How to Plan for the Future

Recently I had a discussion with my mentor about what I want to do. I was thinking where do I want to be in the next year. His idea was where do I want to be in 10 years, 25 years.

As daunting as it sounds to think of the future. The simple act of thinking about this is extremely beneficial.

  1. start with a really big picture.

What do you want your day, work week and lifestyle to look like? Do you want to work 8 hours a day and go home and leave work at home? Do you want a more loose schedule but more hours of your day devoted to working? Do you need structure in your day?

2. What makes you happy?

When are you most happy and fulfilled? Is it when you have a challenging project in front of you? Is it when you’re working on a project with others sharing responsibility?

3. What are you good at?

What do you excell at doing. What are your natural talents?

Once you answer these three questions. You can make an outline of what your goals are.

 

Where are you now. Where do you want to be in 25 years what are the steps to get there?

Things to know if you suffer from Anxiety

Hello Friends, for this week’s post I wanted to talk about anxiety. I think a lot of young adults suffer from some form of anxiety and I wanted to dispel some myths and show you some coping mechanisms. I start this piece noting I am not a psychiatrist and that these are merely some words for thought.

Picture this: You wake up in the morning, you check your phone, scroll through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You feel sad about missing your friends party this weekend when you see the photos. You scroll the headlines, there’s been another school shooting. You go and brush your teeth, start your morning ritual, a weight on your chest thinking about what you need to get done that day. Your phone rings, it’s a credit card company reminding you your overdue. On your commute to work, you check your email, filled with offers of things you must buy. You wish your job paid more. You remember a bill you forgot to pay. There is an accident on the main interstate your ten minutes late to work, you walk in your manager is upset. You feel like you’re working hard at work, but you also feel under appreciated. You think about getting a job, but you remember your finances and you feel tired. Your day feels long and stressful, you take your lunch as a way to catch up on extra work you missed because a mandatory staff meeting that didn’t pertain to you. You feel your heart pound as you force yourself to make cold calls, the people you call are cold. You feel small. When you finally get home you feel tired, and hungry. You get fast food on the way home because your too tired to cook. You feel like your life is a cycle. You dread getting up and doing it again tomorrow.

That was my life for three years before I left my job. You can always change your job, change your circumstances. But even changing professions, I still feel a lot of these things. Our society is set up to live to work instead of to work to live. Our society is set up for us to feel anxious and small, chasing the next paycheck, buying the latest thing, posting the right content online. Now, I am not dissing society, I just think we should be aware that its made to make us feel insignificant, anxious and alone. I want to show with this post that once we recognize our set backs we can begin to refocus our energy.

I want to go into diagnosable anxiety, so you can cut yourself a break. Whether your anxiety is passing thing because you’re stuck in a rut or reading this makes you decide to schedule an appointment with a therapist. I want to tell you that it’s ok. All humans should be talking to someone about what’s bothering them, so let’s start there.

Occasional Anxiety is completely normal, we are complex human beings, diagnosable anxiety happens when the fear doesn’t go away and gets worse over time. There are many types of anxiety, including panic disorder – where your anxiety comes in sudden and intense attacks, social anxiety disorder – where your anxiety revolves around social interactions. Risk factors for anxiety include shyness, exposure to stressful events, economic status, being divorced or widowed, being female, and genetic factors. Reading the list of symptoms, we can all raise are hand and have experienced one of these.

General anxiety disorder symptoms include:

Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge

Being easily fatigued

Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank

Irritability

Muscle tension

Difficulty controlling the worry

Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

 

The main treatment for Anxiety is Psychotherapy or talk therapy. Other ways that have shown to be very successful are self-help or support groups and utilizing stress management technics, and if none of these treatments work there are medications, there have been studies tying elevated afternoon cortisol levels in the saliva to anxiety. Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), An estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults had diagnosable anxiety disorder in 2007. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States.

 

According to WebMD Anxiety is defined as :A mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. Our society makes worry almost a part of daily life. You probably feel worried right now.  I would contend anxiety has become a natural part of living today. Don’t worry don’t go out and get anxiety medication, I am going to walk you through some life exercise that may help you with your worry.

Number One: Gain Freedom for Yourself

The first thing you can do in your life is gain back your financial freedom. This is the number one thing that causes anxiety for individuals in 25 to 35-year-old range. Finances are hard. We don’t talk about them, but they stress everyone out. You can gain finical freedom simply by sitting yourself down and writing out a budget. It’s really that simply.

