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What does it mean to be a traveling Pilates Instructor? By Laura Cordle, USA

15th March 2018

What does it mean to be a traveling Pilates Instructor?

Teaching a system of Lolita’s Legacy at Bälans Pilates Studio was my first experience teaching overseas as a traveling Pilates Instructor. I have taught in many different environments: boutique studios, fitness centers, assisted living senior centers, and even a small office building. I have taught in the sprawling metropolis of Chicago, in the quaint suburbs of Northeast Ohio, and in sunny beach-side locales in South Florida. However, I knew crossing the Atlantic to Scotland would somehow be a more profound experience. When we travel, we often let go of our expectations, unleash our curious inner child, learn to explore outside our comfort zone, and tap into our basic needs while letting go of those superficial things that are not necessary. This is never truer than when traveling alone, far from the familiar, and into the unknown. This kind of travel offers us lessons in accepting of new cultures and fostering international communities. It also helps us stay present and in the moment. The following are just a few take ways that I would like to pass along from my experience.

1 You’re Never Ready

Preparing for something new is never foolproof. Too many variables to account for and too many unknowns creeping around every corner. You must accept that a little bit of chaos is going to creep in to disrupt the order. Also, I found that rolling with the punches is preferable to curling up into a ball on the floor, even if the latter is awful tempting. My trip to Scotland was not without its share of chaos. I had packed everything I needed well in advance: my binders of learning materials, a projector, skeletons, and various props. I had studied my lesson plan and had it all worked out to the very last detail. I was ready to leave, but a few days before my scheduled departure a snowstorm raged across the Northeastern United States. It grounded my flight and any chance that I would make it to Scotland as planned. It looked as though my journey, even before it began, had come to an end. However, I knew that this was a rare opportunity and would not give up so easily. After more than a day of working through a logistical nightmare I was able to find an eventual outbound flight. Not the best way to begin my trip and it delayed my arrival by two days, but it was better than the alternative. It was better than giving up at the first sign of defeat.

2 Love What You Do

A quote that often comes to mind is one that is commonly attributed to Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I love what I do. I get to make an impact in people’s lives and help them feel their best and strongest. I want to share my love for Pilates with others who love it and facilitate that process in every way I can the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. I want to show people it’s okay to be silly and scream when you need to scream, workout as a group where everyone picks an exercise, or to have an orbit race around the studio. That last one was something I got from Joakim and brought it back to the states with me. It was truly inspiring to see that this idea is universal and embodied in everyone that works at Bälans. Find work that you love.

3 Get Comfortable being Uncomfortable

When I was a student I had to deal with learning disabilities and my experience had taught me that you can’t rely on a formula to get through life. There are no hard and fast rules and my regular change of scenery required me to adapt in real time. This is where finding a routine that could fit each new environment became essential. Each time I moved I had to recalibrate my life habits and adjust to the changes in my surroundings. It was a difficult process, but it gave me a new kind of perspective and situational awareness that I could not have gotten through any other experience. I learned to how to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

4 Fake it ‘til you make it.

Here is a little secret about teaching, a large percentage of your clients have no idea what they’re doing. Teaching Pilates is full of many firsts: first time in speaking in front of a class, first time cueing movement, first time commanding a group not knowing what to do is part of the game. Everyone gets nervous, but those fears can be an asset if you realize it’s normal. And as it turns out, if you act like you are confident and can handle whatever comes you way you become confident and it no longer is an act. People often think that you need to change your mind to change your behavior, but they have it exactly backwards. My advice? Don’t be afraid to move beyond your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Do it long enough and one day you’ll look back and wonder what was so challenging in the first place.

5 It takes a Village

On my last day in Scotland at Bälans, Joakim, the students, and I were reflecting on the program and how tight the bonds are that form after experiences like these. These are the relationships we create, and they are the most precious thing that has come from my time in the industry. As Legacy Educators we pride ourselves in the relationships we have cemented around the world. If you can take one lesson away from any of this, it is to recognize and cherish the amazing people that you have met along the way and grow your network of amazing Pilates people. Surround yourself with people you respect and trust and be that person for everyone you meet.

I want to thank Joakim and his family for offering me this opportunity and giving me a place to stay during my trip. I would also like to thank the students and everyone at Bälans for all their support and attention. This experience was something I’ll never forget, and I owe that to the people I met and relationships we made.


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