My first year of motherhood was challenging. I was transitioning from the trauma of infertility treatments, navigating the newborn stage and had received notice that the lease for my studio space was about to double. The stress of caring for a new baby, teaching as many hours as possible and worrying about what the future would hold for my businesses was wearing on me. I knew that I was in the trenches but like a good “Type-A” professional, put my head down and kept pressing on. It was an early morning, bathroom mirror reflection that screeched everything to a halt. I no longer recognized the girl I saw staring back at me. In the midst of caring for my baby and my business, I had completely forgotten to care for myself.
Many of us enter into the profession of Pilates because we desire to help others. It feels good to be the light in someone’s day and teach people about their body’s movement potential. I believe that sometimes, the feeling of helping others feels SO good that we see it as more important than supporting ourselves. I was tired of making excuses for my lack of energy in a session. I was tired of moving others and not moving myself. I was tired of living in fear of losing my beloved studio space. Most importantly, I was tired of being disconnected from my true self and the energy that had always engaged me fully with the world around me. That day, I chose to support myself and in making that choice, I started the journey to “Teach Happy.”
My process began by taking a personal inventory to determine my energetic values or the aspects of my life that I need to engage with in order to feel fully charged. I then used these values to build a practice of daily rituals that would help me regularly tap into this energy. During my commute, it was my Positive Perception Playlist. In between clients, it was breath work to help decompress and/or reenergize. I also developed transitional rituals that helped me move smoothly back into my mommy role after a long day. I reassessed my client relationships and began to put my research on effective interpersonal communication into play. Finally, I opened the floodgates on self-care and rather than just engaging in things like pedicures and massages, I began to focus my care to be in alignment with my values.
As my stress lessened, my teaching became much more satisfying and effective. I kept thinking “Man, I wish I had discovered some of these tools when I had started teaching. It would have been a total game changer!” I know so many teachers who suffer through times of stress and burn out without the means to address their energetic needs. Though a simple concept, supporting yourself can mean the difference between “existing” as a person who teaches Pilates and “engaging” with your clients as a Pilates Professional.
Since the start of my personal process, I downsized my business, started jennazaffino.com, launched online continuing education courses and expanded my professional offerings to include mentorship and coaching. My client interactions are more satisfying and progressive, my creativity continues to be high and my businesses are thriving. I now possess my own personal decision making criteria. If it’s in alignment with my energetic needs, it’s a yes. Everything else is a no. It’s so liberating to have a system that propels me forward, without draining my tank.
This May, I launched the first session of my online course, “Teach Happy!” I am truly allowing my “wounds to be my wisdom” in the hopes that others can benefit from my journey and establish life long skills of self-support. The course work guides pros through visualizations, writing exercises and ritual development, derived from their personal energetic needs. The message is simple: When you support yourself, you are better able to support others. The next session begins in September. I challenge you to choose yourself as your next subject of continuing education and learn how to truly Teach Happy!