I have looked at multiple budgeting Apps that may be helpful, however for myself I have found its easier to use a simple excel spreadsheet. Be honest with yourself about how much you spend. Write out all your bills for the next month, when their due, decide if it’s better for you to break up payments between paychecks. I recommend a simple day planner, where you can plan out monthly the major events, work and social, and plan your expenses based on paying down your debt, having fun and saving money. Focusing on experiences, not buying things. Saving $3 a week will equal $156 at the end of the year!

Ok I know what you are thinking, duh, Thea come on, I am an adult! but let me ask you this, are you doing this every month? Are you planning out your finances each month according to your goals? Are you sitting down each month, giving yourself time to think about the month ahead of you and making conscious decisions about your future? Planning for concerts, friend’s parties, scheduling yourself private time?

Maybe you run your budget and you have $100 extra each month. Save $25 and maybe spend the rest on a massage. Plan that time for yourself. Maybe you have a stressful week at work coming up, maybe schedule in some down time the following week. Have a plan of where your stress will concentrate and give yourself space to release it. This whole process may take only 10 min. But think of the freedom you’ve gained. You give yourself space to know what’s coming ahead. When things pop up, because life happens, you already know what’s on your plate and can plan accordingly. Now you don’t have to become a calendar nerd but find a system that works for you. Make planning ahead a priority.

Check out my besties recommendation: https://inkwellpress.com/

 

Number Two: Do Something That Alters your Outlook

Now that you’ve sat down and planned out your month, put something on your agenda that freaks you out but puts you closer towards a goal. You want to do stand up comedy? Attend a local Stand Up Comedy Event. Do you love watching Ninja warrior? Schedule a session at local CrossFit or kickboxing gym. Challenge yourself independently with your own goals. Provide yourself with ownership over them.

For my attaching goals and dreams to each month helps me deal with doing things I am nervous about or don’t want to do. If something makes me feel super anxious, I like to schedule something else to take my mind off of it. You have a large presentation coming, plan some thing else big on a personal level that excites you. Divert that frustrated stressful energy to something that will help you step towards your goals. I think My next log post will be on goal setting.

One goal that I am going to work on this month is drinking less.I feel almost trained to go for a cold one when I am feeling overwhelmed and I have created a pattern of behavior. After looking at my finances that’s an area I can cut back. Maybe I will order water the next time I go out instead, or even a club soda. Focusing on drinking much less, I am altering the reality I have created for myself. Alcohol seems a completely normal thing to me, but why? I notice I have been getting headaches the morning after I drink more than two drinks.  Which causes me to sleep in more. If you look at a cycle or pattern of behavior you dislike, evaluate the steps in it and figure out if you can alter your outlook. It’s hard to do self-reflection like this, I’ll admit I am not the best with it.

Number Three: Get Active

Honestly the best way to deal with anything mental is to exert physical energy. Go for a walk, schedule yourself a ten min walk every day, focus your energy on that. Maybe start watching free YouTube fitness videos. Maybe join a gym, do a 30-day hot yoga challenge. Start hiking once a week. Add this activity to your calendar, plan it, schedule it out. Make you physical health a priority. I am not just saying that because I am a Pilates Instructor and a Personal Trainer. I truly believe in the benefits of exercise. Exercise is listed among the first ways to help guard against most aliments in health for a reason.

I am not in anyway trying to trivialize anxiety by saying everyone has some form of it. Mental disorders are a serious thing. I am merely trying to shed light on the fact that anxiety can affect all of us in some way, even if anxiety is a passing thing or something that’s holding you down. I wrote this after battle anxiety for years and watching others I love deal with it and I hope that reading this can help you think a little more about yourself and show yourself some more love and deference. You are wonderful.

