So if you have read my blog for a while or been following on ze social media you would of seen I had been doing my Pilates teacher qualification for what seems like forever. And last month I PASSED which I am pretty damn happy about. I feel like although it took what felt like an age, its something I am super proud of, I worked really hard for it and now I can say I am a qualified Pilates instructor.
Now why did I decide on Pilates I hear you ask? Well exercise and movement has always been such an integral part of my life. When I am active and moving I feel happier, more balanced. Its always been about that for me, sounds cliché I know but I feel like moving my body regularly keeps me sane, keeps me happy. When I first ‘discovered’ exercise it was a Pilates class at my local gym, I loved the class and lucked out on the teacher. I started going regularly and pretty much since then its always been part of my routine. Yes I discovered other classes, running, weights but Pilates has always been a staple, a non-negotiable for me. My body just feels better when I do regular Pilates, it helps me understand my body better, I work better and move better. This then transcends into my daily life – less injuries, I am more efficient in my workout. I just see it as my building block. Then I discovered reformer when I moved to London and that was it. It was love.
So now we know why I love Pilates, but why a teacher qualification I hear you ask? Well there are many elements. I left my full time 9-5 office job about 3 years ago now, I knew never wanted to go back to working in an office full time if I could help it. Easier said than done though right. So for me I have been adding many strings to my bow over the last few years, all these strings enabling me to create a life away from a traditional office job. I like having options, doing things I love, and my love for Pilates made Pilates teaching an obvious choice for me. I love blogging and the amazing opportunities it has given me. I have travelled the world, worked with some of my absolute favourite brands on campaigns I am SO proud of. It’s an amazing world and allows me to be creative and be my own boss which I am so SO grateful for. However it’s a career that’s very full on and sometimes exhausting, and right now I love it. But I may not want to run an Instagram and post my life online in 5 -10 years time. I don’t know where it will go and evolve too but I never want to rely on an app for my sole source of income and my only career path.
So as well as my consultancy and content creation I decided a natural path for me was to do a teaching qualification. I love Pilates, I love people and I am naturally someone who enjoys peoples company. So it kind of made sense for me, I also have a slightly romantic idea of quitting London life moving somewhere a bit further out with a garden, a dog and teaching Pilates and having a slower pace of life…..may all be a romantic dream but its nice to have the option.
Why Body Control? So I decided on doing a course, now where to do that course. I didn’t want to do a crappy course, no if I was going to do this I wanted to do it properly. I wanted where I did my course to be well thought of in the Pilates industry and known for its quality of teachers. After some research I found Body Control, which is one of the best known Pilates schools and teaching courses. And luckily for me right around the corner from my house. My best babe Lottie Murphy did her qualification there many moons ago and she is the best Pilates instructor, and so did my aunty who again is the most wonderful Pilates instructor so I knew I was in good hands. I wanted a course which would give me a solid foundation and understanding allowing me to feel confident in my teaching ability. Body Control Pilates is probably one of the most intense and more expensive courses out there. And believe me when I say it’s a BIG commitment. But its so well thought of I decided on them over some of the shorter less intense options.
I know a few of you wanted to know about the layout of the course and what it involved. So I thought I would break it down for you. Starting with what I loved about the course. I decided on the intensive option where you do a full week 7 days at Body Control, going through the foundation of Pilates, the moves, the teaching cycle and practise. There is another option to do a full weekend every few weeks over a longer period of time but I know what I am like and an intensive option worked better for my lifestyle. The intense week was the highlight of my course, it was intense there were so many workbooks and manuals. You learnt SO much and my brain literally ached at the end of each day. You also practised teaching in front of the rest of the course, what its like managing a group, correcting bodies – all new and pretty scary but exciting experiences.
Once the intensive course is over you have done the first stage, now the real work begins. There are essays, workbooks, lesson plans, anatomy and open book exams. That’s just the written work. Then there’s the supervised teaching. You have to do around 50 hours supervised teaching minimum.
