My friend and colleague, John Macy, attended the recent Alexander Technique Congress and chose that venue to do a little research about what what motivates Alexander teachers today. In addition to being an Alexander Technique teacher himself, John is a physical therapist and the owner of a Pilates studio. Here are his findings, posted here as a guest blog:
I recently attended the 14th International Congress of the Alexander Technique in Chicago where over 600 people from around the world interested in the Alexander Technique gathered. Most, but not all, of the participants teach the Technique in some capacity which meant most everyone has at least several years of experience with the methods and ideas used.
Because I had not been to such a gathering in a long time I decided to ask everyone I met the same several questions to see what, if anything, was a common theme in the Technique today. As it turned out there was such a theme and it surprised me a bit.
Two of the questions I asked were “Why do you do/study/practice the Alexander Technique for yourself?”, and, “Why do you teach the Alexander Technique?”
The answer I received to the first question in all but three cases were almost identical, “I do it because it makes me feel good.”
In the remaining cases one said it was the fountain of youth and kept her young in body, heart and mind. Another spoke of how it made her think differently and see the world in way that let her change in a constructive manner and the last said it was a way for him to understand the world.
When asked why they taught almost all the people I asked said they did it to give others the same experience they had, to feel better. The three outliers mentioned above all said they wanted to help people change their lives.
This was an admittedly non-scientific survey as I asked about 35 people, around 5% of the attendees. I tried to use the same language asked each time I asked and was conscious to give no prompting after I asked the questions.
The respondents included students on training programs, people who run training programs and teachers with 2 to 30 years of experience teaching. They came from multiple countries including England, Ireland, Australia, Japan and the United States.
Does this mean anything? I will let you, the reader, decide but it got me musing about the repeated mention that Alexander teachers are struggling to get students, training programs have had declining enrollment numbers and that much of this was seen to be due to competition for the time and money of clients by other wellness education modalities such as yoga, soft martial arts, massage and others.
As the owner of private Physical Therapy practice and of a Pilates studio my marketing mind began to wonder: If the primary attraction to the Technique for practitioners is “feeling good” and what they sell is “feeling good” how well can what they sell be differentiated from other things that make people feel good?
Does the Alexander Technique have something more, something that makes it fundamentally different from the modalities it competes with in the marketplace? Is it even competing in the right marketplace?
Is the demographic that buys yoga and Pilates lessons, massages and essential oils really the people who want and need and can support the Alexander Technique?
Or is there another aspect of the Technique that can appeal to a completely different group of people who have the resources to support teachers and training programs and research?
This is Robert again: Please post your comments/replies to John’s post below and/or on Facebook.
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