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My name is Sarah. After years of struggling to eat and exercise "normally," I've finally started to figure things out. I started up this blog to keep myself on a healthy track and to share what I've learned with anyone else out there who struggles with binge eating, body image, or anything along those lines.
After a lot of thought, I think I’m letting The Girl with the Green Apple rest.
It’s a funny thing. I felt VERY strongly about starting this blog. Laugh if you must, but I think God wanted me to. I remember a few nights of tearful Google searches when I was at my worst, desperate to find information on someone who struggled like I did but then got better. A handful of blogs I came across gave me the hope and practical suggestions I needed to slog through one more day, to keep up my courage to not give up until I was better.
So putting my story out there is something I knew I needed to do. And it’s not going anywhere. I’m going to let this blog stay out there for anyone to find who might need a voice of hope. But . . .
I’ve been frustrated lately as I’ve tried to keep my life in balance. My family, obviously, is priority number one. Taking good care of myself and maintaining the eating and workout habits that got me better and keep me better is also huge. Deciding to take on this amazing group fitness instructor journey has been incredible, but it also demands time. So by the time I’ve done all I need to on those three fronts, it’s often 11 p.m. And I kind of need sleep to be a decent human being. 😉
So farewell, readers. Thanks to all of you who have shown support as I’ve started this up. I truly hope that anyone looking for info on binge eating, ED recovery, healthy pregnancy, PIIT28, Pop Pilates, or any of the other things I’ve written about finds this blog’s content helpful. But from here on out, for the foreseeable future, I won’t be adding new content. My life is feeling too full, and this is the thing I have consciously, thoughtfully chosen to let go.
However, if you just love me to pieces (ha!) I have found that Instagram is something I can manage. I’ve re-merged my blog and personal accounts into one and called it @utahlates (like Utah and Pilates), and I’d love if you want to follow me there. It’ll be a blend of pictures of my kids and personal life along with bits about food and fitness and POP Pilates, since those are things I’m really passionate about.
So there you go. Goodbye for now—who knows? Down the road this blog might feel right and manageable again—but for the foreseeable future, I’m signing off.
GUYS! It has been a really long time since I’ve posted here, and I’m sorry. Life has been crazy in lots of good ways. We’re moving to a new city in about 3 weeks, my three girls are still adorable but still a ton of work, I’ve started running again (post on that still to come), and . . . I’m now POP Pilates certified!
What Is POP Pilates?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with POP, here’s the short version. Way back in 2009 when dinosaurs roamed the earth and YouTube was brand-new, a Pilates instructor named Cassey Ho started loading videos of herself teaching classes online. Her intention was for her own students to watch and use them but was floored when thousands of people across the world started doing her workouts and asking for more. I was one of those, as it happens! I started doing her ab workouts in college. Fast-forward a few years and her site and popularity has boomed. In fact, Cassey’s YouTube Channel, Blogilates, is the #1 female fitness channel on YouTube. Her workouts are tough but fun blends of Pilates-inspired matwork and bursts of dancey cardio. While classical Pilates heavily influences her style, Cassey’s workouts are a format entirely their own and I LOVE them. I’ve kept coming back and back to them over the years as my workouts for non-run days or sometimes using her free monthly workout calendars.
Deciding to Certify
A year or two ago, I saw Cassey’s blog post about how she had developed and trademarked her workout style into its own group fitness format designed specifically for gyms. That meant you could attend a workshop, get certified, and then go out and get a job teaching classes at gyms much like her incredible YouTube workouts. I knew immediately that this was something I wanted to do. However, I spent a good 2+ years telling myself it was too expensive, and that I wasn’t fit enough, and that I needed to look a certain way to even consider becoming a fitness instructor. So POP stayed on my someday list. And, if you’re like me, “someday” tends to mean never. But then, back at the start of this year, I decided that waiting for myself to magically look like a Barbie and have a spare million dollars sitting around was silly. I wanted to teach POP Pilates! So I signed up for a workshop and went for it.
What Does It Take to Certify?
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what I did to get myself officially POP Certified. It’s a pretty simple (and very fun!) process, but here’s what you need to know.
