Instructor of the Month
Introducing Karen Laing, Fit School Director and Journalist
I've been in fitness now for 11 years (previously I was a Management Consultant for PwC Consulting) and teaching Pilates for around nine of those. My Pilates business includes pre and post natal classes, community classes and corporate classes. I do some one to one but mainly as a means of integrating participants into my classes. As well as teaching I write. My writing includes articles for national magazines and websites, copywriting and press releases for small businesses and also ghost writing. And I do some presenting too, mainly on the subject of fitness and wellbeing, both in businesses and locally, working with the NCT and local health care providers.
My classes all come under our family business umbrella, Fit School. My husband and I set it up because we felt there was a gap in delivering fitness to the 80% of the population who don't go to gyms and there was a complete lack of programming in fitness. So we run training camps and classes and focus on taking fitness and health into our community. Schools, parks, businesses etc ... We want to teach and empower rather than just beast people to a pulp! And my blog, www.alittlefitter.com is all about just that, getting more people to do a little something to make them fitter or feel better. I spent years thinking I needed to be Mrs Fat Stripping Task Master but that's not me. I just like to encourage people to take small steps.
I'm just coming out of maternity leave having given birth to Naomi in January. My son, Isaac is 3 and half. It's challenging juggling it all but I know it will pay dividends when they're at school and love that to them, fitness and health will just be normal.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I'm very much about flow and fun. I'm very aware that people have chosen to take my class for their wellbeing. It's not about what I want to teach them but what they want to get out of it. Don't get me wrong, we have a plan and I'd say I prefer to teach a stronger class. I like a mixture of breaking moves down to really 'get them' as well as plenty of mobility work so my participants leave feeling good. But I've learned over the years to 'sense a vibe' - I'm a very sensitive soul and take this into my classes. So the same class plan for two classes might be delivered in very different ways. Above all I love giving people an exercise habit.
What is your client base like?
It varies dependent on where I'm teaching. Locally I have lots of mums and what we call the 'very post natal' (young grannies) but my corporate classes are a younger demographic - they also tend to be really stressed, really tight (and sometimes a bit uptight)! And because my specialism is pre and post natal I also get lots of pregnant ladies and lots of baby cuddles. My oldest participant is mid 80s (and has had a double hip replacement).
After completing your Level 3 Pilates training, what other training have you done?
Level 3 in Pre and Post Natal. I've also trained in exercise to music and was a fitness instructor and personal trainer before starting Pilates, so I can't help but bring some of that into my Pilates teaching.
What are you planning for the next 12 months?
I want to run some workshops locally including the 34 moves. But for me it's mainly scaling back up after taking time out to have Naomi. I have lots of demand locally to get my pre and post natal classes up and running again and I'm going to start another evening class. I'm currently writing a fitness/health book for a prominent fitness presenter and have another couple of books on the backburner so that, together with our Fit School business and two children should keep me busy!
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?
Oh absolutely the buzz of a great class and seeing participants walk out of the class with their shoulders relaxed. I also love creating little communities of people through my classes and how sometimes you can't shut them up to start teaching! Having local classes rooted into my community has always been my aim and now I can't take a walk on my high street without bumping into someone.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?
You can't please everyone. Be authentic to who you are and to your style, that way people will come to you for you and what you do rather than comparing you to other instructors.
Karen can be contacted at: