TPC Grad Chats! Kate Wheeler

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This week we chat with wonderfully willowy Kate Wheeler. Kate, originally a dancer, discovered The Pilates Center through Every Body Pilates in Boston. She fell in love with TPC and soon found herself swapping out of her stressful arts industry job and training to teach. Kate graduated from The Pilates Center, Boulder, CO’s Bridge Program in 2017 and now teaches out of her beautiful studio, Crescent Trail Pilates in Fairport, NY.

Hi Kate, how are you today?

I’m well! I’m taking some down time after a full morning of teaching at my studio, Crescent Trail Pilates. I opened the studio in Fairport, NY just over a year ago after 7 years in Boston.

Lately I’ve been learning to toggle between admin time, teaching time, and my precious movement time. This interview is forcing me to slow down and reflect for a moment – thank you!

Where did you train and when did you graduate?

I first graduated from TPC’s Intermediate Program in 2016 then continued into the Bridge Program, graduating in summer 2017. I completed my apprenticeship at Every Body Pilates in Boston under the guidance of Kirstin deFrees, a TPC Licenced Teacher Trainer. Almost all of the 11 staff members at the studio were TPC grads and I can’t single out one mentor for giving me more than another, each was instrumental to my learning.

Are you a Host Advisor or LTT? If so, please tell us a little about how you enjoy these roles?

I finished my first Host Advisor training a few weeks ago and I’m beginning the process of spreading the word to potential trainees. It’s very exciting to me that I may provide the same openness for learning at my studio as I received from my mentors.

How did you find out about TPC?

I’d started as a client with Leslie Homans, a graduate of TPC’s Master’s Program, at Every Body Pilates. The studio happened to be across the street from my job in a non-profit arts leadership career (I raised money – not exactly a low pressure job, and a desk job at that) and the studio became a haven.

Before I’d moved to Boston, I was working as a Dean of Students at large community music and dance school, and I was also on the dance faculty. Fast forward to my relocation to Boston: no dancing, little exercise at all. I felt so sedentary and not entirely myself. It was almost a fluke that I happened upon Every Body Pilates and it feels uncanny that they wound up being a TPC host studio. In short, I kinda stepped right into it!

What was your motivation for learning to teach Pilates?

I’d experienced some Pilates as a teen at The Pilates Center of Rochester, NY.  

As a young dancer with overuse injuries and low self-esteem, the sense of empowerment Pilates gave me was pivotal. When I left my career to pursue my training with The Pilates Center, Boulder, I was devoted to helping others experience the same evolution.

What was your reason for choosing to train with TPC?

The quality of training I was receiving as a student was crazy good! I felt entirely seen, heard, and motivated to make changes without thinking about things that were going “wrong.” My body became accessible even after some traumatic events and surgeries, because my teachers helped me understand it on a fundamental level and allowed me to take part in the conversation. I knew if I enrolled in a program with the same educational lineage as these teachers, I’d learn the art of teaching – of communicating to empower others to know their bodies with confidence. I had no hesitation about signing up for TPC and I didn’t consider anywhere else.

Why do you think TPC is the best option for people wanting to become Pilates teachers?

TPC has a reputation for rigor and a beefed-up comprehensive curriculum and while it’s fantastic and second-to-none, those aren’t the only reasons the program stands out from all the rest in my mind. 

I believe to be successful as a teacher, a person has to be introspective and curious enough to ask WHY the rules are the rules. TPC trainees are invited to that larger conversation about the “whys” and asked to bring their own “how’s” to the table, keeping the work alive and learning to become a unique resource. We are invited to consider how can we successfully pass on the structure and principles of Pilates’ work using our individuality and interacting with clients whose understanding and experience is different than ours?

The Pilates Center, Boulder, CO Teacher Training Program helps teachers develop a distinct guiding voice founded on critical thinking skills. There’s a powerful emphasis on human connection to impart health and healing through Pilates.

What is / are your favourite thing(s) about TPC’s teacher training program?

I appreciate that each mentoring teacher is so different. It expands the possibilities for learning by forcing us to listen closely and think carefully about the information we’re receiving. Debora has remained with me as a twice-monthly Skype mentor and I love all the time I’ve had with her, and appreciate that as graduates we have continued access to the staff’s guidance.

What do you think your experience at TPC has given you most?

I’ve learned the importance of building a community where learning is accessible and supported. I think that without community – whether in a big studio or small – in a mentoring relationship, we can easily become sceptics of our visions, choices, and teaching voices. I love working with colleagues and watching as our clients’ experience with Pilates changes something about their larger experience of the world. TPC helped me look beyond boundaries I’d otherwise set for myself. And I’m far more confident than I used to be!

What would you say to someone who is considering training with TPC?

The ardor and time required to complete the program is one of the greatest investments you’ll ever make. You will feel wholly at home and your learning will be endless – the training program is just the beginning!

What’s your fave piece of equipment and why?

The Chair was one of my first loves (my clients know this through and through). I’ve some laxity in my joints, and it’s a perfect whistle-blower for those instabilities. I head to the chair when I need a confidence boost and insight about where my imbalances are for the day. Also, sometimes, I just want to feel like I get my butt kicked during a workout and I find Chair a stout drill sergeant for my willowy frame!

What is your fave memory of training at TPC and why?

I will always laugh at the memory of Rachel telling me to stop “making it such a big deal” as I moved through my final performance. She wanted me to relish the hard work I was doing without brooding in the face of a challenge, Pilates is to be enjoyed!

I needed to let loose and she called me out on that right away. That single instance is one of many favorites, but I return to it a lot, especially if I’m bogged down in business or teaching. I step back and think, “am I enjoying this?”, “What can I do to appreciate my work so I may better help the amazing people who trust me to guide them?”, “How can I use the skills that got me here to enforce something positive rather than focusing on what isn’t developed yet?” It’s a process!