Tutorial #3290

Staying Creative

15 min - Tutorial


Whether you are a new teacher or a seasoned veteran, learn how you can avoid burnout with this quick tutorial by Carrie Pages. She shares ideas about staying creative in your teaching so you that you are always excited about your work. She also talks about making sure you stay proactive with your self-care and personal practice so you will always have something to look forward to.
What You'll Need: No props needed

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Dec 08, 2017
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Hi everyone. So today I wanna talk about burnout and trying to avoid burnout. And in doing that trying to stay creative in your teaching. So, I've been teaching for a little over 17 years and I've been through various forms of burnout. I have experienced the kind of burnout where you wake up in the morning and you're thinking I can't get out of bed and do this one more day.

I've also experienced burnout that's just kinda simply you pull up to the studio, and you get there, you're fine, but you're just like, "Oh my gosh." Or your client is 20 minutes early and you're thinking, "I just wanna be here for a minute by myself." And we have ways to deal with that instead of just feeling immediately defeated. And we can actually be proactive and make sure that we're taking care of ourselves and staying excited about teaching. But I really do believe that it's not necessarily your situation and it's not even necessarily that you're teaching too many hours. Although, that obviously can lead to burnout. But I do believe that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself and to set yourself up for success.

Some other thoughts on how burnout can show up is it can come out in maybe being a little lazy or just not wanting to move anymore. As a Pilates instructor you obviously fell in love with Pilates because you loved the movement and how you felt when you did Pilates, but when you're teaching a lot you just don't have time to work out all of the time. And sometimes it just feels a little like you're being lazy and not necessarily showing up for your workouts. If you're not showing up for your workouts you are gonna get burned out and forget why you fell in love with Pilates in the first place. For me, one of the ways that burnout shows up is I get kind of angry. (laughing) So I usually start to have these little signs and symptoms that it's about to get ugly.

When I just find myself really frustrated. So, you know, when you're teaching and you tell someone to straighten their leg and then you say, "well why don't you think of straightening your knee? Will you think of making a muscle with your quad? That will straighten your leg" And you've said straighten your knee 15 different ways and their still not straightening their knee and sometimes when you're in a good place it's kinda funny, and you're okay with it. But when you're in a bad place, You want to kick them in the head.

So that's how it comes out in me. It's sometimes just in this anger and I know when that starts to happen, I know it's time to take a step back and realize okay, I might need to make some changes in my schedule so that I'm gonna be able to continue on with joy in my teaching. And one other thing that I wanna mention that I know not everyone deals with and I don't think that you necessarily have to be someone who feels like their confined to the classical order to have this experience, but sometimes you feel a little boxed in and restricted by the content that you're allowed to teach. Especially if you're an employee and you have someone, you know, the studio owner is real specific about what they want you to teach. But I had an interesting experience where for 13 years I never taught outside of the classical method because You know, I kind of had that Pilates police fear.

And I just felt like if I came outside of the classical work that I was breaking all of the rules and it was really scary. While that may sound a little bit silly, I really do think that a lot of people can feel restricted. I really believe though, within the confines of what you are allowed to teach or tell yourself you're allowed to teach, there is room for creativity. I wanna also talk a little bit about how you can lead into burnout in two different parts of your career. So as a brand new teacher, you think you're never gonna get burned out.

You think that you have just hit the jackpot on the best job ever and it's never gonna happen to you. It can, and it probably will. Because in your enthusiasm for building a client base you will often teach any hour of the day, on Christmas, you'll do anything to show up for your clients. And initially that feels really good because you're having so much fun and it doesn't feel like you're going to work. It does change.

And one of the things in being proactive like what I wanna share with you is that you have to be a little ready for that. So for me, as a studio owner, When people go through my training program, I let them kind of do that. I'll give 'em about two months where they really get to just go to work whenever they want. But about by the third month I let them know I am telling you, you have to break your schedule into shifts. Because a lot of times you'll find yourself going in and teaching from 6 AM to 10 AM and then you come back and do a 6 and 7 o'clock session at night.

You can't maintain that for long. And people think their clients won't adjust, but they really will. So, please make sure that you take care of yourself in that way, as a new teacher. Now, as an experienced teacher, I think that sometimes, you feel a little overwhelmed when you have some difficult clients. Difficult clients do exist.

Okay, they are a problem. (laughing) We have more control over the way that we handle them, though. I have lots of examples of difficult clients, but one I think that's interesting or important to share is the client that doesn't really wanna go there, mentally, with the Pilates method. And we love it, because we know if you can get really nerdy with the system then you can go, your body can do amazing things that you never believed possible. Those are the clients that we just eat up. Not everyone's gonna do that.

