Instructor of the Month

Introducing Suzanne Rogers, owner of Cheshire Pilates

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About Suzanne,

My active lifestyle started very young when I aspired to be a gymnast. I remember watching theRussian and Romanian gymnasts in the late 60s and 70s (now I’m showing my age) and trying to emulate them in the school yard and local competitions. Following on it was the aerobic and weight lifting trends of the 80s......’Feel the burn!’ and I even had a few years where I competed as a bodybuilder. As I got older and jaded with fitness classes and‘pumping iron’ I was ready to embrace something new.

I always wanted to work in the industry but somehow the time was never right. I first looked into becoming a Pilates instructor in 2005, however I had young children, no money and the training was all based in the south of the country. I continued to work in unfulfilling office jobs until 2009 when I decided it was time to set my own course in life. I gave up my job and enrolled on a Level 3 Matwork Course and have never looked back.

Q & A Session:

How would you describe your style of teaching?

I am very much a girl who loves rules and order in my life and I guessthat that is reflected in my teaching style. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a class flows, however for me it all has to start with getting the technique right.  Whenever I introduce a new exercise I take the time to break it down and allow my clients to get familiar with it. Whilst I am a stickler for technique, I allow my clients time to ‘feel’ the exercise, to make mistakes (unless their actions would put them at harm) and correct their own movement from my verbal cueing. I am hands on in class but I try not to jump in too soon; I like to let my clients have a chance to figure it out for themselves. I have a few groups now where I can really push them, I throw in some high intensity intervals to get their heart rate up and mix up the class format to keep it stimulating.

What is your client base like?

I would say that my client base is predominantly ladies between the ages of 30-60. Having said that I also have several older clients in their 70s and 80s and at the moment, more men than I’ve ever had in class particularly husband and wife teams. I teach beginner and intermediate level mat and reformer classes, although my clients would probably argue that the classes are advanced! I also teach several private sessions per weekand this area is growing significantly.

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

Following on from my Level 3 Training I have done several CPD courses and workshops including, Pilates and Back Care; Pilates for the Ageing Population; Specialist Pilates-Hip and Knee; Pilates and Pregnancy; Pink Ribbon Programme; Reformer Level 1 & 2 (with the lovely Joanne Cobbe) and several ‘ Inspiration Day’ workshops.

I love to learn so its fantastic that I’m working in an industry where there is always something new to discover and experience. My ambition is to study a degree in Sports Rehabilitation but that’s something for the future. I can see myself doing it when I’m in my seventies or eighties especially as it will take 5 and a half years to do it part-time (it may well take me that long to convince my husband that yes another course is definitely necessary!). In the meantime, I would love to do a course with JPilates, I think perhaps GP Referral and Level 4 Back Care will be next.

What are you planning for 2013?

This year is going to be a year of massive change for me. At the moment I am running my own mat and equipment studio which I opened two years ago. The studio has been a great success, better than I could have anticipated. However at the end of June I will be closing the studio doors for the last time. You may well be confused as to why I would close down a successful studio. The decision is based around a conflict that many of us working mums have to face:  trying to manage running a studio single-handedly, teaching all of the classes and finding time to support my family with GCSEs and A levels, and a husband who also has a very busy job.This has meant that I have had to reconsider my path. Please don’t let this put you off following your dream if it is to open a studio. I have no regrets in opening the studio and have had a fantastic two years there.  Closing the studio was a difficult decision to make especially as my clients are so lovely, however I will be relocating to a home studio where I will concentrate on private and semi-private lessons. Having made the decision and telling my clients, I am overwhelmed by their support. I will now be teaching the same if not more hours from home with the added advantage of no travel time, less evening hours and hardly any overheads. It’s fantastic that I will still be able to work with so many of my existing clients.

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

Like many instructors I find it so rewarding to see someone progressing, getting stronger and finally living pain-free after years of putting up with a bad back or other postural issues. One of the most satisfyingaspects is when I am working with a client who has never practised Pilates before, they may come from a gym or fitness background and you can see and almost feel the doubt radiating off them as they first start to learn about Pilates: it’s that moment when you see the ‘light bulb’ come on and they finally get what it is all about. I find it is often the ‘doubters’ who later become your most loyal and dedicated clients. When teaching I sometimes reflect on what my working life would have been like if I had stayed in my office job and I have to say, there’s no comparison.

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

This is a funny question for me as I still consider myself to be a relatively new teacher. I guess the quest to become a great Pilates teacher is a life-long journey and as I said earlier for me it will be a never ending search for more knowledge. In that respect, will I ever consider myself a fully fledged teacher? Perhaps not but I see this as a positive as I will always strive to learn more. In answer to the question then, I think the best advice I could offer is to always question, seek knowledge and never sit back and rest on your laurels. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In my early days I used to feel that if I didn’t know something then how could I be a good teacher, asking for help would only serve to highlight my inability.  I now accept that I will never know everything, but in continuing to learn, I will be continually stimulated and passionate about what I do.