By Lisa Jackson, Principal Instructor, Core Pilates Brisbane

When we think of a mentor what usually comes to mind? It should be somebody who provides us with support, encouragement, experience and knowledge. Here’s a formal definition that I found;

“A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors. An effective mentor understands that his or her role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the needs of the mentee”.

The words “dependable, engaged and authentic” are very true when I look at the people who have mentored me throughout my career. When I finished my first certification program with the Physicalmind Institute I remember our teacher saying, “now you are ready to begin learning?!” At the time I thought, “well haven’t I just done my learning?” When I look back I now see exactly what she meant. Learning from books, observing teachers, assisting teachers and attending workshops is really just the start of your journey and having somebody to mentor you along the way makes a huge difference.

Learning how to teach the Pilates repertoire is the first step towards becoming a Pilates Instructor. Understanding how to apply the exercises, the principles and program for the person in front of you takes longer to learn and master. This is why having somebody mentor you along the way can make a huge difference to the way you continue your teaching career. Not only should a mentor teach and motivate you but they should also inspire you to want to keep growing and learning.

A good mentor should help build your confidence whilst understanding your limitations, they should encourage you to find your own teaching style, help you understand how to work with people and understand each person’s individuality. They should also be active in their own learning and hopefully will have their own mentor.

I was blessed to have a wonderful mentor in the United States, Laurie Walker, from Pro-Active Pilates, in my early years who worked with many complex bodies. She always taught with both passion, empathy and so much enthusiasm. Pilates was, and still is, her life and her passion. She believed in me and shared her knowledge and experience each and every day I worked with her. This grounding and experience gave me confidence and an understanding of the importance of continuing my learning at every stage of my career.

Since returning to Australia I have been blessed to learn from two amazing teachers, Sally Anderson and Lanette Gavran. As mentors they have not only helped me continue my education in movement but have also encouraged me to look at the body in different ways whilst still applying the Pilates principles. Not only have they helped me with my Pilates learning but also my career options, preparing me to be a trainer and hence share my knowledge with new Pilates teachers; something I am now very passionate about. I continue to learn and be inspired by both of these women. They always encourage me to step out of my comfort zone to enable me to grow and be the best I can.

Choosing a Pilates course can be difficult as there are many options in the marketplace. Not all courses offer mentoring opportunities, and often once you complete the course you are no longer offered any further assistance. I train for PilatesITC and can honestly say that my students are offered the best in mentorship. Having the privilege to work with real bodies in real studios is incredible and not something to be taken lightly. Our clients trust us which is why it is so important when you first start teaching to have a mentor/supervisor who you can go to with any questions or concerns. Working alone can be very scary and can prevent us from advancing our skill levels and our own practice. It also takes time to build experience and with a mentor you can be guided through your teaching journey.

As Joseph Pilates says, “patience and persistance are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worth while endeavour”.

I encourage you to look for a mentor who is, as we described, dependable, engaged and authentic and above all passionate about the benefits of Pilates, somebody who is open to sharing this with you and will help you be the best you can be. Good luck, and always keep learning!

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