Pilates Teacher Mentorship - things to look for

The Pilates industry is an interesting place when you think about how mentorship plays, or doesn’t play a role in the professional growth of a Pilates teacher. Most often, we are led to a Pilates program to train to teach by a teacher who inspires us, makes us fall in love with Pilates, advises us on where to train to teach, and helps us through the training with all of their wisdom, and then probably offers us our first teaching jobs. Often times the programs that they recommend are connected to them. Assuming that this teacher, business owner, trainer has the best intentions at heart for their students (which I always assume and wholeheartedly believe), they recommend the program because it is where they themselves trained, or its their own program that they wholeheartedly believe in.

Often times in-house graduates are the first place a business will look for its next employees. In this case, your teacher, whom you looked to as an inspiration point/guide/mentor, shifts to your employer/boss/ manager. This shift of relationship dynamic can often lead a Pilates teacher to feel like a commodity, or a dollar sign. Where there was once inspiration and advice, conversation and interaction shifts to performance and schedule filling. Questions like: Where do I go from here? What do I want my career to look like in 5 years? What next? May be swept under the rug because the business of dreaming big and developing a personal brand, or even personal decisions like planning a family may not align with your employer’s business goals. And this is not to say that your teacher/employer is a bad person, or only cares about their business, it is just to say that if you have experienced the let down of a Pilates teacher/mentor not reaaaally being a mentor, then it is time to recognize that shift in relationship dynamic, and be open to finding a new person who will serve you in that role.

The first step in finding the right mentor for you, is to understand the roles that a mentor can play in your professional growth, and how you might go about finding one.

Someone who is your teacher and employer does not necessarily make them your mentor. Can one person be your teacher, mentor, and employer all at once? Absolutely. But you should know the benefits of a good mentor and what to be wary of in someone who might not be a good fit.

Why do you need a mentor?

Having a mentor can provide you many advantages as you go along your professional path as a Pilates teacher. Not only can they be a go-to to help you develop your voice within your everyday teaching, answer questions, and help you figure out tough client situations, having the right mentor can provide you with a number of useful growing opportunities.

They can be brain to pick when you are feeling uneasy or unsure about decisions that lie ahead, or offer an ear to listen after a professional hardship. They can also be that push that you need to leap in the right direction. A good mentor can help shorten your learning curve, open your mind to possibilities and opportunities for growth, and advise you on the best ways to promote yourself.

What does a good mentor do?

A good mentor is generous and willing to share their skills and knowledge of the industry, as well as their experiences. They are willing to take a personal interest in you and are invested in your success in reaching your personal and professional goals. They are enthusiastic about what they do, invested in their work and serve as a role model in the attitudes and behaviors that contribute to their success. They value ongoing learning and growth, and truly believe in the power of professional development, no matter what stage they are in their career. I good mentor will also provide constructive feedback to their mentee, and often provide challenges and tasks that will help their mentee foster professional development and learning in their field.

What does a good mentor NOT do?

A good mentor does not see you as their potential competition in the field. A good mentor does not speak negatively about co-workers, colleagues, or employers and respects work of others in their field. A good mentor does not leave you feeling discouraged, or negative after meetings. A good mentor does not disappear and become hard to reach. A good mentor does not break personal and professional boundaries, and does not bully their mentees and make them feel inadequate.

Where do you find mentors?

Mentorship can be found in a number of surprising places. I personally have not ever had a formal mentor relationship with anyone, but in each stage of my life and career, have been fortunate enough to gravitate to relationships that provide the benefits of mentorship. I seek mentorship in my friends and fellow colleagues, as well as women who work in other fields, both younger and older than I am.

A formal mentorship relationship is a bit different. It usually features specific structure and lasts for a finite amount of time (6-12 months). The mentor and mentee agree on when and how often to meet over this course of time, and may develop into a longer informal mentorship relationship. For example, I offer formal mentorship to Pilates teachers for a 6 month period. We meet either in person or virtually once a month for an hour at a time, and in between communicate through email. (If you’d like more information on working with me in this capacity- feel free to email me at Hello@terriellsamuels.com)

I hope this information helps and aids you to find  the right person in your life that will help propel you forward, keep you inspired, and stop you from pulling your hair out. I am very curious to hear about formal or informal mentorship relationships you have had within the Pilates industry. What positive experiences, or negative experiences that have led you to where you are now- feel free to share below in the comments section, or email me at hello@terriellsamuels.com.

Terriell SamuelsComment