there were times when my inexperience as a teacher showed, and that was okay. When mistakes happen, it’s all about how you recover.
After the evaluation team scores your submission, you will receive feedback that will be a valuable tool going forward. You will learn what points you were strong in. My favorite thing about the evaluation is that you also get track-specific feedback. You can use the track specific feedback and review your video to understand what the evaluator was looking at. This helps you really put the feedback to use as you continue your journey as an instructor.
Tips on acing your video evaluation
- Read through the rubric all the way. Don’t just rely on the emails you receive after the workshop as I did. While the emails cover the core parts of the evaluation, there may be a few things you might not have realized you will be scored on. For example, I introduced myself in my video but didn’t talk about what POP Pilates even is. Yes, it was on the rubric. This would have been an easy point to get. Oops.
- Listen to the music until you’re sick of it. Okay, you don’t have to listen to the songs to the point where you hate it, but you should familiarize yourself with the tracks. Ideally, you should be able to know the songs well enough that you know what’s coming up next without really needing to count. This really helps create the flow you need to turn an exercise into a dance on the mat.
- Watch the videos. The will help you with proper form and understanding which muscles are being worked. This will also help you think of cues.
- Practice your cues out loud. You can practice your cues in your head a million times, but it feels a lot different out loud. It also feels a lot different trying to speak while doing an exercise.
- Don’t be afraid to use modified moves to teach. This is something I had to do for one of the tracks. Instead of using the “regular” moves to teach, I used the modified moves throughout the track and used the “regular” moves as my options for my class. Remember, modifying a move can mean either making a move more challenging or making a move more simple. If you are not quite at the level to teach a certain move for an entire track, that is totally okay. Being an instructor means knowing how to teach a safe class through example. If that means using a modified move, that is okay.
- Mistakes are not the end of the world. The evaluators aren’t looking for perfection. If you do make a mistake, do your best to bounce back smoothly. No one might even notice!
Opportunities for POP Pilates Instructors
In addition to teaching your own class, you get to become part of a group on instructors that is good vibes only. I cannot emphasize how amazing that is. On May 31, 2019, we had the first ever POP Pilates instructor retreat. Not only was it a chance to grow as instructors,
If you take anything away from this post, take this with you: It’s not as scary as you might think it is. Don’t worry about not being as experienced or as fit as other instructors-in-training. The road to becoming a POP Pilates instructor is about growth, and your learning doesn’t stop after that workshop. You continue to learn the more you teach, so you’re not expected to be a master of everything as soon as you leave the workshop. The workshop will also be as supportive as the POPsters on Facebook and Instagram that you know and love.
So, are you ready to become a POP Pilates instructor? If you live in the United States, live POP Pilates instructor workshop.
If you live internationally, you can sign up for an online POP Pilates instructor workshop.
Good luck! You can do this.
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