Beware! There is something dangerous about Pilates. Could it be one of the moves that should never be taught? Is it a spinal position that should be avoided at all costs? Is it a certain condition which is contraindicated for all exercises? No, it is a thankfully rare species of Pilates instructor known as the Underminer. The Underminer can be easily identified by several traits. They openly criticise of other instructors and constantly question other instructors' training history. They can be seen aggressively policing other instructors' posts on social media, seeking to belittle them. They badger you to join their groups and Associations and try to create elite gangs where entry requirements are years and years of training under their approval. Yet the most revealing aspect is their complete lack of professional respect and courtesy which is frankly jaw-dropping!
The Underminer can sometimes appear when you begin to teach a new class in what they perceive as their territory. This is where they may feel threatened and concerned that the competition may affect their business and so begin to question your reputation. Admittedly we all can feel this way when new classes open, but how we react is what identifies us. If you find yourself in this position, I would suggest meeting for a coffee and discuss how you can mutually help each other by referrals and cover classes.
Social media forums seem to be the breeding ground of the Underminers where they feel it is their right to bully, badger and criticise other instructors.
In an attempt to better understand this species of instructor, I try to look at their motivation in behaving in this way. One reason is the feeling of being threatened by other instructors. Another reason is simply egotistical. They have embarked on a global dominance of the Pilates world and seek to turn all instructors to their elite beliefs and style of teaching. Or is it simply financial? They want to gain as much financial benefit from training instructors as possible by shrouding the study of Pilates in mystery. Benjamin Degenhardt recently posted,
"I often struggle being part of an industry that is trying its very hardest to make more of this thing called "Pilates" than it was designed to be: an approach to physical fitness and health that is inherently and utterly... simple."
and I couldn't agree more. This is not to say we never stop learning and our understanding of this amazing Method is a constant journey with revelations unfolding with each client we teach and every workshop we attend. But rather that no instructor should be judged unworthy or not capable simply on the stage of the journey they are at.
So how should we deal with the Underminer on social media forums? Personally I strenuously avoid any contact with them wherever possible. I refuse to engage with them and I believe that clients and other Pilates instructors can clearly see their true nature. If it does become unavoidable, I ask them to have a direct, personal chat with me to discuss their comments and questions and I generally find with a quietly muttered "There's no need, thank you" they tend to scurry away.
If you are not already a member of the Underminer-free JPilates Forum on Facebook we would love to welcome you. It is incredibly supportive and friendly and is open to Pilates instructors from all training backgrounds. To join please click here