 

Sources:

“Anxiety Disorders: National Institute of Mental Health; Retrieved from  https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

“Why Millennials Have More Anxiety Than any Other Generations” Caroline Cook Retrieved from : http://lovework.standdesk.co/why-millennials-have-more-anxiety-than-other-generations

“Most Millennials Are Finding It Hard to Transition Into Adulthood: Report” Miguel Juarez Lugo; Retrieved from  https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/most-millennials-are-finding-it-hard-transition-adulthood-report-n748676

“Surviving Anxiety” Scott Stossel Retrieved from  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/01/surviving_anxiety/355741/

“Millennials Are An Anxious Generation, And This Is Why” Andrew Maguire; Retrieved from  https://www.unilad.co.uk/featured/millennials-are-an-anxious-generation-and-this-is-why/

Harvard Medical School, 2007. National Comorbidity Survey (NCS). Retrieved from https://www.hcp.med.harvard.edu/ncs/index.php.

Understand the Facts Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety#

“12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder” http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20646990,00.html#irrational-fears-0

“Benefits of Exercise” https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html

 “Stress Management in Work Settings: A Critical Review of the Health Effects” Lawrence R. Murphy. American Journal of Health Promotion. Vol 11, Issue 2, pp. 112 – 135. First Published November 1, 1996 https://doi.org/10.4278/0890-1171-11.2.112

 

How to Make Tough Decisions

It has been an interesting year for me to say the least. I left a job last June that I honestly thought I would be there another 10 maybe 20 years. I started teaching Pilates full-time and went back to being a beginner in many aspects of my life and started studying to become a personal trainer.

I learned a lot about myself and I am not going to lie, it was hard. I went from having a secure job with a healthy paycheck and a group of colleagues – to cutting my income by 75% and going back to poor student mode and feeling very alone. Since I was teaching Pilates so much, I had students ask for private lessons, and I felt less confident teaching one on one. So I used my savings to sign up for an online intensive course on becoming a personal trainer. I had gotten my master’s Degree in Public Management so learning the muscles and how the body runs on a molecular level was extremely hard for me, I can make budgets and write essays but understanding science does not come natural to me. Studying made me feel dumb and I was used to feeling like the smartest person in the room. I also swallowed my pride and took a job from my father’s company solely for money. This made me a beginner in another aspect, I had to learn how to do tech support for a world of computers I didn’t understand. I felt like a scared 19-year-old again, back in school, barely making it between pay periods.

I really found myself though. It took time, it took patience – but I finally figured out how I operate. We are all different! I had spent so long thinking I had to fit into a certain type of mold. It’s good we are different. Different isn’t bad. After months of struggle and bad luck something magical happened, I was faced this month with a really difficult decision. I had four job offers in front of me and had to answer the question: What do I want to do with my life?

3 Tips for making BIG Life Decisions

  1. Give yourself emotional space to think through your options. Take a step back and don’t emotionally attach to any one decision. What I mean by this is: view each choice with the same weight and separate your self from it. Give yourself time to process the conclusion of each choice – without emotionally reacting. Gather your feelings and then ask the three most trusted people in your life what they think. Let them give you their opinion and weigh that against your initial response. The best thing we can do when making a decision is to take out your emotional thought and rationalize the choice. It’s also great perspective to hear how your “tribe” views it. (Your Tribe are those people in your life who are your cheerleaders and greatest friends, the people who you know are on your side and want you to succeed).
  2. Meditate on the choices in front of you. Think through all the possible options, even if it’s hard. Process the good and bad things that will happen based on what you do. Also allow yourself to know that unexpected and unknown things will occur with any tough decision. Go for a walk and think about your life, think about the things in your life that will be affected by your decision. If you can go to a local walking trail and breathe in some fresh air, escape your known environment and get in touch with nature. Meditate on your decision. If silence doesn’t work for you, play some music, lay in bed and close your eyes and explore your thoughts. Maybe go for a run or a bike ride. Spend some alone time thinking through your choice. If you’re not the mediating type, make a pro and con list.
  3. Listen to your gut feeling. After you’ve weighed the decisions in front of you rationally and given yourself time to logically think through the available choices, go back to your gut feeling. How did your options make you feel. Yes, make a rational smart choice, but if you felt a negative reaction to a choice, go back to why you felt that way. In the end to make a good decision you have to make the decision based on what you really want, not what you think your supposed to do, not what other people think you should do. What do you actually want? What do you want your future to look like? Make the best decision for you, and make it selfishly, especially if has to do with your future. Your gut feeling is usually right.

Facing four job prospects I had to really think about what exactly I wanted to do with my life.

