Just attended a workshop ‘Moving From Good To Great’ by John Garey yesterday. I always feel that there is no bad, good or great instructors or teachers, it all about finding a good fit. I learnt in my first instructor course that there is no need to worry about competition in this industry. We need to know that every client is looking for different things and one of the things includes how comfortable they feel with the instructor. This instructor trainer whom I respect, said ‘different strokes for different folks’, and that has stayed with me ever since.
That phrase has comforted me when I first started teaching. I always feel I’m a crappy instructor and am wasting client’s time and money. I don’t feel good about myself, and I feel I’m not equipped with enough knowledge and skills to teach. And of course, as a instructor working in a studio, other than helping clients achieve their goals, one of the things we need to do is to help studio to achieve its goal – make money by producing results and retaining clients. And I don’t do this well, in fact, I fail at it, badly.
Then I started to learn to be a client again, by attending private and group classes. I walked out of some sessions feeling successful and high and sometimes I walked out feeling not so good, and I started to form my own judgement if the class is a good or not so good class and then brand that instructor as good or not good, or classify them in the like or dislike category. That’s human nature right? We judge people by what they wear, what they do and what they say, and sometimes how they smell until we get to know the person. We also form that judgement based on how much we think that workout suits us and is beneficial for us. In this context, because we are the paying customer, we need to feel that we have the power to choose, our money is ‘invested’ wisely with good returns – instantly feeling satisfied after the session or in longer term, achieving our workout goal.
During the workshop, John mentioned that there are some common traits that we like or dislike about the instructors and their classes, it could be a trait we aspire to have, maybe a trait we can relate to. And I started to reflect and think about the classes that I enjoy and I don’t. Yes, it is true, the instructor is the one that makes a difference to my mindset: about myself, about the exercise, about the studio or gym, and about the people who are working out with me (if it is a group class). So is the vibe you get from the gym or studio. You need to feel comfortable. We are human and we seek stability and comfort.
The IT Factor
There is a point in the workshop notes that states ‘The IT Factor’. John shared that ‘IT’ is something that makes you unique, IT is you, and your best-self amplified. It is being okay to have the spotlight on you to project the true you. So it is not something that is fake, but the true you, the real you that have weaknesses and vulnerability. IT is you, standing on the stage and not afraid to show your vulnerable side because it is ‘showing the love you have and the joy you have for Pilates’, presenting what you do best and what you love best. Wow! I’m sure many of us want to be able to achieve this. But in a judgy society like this, it really is hard for many of us to let our guard down to show people our true self. It’s a high calling for many of us.
Be unafraid to show your vulnerable side because you are ‘showing the love you have and the joy you have for Pilates’
There is such a thin line between real and fake in showing people the true self. We tend to present the best side, but hide the weak side. And this is when we become fake and insincere. Life is not a show, you can’t act all the time. Where do we dump that weak and bad side if we only show the good side? Dump it on our loved ones at home or on friends and colleagues we are close to? Or what if we can’t find a place to dump them? I think we will end up bitter in life because we are not true to ourselves and we can’t keep up to our ‘fake’ self.
Recently, a client asked me, is it okay that you cannot do all the exercises in the Pilates repertoire? Are you all suppose to execute the moves in perfect form? Can you still become an instructor if you can’t? I told her she is looking at one who can’t do a lot of things in perfect form, she is looking at one instructor who doesn’t fit into the mould of a how most people will define Pilates or fitness trainer. Many of us have the mentality that instructors are perfect being because they are suppose to be role model. This, I absolutely is not.
Actually, I think answer to that higher calling is in the second part of that sentence because you are ‘showing the love you have and the joy you have for Pilates’. So I assume, as long we as we love and have joy in teaching Pilates or movement, showing our vulnerable sides should come naturally?
At the beginning of the workshop, John asked ‘What’s your inspiration’. During this segment we reflected on who inspires or uninspires us and why. I took some time last night to think a little deeper about it, and many people came to my mind. I felt so bad that I have not taken time to tell them how they have inspired me and thank them for doing so. So I started sending messages late in the night to some of these people. I thought, they are human, they may have their low moments in life, we can help lift them up if only they knew how much they have impacted my life. And there are some common ground among these people:
- They are passionate and commited to what they do
- They are humble leaders who lift people up
- They have a heart to bring people together
- They definitely have very positive attitude and are encouraging
- A couple, I have seen their vulnerable side, but they dusted their feet and stood tall again
Today, someone asked me if the workshop I’ve attended is useful. As she heard feedback that the stuff taught are really common sense and not very helpful. But I think otherwise. I find it insightful, it makes me think and reflect, gave me some concrete steps I can improve myself.
So, I ask, ‘What is your inspiration’. Everyone has, just that some of ours are still clouded and not as obvious. Dig a little deeper and I am sure we will get to know our true self better when we know what inspires us.
Where your treasure is, your heart follows!