Instructor Of The Month
Introducing Eloise Saunders, owner of espilates.
My love for Pilates started when it helped me rehabilitate from illness and injury. Having been diagnosed with chronic back pain and suffering various torn muscles, I found Pilates in a desperate attempt to regain control of my body and find a safe exercise practice that would keep me in good condition. At that time my mental health was also suffering as a result of many years in a fast-paced corporate environment, and I needed an outlet from the overwhelming effects. My experience was so life changing that I left my job behind and undertook my teacher training so I could bring the fantastic benefits of Pilates to others.
Post-qualification I have continued my professional development by attending regular training sessions that allow me to widen my knowledge and reach to work with people from a host of both sporting and medical backgrounds. I also work with several charities and am a professional speaker for Breast Cancer Care’s recovery programme, whilst also running a weekly voluntary class at the local cancer support centre. My clients range from professional sports people to those in their late 70s working on maintaining their strength and balance so as to minimise the risk of falls. I love the diversity of my job and truly believe Pilates can help everyone.
I was recently awarded Pilates Instructor of the Year 2019 by the Birmingham Corporate Livewire Awards which recognises those making a significant contribution to the local community.
How would you describe your style of teaching?
I teach 4 levels of class so it varies depending on the experience of the participants, but across the board I like to take a creative approach, tweaking familiar exercises so that clients can connect with them in a different way. Sometimes the smallest thing can make a huge amount of difference. In places this can be quite playful as I like to make the class environment fun! Everything generally sits around the classic mat framework and I do think it’s really important to explain WHY we are doing things so people get the most for their bodies.
With my more experienced groups I focus on flow so that endurance can be built. I’m pretty heavy on the technical side with my beginners so they have a good foundation to progress with.
What is your client base like?
I literally work right across the board. My oldest clients are in the late seventies and love their weekly fix of chair Pilates that I do in their home, whilst my group classes have a very mixed following. I work with a breast cancer charity to help ladies establish a safe exercise programme and also have a number of clients with neurological conditions. This is particularly challenging but incredibly rewarding. I’m proud to have a very significant male attendance – in some groups outweighing the ladies! I do tend to work with a lot of cyclists as there are many local groups, but also have a number of ex professional sports people working to keep themselves conditioned.
This is one of the key things I love about my job – diversity. I work hard to create an all inclusive environment and my client list reflects that. My day is split with morning and evening sessions and 121s between so they are fairly evenly weighted. Most of my individual clients have been with me 12 months plus which I love as you really get to understand people’s needs and bodies and see how they develop and change.
What is your most favourite move and why?
Impossible to answer…But I love a good Roll Up! I think once you connect with the purpose of the exercise it gives it a new dimension, and the roll up for me is just a fantastic stretch for everywhere that always makes me feel great.
What is your least favourite?
I’m not a fan of the Open Leg Rocker. Coming from a sporting background my legs have always been tight, and they just do not want to do it! When it comes to demonstrating in class I either hold my breath and hope for the best (with little success), or pick on someone else to do it!
What do you find most challenging about your work and how do you overcome this?
Time management is very challenging as working early mornings through to late nights with a physical job can take its toll. I have always been a very organized person, but coping with the volume of work has been difficult. Everyone says this is a good problem to have, which is totally true, but it is also incredibly exhausting!
I also work alone, so not having any support for the times when I do need to take a break has been difficult to overcome – particularly in a self employed environment. I’m still working to find reliable support, and am investing in others so that can happen. Actually teaching a class or an individual session is always a breath of fresh air…it’s everything that comes between that is challenging!
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?
Meeting so many people from so many different backgrounds and being able to help them feel great. There’s no better feeling than when someone finishes a session and tells you how good they feel as a result of it. I have also had some fantastic results from my work with those with health concerns. I’ve done sessions where people can’t move at the beginning of the hour and then get on their feet at the end of it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’d like to continue to work with special populations and be able to develop a wider offering for those who feel they can’t attend a group class. Mental health is something that is close to my heart, and I think Pilates can do absolute wonders to help those that need an approach that contributes to a bigger picture of helping manage it. I’d like to grow the business, but have found that to be particularly challenging as I work alone. I am currently working with a couple of new instructors that I would like to bring on board so I can widen my offering.
To summarise: Better at what I do, able to help more people, and with more on board to make this possible!
If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?
Go to as many places to do as many classes as you can! Both online and in person. I spent hours watching Pilates channels and youtube videos, discovering instructors whose style I liked, and finding new ways to explain things or do things. I still spend most Sundays doing this now.
Secondly, never stop learning. It’s a cliché but my learning didn’t begin properly until I got my qualification and started working with real people. Continued professional development is so important to ensure your teaching stays relevant, and being in an environment where you can learn from others is really empowering.
For me, learning how to adapt and use Pilates for those with health concerns has been invaluable. Very rarely do you meet someone who is in perfect health – so always be mindful that you need to be able to account for this across the board. Training in these areas has been paramount.
Finally, never underestimate the general public!
You can connect with Eloise at:
07400 714 364