POP Pilates Certification = DONE!

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.

1. Sign up for a workshop.

If you live in the US, you need to attend a live POP Pilates training workshop to become a certified instructor. However, there is an online workshop available for those outside of the US, so you can literally become certified no matter where you live. You’ll notice, if you click on the link above, that there are lots of dates and locations to choose from.

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.

POP Pilates workshop
Me walking laps around JFK Terminal 4!

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.

POP Pilates workshop
My notes & stuff during the workshop. Also: I was glad to have my super-cushy mat for the day since we did a lot of both working out and sitting. 🙂

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!

 

Here’s a still from my video. Nothing fancy—just my living room minus a few pieces of furniture.

 

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.

POP Pilates certified
This is my POP Pilates instructor bracelet! Woot.

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. 🙂

4 Reasons I Adore POPFLEX!

So as a follow-up of sorts to my post from Saturday, who wants to talk activewear? 🙂

A few years ago, I used to just work out in whatever old grubby thing I could find. What’s the point in dressing up to get sweaty? I’ve since made a complete 180 on that front. I invest in NICE workout gear because my workouts are dramatically more effective when what I’m wearing makes me feel powerful and beautiful. And I’m being 100% honest when I say that Popflex is my very favorite activewear brand. Here’s why.

Popflex Is Beautiful

Let’s start with the obvious: all things Popflex are GORGEOUS!!!

I love every single item of Popflex I own. Here’s some of it!

 

 

Just LOOK at the pattern on this Mermaid Couture Yoga Mat! I was so excited that I painted my toes to match it. Also, they are SO thick and cushy. Before this mat I’d only ever used thin cheapie ones from Ross and Amazon. This mat feels so luxurious in comparison.

 

peony pop flex
Not the greatest pic, but here’s the Swan Tank in navy with the Peony Pull on My Heartstrings Bra.

 

pop flex meal planner
Popflex also carries some non-clothing goodies like water bottles and this meal planning pad, complete with a tear-off grocery list. I’ve only had mine for a week but already I love how it’s helping me stay organized.

 

popflex
My favorite outfit right now is the Fairytale top paired with the 2.0 shorts and Heartstrings bra both in Cabernet. Love love love! The shirt is so soft and pretty and the shorts are hands-down the best workout shorts I’ve found.

Popflex Is a Bargain

Now, maybe you’re seeing the prices on some Popflex items and are thinking, “Really?” But I’m dead serious.

I have wasted A LOT of money on workout gear from Old Navy and Target. Sure, it looks cute, and yes, most things ring in under $20, which is easy on the budget. But then I wear those pieces to work out and am invariably bummed. Shorts ride up. Bras chafe. Leggings are stiff and uncomfortable. Supposedly “sweat-wicking” fabric is drenched after a long run.

So next I spent money on a few selectively chosen pieces from places like Lululemon, Albion, and Athleta. Those made me feel sexy and strong and held up to even the toughest workouts. But because of the price, I literally owned two tops and one bottom that I liked. I found myself washing the same two shirts and pair of leggings 4x a week or more and sometimes having to shiver through workouts because one or both of the pieces hadn’t dried all the way. Yeah. THAT’s fun.

In comes Popflex. Yes, these pieces of clothing cost more than you’ll pay at Target. But the quality is the same as or BETTER than anything I’ve used from the pricier activewear brands listed above. For the quality of activewear you’re getting, Popflex is an absolute steal.

 

Popflex Is Comfy

Ahhhhh the shorts! Can I start by raving about the shorts?

I own several pair of the Pop Short 2.0 and wish I could LIVE in them. They are so, so, SO comfy to work out in. I can bend, squat, run, and jump in them without feeling restricted, having anything ride up, or feeling like my butt is going to fall out of them (lol sorry for that mental picture). But really! They are incredible. And this coming from a recent mama who’s given birth three times in six years! The lower tummy coverage and support is on point.

The tops and bras are the same. They’re super supportive for intense plyometric workouts without making me feel strapped down or strangled. Plus, most come with removable padding that my 36B self doesn’t mind one bit. 😉 Popflex really is such a fantastic combination of functionality, comfort, quality, and beauty.

 

pop flex
This ultra-soft tank paired with the 2.0 shorts in black is ridiculously comfortable! LOVE.

Popflex Works for ALL Body Types

Last of all. Popflex has my admiration and support because of their sizing.

Some activewear companies only produce clothing to fit fairly thin women—some stopping at size 12 or even 10. Some stores make these sizes but don’t put them out on their floors because they don’t want to be perceived as a place where “fat” women shop.

Doesn’t that make you MAD?

Women of all shapes and sizes can and should feel gorgeous and powerful in their workouts. And Popflex shows they believe this by carrying sizes ranging from XS to 2X. So whether you have a 24″ waist or a 44″ waist, you can rock Popflex Active because they have you covered! I wish more activewear brands felt this way, and I applaud Popflex for leading the way in celebrating and accommodating women of all shapes and sizes.

Below are four images of 5 different girls in the Wishing Star Capri in Plum. They look great on every single one of these girls, thin or curvy!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

If you want to buy some Popflex, you can grab it through this link (or really any other Popflex link here on my blog). You will LOVE how you look and feel in it!

And more than anything, whether it’s from Popflex or anywhere else, I dare you to dress up a bit for your workouts! Treat yourself to a nice outfit or two to work out in and see what it does for your workouts. I’m willing to bet you too will see the dramatic difference nice activewear makes for your healthy lifestyle.