Top: GapFit Breathe tie-back tee (other tie/cross back top options here, here, here) | Bra: Fabletics | Leggings: Old Navy (option) | Shoes: Nike "free rn" (other colors here and here)
Last Thursday, March 30th, I taught my first ever group class! I thought that was a big enough milestone to merit its own dedicated post. I mean, how often am I going to have a first of something, right? And teaching in a group setting is definitely different than teaching one-on-one. I wanted to capture all of my thoughts and reflections about the experience while it was all still relatively fresh in my head, and I know that this will be a fun post to look back on later in my Pilates career!
It was a mat class in honor of March "MATness." The mat repertoire tends to be forgotten a lot, at least with me before, because working out on the equipment is addicting and so rewarding! But incorporating mat exercises into your Pilates routine is definitely essential to staying well-rounded. Just because you are able to do intermediate to advanced exercises on the reformer does not automatically make you intermediate to advanced on the mat UNLESS you are practicing mat exercises just as regularly. And let me tell you. Mat is no freaking joke. I sweat one thousand times more on the mat than I do on any of the equipment! Maybe it's because the equipment is enough to distract you from all the work your body is doing, so when you remove the equipment from the equation and just have your body to focus on, you realize how challenging everything is even more? I'm not sure. But my point to all of this is that March MATness is a great way to bring every Pilates addict back to the basics, so our studio offered a mat class every Thursday in March, which conveniently gave each of us 4 trainees an opportunity to teach our first group class.
The classes can hold 8-10 people and I ended up having 7 in my class. I was hoping for a full class just to really beef up that intimidation factor, but I was happy with 7, especially since the most people I have taught simultaneously before was 2! I did feel a little bit lucky because there was only one person in the class that I didn't know prior to the class, but she was stuck in traffic and showed up a few minutes late that by the time she showed up, there was no chance for me to be nervous around the stranger! Though, it's almost more nerve wracking to teach in front of people you do know, and 3 of my clients were the other trainees. If you teach in front of strangers, they have no idea what your script is or whether or not you are teaching out of order or giving bizarre cues! But the trainees know! So, I did worry about sucking in front of them! Ha!
Just like with the reformer, there is a set order of mat exercises which slightly varies by skill level. The biggest problem with this is that the lower the skill level, the less amount of exercises you have to teach, and the likelihood that you're going to have all advanced people in your class is pretty slim to none. I had planned on teaching the level 2/3 exercises, but I knew that wasn't enough to fill an entire hour. I recently watched a video that one of the Boulder instructors taught which was an adaption of the reformer exercises, but on the mat using 2 pound weights. I thought it would be fun to incorporate some of those exercises in with the classical mat work because they were doable for beginner to intermediate clients, but not so super easy that they were simply throw away or fluff exercises for the sake of filling time.
That said, I was most nervous about accidentally leaving exercises out and then having a ton of time left to fill at the end of class. I had practiced my planned set of exercises myself earlier that morning so I could time everything and it only took me a half hour to get through everything!! I know things go a lot faster when you're practicing alone because you're not having to explain form or transitions and all of that, but I was still a wee bit worried I didn't have enough exercises planned. But, timing worked out just fine. I even ended up having to cut out one exercise because I was running out of time.
I felt pretty good about how it all went! It went better than I had anticipated, though one thing I really need to work on is being able to work out and teach at the same time! I won't have that issue with the equipment classes, but for this mat class, I found myself demonstrating a lot more than I expected and I was SO OUT OF BREATH just working out, much less having to speak to everyone on top of that. At one point, I felt like I sounded like I was crying because my voice was shaking since my abs were screaming at me! Ha!
And that's it! I am scheduled to teach another couple group classes in May, so I'm looking forward to that now, too, and less freaked about it! They will be "back to the basics" Pilates classes on the equipment. I'm very relieved to have this milestone out of the way! I've had to explain to people that teaching my first group class doesn't mean that I am fully certified, but I'm halfway there!
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