17 December 2020
Studio Pilates

Behind The Scenes With Tanya Winter

Tanya Winter is a Founder of Studio Pilates International® and leads the Education Department, developing and creating all of the Pilates Instructor Training Courses.  Physiotherapist Tanya Winter has been sharing her Pilates passion and knowledge for 20 years As a Physiotherapist, Tanya has a passion for Pilates - both in helping her clients, and also in sharing her knowledge and experience training others to become world class Pilates Instructors. Studio Pilates Education offers over 15 courses which are available to any Pilates instructor and to those wanting to become instructors. The team also manages the Studio Pilates Platinum course, for instructors that want to teach in our studios, and use our SP-TV system. We asked Tanya to tell us a little more about herself and give us a glimpse behind the scenes with the education team. When did you first start practising Pilates? I’ve been teaching Pilates for over 20 years.  I was originally introduced to it through my swimming career, using it as a cross-training tool, and later I came to rely on it heavily for rehabilitation after a spinal fracture. I absolutely love Pilates and I’m so passionate about it as a form of fitness and rehabilitation. I started teaching when I finished my Physiotherapy degree in 1999. In 2002 I co-founded Studio Pilates International® with my husband Jade Winter, and we set up our first studio in Hawthorne, which is still running today. Jade has a background as an Olympic swimmer and Personal Trainer. Both of us had undertaken Pilates certification courses with a large number of accrediting bodies in both Australia and the United States, giving us a broad basis in different Pilates training methods. How did you get involved in instructor training? The foundations for the Studio Pilates International instructor training courses began back in 2002 when we launched our Hawthorne studio, which quickly grew into one of Australia’s busiest Pilates studios.  We found that new employees would come in with a certain level of knowledge, but often found it difficult to apply this knowledge, and many of them were just not up to date with the latest science in terms of how to correctly activate muscles and cater for specific injuries. As a result, when we would hire new instructors, we would often spend a large amount of time retraining and up-skilling them, sharing the lessons we had learned from many years of instructing.  This made us realise that there was a need in the Pilates industry to provide simple to learn, cutting edge courses that are able to be practically applied and are based on modern science. So how did you go about developing Studio Pilates instructor training courses? We found that a lot of Pilates training programs out there didn’t deliver the information in an easy to follow or practical way, or were missing some key components essential to becoming a great instructor. We wanted to challenge this status quo and provide something unique and different, while also delivering an even higher level of practical information to students. So we set about creating a Pilates training program that had a far more streamlined approach, greatly reducing the time needed for training. In the creation process, our goal was to create one of the most advanced Pilates courses available. We sat down and wrote everything you could possibly want to know about every exercise; from the muscles used, the correct movements, common mistakes, injury and intensity modifications, how to teach it, verbal cues and detailed pictures, with the intent to produce the most comprehensive Pilates instructor training manuals. We then filmed video tutorials not only on every exercise, but also on postural assessments, injury management, and how to become a great instructor so that our students could access this resource at any time by utilising our Online Training Centres. This meant that our students could learn in their own time and watch the videos as many times as they wanted to enhance their learning and cut down the need for students to take extended leave from work to complete their certification. We then hand-picked an elite group of instructor trainers who have the same passion for Pilates and helping people to facilitate courses and help our students perfect their instructing skills.  To date, we have already helped over 6,300 people begin their career in Pilates in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Arab Emirates and are looking forward to helping many more! Studio Pilates education regularly creates new courses for the Pilates community. How do you decide which course to develop?  That’s got to be a tough decision... It is! And there are many debates around the office when we’re trying to decide!  We’re continually reviewing and improving our courses and producing new material so that they remain the most up to date and best possible courses in the industry. At the end of the day, it’s all about offering ongoing professional development opportunities for our students to enhance their skills and progress their instructing. Because of this, we try really hard to release at least one new course per year, so that our students have ongoing opportunities to expand their knowledge and really enhance their career.  We usually start the process by posing the question to our students to see what kind of courses they want us to create and what topics are relevant for their ongoing education. From there, we discuss the different options with our fantastic course facilitators, course content creators and the rest of our Education team to make a final decision. It can take anywhere from 6-12 months to create a new course. We start by scoping out the course, researching and reviewing the literature around the equipment or topic to gauge what studies have been published and what the literature says. When it comes to choosing the exercises, we have a massive team brainstorm. This experimental brainstorming stage is probably my favourite as it is a lot of fun playing around with the exercises. There are a lot of laughs, a lot of breakthroughs and “ah huh!” moments. And it’s from these brainstorming sessions that we finalise the course repertoire. From there, we write the manual, which in itself takes a minimum of several months. We then hold a photo shoot for the manual images and a video shoot for the online training centre videos, which involves lots of laughs, lots of chocolate and long days with some pretty funny bloopers! Our team then edits all the videos and pieces together the online course content. It’s a massive team effort, but we have created so many courses now that we have the process down pat! How has the training team coped with the difficulties of 2020? Well 2020 has certainly been challenging, but we have an incredible team, so it has also been a year of amazing growth and breakthroughs. Covid-19 gave us an opportunity to develop new and innovative ways to deliver instructor training and we spent 6 months refining how we could offer courses like our Matwork training fully online via Zoom. After many months of constant refining, we are now very excited that our fully online Matwork training is the exact same standard of our face to face training.  Our Education team also trains instructors for our franchised studios and we’ve continued to be pretty busy opening new studios despite Covid-19 restrictions. We were thrilled to open our first USA studio in Louisville over the summer and also our New York studio, which opens in early 2021. For the first time, we weren’t able to fly a course facilitator over to train the new instructors, which meant that as a team, we had to develop new and exciting ways to deliver our world-class Platinum training.  Covid-19 restrictions have also meant that our training team has had to review our instructing systems in the studios, removing physical (hands-on) corrections and emphasising non-verbal or verbal corrections instead. The challenge here was to ensure that clients still receive a fantastic workout and are working the correct muscles without the instructor being “hands on.” So a great deal of time was spent working with the instructors in our network to develop the most effective verbal and non-verbal cues and ensure that the class experience remained world-class. And I think we’ve done a great job! We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead in 2021 with two new courses being released and many new Studio Pilates franchised studios opening!
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