Steps to a career change

My career transition from a massage therapist to a Pilates teacher came as a result of boredom and feeling less effective. Some clients would get off the table and say “I feel stiff” because their bodies needed movement. In others, their chronic conditions persisted partly because of a lack of strength and stability. Some wanted their tight muscles released for relief — the very same muscles that were potentially stabilizing their lax joints. I found I was repeating the same treatments with little success. And, I needed new opportunities to learn and grow that would be complementary to my RMT profession.

Pay attention to the warning signs

Since many of my clients had been with me for many years, their bodies had changed with age and massage was less effective. Added to this, boredom and burnout as a massage therapist were signs that I needed to make a professional change. With all of this in mind and knowing that I was leaving Toronto in 2013, I started my Pilates training in 2006.

Consider your options and get creative

I was motivated to teach people to become more involved in improving and maintaining their physical health through exercise and movement. In 2001, I started taking Pilates classes at Memorial Community and Recreation Centre with Pamela Robinson. Based on her recommendation, I began my Pilates training at Body harmonics with the ultimate goal of completing Mat and Reformer certifications and the advanced courses working towards specialist certificates.

Make a decision and follow your heart

Taking courses, attending classes, and teaching Pilates energized, excited, and inspired me. This trial phase enabled me to explore whether my new venture would be fulfilling, meaningful, and financially viable – and it was. I became more passionate about teaching Pilates than performing massage therapy treatments. Body Harmonics was a good fit with my knowledge base and RMT experience. Incorporating the knowledge gained from the Pilates courses and exercises into my massage practice produced effective results, with my clients requiring less or no massage.

Take action and expect challenges along the way

However, some of my clients still wanted me to “fix” them with massage treatments, ignoring my explanations or recommendations of the need for a different approach. Others were confused by the exercises I was suggesting because they were different from those they were prescribed by their physiotherapists and personal trainers. These situations were very challenging and frustrating because I could not provide the type of service I believed would be more beneficial for my clients and interesting for me.

Get support along the way

Along the way, I was constantly encouraged and mentored by very experienced teachers at the studio — Margot, Pamela, Nancy, Larisa, and Andra, to name a few. Their support helped give me the confidence to follow my passion with a form of exercise and movement which I found was making a difference.

Where am I now?

Now living in Ottawa, I have been following my dream teaching people how to move and function better, as well as providing myofascial treatments to help facilitate movement and muscle recruitment. However, starting over again has been challenging. I’m unknown here in Ottawa and what I offer is unique. I’m stretching outside my comfort level to network and find others with similar knowledge and approaches so I can keep growing and learning. Having a professional RMT designation has been helpful to open doors working with other health care professionals. Part of me still wants to be a therapist fixing problems and part of me wants to have fun teaching classes. It’s always a challenge trying to find the right mix of giving clients what they want but also what they need.

I’d love to hear from you!

What was your journey into the world of Pilates?


Are you considering a career transition? If so, what help do you need to make this thought a reality?

Please share your answers in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your response. 


Cate Hachigian: During many years of practice as a massage therapist, I have promoted body awareness and exercise as essential to a person’s well being. Taking my experience to a new level, I completed Pilates Mat and Reformer certifications, as well as movement and exercise specializations in biomechanics, rehabilitation and older adults at BODY HARMONICS.

As a Pilates teacher my goal is to increase ease of movement in every day function, improve posture and balance, enhance performance in sport specific activities, and rehabilitate injuries while having some fun.

From personal experience I know it works. It helps me maintain an active recreational lifestyle.

Book sessions with Cate at the Ottawa Collaborative Care Centres or at Flow Pilates!