I had 1,000 questions running through my mind: Should I take a job that uses my masters degree? Should I take a job at a nonprofit again because that’s where my work experience is mostly from? Should I do development because I am good at it? Do I have to do something just because I am good at it? Do I actually enjoy development work? Will everyone from my old job be impressed if I take this job? Should I just take the highest paying job? Should I take the job that pays the highest now or the job that has potential for growth? Should I take this job because it sounds the most respectable?

My best friend asked me: What does it matter what anyone else thinks? What makes you happy? She told me to think about why I cared about who I was impressing and who I was trying to impress. And she asked me if any of that mattered. She was right.

In the end: after a run, after talking to my tribe, after making a pro con list, after thinking about it for a full 2 days… I decided to take the job as a full time personal trainer at a well established local gym. I didn’t take the development director job with the fancy title, I didn’t take the job at a nonprofit everyone has heard the name of, I didn’t take the job that pays well right now. I went with what makes me happy. Fitness makes me happy. Inspiring others to care for their physical bodies, showing people how to get stronger and gain strength and confidence – that’s what makes me happy. This is my life, who cares if anyone is impressed by me.

You shouldn’t spend your life living to work, work so you can live. Live for each day. Follow those dreams people!

Xo- Thea

Follow my Personal Training Journey HERE

Follow my Pop Pilates classes HERE

Follow me on Instagram @pop_with_thea_abq

Follow me on Twitter @theamuehlenweg

 

Things I learned after a Bad Relationship

This is a weird post for me to write because I didn’t want to talk about it for so long.

I met someone last summer who I thought seemed really nice. Something didn’t feel quite right, but he had a nice smile. I met him through a work function and I though he was harmless. After our first date I thought that I had really found someone. At the time I didn’t see the warning signs. I didn’t see the emotional abuse. I didn’t see the manipulation. I didn’t notice the gas-lighting.

If you feel you are in an abuse relationship visit this website.

I don’t want to say that I was in an abusive relationship because I don’t want to see myself that way. I wonder how many other people feel this way? This relationship took a lot out of me, and it kind of messed me up. Looking back on it how did I miss all these signs? Emotional manipulation it’s slow, it’s subtle and its hard to see. I thought this man was handsome, I thought he made me happy, though I can’t remember a time when he did.

Signs of emotional abuse include = Controlling Patterns: time, relationships, money; Isolation; gas-lighting, disrespect or humiliation, etc. HERE is a great article explaining it.

The signs I didn’t notice until after:

Sign #1 – The end of the first date didn’t feel right- I felt like my privacy was invaded. But I thought it was because we were clicking. And I just pushed my feelings away.

Sign #2 – He said I love you two weeks in. You cannot know someone enough to know if you love them after only two weeks. Everyone’s line here is different but for me saying the big “ I love you” means something and it should be cherished and cultivated. Not used for control.

Sign #3 – I started to feel guilty going out with my friends without him, as if I was doing something wrong. A friend invited me over to dinner last minute one Sunday and I was lonely and went – and he told me I was a slut and lying about where I was. I was visiting a friends house and she has a 13 year old daughter. But I felt like he was right about me.

Sign #4 – I went on a planned vacation with girlfriends and he made me miserable about going without him. He also made sure during the vacation I felt guilty. The vacation had been planned months before I had even met him, but I still felt like I shouldn’t have gone.

Sign #5 – I never saw his house or met anyone from his life. He told me this sob story about his grandmother and I had no way to tell if it was true. He could have been married with kids and I wouldn’t have known. He knew where I was at all times, and I knew nothing about him.

Sign #6 –  Plans were dictated entirely on his schedule, and I felt as if I could only have plans with him. He worked constantly, So he could rarely see me. He preferred when I stayed at home.

Sign #7 – He made me feel like the close friends in my life were actually my enemies. With his advice I started to turn against them. He made me feel like I shouldn’t trust even my closest friends.

Sign #8 – I engaged in behavior with him I didn’t feel comfortable doing. One example of this was -He would encourage me to drink beyond my limit. He would get mad at me if I only wanted one drink or even if when I didn’t want to drink at all and I felt obligated to get drunk for him.

Sign #9 – We were always fighting and it was always my fault. I felt like I had to watch all my behaviors and act “correctly”. I was apologizing constantly and in the ‘dog house’ for things I had said or done without asking him first. He made me feel like I couldn’t do anything right and I was constantly hurting him.