However, if you’re like me, there may still not be a workshop super close to your city. I live in Utah, and the nearest workshops to me in the spring of 2017 were in Colorado and California. I could have used that as an excuse to keep putting off my certification, but I didn’t. I WANTED this, so badly! So I looked at the dates and locations and found the one that would take the smallest amount of SkyMiles. It just so happened that one in NYC fit the bill—I had enough miles stashed away to cover a quick flight in and out as well as a cheap hotel room. So while there were options that were closer geographically, New York ended up being the best workshop option for me.
2. Start working on things in the POP in Training Portal.
Once you have signed up for a workshop, you are given access to an online portal full of learning material. There’s an e-copy of the POP Pilates Instructor manual, lots of helpful video clips and printouts, and most importantly, one full-hour video of POP choreography. You could show up at the workshop not having gone over any of this and you’d probably be okay, but I was happy that I knew the choreography video pretty well and had read all the training material.
3. Go to your workshop!
I can’t even tell you how fun this day was. My workshop was at a 24 Hour Fitness, and I walked into a huge room full of girls of varying degrees of fitness experience. About half of the room, like me, had never taught group fitness before. And then the other half already taught another format like Zumba or spin. Everyone I met was so positive and kind. I feel like the newbies helped me feel less self-conscious and alone, while the veteran instructors had a LOT of helpful knowledge to offer. Two girls in my workshop in particular, Heather and Joy, were AWESOME this way. And our master trainer was Jules Fultz! She is super fun and cool and amazing at what she does. Getting to meet her was a real privilege.
What do you do during your workshop? You spend some time listening while basic information is given (why is POP Pilates different from classical Pilates, how POP Pilates was developed, etc) but a lot of it is spent practice-teaching others bits of choreography. Learning about WHY good cueing is important and how to be a teacher that gives really good, helpful cues was the thing we spent the most time on. I learned a ton—and mostly learned how little I currently know!—and left excited to go home and practice all I learned more so that I can develop these skills and become a kick-A instructor.
And, of course, you’ll spend your day surrounded by positive and amazing people. I can’t say enough how cool it was to meet all these amazing women who all shared a passion for this particular type of fitness. I know we were there to learn material, but my one complaint about the day was I wish it had been LONGER so I could have had more downtime to just talk with all the cool people I met! We’ve been staying in touch on Instagram, and it’s been great to have a group who can give support and answer questions. Basically, the POP community is awesome but gets even better once you’ve been to a workshop and met other popsters in person. 🙂
4. Film your evaluation video.
While you do need to attend a workshop (or complete the online version for international popsters), you don’t walk out of the workshop certified. Once you are home, you have to film a video of yourself teaching a 35-minute POP Pilates class. The video is viewed by an evaluation team that gives you specific, detailed feedback and also determines if you pass or fail.
You have 60 days from the date of your workshop to do this. I was glad that I had learned the choreography for my evaluation video BEFORE the workshop, though it wasn’t necessary. I came home so pumped and ready to get out there and teach that I filmed my eval video just a few days after getting home and was officially certified within the week! But that’s a little weird and unusual. Much like my fabulous self. Haha.
I’m not going to lie: filming the video was REALLY nerve-wracking. I was dripping in sweat, not just from the workout but because I was so scared of messing up! But I am glad that I just faced my fears and did it. The feedback from my evaluators was actually really cool and encouraging, even though a fair chunk of it was kindly worded constructive criticism. As scary as it was up front, I learned a TON from this part of the process and see why it’s part of the certification requirement.
One last side note on this: I know I was nervous at the outset about the tech side of the video. Where would I get a fancy video camera to film it? WHERE would I film it? And how would I send the video file over? In the end, I filmed it on my iPhone 7 in my living room. It worked great—you are NOT graded on professional film quality or having a super legit studio backdrop!
Then, I was able to compress my video file in iMovie and email it to the eval team as a Google Drive link. Not hard at all. If, though, anyone reading this is having trouble with the logistics of their video, I’d love to talk you through how I did it either in the comments here or on Instagram (I’m @thegirlwiththegreenapple).
