Instructor of the Month
Introducing Kate Loeffen, founder of Kate Loeffen Pilates
Originally trained as a dancer, then school dance teacher and later lecturer, it was a natural step for Kate to retrain as a Pilates instructor, after the third of her four children. She completed her Pilates training at the Pilates Institute in 2003, and now runs a private studio in North London. With over 20 years teaching experience Kate welcomes clients of all abilities and ages, and medical referrals.
Although the majority of Kate’s work is with adults, she also enjoys working with children. As a qualified teacher both in education and Pilates, Kate has enjoyed working in local schools delivering Pilates to children from 5-11.
Kate has always enjoyed physical challenges and alongside many hours of Pilates, she is also a keen runner and swimmer.
How would you describe your style of teaching?
Over the years my teaching style has changed and evolved. I think when you’re teaching hours of Pilates a week, it’s inevitable that you strive for fresh ideas and challenges. I love physiology and anatomy, and my teaching is very bound in creating awareness and understanding of one’s own body. I really believe in giving clients the tools to understand the methodology and encourage them to take ownership of the technique. I want them to feel safe in either their own practice or in other instructor’s classes. Ironically, I think this style of teaching has meant that I have loyal client base.
I teach such a wide range of abilities and ages, it’s difficult to say which is preferable; it’s undoubtedly the combination and variety that is stimulating. Although if I had to say which type of class I prefer, I would probably say that I love teaching my advanced classes the most. They allow me to be really creative, and I often deliver whole class accumulative sequences, building in intensity, and flowing from move to another.
I practice Pilates daily, and I believe this is really important in terms of delivering accessible classes. You need to know what it feels like to do the classes you teach.
What is your client base like?
I feel genuinely lucky with my client base. Without exception they are fabulous people, and I feel really honoured that I get to have both a relationship with them all, and also a little window into their lives. Pilates can be so intimate in that, over time with clients you can read their well-being through the way they move. There is a lot of trust between instructor and client.
My studio client base ranges in age from early 20’s through to late 60’s, I have both men and women, new mums (and babies), medical referrals, athletes and actors. I have also done a lot of work with primary school children. I love that with children there is no unravelling of a lifetime of bad postural habits; it can be all about planting new ideas.
What other training have you done?
Over the years I have done a lot of one day courses or conferences, including special populations, pre-post natal, Pilates for menopausal women, a series of physio lectures, classical Pilates and many more. But I have yet to make the transition to big equipment, as I have never worked in studios (including my own) which have any of the big beasts. However this is about to change, as finally I will be attending Jo’s ‘Masters’ course this year.
What are you planning for the next 12 months?
I am really excited about Jo’s Masters course, as I feel that although I still probably won’t have the Cadillac or reformer to work with regularly, I will now get that missing information. I am confident it will inform the way I deliver Mat classes, and I am hungry for the knowledge.
I will also be running my first residential retreat in March. I will be teaching 10 classes over the weekend. My fully catered retreat will take place in a beautiful converted barn in West Sussex, with a swimming pool on site and beauty therapist available. It’s been quite a lot of work to get to this point, finding caterers etc… but hopefully, this investment will pay dividends if I repeat the retreat. Fingers crossed. For the brochure please click here
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?
There are so many rewards to teaching Pilates, we all know what they are. They are present in every class, as people look visibly better or thank you for the work out, and you see the change in them. But there are a few moments which are special. Firstly, back when I was training, I made my mum one of my case studies. She was so reluctant to start Pilates, but now, some 10 years later, she enjoys Pilates twice a week. In her mid-70’s she has overcome breast cancer and having a heart pace maker fitted, using Pilates as her tool to rebuild her strength and mobility.
Just before Christmas I celebrated with a client, who 8 years ago was bed-ridden for a whole year, she has been working with me twice a week since then and is now almost unrecognisable as the same woman. When we first met, she could barely move! Not only does she now attend my intermediate/ advanced classes, but she achieved her lifetime goal of touching her toes in the last class before the Christmas break. She was nearly in tears with joy.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?
Having done your training and now qualified, I think the best thing you can do, is to really learn your craft. Do as much Pilates as you can, experience different teaching styles, and become totally confident in the technique. Then build up your client base slowly. Don’t expect too much too soon. There’s enough work to go around for everyone, so as long as you’re good at your job, the work will come. Be kind to yourself.