Knowledge is key for Pilates

My Career: Lindsay Bertram, Pilates instructor and studio owner, Midleton
Knowledge is key for Pilates
Lindsay Bertram, Pilates instructor and studio owner at The Pilates Studio, Midleton

Name: Lindsay Bertram.

Age: 40.

Lives: In Saleen, a small village just outside of Midleton.

Job title: Pilates instructor and studio owner at The Pilates Studio, Midleton.

Salary bracket: €45,000 to €60,000.

Education background: My educational background was in Interior Design before I embarked upon my career in Pilates! I studied three-dimensional design in Newcastle college of Art and after my move to Cork, I did a year’s diploma course in Interior Design in Griffith College. I was both self-employed part-time and employed part-time as a designer when I enrolled on the NTC health studies & personal training course in 2012. I really enjoyed teaching and went on to specialise in Pilates initially with profi fitness, then a longer course with the world-renowned school of STOTT pilates, in Dublin, which was when my career shifted from design to fitness. I finished my mat course with them in 2014 and sat my exam later that year which gave me a ‘certified instructor’ status. I am required to gain CECs (continuing education credits) each year to maintain the certified status. The courses I have completed include Pre and Post Natal Pilates, Pilates for Osteoporosis and Osteopenia, Scoliosis Management, Breast Cancer Rehab Pilates, ‘Core’ Pilates, and Pilates for the Older Adult and Zenga myofascial movement.

I feel all of my qualifications and skills are useful to me as a studio owner. My knowledge of interior design has helped me to create two beautiful studios, my graphic design skills come in to play daily for marketing, advertising and creating visuals, and overall my creativity helps me to design interesting and well-choreographed movement flows for our classes in Pilates and ballet barre.

Hobbies: I have a great interest in art and art history. I love visiting exhibitions and following art sales. My next STOTT Pilates training course is in London in October and coincides nicely with the Frida Kahlo exhibition in the Victoria and Albert museum!

I have two boys, Adam, aged eight, and Danny, aged five, who take up a lot of time! We enjoy lots of outdoor activities together. We often cycle as a family and love to go camping and kayaking in the summer months. We like to walk and forage for foods! The boys enjoy cooking too.

Describe your job in five words: Rewarding, exciting, demanding, challenging and fulfilling.

Describe yourself in five words: Creative, caring, determined, dedicated and optimistic.

Personality needed for this kind of work? To be open-minded. Every client is so different, their bodies and their minds. We always treat each person with respect and kindness. Lots of our clients are struggling daily with problems such as weight gain, back pain, eating disorders, osteoporosis or even breast cancer. Lots of mums train with us and for some of them it’s the only hour to themselves. It’s important to keep classes fun and enjoyable for clients. It’s good if someone can come to the studio, get their class in and enjoy the hour too.

How long are you doing this job? Six years now! I qualified in Health studies and personal training, started teaching in 2012 and started teaching a class a week in Ballymaloe Grainstore that year. I went on to study Pilates in 2013 and became certified in STOTT Pilates after sitting my exams in 2014. I opened the studio in the autumn of 2014 and expanded in the spring of 2017, opening a separate reformer studio.

How did you get this job? Fitness was always an interest of mine! I was self-employed in interior design and working part-time in kitchen design when I qualified in Personal training. I’m a creative type and loved my role as a designer. I worked mainly designing show houses, I also took part in RTÉ’s Showhouse back in 2007.

My intention was to run one or two classes a week as a hobby. I started with a class a week in Ballymaloe where I met my first private client. The same client broke a vertebra whilst on a call out on the lifeboat. She was in a back brace for several months before she got the all clear to come back training. I did lots of research about what would benefit her most and Pilates was mentioned in every rehab article. I did a short course over a weekend and we practised twice a week for three weeks. The results were outstanding. Having been unable to put her chin to her chest on session one, by session six she had full spinal mobility in flexion, extension and rotation. This was when my interest in the Pilates was sparked. I booked in for the STOTT Pilates Mat course in Dublin. In the meantime the interior design market had really suffered due to the economic downturn, I found it difficult to get showhouses as builders weren’t building anymore and the kitchen company I designed for were closing their doors. It seemed a natural alternative route for me to take.

