Imposter Syndrome and Pilates

Episode 08

So many pilates teachers experience imposter syndrome whether it’s because of a lack of skills in the art of teaching or because we feel that we will never know enough to be good enough teachers. Have you ever felt this way? If the answer is yes, then this episode is for you! Tune in today as we delve into the different ways imposter syndrome shows up in teaching and how embracing your authenticity, accepting that you can continue to learn and don’t need all the answers, and framing your nerves as excitement can quell these feelings. Thanks for listening in!


Key Points From This Episode:


  • The types of imposter syndrome that occur in teachers and the reasons for them. 
  • The importance of embracing your authenticity.
  • Why pilates teachers do not need to know everything and have all the answers. 
  • A reminder that you are allowed to doubt yourself as a teacher. 
  • Relabelling nervousness as excitement. 
  • Why being open to learning throughout your journey to better your teaching is important. 
  • Hannah defines imposter syndrome and delves into her take on it. 



HT: I just came across a really great quote from Adam Grant. So I’m going to start off by reading this. It says, ‘Questioning your abilities doesn’t mean you have imposter syndrome. It is a normal response to a new challenge or a difficult task. The absence of doubt breeds arrogance, feeling unsure maintains humility. A lack of confidence is a reminder that you have something to learn.’ So thank you to Adam Grant for that lovely quote.”




[0:00:34.3] HT: Welcome. Stick around if you want to learn about the art and philosophy of beautiful movement mixed with evidence-based exercise science. We’ll be having tough and inspiring conversations with other coaches, experts, artists, and athletes. Our goal is to challenge myths, explore concepts, and engage in healthy debate as we dive deep with intrigue and curiosity. 


I’m your host, Hannah Teutscher. I’ve been teaching dance, Pilates, and Yoga for over two decades and what I’ve learned is that movement can be the joy that integrates us all together. When we can trust and express ourselves through our bodies, we are unlimited in our ability to change ourselves and our communities for the better. 


We, as movement teachers and coaches, have the power to help people experience this for themselves. Okay everyone, let’s dive in. Exchanging ideas and changing people’s lives, one session at a time. This is The Pilates Exchange.




[0:01:31.4] HT: Thinking about imposter syndrome within the teaching world. This is something that comes up so often when we are mentoring teachers. This feeling like we are not enough, we don’t have enough information, we don’t know how to teach, we don’t know all these things, so when you go out in front of your classes, there is a real panic for some people. There’s a real fear that they aren’t getting it right for their clients.


You know, I think it falls into a couple of different categories, right? One thing is that many teacher training programs don’t actually teach the skills that you need to teach classes, to teach human beings in front of you and so when you first – after you’ve existed a teacher training program, you really don’t know how to teach and you just have to spend much time figuring it out on your own.


Because what they do is they give you a lot of movements and then you need to put it together and figure out how that works for the person, the clients, and the classes in front of you. So there is that part of it, not quite having enough information there, and then there’s the other – and that information just comes from walking into the class and doing it over and over and over and seeing, ebbing critical about what’s critical thinking.


I mean, about what’s working and what’s not working, and that takes a lot of time. There is the other part of it that teachers that are very well educated, they have a lot of experience teaching also but for many different reasons, fall into the belief system that it’s not enough.


[0:03:15.3] I mentor one wonderful woman that she has so many certifications. My goodness, like she could write books just about the certifications she has, and she doesn’t teach because she’s not allowing herself to be good enough to start teaching. She has enough information, she really does.


She always feels like she needs to do the next thing, learn the next thing, learn just a little bit more anatomy, “Now, I need to learn about scoliosis. Now, I need to learn about this neurological condition. Well, I also need to learn about what to do with cancer patients and this and this and this.” The starting never begins, right? 


We have to start the teaching and then we figure out where the gaps in our learning is and then we can – you could fill that up a little bit later but getting started is, it’s essential, right? Your – the students that are out there, your potential students, they need to learn from you. They want to learn from you because you, your voice is unique, your experiences are unique. 


It’s not just the Teacher Training Program that you did but it’s your authentic way, your experiences, your life experience that makes you the teacher that you are and that’s what people relate to. That’s what helps people along their journey if they can relate to you and you’re teaching from that authentic place. 


They don’t come to you because you have all the answers, you know, even a doctor would also if he doesn’t – he or she does not know something, they’re going to go look it up. Okay, so you don’t need to have all the things. 


[0:04:51.7] When we stop putting teachers on this, putting ourselves on the pedestal of having to know everything all the time, it lessens that imposter syndrome because we don’t need to be the know-all, be all of everything.


And if we partner our clients then we partner our students along their journey with them, the experiences with them, like a dialogue during that process, then we don’t need to have all the answers because one of our core beliefs is that you are a guide, you are not the know-all, be-all. 


You’re a coach, you help them, you discover it, you teach them movement, but you do not need to know everything. There is too much pressure for that and there’s too many things to learn. Actually, that’s one of the big reasons that we started our Train the Trainer course. 


It’s not only to give people, give teachers information about how they could teach better, which we do a lot of that, you know, the neuroscience of learning and coaching and all of these other things but it’s also to find each person’s authentic way of showing up in that training room or that studio or that classroom. 


I think that’s what is missing by a lot of people. It’s not the imposter syndrome. It’s like, we’re allowed to be challenged, we’re allowed to be uncomfortable as teachers, we’re allowed to come into new experiences and not know the answers and what we do there is where it gets interesting. How we think about those situations or how we respond to them about knowing or unknowing.


[0:06:26.9] So we’re totally allowed to doubt ourselves, totally. Like Adam Grant says, “The absence of doubt breeds arrogance.” You know what? We’re not out there to be the encyclopedia of information. If you think that you know everything, then you probably wouldn’t be listening to this podcast anyways because you already know everything, you know? And then we can’t help you. 


That’s something – there’s nothing for us to work on dialogue together. Feeling unsure with what we’re doing, that maintaining that humility, you know even when I break it down to like, the dance world, the ballet world, you could be a phenomenal dancer and you still take ballet class every single day. Every day because there’s always something more to learn about yourself, about your practice, about your – 


It doesn’t mean that you – same thing for musicians, you go in, you’re practising, you’re doing that self-practice, you read that self-exploration because there’s always more to discover. I mean, I’m sure that at least the dancers that are listening in, they know who Baryshnikov is. He took class. I mean, I remember taking class at Steps in New York and he was at the bar next to me.


I mean, he’s the – in my opinion, one of the best dancers in the world and what did he do? He took class. He did everything, everything in the class. He didn’t leave out any exercises because he was too good for them, too good for a, you know, a beginning pirouette exercise, even though he had turned more than I don’t even know how many pirouettes he could do, what his record is. 


[0:08:01.0] It doesn’t matter and it’s not about imposters syndrome, it’s about working. I’m sure, he even gets – you know, would get nervous to go on stage. Even after years of dancing professionally, I would get nervous to go on stage. It’s normal to get nervous around challenges, even when I’m teaching a big class or a big seminar or giving a lecture, I get nervous. 


Sure, that’s okay. Sometimes it’s a new situation, it’s a – and that’s fine. That’s also going to be fine for you as you’re teaching new people or a new experience or a different method or you’re trying a different structure out in your class. It’s all right to maybe get nervous. Maybe nervous is more excitement, maybe that’s what it is. It’s okay to feel excited about something.


When we re-label that nervousness as excitement, “I’m excited to go on to a stage” or “Excited to teach these people” or this experience or whatever it is, then maybe that helps with – helps overcome that what sometimes is a very big boundary or a barrier to get through for some people. They get so nervous before that first teaching that they don’t actually go further, they don’t actually finish it and start it because of that.


So questioning your abilities or questioning your knowledge, that’s great. I know, like we always say around here is like, be sure you know what you know and what you don’t know, right? And that’s great. It is good to have more to learn. I’ve been teaching over 20 years in different movement methods.


