Book Review: Survival Skills for Pilates Teachers

Title-Survival Skills for Pilates Teachers
Thriving in the mind-body fitness world
Author-Nicola Conraths-Lange
First published-2004
Format-Soft Cover book
Availability-Amazon new and used, $10-15
Reviewed by Cathy Barker Strack

When this book first came out in 2004 there were few resources available about the business side of teaching the Pilates method. According to Conraths-Lange, she saw this need then and still sees this need in the Pilates community. Fortunately, this book was well-received at the time and continues to be offered now, new and used, on Amazon.

There are eleven chapters in this easy to read book. The first chapter, Your Pilates Philosophy, asks the reader to start thinking about their belief system and approach to teaching Pilates, and then to translate that into their practice (i.e., how they care for themselves and their clients). Training is equally important as noted; “When we work, we don’t DO Pilates to others. We TEACH Pilates. The doing is a private matter. The teaching is a vocation, but it also requires skills that can be learned and perfected. The best way to witness teaching is by means of apprenticeship and mentorship.” Some historical background about Joseph Pilates is also included in this first chapter.

Chapter 2, Being a Pilatista: What It Takes, How We Get It! further explores what it takes to be a good teacher of this method. Key points are highlighted and expanded upon. Points such as knowing modifications to exercises, having a working knowledge of anatomy, developing a “good eye”, behaving professionally, and being a good role model are also raised. Different teaching environments are explored from working for a gym or having a private business in your home.

Unfortunately, Chapter 3, which deals with marketing, has many outdated ideas and information. With the progression of the internet and Facebook, the landscape of marketing has changed drastically.

The rest of the book continues to expand on teacher development, relationships with clients (personal and professional), mentorship, and self-care. This book is presented in a fun and interesting manner. Each chapter begins with a cartoon. At the end of the book, sources are cited and a resource list (probably somewhat outdated now) is given.

I would recommend buying this book, but just know that some of the information is outdated. It is an easy read and there is a reason I kept it in my personal library all these years: It is a good reminder of what being a teacher means to me. And as noted above, Conraths-Lange continues to see a need for a book like this, and she acknowledges the need for an updated version. Perhaps an e-book or series of blog posts.

Nicola Conraths Lange, is a dancer, choreographer and author. She’s currently on the faculty of Interlochen Arts Academy. She holds degrees in communications, psychology and theater arts from Eastern Michigan University. In 2005 she co-authored the Pilates Space, The Workbook for Inspired Entrepreneurs. In this second book she addresses the business side of Pilates and owning a studio.

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