After completing my course in Dublin, I ran a few classes in the church hall. They were booked out week after week. A local gym contacted me to run a Pilates class there and a community centre wanted me to run classes also. All classes were busy. I took a brave leap and opened the studio in 2014. Things went from strength to strength, we now have three instructors and run more than 20 mat classes a week and 10 reformer sessions.

Pilates is quite a creative form of exercise, lots of the movements are inspired by, and designed for dancers. I think this is the second thing which drew me to Pilates. I also really believe in Pilates as a method and I practise daily. After my first baby I found it a struggle to lose weight. I did everything, toning classes, step classes, cycling, running, everything! I was qualified in Pilates when I had my second son and practised twice a week from when he was six weeks old. The difference in my body was miraculous. I stood taller, my waist was smaller, the muscle tone through my body was like nothing I had seen before. It really works.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Qualifications are very important in this field. Knowledge is key for Pilates.

Lots of clients are referred to us from physiotherapists and chiropractors with injuries or postural issues. It’s essential that we understand their bodies, their injuries and have good knowledge of anatomy in general, to be able to recommend movements to aid in their rehabilitation and to modify exercises to suit their bodies.

At the other end of the scale, when writing class plans for our intermediate and advanced clients without injuries, it’s essential that we safely challenge them by creating a program to strengthen their entire body, incorporating movements to improve mobility and flexibility as well as increasing or maintaining strength and agility.

Describe a day at work: I get up at around 6.30am and get showered and dressed. I get the boys up at 7am and drop them to school in Midleton at 8.20am for their 8.30am start. I teach a private session at 8.30am, a class at 9.30am and another class at 10.30am. By 11.20am I have finished the morning classes. I set up the studio for the classes that evening, setting out the equipment needed for the first class. I spend the next hour answering emails, returning calls and catching up on texts.

I collect my youngest son just after 1pm and we come home to our house in Saleen. We do his homework together and we collect my older son at 2.10pm. We then do his homework until around 3pm. We might then go to the local gym for a swim or go for a walk in Rostellan or Saleen woods.

I make dinner for 5pm and my husband arrives home at that time and we all eat together. I go back to the studio at around 6.30pm and teach classes at 7pm and 8pm. I arrive home at around 9.20pm, I have supper and relax for an hour or so, and go to bed at around 11pm. I don’t work evenings on Fridays or Saturdays and I take Sundays off.

My schedule is a bit hectic, but I really value having a job that allows me to bring the boys to school each morning, to be at home in the afternoons to help with homework and to be able to spend time with them.

How many hours do you work a week? Around 40 hours a week. I teach classes for 19 of those hours, the rest of the time is spent on administrative work such as marketing, planning, accounting and bookkeeping.

Do you work with others or on your own? We have three other instructors working in the studio.

Best bits: When my level 4 class clients all glide up into their teaser positions with shoulders back and toes pointed! I look around the room in awe of their grace, strength and commitment.

When my oldest client, at 84 years young, a retired GP nonetheless, leaves his session feeling proud and able.

When a male client with undiagnosed back pain, attending the pain management clinic in CUH, tells me he’s been pain-free for a month, thanks to Pilates.

Worst bits: Keeping track of clients’ sessions! We don’t use an online booking app as we often have waiting lists and like to give priority booking to our existing clients.

Advice to those who want your job? Be ready for split days, workings mornings, then back in the evenings. This wouldn’t suit everyone! It works for me as I am able to be around in the afternoons to collect my children and look after them for the day.

The classes are quite tough on the body, so eat well, don’t skip meals, and don’t cut out food groups.

Be confident but not arrogant, no instructor ever knows everything, be happy to accept that.

Keep working on your qualifications, collect your CECs each year and learn as much as you can.

Be respectful of others in the same industry. Try not to tread on anyone’s toes. You never know when your paths might cross or you might need help with something.

Be grateful, appreciate every person that chooses to do a class with you. Remember the quiet times and how hard it was to get new clients, don’t forget them during the busy times!

If you lose your passion for something or stop enjoying it, change it.

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