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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Wiggins

Something new

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

For those who found Mindful Movement Studio through a google search, welcome. If you’ve worked with me in person, either in the past or as a current student, thank you for your support and trust. I appreciate and cherish knowing all of you. It’s my joy to help you, my reason to get up in the morning.

To this point, I’ve spent little time on Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media. Aside from creating this website a couple of years ago, I’ve stayed way more active in the real world than online. This makes it difficult for people to know who I am and what my studio is all about.

So I’m trying a new approach for the coming year: blogging. It’s very old-fashioned, I know. But I’m kinda old school. My writing goals for 2023 include monthly blog post on the Mindful Movement Studio website.

If you want to know more, please read on.

For over 20 years, my passion for movement led me through many winding roads. I began as a personal trainer, soon after becoming a yoga teacher. Later I became certified in Pilates matwork. I taught a similar sequence to Joseph Pilates’ book, “Return to Life,” during the mid-aughts. This marked a turning point in the way I taught other formats. Pilates brought a unique flavor to my strength training, senior fitness, circuit, and even yoga classes.

Return To Life Through Contrology is a great primer on the Pilates Method

When I found reformer Pilates in 2017, it was like coming home. Equipment-based Pilates took the familiar matwork and made it an exciting challenge. And way, way, WAY more fun.

After years of teaching group fitness, I found an energizing workout that suited my 40-something body. I loved how I felt after each session. My changing body needed more kindness and less aggression, and Pilates was perfect. It felt like falling in love. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this magical workout.

Naturally, I added reformer Pilates to my teaching credentials, also the chair, ladder barrel, Cadillac, and tower. Training to become a Pilates teacher, I’ve spent over 1000 hours in workshops, observing other teachers, and practicing with other student teachers. I’ll always consider myself a student.

New equipment addition: Pilates Chair with Handles!

I still study the science of preparing exercises in my spare time. Because I'm nerdy like that. With my engineering background, I love exploring the mechanics of movement. My students might add that I also like to share this information. They usually hear terms like fulcrum, lever, momentum, force, and occasionally my favorite, torque.

Physics vocabulary aside, I strive to become the best movement teacher. This includes accepting mistakes. I am a student of some difficult lessons. Some incidents drained me of energy, time, and financial resources. I have some cautionary tales to share with current and potential instructors. It’s juicy stuff, at least some of it.

The Fitness Industrial Complex (FIC) describes the systems in place to train instructors plus sell fitness products and services. It's not always corporate. The FIC also includes some traditions we need to abandon. This includes outdated, unhelpful ideas that ultimately harm the people it claims to help. It also gives us plenty of material to discuss.

On one side, I’ve seen charismatic teachers with cult-like followings and IG followers in the hundreds of thousands. Before social media, the same people had VHS workouts, bestselling books, and active message boards. I went to teacher training workshops where I felt shut down if I had dissenting questions. Some teacher trainers used “us versus them” to seem more enlightened and superior. They didn’t know I was often the “them.”

Yet, in another category, I learned from instructors and trainers who seek the joy of helping others. They care about the craft of teaching well. I feel affirmed in my body. Their classes uplift my spirit and keep me coming back.

A master teacher helped me understand how to use more inclusive language. Another taught me to discern good science, so I wasn’t sharing outdated information in class. I also changed my teaching approach after learning from evidence-based teachers. They took the time to explain how to update my teaching methods. I now teach with more confidence and trust that I will help my students in the best way possible.

I hope the current and future teachers who read these posts identify with the second group. We shall get along great. But if you’re seeking to become a celebrity fitness trainer, I won’t be much help.

Teachers, we must do better if we want to help people truly. We must be willing to change our approach. We need to consider the perspectives of those who want to try classes but feel like they don’t belong. It’s time to understand how our words may create an unwelcoming situation. Our future students tell us what they need, even in silence, through their actions.

Hi Jane. You're pretty cool and everything, but my knees hurt after doing one of your videos.

Especially when people still feel like it's their fault when they fail at attempts to “get in shape.” I see the discouragement on their faces. But it’s not their fault; it’s the messages they receive from the FIC. And us. Our current and potential students deserve better from us.

I count myself in this group. Even as a teacher, I’ve tried to get back to regular exercise and failed more than once. With every minor strain or significant injury, I feel more compassion toward students with chronic pain.

My solidly middle-aged body feels different than the one I owned in my 20s. This body accommodated four pregnancies and still hasn’t quite returned to normal. I also have an osteoarthritis diagnosis at an earlier-than-usual age. In August 2022, I injured my knee, which required surgery. Every advancing year brings new and, ahem, interesting changes. I have mixed feelings about all of this.

Let’s have mixed feelings together, shall we?

I’m done with hiding offline and am reaching out to encourage other teachers (and students) everywhere. I’m finished sitting back and keeping quiet. It’s time to spill the beans and share my experiences.

I’m setting the intention for 2023 to be a year of sharing the lessons I’ve learned in 20+ years of teaching movement. It may not seem exciting or glossy, but it will be truthful. I promise.

Also, I want to help like-minded instructors. Does this sound like the crowd you'd like to hang with?

  • We are tired of being associated with the FIC. We want others to embrace movement as an everyday life experience, even if it’s not in classes or personal training sessions.

  • We reject the idea of a “perfect body” as the standard.

  • We don’t fool ourselves into thinking there’s only “One true way” exercise path toward good physical health. We use an evidence-based approach and seek best practices.

  • We’ve seen how the FIC leaves many folks feeling defeated and a little lighter in the wallet. Our value as teachers comes from our connection and coaching others. We don’t make outrageous or bogus claims to sell our products and services.

  • We’re so over the focus on aesthetics as the primary reason why people want to work out. All persons can benefit from regular exercise, regardless of weight-loss intentions. We recognize that some people wish to lose weight for personal reasons, but we make no assumptions. We also know people may have good physical health at any body size.

  • We know the buzzwords to attract customers who want an easy fix, but we cannot say them in good conscience. You won’t hear us say things like, “get ready for bikini season....get a flat stomach,” or other typical marketing BS. We understand our society prioritizes perfectly sculpted arms and chiseled abs, but we’re ready to share a better message.

  • We know better than to assume we must say/do/be a particular way to succeed as movement-based teachers. Perhaps even a few of you won’t consider a “fitness career” because you think you don’t fit the typical mold (we need you the most).

Aren’t you tired of the nonsense? Me too. In my little corner of the world, I’ll shine a light on the hype and the good stuff. Look for more blog posts on this website in the coming year.

Let’s talk about how to communicate to future students who know they need to be more active but don’t know how to begin. (They are vulnerable to misinformation; not because they lack intelligence, but rather because the FIC marketers are so good at what they do)

We’ll also explore the realities of teaching fitness (including pay), how to choose workshops and training programs, cueing strategies, and how to identify good science. I’ll even share stories about the safety and ethics of teaching movement in a gym/studio setting.

I hope you’ll feel more comfortable answering clients’ questions, even when you don’t know the answer. I hope you feel confident handling any teaching situation with a plan. Future teachers can enter the industry with eyes wide open and transparent expectations.

I won’t make any pretense here. I don’t claim to know everything. All I have to offer is a lifetime of learning and teaching in this industry. I feel compelled to share as a human who wants to spread goodness. And nerdy stuff.

I’ll letcha know when a new post is up when you follow the studio on Instagram, @mindmoveutah. Apologies in advance: as the only person behind Mindful Movement Studio, I’m still mildly allergic to social media. But I hope (promise?) the posts will be more satisfying.

May you find wellness within and until next time,




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