What Do I Do Now?
I’m certified! Technically, I could walk into a gym and apply for a job right now. However, I’m going to take a few weeks to master more of the POP choreography so that I’ll have a few full-length classes set and ready to teach by the time I start looking for jobs. This works out nicely with my personal life since I’m moving at the end of the month anyway. I figure I’ll learn more choreography between now and then and start hitting the job search hard once I’m settled in my new house and have gotten to know what gyms and studios are in my new area.
Want to Certify?
Maybe you’re reading this post because you know me personally and are curious about this POP thing I’ve been working at for the past few months, or maybe you stumbled on my blog because you’re thinking about getting POP certified yourself. If you are in camp #2, my advice to you would be to DO IT! I am so, so proud that I decided to do this. Even if I don’t ever get hired to teach (which I really doubt), I’ll still be proud that I believed in myself enough to sign up and worked hard enough to finish what I began. The training day itself was so fun, and POP Pilates really is the best and funnest group fitness format imaginable. I can’t wait to get out and teach because I know those who come will have a great time and get a KILLER workout (read: practicing choreo is giving me the beginning of ABS, guys. And I’ve had three babies!).
Do you think it’s too expensive? Go sell a few things on eBay or Poshmark. Eat out less for a month or two. Take a few extra shifts at work. Donate plasma. Lol maybe not; that last one kind of scares me. But my point is this: there are PLENTY of ways you can come up with the cash if you want it badly enough! If you sign up more than 2 weeks before your workshop you get 15% off, making the workshop cost about $250. Yeah, that’s a chunk of change, but it’s nothing you can’t come up with if you conscientiously save.
Do you think you aren’t fit enough? You’re probably being too hard on yourself. And what better way to get MORE fit than to start working on POP choreography every day as part of your fitness routine? I’ve lost a few pounds and gained some serious core strength and quad definition over the past few weeks, and I credit POP. Plus, it’s okay if you demonstrate modified versions of some moves. For example, I struggle to hold a teaser for very long with good form, so if I teach this move, I plan to do it in boat pose for a while. No. Big. Deal. That was something Jules really emphasized at my workshop, and it made me feel less nervous to teach.
And lastly, I’m going to be real. Do you think you aren’t thin enough? I put off certifying for a long while because I thought that if I walked into a gym to apply for a teaching position that people would laugh at me. Yep. I assumed that to teach fitness, I’d have to be totally skinny and cut so that I would “look” the part. This is a really dumb assumption, if you think about it. I thought back on group fitness classes I’ve been to over the years, and while all my instructors definitely weren’t huge, they did come in a variety of body types. Plus, I never went to BodyPump and thought once about if Andrea’s triceps were toned or not. I was too busy focusing on my own workout!
And finally, going to my workshop in person was a powerful visual reminder of how fit bodies don’t all look exactly alike. Looking around the room, or even at the half of the room that already taught group fitness, I saw a huge variety of looks and body types. We had a couple of super tiny short people (Jess!) and a few who were quite tall. Some had more of a dancer-like physique while others clearly liked to spend time in the weight room. Some, like me, had had a few kids. Some were bigger, some were smaller, but all were fit and beautiful. I didn’t feel like I stood out like a sore thumb as the one fat or unfit girl in the room, like I’d feared I might. We were all just there, owning our bodies and our levels of fitness and rocking it.
Bottom line: you can sign up and do this thing as you are, right now. Don’t let fear or insecurity hold you back! I’ll be back to post about how I go about looking for work with my certification—hopefully with a fantastic success story, haha—and about where teaching POP takes me! I am so, so happy I did this and so proud of what I’ve accomplished. POP Pilates really has made my life better, and I can’t wait to share the POP love with others.
Affiliate disclosure: I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have decided that you want to do this, congrats. You will be so glad you did! I’ll just toss out there that if you happen to sign up through one of the links in this post, I get a small commission. So don’t sign up unless you absolutely want to do it, but if you do decide to, coming back to this post to get to the registration page would make my day. 🙂