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Balanced Body COREterly

Winter 2019

Teaching and Learning

Mentoring 101: Creating an Environment to Build Up Alumni teachers

By: Nico Gonzalez

The very first day I started telling friends and colleagues that I was opening up my own Pilates studio I was asked the dreadful question. You know the one: “How are you going to compete with ALL the other studios in town?” And the follow-up question: “Aren’t you afraid that a Pilates trainer you have personally trained might open a studio near you and take your clients?” These questions truly helped me decide how I was going to proceed in my journey.

In almost all of the teacher trainer foundational courses that I instruct, I emphasize my role as an educator. Truly allowing myself to be in the moment of mentoring allows me to give up all the worries of a “studio owner.” Moreover, the participants in the trainings allow themselves to invest in being students. The environment becomes a safe zone of learning, sharing experiences, and trust.

I’m not saying I never look for talent, but there is a place and time. During a teacher training course isn’t the place nor time. I had this discussion with a colleague awhile back. She invited me to her studio for some coffee in hopes to pick my brain. Unbeknownst to her, I was also picking her brain. She quickly started asking me for hard numbers regarding how many teacher trainers I have trained AND how many of those trainers now work for me. In the back of my mind I was thinking “Wow. That’s an interesting question — I’ve never thought about it that way.”

My answer was simple. Over the course of 6 years maybe 5 trainers started working for me and 3 moved onto their own successful practice outside my studio. She was shocked. She was running her own internal teacher training course that required a contract of non-compete and a promise to teach so many months after the conclusion of the training. Again, maybe I’ve been living in a bubble, but I would have never thought of that. Good for her, I thought. Definitely not something I would do but I saw her point. She asked me point blank, ”Why train your future competition?“

It has been 11 years now that I have been “training the trainer” in Pilates for Balanced Body education. I run, along with Amy Phillips who is also a Master Trainer here at Fitness Physiques, all the Balanced Body teacher training course modules throughout the year. We often run the most popular courses, Reformer 1, Reformer 2, and Anatomy in 3D multiple times a year with success. It has now come to the point where registrants are coming in for these courses because of their studio owner and/or teacher have recommended me. This started to blow my mind a bit. Who are these studio owners and/or teachers? How did they hear about me and the Balanced Body trainings? After some digging during our first hour of introductions, I found out that they came from a either a studio owner and/or teacher who has taken courses with me over the last 11 years. Another mind-blowing moment. Studio owners down the road from my place are sending trainers to me for education. Excellent!

Getting back to my conversation with the colleague who has her own internal teacher training course, she gets to the point of why we are actually meeting. Her challenge is that she needs more people to enter her teacher training course but can’t find the magic solution as to where to find them. Ah-hah, now we are getting somewhere. I had a simple answer for her and this is truly my secret sauce. If you know anything about recipes and secret sauces you know that nothing is really secret! If you were paying attention, I gave it all away in the beginning of this piece.

Here it is again in case you missed it. Teacher training courses are just that. An environment of safe learning, sharing, and growth. Be a mentor who cares more for education over anything else. Again, this is hard pill to swallow being a studio owner myself. I have let many amazingly talented trainers walk out my door and they have made other studio owners very happy. Guess what? That is absolutely fine with me! Good creates good in my opinion. All those amazingly talented trainers have started teaching Pilates elsewhere. All they talk about is how fantastic their educational experience has been. My name along with the Balanced Body name is spoken multiple times throughout this city in many studios daily. Guess what? Clients listen and remember this information. When a new Pilates teacher goes back to their studio on a Monday morning after a long teacher training course, they are super excited to share their knowledge and experience.

I will end with this great moment that brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. During the first hour of introductions, the registrant who is trained by an alum teacher says, “I can’t wait to learn all the great things my teacher has been talking about over the past few years. I feel like I’m joining a Pilates family!” That moment, my friends, is one of the many reasons why I continue to do what I do.