Instructor in Focus: Erica Manning

Erica Manning

Erica Manning

Owned It's All About You Darling!, Brisbane QLD

Instructor Name: Erica Manning
Studio(s) you work at: I had my own studio ‘It’s all about you Darling!’
Location: Brisbane
Instructor training: Advanced Diploma of the Pilates Method – Pilates International, Diploma of Professional Pilates Instruction – Pilates International, Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Series (Studio & Rehab), Level 1 of Romana Pilates in Auckland
PAA Level: Principal

What originally motivated you to try Pilates and then go on to train as an instructor?

I was lucky enough to join a very small boutique gym in Collingwood that happened to offer small group mat and reformer classes as part of the membership and I instantly fell in love with the method. I found that my many injuries greatly improved with this type of training, plus it was lots of fun! I had been working as an Ambulance Paramedic at the time and sometimes found the physical aspect of lifting patients and carrying heavy equipment all day a great challenge but after a few months I noticed a big improvement in my strength and endurance as well as my mental health which was a huge bonus for me.

Being a Paramedic is tough work and I loved my Pilates classes so much that I decided to go part time with the Ambulance and started studying a Diploma of Pilates at Chisholm Institute who were teaching the Pilates International curriculum at the time. It was mind-blowing for me and even though I had been a Personal Trainer prior to becoming a Paramedic, the depth of what I learned about the body and movement through this program was exceptional. I really loved the program (lead by Narelle Potter and Colette McCarthy) and found I thrived in this environment so, soon after I graduated I quit the Ambulance and was lucky enough to be in a position to set-up my own home studio.

I am always hungry for information so I have since done a lot of training with several different Pilates ‘families’. I continued on to do the Adv. Dip. Pilates with National Pilates Training (again Pilates International curriculum this time with Katrina Edwards), then in order to get more of a rehab. focus I went on to do the Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Series at Dynamic Stability with Darren Stojanovic and Loc Ngo. I also became very curious about classical Pilates so while I was living in Auckland I was lucky enough to participate in Level 1 of the Romana Pilates Training at Pilates Unlimited with Carole Fraser and the amazing Cynthia Lochard – and what a privilege it has been working with all these amazing teachers, plus Bruce Hildebrand who has been an incredible mentor to me. Each one has inspired me and helped me to grow as a person and a teacher and of course the Pilates Method itself has taught me how to move well and live my best life….thank you Joseph Pilates!

What did you eat for breakfast?

Today it was yoghurt and raspberries but most mornings it’s a quick coffee before I teach and then a late brunch of some kind of protein and salad.

In one word, describe your first Pilates experience?


What impact has the recent COVID-19 virus had on your world?

Well initially I could not work at the clinic I was teaching in as they had to temporarily shutdown the Pilates services during the first covid lockdown in Brisbane, and that was a shock to me. In response to that I decided to open my own private studio just teaching one-on-one Clinical Pilates sessions to reduce the risk of infection transmission and increase people’s confidence and motivation to come to a Pilates class. I named that studio ‘It’s all about you Darling!’ and the response was incredible! People wanted that private, beautifully fit-out space that was all theirs. They also wanted a teacher who was solely focused on them with no other noise or distractions. They loved it, I loved it and all was great again. Of course it wasn’t without it’s covid interruptions which was frustrating but I certainly had more control of my situation by having my own space and deciding how the classes would operate i.e. no group classes.

How have you handled your Pilates teaching with COVID-19, any advice to other teachers?

It has been wonderful and frustrating. I chose not to do Zoom/remote classes just because that’s not my thing. I love to be hands on and see exactly what my clients are doing. Certainly setting up my own space and just doing privates or family duets helped my situation a lot and I loved the intense focus I could give to one person at a time and the results were amazing. I was in Brisbane so things were pretty easy up there with not too many lockdowns, I am not sure how I would have survived if I’d been in my hometown of Melbourne.

