Instructor of the Month

Introducing Antra Casno, owner of Antra Pilates

Antra Casno Photo for web.jpg

I keep a journal and when I was preparing to write my answers for this article, I looked back on how I have evolved as a Pilates Instructor and came across this when I was practicing my confidence to present myself:

What do you do in life?

-  I’m a Pilates instructor.

What’s Pilates?

-  It makes you super-human.

How?

-  Is your health important to you? Then spend 20 minutes every morning doing Pilates and you will be extraordinary!

Really?

-  Yes. Look at me.

Believe me, this took a lot of courage for me to say this or write it to all to see. But it just shows how I’ve changed thanks to Pilates. Not just the way I look and feel about my body, but also how I think and live now. 

My Pilates journey started with my own back pain due to hours of drawing on my computer when I was an interior designer. After the doctors had said that there’s nothing much they could do to manage my back pain, I did my own research and came across Pilates method. As at the time I lived in Reunion island, I couldn’t try Pilates there as there were no Pilates teachers, but once I moved to London I started doing semi-private Pilates classes 2 times a week for myself. Oh, how I hated Roll-Up! A year later I had got rid of the back pain and decided to learn Pilates for myself so when I travel I can do it anytime, anywhere.

Once I started the training I realized that this is what I’d love to do and set a goal to change my career even though it felt so scary to give up my design career after 10 years of experience in the field. Luckily my Pilates teachers were so passionate about their work that this encouraged me to make a gradual switch from design work into being a full-time Pilates instructor.

Q & A Session:

How would you describe your style of teaching?

My teaching style has been influenced by how I started Pilates myself - nothing felt easy in the beginning. That’s why I generally teach in a more gentle way, except my 6 men Pilates class where they learn to appreciate that Pilates is not just for women. I have noticed that for my female clients it works best to start with low intensity class but with lots of technique as they are more patient and for my male clients we start with higher intensity which gradually lowers and then we add more technique. I do follow a structure to my classes as I was taught by Jo but have adapted it to fit my own teaching style and I leave space for improvisation based on the energy of the class.

I teach from the heart, I listen to my clients, I try to sense what they need.

My teaching style is shaped by who I am, so I would say that my classes are very calm, but still challenging and I make it fun. I love surprising my clients with unusual classes and I use small equipment regularly. I’m generous with my clients and I try to give them 10x the value they expect. To keep my clients motivated I prepare challenges, like 12 week plan with different intensities for each class. Above all - I fulfill their health needs and fitness goals.

What is your client base like?

I have the most wonderful clients! I’m very grateful for them as they gave me their trust. It’s been just 9 months since I came back to Reunion island and being a foreigner who has never taught Pilates in French (all my Pilates training has been in English and my mother tongue is Latvian), they trusted me and gradually I have grown my client base from teaching friends to celebrating this month my 100th person in Reunion who has tried Pilates with me.

My clients are mainly in their 30-50. I think it’s due to my gentle teaching style as I take time and I’m very patient. I can sympathize with their challenges and I noticed that many of my clients feel more at ease in my small group classes rather than in a gym environment.

As I don’t have my own studio yet, for private classes I go to the client’s place and this has allowed me to work with another set of clients - doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers - people who are more flexible with their time and prefer the classes in the morning or afternoon. I reserve my evenings for small group classes and lunchtimes for office Pilates or pre-natal classes.

After your level 3 training what other training have you done?

I felt so inspired after getting my Level 3 diploma that I did Equipment training and Pre and Post Natal training with JPilates and took some courses at other Pilates schools to see their teaching styles and learn from different teachers.

At the moment I’m focused on developing the business side of my Pilates teaching, but I would love to do workshops on regular basis as it’s inspiring to meet fellow instructors, to share ideas, continue learning and see what’s new in Pilates world. Even if at the moment I cannot travel to Europe for workshops, I use JPilates forum on Facebook, read newsletters and watch online videos from other instructors to learn something new every day.