And sometimes you have to give them time. And sometimes you just have to accept that they're just coming in because they just wanna do what they know and you can't get angry or frustrated. If you can just be excited about the ones that will go there and go to the nerdy place, but just accept that with the clients that won't, you may truly, just be, an exercise giver. It may just be for those clients, straighten your legs and bend your legs. You may just be counting out the six or seven reps.

You just have to meet people where they are. And I have found that in some situations I will meet them where they are and I'm just, do the exercise-giver thing and then they kinda start to show up in a different way. They'll have an a-ha moment that all of the sudden they think, oh I felt that differently. And then they start to open up a little. I will share, too, that I've had that happen sometimes within six months and I have honestly had that happen in six years.

So just try to be patient with those people who won't go there and just understand that if they are setting up sessions with you and showing up, there's a reason and you are doing something really good. I believe that when you do spread yourself a little bit too thin with your schedule that it really is ultimately self-sabotage. You can control that a little bit better just by looking forward and looking at your schedule and making sure that for your lifestyle you're doing what's best for you. Not everyone's gonna have the same restrictions on their schedule. So for me, I have two children that are 10 and 12.

I have to do pick up from school, and then I have to run them to dance or soccer after school. So what I know is, even when a client looks at me and says, "Carrie, all I can do is two o'clock on Monday" I have to look at them and say I'm so sorry. I can't do that. I've got these two little people I'm trying to raise. So you just have to be honest about where your restrictions are in your schedule and be honest with yourself.

I'm not even saying you necessarily need to explain anything to your students, you just need to know your limitations. Another suggestion I have for staying ahead of the game is looking forward at your schedule, and probably about every three months, maybe four months, building in a three day weekend. So, looking at your schedule and seeing where can I take a Friday off or a Monday off. And just get that extra day. And it will help you to have something to look forward to.

Now here's the rule on that. You don't get to book doctor's appointments on that day. It is a day where you don't have to run around and do things and you get to just regroup and take care of yourself. So let's talk about how you can be creative and keep yourself excited about going to work every day. I have to be very mindful about this.

If I am running around doing my busy life and just get up in the morning, run the kids to school, and then go straight to the studio and start teaching, I am not gonna have fun. I'm gonna feel like I'm unorganized. I'm gonna feel like when it comes time for the next exercise that I haven't set the equipment up correctly. And clients are, I don't like that, when people are having to wait for me to set up the equipment. So I think that being prepared and knowing what you're gonna teach is essential to staying excited about your work.

I find that if I don't do that, also, that I'm distracted by what is going on in my life outside of the studio. Because there's room for that. But if I've planned ahead, I know what I'm gonna teach and so I'm focused on that plan and routine. So that I'm not distracted. The thing that helps me that most when I plan my workouts is number one, I try to do it the night before.

I do think that you can do it kind of quickly the morning of if you need to and maybe just jot some things down. I really like to look at it the day before. I teach a lot of group classes. And at my studio we don't label our classes as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. So we do have mixed levels a lot.

And it helps me so much to remember, okay, this person has knee issues. This person has a shoulder issue. And I can plan accordingly. So what I find is, if I look at it the night before then I know well the person with the shoulder issue isn't going to be doing a certain arm exercise that I planned, I'm might just say here's a magic circle, do some magic circle squeezes while the rest of the class goes through the workout. So they know that I'm taking care of them, I'm acknowledging that they have an issue with their body in the class, and it makes people feel like you're taking care of them.

And that's the great thing about planning ahead, too is that it really does show your clients that they matter and that you've spent time thinking about exactly what they need. Another thought in planning the workout ahead is to try to get out of comfort zones. One of my favorite things to kind of joke about is footwork always becomes the exercise where you talk about how was your weekend, and running becomes the opportunity to talk about what you're gonna do this weekend. And so they become these throw away exercises. I think for a while, what I tried to do was just engage the clients with kind of coming up with different ways to get them to think about the exercise, but one of the things that I think is most effective is to mess up their comfort zone with the way that they start the class.

So something just really simple, like a little stretch series can really help to distract them so that they don't get into that talking to their friend that's next to them and those things that ultimately make you feel frustrated. If you can distract them from their comfort zones and then on top of that, you get out of your own, you will be excited about showing them something new, and again, I find that my clients will say things like wow you always keep it fresh and new. I'm not really teaching anything all that fresh and new. And throwing crazy exercises in. I'm just preparing by creating little flowing segments that they already know, but just helps them to do something a little bit different.