So let me quickly explain about supervised teaching. There is a list of supervised teachers who are Body Control Pilates teachers, you can only do your teaching with this select list of BCP teachers. You go to their classes and teach certain moves per class, this varies on teacher by teacher sometimes you teach 2 moves to the class other times you teach whole sections. It very much varies by teacher. Now this is the bit I struggled with if I am honest. The London teachers had a big waiting list but I was lucky enough that my aunty is a supervised teacher. So I taught a lot at her classes. But life is busy and I found my weeks getting booked up and travelling a lot. So for me I did it chunks at a time then life got in the way and I would have to have a few months off teaching. It’s a huge commitment and you have to put the hours in, travel to teachers. This is the section that makes you a good teacher but I can’t lie to you and say it’s an easy journey. I think if you have a teacher near to you life is easier. But like all good things in life, they don’t come easy right.
Then you get your first sign off – this is when you are at a Body Control Pilates student day, which are day courses for students put on regularly. These are super helpful especially for the final exam to make sure you are doing things in the way BCP wants you too. You go along to these, teach and if the teacher running the day thinks you are ready for the exam you get your sign off. This can be when you have 25-50 teaching hours it varies. I got mine after 25 hours.
Then next up is the final exam – which is bloooomin scary I can’t lie to you. You hand in your 6 week lesson plan you design, once this is passed you book your exam. The exam itself you get told your section of the class you are teaching half an hour before. There are three of you doing your exam at once. So you all get a section each – opening, middle or closing. The moves are ones you have put in your lesson plan and can practise in your teaching. All sounds complicated but bear with me. I want to make sure this is as detailed as possible in case you do decide to do the course.
Then once you know your moves, you go in to the class and teach your section. The examiner is in the corner (with a clipboard looking very scary!). They are looking for you to show an understanding of the Pilates moves, how to explain the moves and their benefits. Teach them to a class and correct bodies. They want to see you have a understanding of bodies, and can correct peoples forms using verbal and tactile ques. This is all stuff you pick up when doing your supervised teaching. There is a lot to remember – as there is a specific ‘teaching cycle’ and order in which you teach. But this is all down to practise.
Then after the hour class you sit and wait for your results, they tell you on the day whether it’s a pass or referral and then you get feedback. So although it’s an intense experience you find out there and then.
I am so happy to of finally passed and do believe the course has given me a solid understanding and I believe I am ready to teach ‘real people’ ahah. I love Pilates and this course has only solidified that love and passion for Pilates and movement so for that I am thankful and excited for what Pilates teaching has in store for me.
Now I want to be honest with you – yes the course is probably the best known course with the best reputation out there. You will finish a quality teacher with a brilliant understanding of Pilates and bodies. However it is a huge commitment, and I wouldn’t want anyone to underestimate like I did how much of your time you need to commit to it. I went in thinking I could easily fit it in to my hectic lifestyle, if I am honest I didn’t have time or space for the course. I found it really hard to squeeze in my hours and had months off at a time when life just got in the way. Majority of the people on my course had quit their full time jobs to focus on getting this qualification. And I wish I had the luxury to do that, however I was working 3 days a week at the time and travelling a huge amount. The last few months I basically became a hermit juggling blogging, consultancy and Pilates teaching. But it was worth it, I am glad I stuck it out. I did consider packing it all in once or twice but I carried on as I knew it would be worth it and it was something I wanted to achieve.
Thanks to Body Control for being so flexible with me and my crazy schedule. They were super accommodating with me and I really appreciate their support towards the end. Yes the course is intense but they were great at the end helping me fit in my hours, teaching and exams. I worked with Body Control on this course and agreed to share my experience on my blog. I know a few of you actually booked the course through my first blog post which is amazing. I wanted to give a full breakdown of the course for any others interested in having a career change.
So what next ey? Well who knows, right now life is a bit crazy (I know I always say this but I have this habit of taking on a load of stuff at once). I want to teach and love the idea of maybe one or two regular classes a week somewhere its just fitting it in, maybe up this to more regular classes once things calm down. I would love to do some one on ones or a corporate class here and there. So if anyone is interested please do pop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. I am excited to see where this journey takes me and start teaching.
I really hope this was helpful! Lots of love Natalie xx
For more information about the course, Body Control Pilates and the prices I will link their website HERE.