Do I know everything? Nope, is that okay? Absolutely. I don’t need to know everything. Not knowing everything that’s out there. For me, doesn’t breed that imposter syndrome because I’m okay with the process of being on the journey. If you trained with me 10 years ago, I would have given you the information that I had at that point.


[0:10:02.9] Has my teaching changed in the last 10 years? Absolutely and that’s okay, that’s good. I’ve even had to go back and say, “Hey, I’ve been teaching this” whatever it may be, “X, Y, and Z for this way for so many ways and look, I got it wrong.” 


There is new information now, that new science that says, “It would be better if we tried it this way.” So what do we do? We change, we say, “Okay, due to this information, we’re going to try it this way from now on. Perfect” and it’s okay. It’s okay to make mistakes and we have to allow ourselves that grace of walking into the unknown about course-correcting later. 


Like if you’ve been making a mistake and you’re training and you realize that because you’ve been studying and you’ve been learning more, not because you’re trying to fill this hole of, “Oh, I am not good enough. I got to learn, learn.” No, no, no, learning more because it is interesting to support your journey and you have to go back and course correct, okay, great. 


That’s so – your students will be so happy that you did that because they know that you are along your path and you are striving to be better and giving them the best information. It’s not saying, “Oh, everything to now has been wrong.” I think 99.999% of the time, people are going to be grateful for that and it’s a sign of humility. 


Yeah, it’s confidence in yourself that you can learn more. You know, I think it is actually, I think that takes more confidence to continue to learn more and to course-correct and not if you know everything, I think actually that is a pretty weak position to be in. That is just a personal opinion there because then, it cuts off that flow. 


It cuts off the experience of becoming something greater for your own teaching but also for your clients. 




[0:11:55.0] HT: When I started teaching, I felt underprepared and overwhelmed. I needed to learn how to plan my training so that it made sense but I wasn’t sure what was working and what wasn’t. So many teacher training programs leave out the actual art and business of teaching. This is why we created Train the Trainers. 


Train the Trainers is designed to give you the tools you need to create a powerful learning environment for your students. Gain access to the vault of our collected knowledge, where you can learn everything we have to teach you, whether you’re a freelance teacher or a studio owner. 


Get constructive feedback on your teaching with actionable tools you can apply immediately. We can’t wait to be part of your teaching journey and to help you grow in your business. Welcome to Train the Trainers. 




[0:12:43.2] HT: So a lack of confidence, let’s say, it’s lack of confidence what Adam says is, “Lack of confidence is a reminder that you have something to learn.” I think we could go into that also with a confidence that we all have something to learn. I think that is a beautiful place to work from as well. 


Imposter syndrome, yeah, it’s interesting. I don’t know if you just look at the definition of imposter syndrome, “It’s the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” That’s interesting, right? So this imposter syndrome looks like jumping around because you doubt yourself. 


Jumping around from one certification to the next certification and then never really starting anything because that self-doubt persists no matter what your education and your experience or your accomplishment is and so I think we need to flip that because it is okay to not know everything. It is okay to start where you are. 


It is okay to make mistakes and go back and fix them. We don’t need to be perfect. We need to, as teachers, we have to help people along their journey into movement, dance, you know, yoga but we could take down that level of anxiety when we allow ourselves that grace, that freedom there. 


I hope that makes sense and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Send me a message, contact me on social media, let’s chat about it. Have you experienced imposter syndrome in your teaching? How does it show up? What do you do about it for yourself? Yeah, let’s go a little bit deeper here because I think a lot of teachers have experienced this. 


All right, have a beautiful day and I will see you next week. 




[0:14:40.0] HT: Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. A great cost-free way of supporting us and the podcast would be to give us a five-star rating. You could also look down into the show notes and grab anyone of the free resources for teachers. I hope to see you next week on The Pilates Exchange. Happy teaching everyone. 



Empty section. Edit page to add content here.