I’m headed to the PMA Annual Meeting next week to teach mat classes and also attend as a student.  I’ve been teaching Pilates for just under 20 years.  I’ve owned a studio, taught teacher training and CEC courses and even have an entire podcast dedicated to the subject from which I make my living.  As an educator and lifelong student, I will never stop learning, investigating and doing my best to help others do the same.  However, when looking back on the large stack of CEC certificates I’ve collected, I find myself curious about what shows up in my day to day and what never left the manual.

The question of the subjective relevance of continuing education comes up each year in my teaching practice.  I no longer have a brick and mortar studio where new people are coming in on the regular.  This means that the amount of “new” scenarios I see is limited. I’ve got a static clientele who have each been with me for over a decade.  At times, we navigate through new conditions but mostly work with the general changes that are happening in their lives.

I believe that I am competent and effective in my teaching.  I have a passion for what I do and am solid in my teaching philosophy and voice.  So how much education do I really need to continue to do my job well?  This week’s post explores just that:

In the beginning, I believed a mat certification was all I wanted and needed.  The training I received for matwork opened my eyes to all that existed with the equipment.  After completing my first comprehensive studio training, I realized that I wanted more anatomy and biomechanics – like the personal trainers at the gym where I was working had.  As I grew the studio at the health club, I began to hire Pilates Teachers who had stories to tell about Joseph Pilates that they had learned in their training.  I didn’t have that.  I wanted that.  I enrolled in a classical bridging program.

Right before the start of that program, I found Ron Fletcher’s work.  The Fletcher Teachers had answers – to everything.  There was structure and sequence and long lean bodies.  AND they also had J.P. stories! I didn’t have those things.  I wanted those things. I changed my course of training.

The stories go on and on and on.  I see something I don’t have. I want that thing. I get that thing. I see something else I don’t have…. you get the gist. It’s been an ongoing cycle of chasing after the things I didn’t have, thinking they were things I needed.  At the end of the day, I can so easily draw a line from the courses and training that continue to influence my teaching to this day.  Many of the others were beautifully crafted courses, but truly didn’t hold relevance to the clientele that I had or the type of work I wanted to do.  As an accomplished teacher, I can always appropriate the information I have to my current clientele.  But if I’m being honest, sometimes more equals more stuff for the session but less relevance to the client.

The short answer I’ve found is that Pilates Teachers do not need ALL of the training to effectively do their job.  We can always learn, but we have some pretty fabulous skills that come out of our comprehensive training.  These skills take time to marinate and the shiny object of Continuing Ed can sometimes make it feel like it will speed up the process.  So how do we decide where to invest our time and money?  The following are some guidelines that I’m using for my choices at the PMA as well as for my future endeavors.



I’ve decided that if I’m going to a course, it had better challenge what I already know.  I’m going to go in with mouth closed and ears opened.  I’m going to absorb and digest the information and work to fill in the blanks that might exist as I process it.  I’m going to embrace discomfort and fill up with stimuli that is different from what I’m used to teaching.


I’m going to seek out subjects that have NOTHING TO DO WITH PILATES.  I’m going to maintain my CEC’s but also put myself into business, tech and entrepreneurial forums that offer info and support for the growth of other professions (there go those appropriation skills again…) I’m going to make sure I’m listening from a lot of different teachers with differing opinions and experiences than my own.

Future Relevance

The education I investigate must have relevance to my future, not my present.  If I’m on a growth trajectory, I want to be sure that I’m setting my future-self up with some support.  I may not have everything I need to use the info at present, but I will remember that where I am is not where I’m headed and invest in education that will serve me soon.


Having established these guidelines makes my choices for courses look so different than ever before.  the process might even get messy, but messy is where growth happens.  I’m curious to hear how you are making your choices about your future education? What resonated from this post? What kinds of endeavors are you interested in seeking out? What’s holding you back?

I look forward to reading your comments!