My advice to other teacher’s though is if you are thinking of having your own home-based or small shop studio then go for it! It’s very rewarding and you get to be your own boss. Just make sure you set boundaries with your work and clients so that it doesn’t take over you life. One note though, it can be isolating so make sure you catch up with your peers, attend workshops and keep up your own practice at another studio so you always have a network to call on for inspiration, education and help if you need covers for a holiday!

What’s the best thing about your job?

The Pilates Method is just such a beautiful, effective way to move and be. I love the depth of the practice, the philosophy, the interpretations as well as the classical practice. It is just the most wonderful gift Joseph Pilates gave us and I feel privileged every day to carry on his work.

Your ‘go to’ website for all things Pilates (other than PAA)?

I do love Andrea Maida ( she is a cracker and makes me laugh. She’s so authentic and dedicated to the craft. She makes it ok to struggle with an exercise (we’ve all been there and may still be there with some exercises) and she gives amazing hints on how to develop your practice and great tips for teaching and cueing.

Polestar Pilates and Brent Anderson are also my regular go to for all things Pilates, so informative and generous with their resources. The Polestar Pilates Hour webinars ( are just incredible and I think Polestar are amazing for creating this program out of the difficulties presented with attending face-to-face training during covid. Kudos to them for continuing this program and making it available worldwide – I am so grateful! I know there are many other awesome websites out there for Pilates but these are just my top two at the moment.

The best advice you’ve ever had?

“Don’t bother opening your studio on a public holiday” – advice given by Bruce Hildebrand….lol!

When you are a sole trader with only yourself teaching it is very easy to cave in to client’s requests to work all sorts of crazy hours including the public holidays, weekends, 5am, 10pm….ahhhh! My experience was that I would say yes to everyone and I was burning out. If you don’t look after yourself you can’t look after others so surprisingly I found this advice very empowering. I’d take the long weekend myself and come back refreshed.

An indulgence you can’t live without?

A cup of herbal tea. When I am teaching I am sipping away at this through the whole shift, I chose the blend depending on my mood, some blends are calming, some are uplifting and at bedtime it’s always camomile.

How long have you been a member of PAA and how did you hear about PAA?

I believe I joined the PAA in 2010 when I first graduated from my Diploma training and of course I had heard about it through this course; I think it was in the course notes that this was an important organisation to be a part of for my professional Pilates career.

Do you have a motto?

I love Stoic philosophy so my motto is “Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will-then your life will flow well”…..But my clients might say my motto is more like “What you don’t like, you do twice!”.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Staying motivated and inspired after almost 13 years of teaching. The Pilates method is amazing but when you work in your own studio for so long it can be easy to lose inspiration and burn out. It’s important to stay connected and continue attending workshops but sometimes you just need to give yourself a break. I’ve just spent eight months travelling around Australia and it’s been amazing. Now I am looking forward to getting back into the studio again, I’d like to work in a bigger team this time…..anyone looking for an experienced teacher in Melbourne??

How do you use PAA?

I regularly jump on the PAA site to look for upcoming workshops and I’m look forward to the next big conference later this year. I also use it to find other teachers when referring clients who are moving to other areas. I really appreciate all the work the PAA team do to keep our industry professional and helping to provide us with resources to keep us inspired and help many of us as small business owners. I really appreciated all the updated info during the early stages of the covid pandemic – the support provided during this time was amazing, including holding the biennial conference online, that was amazing, thank you!

Who is your Pilates idol or would love to meet, and why?

I would love to know more about Clara Pilates. I think she was the great woman behind a great man and from reading John Howard Steel’s ‘Caged Lion’ I think Clara was an invisible force that kept Joseph Pilates’ work alive. She worked so closely with him over all those years of development and teaching, I do wonder if more of the work should be credited to her? She was apparently an amazing, intuitive teacher, I would love to meet her and do a class with her. I think it could be life changing.

What do you appreciate most about your body?

That it can do all the things I need it to do – and this is because of Pilates!

The book you’re currently reading?

I always have at least three books on the go but my most recent favourite was ‘A Fortunate Life‘ by A.B. Facey, an old book but a great reminder of how fortunate we are in these modern times and that happiness comes not from what you have but from how you see the world and what you can do for others.

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