Sign #10 – He didn’t encourage me to better myself. He thought I should not try things because I would just fail. He didn’t want me to teach Pilates or follow my dreams. We actually had a fight when I was talking about becoming a personal trainer, he made me feel like I was hurting him if I did that.

This is what I learned:

Trust your gut.

Watch out for Gaslighting! Read about it HERE and HERE.

Always trust your friends before someone new in your life.

AND I would literally be dead without my best friend.

He convinced me that my best friend was somehow a bad person, and she told me – he wasn’t welcome at our house. She was scared for me. And I reacted so mean. I know that it wasn’t me, I was being manipulated. But I still feel terrible for how I made her feel. When she was there for me through the whole thing.

I want to write deeper post on gas-lighting and manipulation. But I wanted to see if anyone else ever felt like this. There was never abuse with him, but afterwards I felt abused. I have blocked him on all social media. Every now and then he tries to reach out to me, but I see his deception now. I block and report now.

Comment on your thoughts on this. Have you been through something similar?

Xo, Thea

How to pick your Tribe

 

A dear friend of mine told me I was one of her “tribe”

I love this concept. You are, after all, like the five people you spend the most time with.

Your tribe is defined as:

Tribe: A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.

You can develop and choose your tribe and you should! You should cultivate it. You should nurture it.

Surround yourself with people that impress you, maybe even challenge you.

Find people who support you but don’t just agree with you.

Find people who make you feel happy – not anxious, not worried, pick people who when you think about them you smile.

Find friends who support you, that want you to succeed. If you feel like a friend is routing for you to fail, you really don’t need them.

Be the kind of friend to them that you want them to be for you.

All relationships take work. Put effort into those friendships that really add value to your life.

Great articles on Tribe Finding:

http://www.marcandangel.com/2010/08/16/how-to-build-your-tribe-finding-your-people/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-laws/monday-morning-motivation_b_8573818.html

https://www.basicbananas.com/how-to-choose-your-tribe/

Things I learned after teaching group fitness full time for half a year / Pop Pilates saved my life

I started teaching Pilates as a side passion, while working a full-time job. I got certified to boost my confidence and to get in better shape. I never thought I would be doing it full time. When I started, I really only had time to teach twice a week and would often cancel class if a work thing came up. Most of the people who took my classes in the beginning were just friends and family. A lot of people turned out for my first classes to show their support. I felt very auspicious and nervous. My The first class I ever taught was packed, – even my aunt and mother came! Honestly, I was terrible. My first classes were not that good. Don’t worry, I got better.

After that first class, I taught Pilates as a side project for a year and a half. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about how to teach, but nothing like compared to what I have learned in the last 6 months. Circumstances happened that caused me to leave my job in June 2017 (await another blog post on this topic). When I left my job, magically two other doors opened and I got two new teaching jobs almost immediately upon leaving my 9 to 5 job. I began teaching almost every day of the week! Obviously, teaching does not take a full 40 hours a week so I also focused on applying to other jobs, and starting a consulting business, but mostly I taught Pilates. I taught my selection of classes and found more opportunities to teach wherever I could, and I subbed whenever I could. If people ask me what I do now, I am a full time Pilates instructor. My main focus since last June has been teaching Pilates. I wanted to share what I have learned about myself over this experience, and I’ve sprinkled in my advice for you:

 