Comments (8)

I am in complete agreement!! I’ve been teaching Pilates as a comprehensively trained teacher for 17 years and traditional fitness for over 20. I hold credentials in both (and some others) so the CEC vortex is expensive and complicated. At this point in my career, I’ve done a lot of training, and am constantly seeking stimulating courses, which is hard to find. I also have to plan my courses to be economically productive because my certifications all have specific requirements, and it’s hard to find courses that can work for all of them at once. It can be outrageously expensive if I don’t. It’s frustrating.

As someone who has created out-of-the-box Pilates based education, I can say that it was quite a challenge to get it approved to provide cec’s through several pilates organizations. I’m a very well credentialed and experienced teacher, but because it wasn’t in a “studio” setting, I had to really fight for it. The subject matter was very trendy and relevant at the time, but it wasn’t “pure”, so it wasn’t cosnsidered completely valid. I’m sure it’s like that for many course instructors with creative material.

I’ve run into this as well, although, I think some of the “tides” might actually be turning as more of us “come of age” into our second decade. We’re starved for creativity and ready to expand, right? Love your work, girl!

Thanks Jenna … another amazing article. I have actually being selecting course without thinking on how it can help me, what I need where I want to go … after reading this it makes me think about how I am going to select my future training. Always opening my eyes a little bit wider after I read your posts!
Thank you
Maria Poggioi

Thanks so much, Maria! I think you’ll find that you are much more satisfied with your choices 😉 .

Thanks Jenna for your insightful post! I am also a well seasoned teacher of comprehensive Pilates. I used to think “ah, this is the course I’ve been seeking, whether it was a different style, a particular teacher or more biomechanics”, I was always trying to reach the finish line. At some point around my 10th year of seeking, I realized that I intuitively (with a widely amassed knowledge behind the intuition) knew how to help the body in front of me.
To sum up I think we are in a business where we learn a great deal from our students and yes from courses, and we will always keep learning but to me that’s half the fun!

Thank you! I love everything you just wrote here. The experience is absolutely part of our expertise and yes to the continued journey of learning with a purpose 😉

Are you reading my journal?

I have been mulling over this same option for awhile now, ever since I came back from my last CE weekend. It was great, and I learned so much, and got to meet great teachers, but I came home thinking “I’m done for awhile.” Then I immediately felt “wrong” for thinking that. I still have so much to learn! Of course I need more education!

But do I?
Like, right now?

What I crave is community, collaboration, and support. When I attend these events, I meet other like-minded individuals in this crazy tribe, and I love that. But to echo the comments above, it’s crazy expensive, and I have a hard time integrating this knowledge into my teaching the following weeks or months. And my clients don’t care. I mean, they care, but they want to know if I’ve learned some fancy-pants new choreography, not how to deepen the engagement of their external hip rotators. God love ’em.

I need some business training. Some tech savvy. And some social media skills. How do you edit for Instagram? Where do people get all those nifty icons? How do I publish and promote a blog? And I can’t hire someone to do this for me. I’m a one-woman show. I need THESE skills. Like, RIGHT NOW!!

Thank you, Jenna, for speaking what I think so many of us are thinking but afraid to say out loud. And I appreciate all your Instagram Live posts. They are diamonds in my day!

The short answer, is: Yes, I am reading your journal…. LOL KIDDING, but this just speaks to how more of us want to be discerning with the education. Connection and community are wonderful, but they shouldn’t cost anything….. When the education is in alignment with our teaching philosophy and clientele, the connection is the BEST BONUS EVER!!!! I think you are speaking to a general “I NEED HELP!” coaching program – it’s coming 😉 and thank you for watching the LIVE’s! It’s one of the best parts of my weeks!

Leave a comment

Get My FREE Training: "Become Your Own Best Client"

Drop Your email below and receive my five, simple lessons towards implementing daily practices to help you walk your talk and treat yourself like your most valuable client.