I just completed my third trip teaching in China this past January. While there are always hard things to traveling anywhere including strange foods, terrible pollution, and incredible jet lag, I have really enjoyed this new experience. Pilates has just recently become popular in China. Currently, they are interested in Pilates just for exercise. It has not reached the level of injury post-rehabilitation or injury prevention.
I have had many issues with translation (no surprise). Anatomical language and imagery are complicated so we need very skilled translators. My first translator was fired the first day, 2nd was a Physical therapist that lived in the US for 10 years, and my 3rd translator worked for a government/military company producing weapons. Luckily, she was a Yoga enthusiast and knew many anatomical terms. I am very accustomed to clear expectations and stable circumstances, so having to be flexible with my teaching environment pushed my abilities. I have to think much more about exactly what I’m going to say to these students, knowing that everything will be said a 2nd time and needs to be as clear as possible. It has been a very stimulating experience.
My students have been incredibly hard working. Instead of taking a course for 5 weekends, spread over 4 months at my studio, they are taking the same material in 10 days in a row, 6 hours a day. They come in early and practice and stay afterward for questions and more practice. I was very impressed with their determination. Many have since messaged me with questions and guidance as they continue to practice. I think the Chinese have adapted to an even more competitive, driven world, with many, many more people and so they are very dedicated to their learning.
I will be teaching in Japan in March and then back for another trip to China in June where I will also be teaching at ChinaFit in Beijing representing our mother company, Merrithew. I feel very honored to be teaching Pilates around the world. It is not only changing my teaching but my perspective of the people in these countries, how they live, interact and understand.