  1. First, I learned, that confidence is something that you tell people is there. Make people believe you are confident, especially when you’re not. I learned quickly that it didn’t matter if I felt unprepared, – if I portrayed myself as a professional, people believed it. And people believed in me. The other side of this coin is true as well, I lost students who had believed in me when I openly expressed doubt in myself. As a teacher, you have to walk into class confidently shedding whatever happened to you that day, who cares – even if you had a bad day, don’t put that burden on your students. Start and teach a class filled with positivity, that’s the best way to battle any self-doubt. Your students want a positive experience, – give that to them.! Before I got certified I became friends with my favorite Yoga/Pilates Teacher, Rita James, and she really encouraged me to teach as often as I could, giving me lots of opportunities to Sub her classes. She showed me how to be confident. She was always there to stop me from quitting every time it got hard or I lost my confidence. I am so incredibly thankful for her. If you want to teach, go befriend your favorite teacher, and let them help teach you confidence. I promise you most confidence is faked. I have even seen her fake it, and she’s hands down my favorite teacher, I don’t think it’s possible to respect her any more.
  2. You will get so much better. When you have the time to focus on something, you will dramatically improve at that thing. When it was no longer a side hobby and became my main source of income., I focused in and I got so much better, I got better in every way. I actually took criticism and tried to improve. I was told I had a squeaky voice, I projected more from my diaphragm. I was told I could be so negative, saying things like “these planks suck” and turning it into “omg yay planks, you can do this!” I was told I counted too fast I slowed down the movements and my counting. I learned when people were critiquing me simply because they didn’t like me, and when they were critiquing me as a genuine, this could actually be better. I always focus on getting better. I think the key to self-improvement is understanding you flaws, some things you can’t change, other things you can.
  3. Every part about Teaching gets easier. When I would have a no-show, I would be devastated for days but after teaching so for long enough, you don’t get sad anymore. Sometimes even your most popular classes will be barren, but you get used to it. You gain understanding. People have busy lives, your class is a hobby for them, they have full lives going on, and it’s usually not personal. When it is personal, you quickly get over that too. If someone really dislikes me, usually I dislike them right back. I have had complaints that my class is too hard, and that individual spent the whole class complaining and never came back, – but I really didn’t don’t want them to come back anyway. My class can be hard, but I leave space for all levels, if you don’t want to modify that’s on you. You’re the only one judging yourself.

Aside from dealing with people, also every part of a class gets easier, even the planning and preparation for a class. It all gets so much easier. I would spend 3 or 4 hours preparing for classes when I first started teaching, but after doing it every day… you’ll roll out of bed and make up a class while you’re teaching and afterwards your clients will say what a great class that was. It does make it feel like all those times you prepared were a waste of time, but they weren’t. Every second spent learning will add up. I have a formula for how I prepare for my classes and if I follow my formula I can teach anywhere at any time. It took me a while to get that formula down.

  1. I never thought I would feel so fit and also yet so out of shape. I do 10-15 hours of Pilates a week, sometimes more… and I teach my whole class, I do all the moves: I am a visual learner and I teach that way. Even with all that exercise, I am in front of people, I get body questions constantly and it makes me feel so insecure. I never feel in shape enough. While teaching full time keeps you in shape, and I am active almost every day with one of my classes, I never consider my classes my own work out. It’s also come to my attention that how in shape I feel I should be seems like an unattainable goal, – I will never look perfect

I have students ask me how to tone specific part of their body, assuming Pilates won’t tone that area because I am flabby there. I feel like I constantly need to be fitter for my students. I am so insecure about my abs, while they are incredibly strong, I don’t have a ridged six pack. My abs are amazing, –  watch me talk through an entire ab sequence with perfect control and stability, but no I don’t have a six pack. I drink too much beer and its genes. I try to keep an open mind and never judge by the cover. Students who look out of shape will bring it and kill the class and surprise you, you can’t judge anyone by how their body looks objectively. I think all fitness professionals learn that. Fitness is complicated.

  1. People won’t respect you. I have a master’s degree and I had the job with the fancy title, I almost feel like I need to tell people that to qualify it as if what I do isn’t enough. No one asks you if you’re happy, we should ask each other if were happy, not if we have a career with a 401k. And most people treat the idea of a Pilates instructor as if it is a side hobby, but they’ll never view it as something that’s respectable. Your family will look down on it, for sure. I have had to get used to that.

On that opposite coin, other teachers will either insanely respect you or be indifferent to you. When you Sub for another teacher they are usually so thankful to not leave their regulars hanging (you’ll learn if you miss a class, you next couple classes will be lighter, so it’s always better to get a sub). I had a weekend training and over 200 hours teaching experience, but some yogi instructors HATE Pilates instructors (I may get into this in another blog post). Yoga is over $1500 and 200+ hours of training, so it’s sort of a big deal. Now anyone can go out and get Zumba certified for $400 and teach almost immediately and there seems to be a distinct shift in the group fitness community, about what side of the line you’re one.

I think it’s a journey and a spectrum and you need to respect wherever someone is on it, maybe they’ll get more certifications later, maybe they won’t. I don’t judge someone solely on that, but I know many do. Some teachers won’t care, others will. I made a point to friend every teacher in Albuquerque on Facebook. I want to try all their classes, I want to meet them, learn from them. That feeling won’t always be mutual. But in my experience teaching at various studios, you’ll learn what you personally like and don’t like in a teacher.

