Instructor of the Month
Introducing Joanna Fernandes,
Having trained initially as a dancer, (mostly ballet and contemporary dance) I branched out into the Fitness Industry over 25 years ago and have enjoyed teaching a wide variety of classes for both children and adults including Aerobics, Step, Body Conditioning, Aqua, Circuit Training, Chair Based Exercise for 60+ and many types of Dance. I started teaching Fitness Pilates about 10 years ago and enjoyed the contrast to all my upbeat classes so much so that I realized I wanted to have a more in depth knowledge and training in Pilates to enable me to be a better Instructor in this amazing method. It was then that the lovely Tali Swart put me in touch with our very own Joanne Cobbe back in 2012 and I joined her first Level 3 in Teaching Mat Pilates course to qualify and am very proud to be one of her JPilates Elders! Needless to say I have never looked back! I live in East Barnet, Herts with my 17 year old son Daniel and my 5 year old Border Collie Kipps.
How would you describe your style of teaching?
I would say that my style of teaching is very much influenced by my dance background. I love to use flow in my classes whether it be using choreographed sequences, linking a series of exercises together to create fluidity of movement or using appropriate music to suit the content of my class. My participants are all very familiar with working to the beat for some of my sessions.
What is your client base like?
My client base is very varied, ranging from teenagers up to Older adult groups in their 80’s! I teach all different levels and do a few one to ones but the rest are classes. I have one particularly amazingly fit and advanced group that I am so proud of and really love to teach. They all started with me just over 2 years ago having done very little or no Pilates before and have just astounded me with their progression, technique and eagerness for constant challenge. I am also proud that I have 3 very fit and dedicated men in this class too!
What is your most favourite move and why?
My favourite move has to be the Boomerang. I absolutely love how it looks and feels when executing it. This move requires control, strength, mobility and balance all in one and I think it’s best just to get everyone to do it, rather than break it down. It always creates quite a lot of laughter within the class too when they just go for it and try and compete against each other to perfect it. I particularly love Romana’s version with the arms starting and finishing forward over the legs as it reminds me of The Dying Swan (I’m still a dancer at heart!) and of course it is a perfect example of fluidity in a move.
What is your least favourite move?
My least favourite move is Leg Pull Supine. I find it hard as it requires a lot of upper body strength and although I’m pretty strong using weights, I’m not so good when it comes to using my own body weight and I am also tight in my hip flexors so find it hard to extend through the front of the hip. Too many squats and lunges throughout the last 25 years I think. Well that’s my excuse anyway but I know I need to practice it more. I tend to cheat and get one of my class members to demo it for me!
What do you find most challenging about your work and how do you overcome this?
The most challenging part of my work is all the rushing around from place to place as I teach 18-20 classes a week in 12 different venues and sometimes only have half an hour to get from one place to the other. This can be stressful particularly when stuck in traffic. I am trying to overcome this by cutting down my workload slightly and giving myself more quality time on the good advice of Jo after our mentoring session and I am happy now to be having Fridays off to get all my admin done and have time to walk my dog leisurely without rushing!
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?
The most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates Instructor is seeing the difference it can make to peoples’ lives – not only to their bodies but also to their minds. I really feel that the mind and body are connected so deeply and if you feel good mentally you will feel good physically and vice versa. I love that my class members really enjoy their sessions on a social basis as well as a physical one and they have formed such great friendships with each other and as groups that it means they perform even better in class because they have a close connection together and are all experiencing the amazing benefit and magic of practising Pilates. I am also truly rewarded by the loyalty of my members and for all their lovely feedback and thanks that they give me.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I hope that in 5 years time I will still be feeling fit and healthy to teach and that I will have consolidated my classes in to less venues and so not be rushing around as much. I hope to be running more workshops and retreats (our first one being next May!) with my lovely friend, colleague and JPilates member Tali Swart and I will of course continue to train, learn, be inspired and expand my knowledge along the way.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?
My one piece of advice to a new Instructor would be to love what you do and do what you love. It’s so important to stay true to yourself and teach and specialize in the areas that you excel in. Keep learning and going to other people’s classes if you can and if you are inspired, you will inspire others.
You can contact Jo via
Jo runs Pilates Classes at:
North London Yoga Studio, N21
Oakwood Physiotherapy Clinic, N14.