I’m learning to recognize that even though teaching Pilates is my passion, I need to see it as my business as well. As it is my full-time job, it needs to generate a steady income. This was a bit of a challenge for me, so I read business related books and learn about marketing. Learning never stops, be open-minded as you might learn from unexpected sources. I allocate time for my studies, I schedule it as it’s easy to let time fly by.

What are you planning for 2013?

This year I’d love to get my videos online and use this as a tool to inspire my clients, to encourage them to do Pilates regularly and to create a habit to do Pilates every day for 20 minutes. As we work in the field of service and we are limited by the hours we have in a day, I would love to have a product which people can use when they cannot attend my classes or when I’m on a holiday. You might think - oh, she’s so business orientated. To this I would like to say - start to think about it as soon as you get your diploma. It takes some time to build your client base and to have a security of being a full-time Pilates instructor without other income is challenging in the beginning.

During the next 6 months I will focus more on writing my blog (www.kissmypilates.com) as I’d love to share what I have learned so far in case it can be useful to others.

Pilates changed my life in many ways - most important being my total acceptance and love for my body. As I see so many of my clients who don’t like their bodies (or even hate them!) I feel I need to share my experience that also they can change for better.

I’m devoting this year to build my reputation in this new market to have a regular client base to allow me to plan my time efficiently and to have lots of energy for my clients, as I do spend quite a lot of time driving from class to class.

Pilates is such a big part of my life now that I actually think about this every day - what can I give to my client, how can I grow, am I good enough, what habits I develop and do I inspire my clients?

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?

To see your clients happy and in better health than you found them, that they achieved their goals and they feel inspired to live better. I’m happy that I have a job which is also my passion, so I’m always happy when I work.

As a Pilates instructor, you don’t just teach a set of movements, you touch people lives in the way you might not imagined you would. They trust you, they believe in you, they listen to what you say or show (had a proof of this last week when during a warm-up I did a sudden head movement as my T-shirt strap was bothering me and all clients just quickly did the same move and we all had a good laugh. I did thank them for being such attentive students).

You have power to influence (hopefully in a good way only) your clients, so use this as a stepping stone to be a better person yourself, that way you can give what’s best in you.

I noticed that I attract clients who are in some way similar to me. Most of the time they appear in your life because they need you, but some of them will be there for you too. You might not realize that right away but it’s interesting as an experience for your own growth. So don’t be sad when a client leaves - you both have outgrown each other and learned something useful in the process.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?

Never stop learning.

It’s so exciting to start teaching once you’ve got your Diploma, you have this amazing energy and inspiration. Yes, you will also experience fear - so start to teach right away so you get used to being in front of your clients.

The more you teach and the more people you will meet, the more questions you will have, doubts and surprises. It’s great if you get an amazing teacher who’s there to support you (thank you Jo!).

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for advice from people who have gone through the same experiences, read, watch webinars, follow the blogs of other Pilates instructors.

What I also appreciate is that in UK the Pilates instructors are open to share their knowledge and experiences with their fellow instructors. It helps us all grow. Have to admit, sometimes I’m still shy to ask for help.

And I’d love to add - connect with your clients as they will be your best advertisers. I noticed that people will choose you as their Pilates instructor based on your personality. Don’t be afraid to show who you are and that you care about them. They will mirror your generosity.

And lastly - don’t be too hard on yourself. Even if you just got your diploma, trust yourself. You want to help your clients and at every moment of your life you do your best with what’s available to you.

Immerse yourself in Pilates if you would love this to be your lifetime’s passion. Be loving towards yourself, be passionate and take it easy (most of the time!).

We are all learning and each of us have our own fears, but remember that you are definitely much better than you think you can be.

Antra Casno is a certified Pilates instructor who inspires people to love their bodies unconditionally and fulfill their body strength and health capital. Using innovating method of mixing Pilates, Silva meditation and healthier eating habits she helps her clients to live better and shine with happiness.

Antra lives between tropical heaven - Reunion island and an exciting city - London, and teaches Pilates and meditation in English, French and Latvian.

To get in touch with Antra, please visit:uk.linkedin.com/in/antracasno/