You will also find yourself disrespecting other teachers. For me, I don’t like a teacher who is rude (especially if they are negative to their students), they make classes about their own ego, or they never try to learn new things. Those three things make me instantly turned off for any instructor. I contend I am not an expert and I always try to learn something new every week and try to take a new instructor once a month, and regardless of my disrespect, just because I don’t like that instructor I wouldn’t share that with a client. I encourage everyone to try everyone’s class. Maybe someone that hates me, will love a teacher that I am not a big fan of. And vice versa. Always show people kindness, and sometimes I find it’s better to say nothing if you can’t say something nice. I’ll be honest, I’ll share I didn’t like a particular class but I will encourage them to try it for themselves. I hope those teachers who don’t like me, share the same kindness.

  1. It’s a lot harder than you think. Teaching can take a lot out of you, and there are no sick days. I got sick a couple weeks ago and had to cancel some classes and teach through a couple sick. I had paid rent at several studios and had to eat that cost because I couldn’t teach. Teaching is mental and physical and if you aren’t 100% it will take its toll on you. If you’re mentally not in a good place, you’d better shape up if you’re going to teach. When I know I have a big hard class coming up, sometimes I have to schedule in a nap, to make it through the whole class. Or if a class was super packed filled with “downers” it can often take you two days to recover. I have taught some classes where everyone left smiling, but I had to run to my car and cry because my energy was all gone and I felt awful. Sometimes teaching will leave you walking on air and you’ll feel so pumped, but sometimes you’ll need a good cry in a private space.
  2. Some people just come to suck your energy, this is a people forward job, whatever people’s emotions are, they’ll project them on you. If people had a bad day, they’ll send all that energy to you. Sometimes you can turn around the downers, and sometimes you just can’t and they just drain you. My brother often does this, he’s so sweet and supportive, and he attends so many of my classes. But sometimes he comes filled with such negativity, he hates my playlist, he hates a move were doing, he jokingly insults me, and although I’ll shine all the positivity I can, sometimes it’s really hard to combat this. He has left me so drained, that I almost couldn’t teach the next day. He isn’t the only one who has done this. It can be hard to deal with people. Sometimes people take my class and they’re emotionless the whole time, they don’t laugh at my bad jokes, they don’t smile, they leave quietly, – did they even like it? Sometimes I will never know.
  3. You have to be learning constantly to keep up. You’d better take other classes. Not only will you learn new ways to cue moves but you’ll learn things about your own teaching style. You always have to ask if you can be more effective. You should always be learning. Your students notice if you don’t. Sometimes things become habit and you have to shake yourself out of that habit because you’re getting boring. I try to read an article once a week on Pilates, I try to take a Pilates class once a week, and I try to watch a Pilates YouTube video every day. I want to seem fresh, I don’t want my class to be stale. I also learn from Yoga, from other classes, from other disciplines. There is so much overlap.
  4. It was way more time self-advertising than I thought, and it never feels like enough. Did I advertise this class enough? Did I share it with enough people? Be prepared to spend 5 hours a week promoting yourself online. I have gotten new clients from Instagram, new clients from Facebook Ads, also from posters on electronic bulletin boards… It’s a lot more online behind the scenes work then you think. I don’t work for one studio promoting my class, I work for 5 studios, I have to promote myself. It can be slightly overwhelming and some weeks I don’t feel like doing it, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it helps, but then I will have a full class with 3 new students commenting on a meme I made, and I have to remind myself, my class is a hobby, I have to nudge people, get people to want to come.

10. Not everyone will like you. You’ll obviously learn this teaching anything, but it’s very apparent in group exercise. You will not be everyone’s cup of tea. I can be honest with you, when it’s your full-time gig teaching, it will get to you. All positive affirmations aside, we as human beings want to be liked. We want to be loved, but the truth is actually we are not always even that liked. Aside from realizing all the reasons people could hate you, you’ll also learn to love yourself in new ways. Some people will LOVE you. More than you could even imagine. You will get followers, you will have people crazy believe in you and look forward to your class. Those people will always lift you up. Be nice to them. Make playlists for them. You have to foster and care for your fans, because they’ll return that with warm energy when you need it. I was subbing a Saturday morning class and I was nervous, a room full of people I didn’t know and a packed house. And one of my regulars came, and I looked at her half way through class and she was just beaming. She loved sharing me with her fellow students. That’s a moment I go back to when I am feeling sad. Those moments are precious, so when someone doesn’t like you go back to those pleasant moments.