Another idea for changing up your classes and getting people a little distracted from their comfort zones is to just come up with a theme. So you can use the principles and maybe do something like, use a different principle every week. Or a different Pilates principle every month. And all of the classes just somehow stem from those themes. Another thought is to maybe look at your fundamentals or some concept that you maybe you found a way to really find the low belly and trying to share that with your clients.

And getting excited about how you're gonna communicate that to them. And my biggest tip for staying creative and excited is to not forget that you love Pilates and to keep doing it. So you have to get your personal practice in. You can take classes but if you think back to when you went through your training program you may not have even had the permission to take classes and count that as part of your training. Most training programs do not consider that part of personal practice.

Personal practice is actually getting on the equipment no one telling you what you are doing and you're feeling those exercises and trying to figure out how can I feel it differently or the ways that you struggle with it so that you can kind of assume well my client, who doesn't have any Pilates background, is probably struggling with it too. You have to do personal practice. Let me say though, personal practice doesn't always look like a 55 minute workout three times a week. I suggest that, and I wish that that were my life and that I could still do that. It's just not always an option.

Sometimes your personal practice looks like spending 20 minutes before you start your teaching shift getting on the equipment and maybe working on that theme or working on some new concept and thinking how you're gonna share that with he client. I just can't say enough how important personal practice is. Along with that, though, do be a student. You can go take classes from other studios in your community. Sometimes people feel like if they go and take a class that they don't really love, that they're not getting anything out of it.

For me, sometimes I think that as far as refining your teaching skills, maybe not your repertoire of exercises, but in terms of refining your teaching skills you're gonna learn what kind of teacher you wanna be by taking other people's classes. Lastly, my biggest piece of advice is use online resources, Like Pilates Anytime to get inspired. So for me, I lived in, Or I still do, live in a small town and I felt really boxed in by my content as I mentioned earlier, and when I found Pilates Anywhere it changed the game completely. I was able to see that there were lots of people out there that like me were very classically trained, but were doing some creative things. So obviously if you're watching this, you're a member of Pilates Anytime and please remember to use this resource as much as you can.

Remember that sometimes not just taking the classes can be really helpful, but actually sitting and observing the way that the teacher works with the client can be really helpful. I also wanna just say that using different resources like Facebook and Instagram are great. With any type on online inspiration, though, please follow this rule. Get it in your body before you teach it. Sometimes you'll watch something, oftentimes the things that we see on Instagram look really cool and really exciting and you think I wanna teach that.

You can't teach it if you don't have it in your body. And there's a lot of room for error there. So make sure that if you see something that you love that you're gonna get into the studio, you're gonna use your personal practice time, to really realize how to do the exercise most importantly safely, but also effectively. Thank you so much for watching my tutorial on staying creative and how to avoid burnout. I really hope that you just got one good tip out of this.

Please remember you have control over staying excited but you do just have to take that responsibility. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments and have a great day everyone.


1 person likes this.
Great tutorial, Carrie, thank you so much for sharing your experience ❤️
Well done Carrie. Useful thoughts thank you, Sarahx
1 person likes this.
Thanks for a great tutorial Carrie. Lots of points I resonated with as a fairly new teacher of 2 years, studio owner & mother of 2 young kids.
3 people like this.
That was so good! You hit on so many good points! I don't know what I would do without PilatesAnytime either!
1 person likes this.
Not to sound self-centered here but I felt like you were talking right to me! I agree with Sharon! so many good points ! Thank you so much!
Thanks so much everyone! I'm so glad the tutorial was helpful!
1 person likes this.
Carrie thank you so much! This time of year is so busy and it's so easy to feel burnout. Your words are incredibly helpful and SO true! And yes I admit I was feeling frustrated last week when my client's foot just wouldn't stay flexed! This week deep breaths and fun!
Theresa L
I could relate with all you mentioned and you are SO right, Pilates Anytime helps a lot! Thank you for sharing your tips.. I LUV all your classes! (The way you get them into exercises and how to cue specific things)
Great tutorial Carrie, it's so great to hear someone tell it like it is. I have never seen anyone be this candid. Pilates anytime has been a great inspiration to me. My clients moan that I have been watching too many videos when I take them out of their comfort zone,but they love it.

Thank you Carrie for all your advice and tips! I love your smile!
Greetz from Holland.
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