Hi Nanthini. How long have you been practicing Pilates and becoming a Pilates instructor? Were you initially from this field of sport?
I’m a physiotherapist, and I did my Bachelor’s in Physiotherapy Sciences, from the Northumbria University, UK. I’ve been practicing as a physiotherapist for one year in a sports physio in rehab.
OK, so when one year I’ve been working there before I come to know about Pilates through a friend of mine who studied with me but he started his career in Pilatique. My four years programme was in Malaysia, with the collaboration of Mahsa University.
So you mentioned that you’re specialized in this field even before the proper certification for Pilates? Does that mean that you don’t need to take another certification if you major in such a programme, as Pilates instructor?
You need to. I started my profession like that, but then … as my friend started joining Pilatique, and he started in the physio department and earlier, this setting was just primarily focused on Pilates.
So a year after completing my service in the previous setting, I figured that I wanted to learn a bit more new things, and new knowledge, so that’s when I showed my interest towards Pilates when my friend offered me a job here, where we do physio and pilates. He asked if I was interested.
So I probe further and found out that in Pilates alone, there is a few school of thoughts and STOTT Pilates is one of them. The rest is history…
Because you already have immense experience in this field, what would you advise new students who have zero knowledge of Pilates, and yet they showed interest in learning this course.
As I started off my career with Pilatique, I commence with a Pilates course and workshops, to begin with. It’s called the “Anatomy review” as well as “Posterior Analysis Review.” These two are mandatory if you want to pursue the course.
Pilates courses are divided according to its equipment so if you want to do a “mat work pilates” there’s a mat work programme just for that. And if you’re going to do a ‘reformer programme’ we have that as well.
So the certifications are based on the equipment you’re specialized in.
Is there like an instance where an instructor specializes in ALL of the equipment?
Yes. Like currently, I’m fully certified for all the equipment and the level of training starts from essential, intermediate and advanced. Essential to intermediate falls under level 1.
So let’s say, I’m doing a matwork level 1. I will learn all the matwork exercises contained in this level 1 programme.
And if I’m doing level 2, it consists of all advanced exercises. So currently I’m a qualified instructor specializing in ALL equipment, level 1 and 2. And my extension is in rehab Pilates.
So for a physiotherapist or other medical professionals out there, anyone who wants to learn about pilates for treatment purposes, you can do a course called “rehab pilates” which is catered mainly to only medical professionals who can diagnose and treat patients.
Whereas anyone can do the fitness pilates course by attending the “Anatomy review” as well as “Posterior Analysis Review.” These courses give you a kickstart to the whole in-depth understanding towards Pilates.
That means we all don’t need to be a physiotherapist to qualify?
But maybe a little more effort is needed since you’ll need to understand the workings of anatomy from scratch.
How about clinical pilates, is it just done by experienced physiotherapist?
When it comes to clinical Pilates, we’re talking about people with medical problems like arthritis, injuries, and long-term pain. So their goals for taking up Pilates is also for a different purpose. That means you’re also looking more at healing strategies as opposed to the standard Pilates practitioners who are in for only fitness and strengthening of physique.
So to practice clinical pilates, one needs to be certified in ‘rehab pilates’ course as well.
As long as it’s anyone who is qualified to diagnose and treat medical problems, they can undergo rehab pilates to perform clinical pilates on their patients.
You mentioned that you have the qualification to train all the equipment and also in physiotherapy, are you even in the position to perform a clinical pilates session on a practitioner then?
I am, indeed, a certified clinical Pilates instructor trainer, and my qualification is in rehab pilates.
If you’re an instructor, you can use the rehab pilates knowledge to treat a client.
As for my position, I train instructors in rehab pilates, so I’m an instructor trainer. So it’s like I’m a teacher for instructors.
So if medical professionals want to do rehab pilates, they can come to me, and I can conduct a rehab pilates session so they’d be able to perform a clinical session on their patients later.
