Instructor in Focus: Keely Mancini

Keely Mancini

Keely Mancini

Level 1 Member, The Pilates Box Wooloowin, Brisbane QLD

Instructor Name: Keely Mancini
Studio(s) you work at: The Pilates Box Wooloowin
Location: Brisbane
Instructor training: Polestar Pilates AU and Body Control Pilates UK
PAA Level: Level 1 (I need to update this)

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

Way back in 1987, I had applied to The Laban Centre which is a contemporary dance/theatre school in London, for a place on their dance theatre performance course. Unfortunately I was declined a place and advised to work on my ballet/classical technique and try again the following year. My contemporary dance teacher recommended doing Pilates alongside my ballet classes to accelerate my training so I went along to the Alan Herdman Studio in London twice a week and loved it….it made so much sense to me and it paid off as fortunately I was successful in my application to The Laban Centre the following year.

I continued Pilates throughout my dance training and my dance career but left it behind when I moved into the fitness industry 10 years later. Then after a decade of sport fitness over dance fitness I went along to a Pilates class with a friend and to say I was humbled by the experience would be an understatement. I had this incredibly strong and fit body, but it just couldn’t move the way it used to and that was my turning point back to Pilates.

I was fortunate not to have had any major injuries at that point in my life, but I knew that if I wanted longevity with my participation in sport and to just keep my body moving well and feeling good, then I had to get back to Pilates.

Having over 15 years of teaching and work experience in both dance and fitness moving into a career as a Pilates instructor was a seamless progression. I was passionate about Pilates and what it had to offer as a movement method so it was definitely the right direction for me.

After completing a 4 day training course in London and realising that that really wasn’t going to cut it, I found out about Body Control Pilates (BCP) from a friend who was a physiotherapist and I enrolled onto one of their first extensive teacher training courses in London in 2001. I worked with BCP until 2004 when I moved to Brisbane, and after having my children I enrolled onto the Polestar Pilates Diploma course and was lucky to be asked to join the Polestar mentor training team in 2010 and have been working on the Polestar education team for the past 7 years.

What did you eat for breakfast?

A smoothie and a handful of almonds (and a coffee)

In one word, describe your first Pilates experience?


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

On a personally level the overall impact has been a positive one, I was able to teach via Zoom, and it was wonderful to keep in touch with clients that way. I was quite inspired by the way people in general found a way to move through and adapt to the restrictions imposed. I also had clients attend virtual classes who had found it too hard to get to the studio in the past due to work commitments, taking on new clients during the lockdown was certainly not something I expected.

I certainly re evaluated my work/life balance and put into place some changes that mean I have a better handle on my daily commitments and the needs of myself and my family, changes that I had thought about but hadn’t managed to implement previously. Stepping off the wheel for a while gave me a chance to be more objective.

Although it has also been worrying at times, mainly due to the fact that my brother and his family live in London and my mum is living in Spain. With so many cases there and the continuous lockdown I get concerned about their overall well being. Queensland has been a much easier place to live during this time and I feel grateful for that but also have a sense of guilt at times.

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

My studio is a home studio so fortunately through the lockdown I didn’t have the worry that other studios have with regard to staff and overheads. I have been thinking over the past few years that moving into premises outside the home was my next step as my children are older and I have more flexibility, however this past year has made me realise how lucky I am.

As well as virtual teaching I was also able to attend a lot of virtual classes, including classes with former colleagues and friends in London. This was a refreshing and invigorating experience, to touch base and share with my previous educators and mentors. Sometimes I think we move through life at such a fast pace trying to take huge steps forward that we can forget to enjoy the process and more importantly, celebrate our growth. When we stop to watch what others are doing and listen to what they are saying it can actually bring us back to our own reason and purpose for teaching,

My advice in general would be; don’t be in too much of a rush, remember the learning never ends and during these uncertain times have confidence in what you do, Pilates isn’t going anywhere.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love the connection we can make with people through movement. I am always pleasantly surprised how the studio environment and getting people moving can break down barriers, create conversation and allow people a freedom that is sometimes new to them…..I love that about my job, it feels like such a privilege.

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

PAA, Pilates Anytime are the main Pilates websites….but there are lots more not specific to Pilates.

The best advice you’ve ever had?

Listen, especially to those who say little as they often have the most to say.

An indulgence you can’t live without?

Mmmmm….a good movie and my bike!

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

I have been a member for 8 years and I heard about PAA through Polestar Pilates.

Do you have a motto?

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

The administration tasks…. not my love.

How do you use PAA?

Reading newsletters keeping up to date on changes within our industry, which have been invaluable this year. Workshops and conferences.

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

Hard to pick just one, there are many teachers (some well known and some not) whose words or actions have resonated with me over my years of practicing and teaching Pilates and I feel extremely humbled to have been taught by or worked alongside such amazing people. My attitude is generally to listen and to soak up experiences and learning from whoever’s path I may be lucky to cross. I was fortunate that when I started practising back in 1988 it was primarily with classically trained teachers who had worked through the system of an apprenticeship so it really felt like you could touch the real essence of Pilates, although I didn’t truly appreciate that until years later.

What do you appreciate most about your body?

Its ability to keep going…..I trust it.

The book you’re currently reading?

Humans by Brandon Stanton

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