11. I live for playlists. Something about making a playlist for a class brings me so much joy. I love doing themed classes. Not everyone will feel this passion, and it does give me a lot of extra work. I teach Pop Pilates which allows me to have freedom of choice, so I have full freedom to make some crazy fun playlists, and I do! I have a Jungle Theme class, several Space and Alien themed classes, I have a Happy Playlist, a Strong Women playlist. You name it, I will probably want to make a playlist about it. For me I find fun in music, you have to find what works for you. Make it fun for you. I always like a good playlist to keep me grounded.

12. I am way more of a control freak than I thought I was. Sometimes people just don’t listen. You can cue everything perfectly and clearly articulate (if those weren’t the problems for why a student wasn’t listening) and the students still turns to the right instead of the left. This can be frustrating when you had a beautifully fluid sequence planned in your head and then a single student messes it up and slows down the class. You have to breathe and let it go. Pilates is about that mind-body connection and that can be hard to understand. Students aren’t flawless., In noticing your own annoyance, you do sort of become a control freak when you’re leading a group of individuals through something you’ve planned with the music, that in your head it was perfect, but in reality, people won’t always listen to you. Laugh it off, friend.

You have to keep moving forward. Even if your morning class sucked, your afternoon class could be awesome, – you have to let a lot go, and believe in yourself. I never realized how hard it can be sometimes to let things go, but once you master the art of letting it go, it gets better. Never let a previous class effect your next one. Get yourself a mentor to talk to about difficult class issues and use them as learning experiences always. My mentor and friend Rita, who I regularly take equipment classes with, always shows me new things and reminds me to move forward.

You have to keep moving forward by changing your scale of success. I live for that moment when I see regulars learn how to control their pelvic floor, or when they tell me how much stronger they are from the planks I make them do. Use your student’s achievements as a way to move forward. On the flip side know how proud your instructors are when you get better, when you feel improvement. I live for that. I want you to be stronger, I want you to be happy sore.

13. It does NOT pay the bills! Now I’ve run the numbers and if I could pick up 7 more classes and actually have those well attended (which is doubtful,) I could be more comfortable. But I will never see numbers like I saw with my 9 to 5 prison. I luckily have a very supportive Best Friend and roommate who is cool with the fact that I owe her over $1000. She is probably not actually that cool with it, but she’ll pretend she is for my sanity sometimes. I have cried and felt awful about not being able to pay her rent every month, but she knows I’ll pay her back eventually. She has been extremely supportive through this year of self-discovery. I couldn’t ask for a better friend and I honestly don’t deserve her. Some advice, if you plan to go rogue and follow your passions, make sure you surround yourself with people who are on board with this journey. Because it’s going to hurt in ways you forget about, like your wallet, or your emotional efficacy. If I didn’t have my brother buying my lunch once a week, friends buying me beers, my extremely loving bestie… I honestly couldn’t be here. I have had a lot of help.

  1. You’re going to love it so much more than you ever thought you could. Sometimes I feel like I am bursting with happiness. When you actually focus on something you’re passionate about, the world shines a little brighter. Not every day teaching is peaches and gravy, some days I don’t feel like teaching, sometimes I am tired, and sometimes people are mean. But I always enjoy teaching while I am doing it. I feel so very fortunate. The main thing I have learned after teaching full time for 6 months is how to love myself again. I finally feel like I am me again. I feel like a real person who deserves love.

I am starting a new chapter of my life: I just got my personal training certification. My business is taking off and I have some cool things on the horizon that could help me pay off my debts and get me back on my feet. I must say, this whole journey has been worth it. I love it. I love teaching Pilates. I love sharing fitness with everyone I meet. I take such pride in what I teach and feel so blessed to have taken this year to really prefect my skill and find myself.

If you have any interest in getting group fitness certified, definitely go do it. This is the universe giving you permission to believe in yourself, whether you teach part time, full time or every now and then.

Leave me a comment of any questions you have or anything you think I should add to this list.

Talk to you soon wonderful,

XO, Thea

 

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