What are inspiring words for those pilates teachers wannabe?
It’s possible to get certified in 6 months, and it’s doable as long as you have the passion for active involvement with the clients, training or even rehab. Like an “active rehab approach” or a dynamic exercise programme approach, which focuses more mind and body awareness.
Find your niche and what you love about Pilates. If you’re interested in what you’re doing, six months is a brisk walk.
Are there any lessons learned from this industry- continuous innovation, after certification what’s next?
One of the main reason I left my previous workplace is due to lack of professional growth, and I am still with Pilatique because there is a continuous education, improvement, and growth for my self and career after so long.
Reason being, we’re not the only service provider for physio rehab Pilates and pilates, but we’re also a licensed training center. And that why you can come and do your certification here and STOTT Pilates certified here too.
If you’re doing just level 1, and a piece of equipment, there’s always space for improvement. You can pick up another instrument and extend your repertoire and your understanding towards this exercise, with more pieces of equipment or escalate to different levels.
As long as you’re teaching or treating clients, we focus on their problems. Different clients, different issues. That means you won’t be getting one similar problem. That would also mean that you need to constantly be on your feet thinking of possible solutions to offer to your clients. Because everybody has different bodies, and so they’re treated subjectively.
And I don’t think so you’ll be bored of these because you’re constantly learning every day with various case studies.
So what sort of mindset or self-drive one needs to have to be a better instructor?
So the quality to be an instructor is actually to be able to speak well. Because apparently, you’ll need to interact with your clients a lot- with them during courses, exercises, treatment sessions.
So that’s a significant main quality. Regarding other attributes like confidence, it builds up with time after you attend the course. Once you already know the gist and knowledge about Pilates exercises, you’ll be more confident. And of course, passion.
How do you compete with today’s competitive (free) content mill like the social media when it comes to content? Since everybody can learn from the Internet…
I won’t see them as competitors as we can leverage on them to gain more information. Besides Pilates is a form of technical exercise that requires supervision on posture and positioning so even when you have the opportunity to learn of the Internet, it still needs to be guided correctly by an instructor, because you need someone to observe and tell you how to move.
So you can find more about “how to engage your core in Pilates” on the Internet, but for you to do it correctly and safely, you’ll still need an instructor, and you don’t want to jeopardize your health and safety doing an exercise which you’re not 100% confirmed about.
So far what are your challenges being a Pilates instructor and trainer?
As an instructor, I see every challenge as a new journey or lesson. And everything is a learning curve like a new client’s problem. Perhaps for a new instructor, you might find it a little intimidating at the initial stage, but as time goes on with more knowledge and experience, you won’t see these challenges as obstacles anymore. I would say the challenge would be more of a new instructor at the start.
Whereas being a trainer has its different set of problems. One of it is because rehab pilates is not exactly well known in this region yet. We are picking up but still very much lacked behind. So I am getting the challenge of spreading the awareness amongst medical professionals on the benefits of rehab pilates for their clients.
So I am taking steps to improving this situation like going to the universities to give talks, approaching hospitals to try to spread the information about rehab/ clinical pilates.
How do you think you can move forward as a certified Pilates instructor with the continuing education to keep abreast with the latest trend industry, and how can this newly gained knowledge be incorporated into the practice?
If you look at the Pilates certification requirement and development, we’re required to keep up with the Continuous Education Credit (CEC) points, every year.
So for fitness training we have American Certification for Exercise (ACE), and as an ACE instructor, you need to upkeep your credit on a yearly basis and these credits collected are for the instructors to keep their license ongoing.
You can gain these credit points by attending workshops, training and that is where you keep improving yourself and keeping abreast with the current industry standards. If you’re not active, and not collecting these required credits within a year, that shows you’re not following abreast of the latest industry standards.
Interested in becoming a Pilates instructor? Check out your opportunities and start making a change in your life. Do what you love doing now.