Pilates teacher Nikki Horner tells Amy Collins why her job helps her as much as it helps her clients.
Why is it a good profession to get into?
For me, I find it a great way to help people take control and responsibility of their bodies, especially people who have had had back problems or injuries. I come from a back pain background so pilates keeps me fit and mobile. I have an inflammatory condition where my spine can become inflamed, painful and stiff, and the pilates classes I went to helped me to manage it. So I decided to become an instructor myself to help others with their bodies whilst keeping my own body healthy.
What does the work involve?
My week is balanced between teaching small group classes in Norwich and Wymondham, private clients at the Global Clinic, travelling to and from venues, loading and unloading equipment, and paperwork such as lesson plans, advertising, accounts and so on. We also have to do Continuing Professional Development to update skills which usually involves several trips to London each year and training with inspirational pilates teachers from around the world.
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What are the positives/negatives of this profession?
It's such a sociable job. My clients are great fun and some of them have been coming to me since I started eight years ago. It's the longest I've been in one job! It is very satisfying to help clients improve their fitness and body awareness, especially if there has been an injury or pain of some sort, in which case they may also have to regain their confidence. My least favourite part of the job is doing the accounts and all the other paperwork that is involved. The only other problem with being self-employed is that I can't pull a sicky!
Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?
There always seem to be newly qualified teachers coming through so I guess there must be. Pilates is so effective that everybody wants to do it! It can be quite hard setting up as self-employed initially but it's worth it, and I'm sure there is plenty of work for us all, particularly if you are able to work evenings and weekends.
What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?
Being well qualified with a reputable trainer is essential. Weekend courses are just not adequate. You need to be self-motivated with good verbal and client skills, movement and body awareness, empathy for people along with plenty of patience and a healthy sense of humour. My clients are my employers, they want to enjoy their pilates sessions and they want value for money so I have to provide what they want in a safe, challenging and consistent way. And I love it.
Nikki Horner, pilates instructor, 01603 723852.