An Internship Dream Come True! Chapter One

I’m Leonardo, a 22 year old student from the North East of Italy and more specifically from the Prosecco’s hills area. I’m studying Physical Sciences/Education at the University of Ferrara, Italy.

Here is the point, I had a big dream: flying to the U.S. to live there for a period while studying/working.

In February 2017 I took my first Balanced Body Instructor Training (mat work) sponsored by Genesi in Vicenza with Nora St. John and Joy Puleo. It was a big deal, and one of the first steps to create a Balanced Body Master Instructor team in Italy. In fact, there were 10 amazing Pilates Instructors to start their journey on becoming Master Instructors. Now you know why my first training course was so great.

Studying Pilates with the guide of Nora St. John and the support of 10 great Instructors isn’t so bad as a beginning of my Pilates Instructor studies. It was amazing as it opened my mind and changed my thinking about movement. At the end of the course I approached to Nora telling her how grateful I was for her teachings.

Maybe because of my enthusiasm of the moment, I told her about a dream, saying that it would be great to come to the U.S. through a Pilates / University program. When she replied with: “Oh, of course! It would be great to have you around and there are so many talented teachers to work with,” I was shocked! My next thoughts were, “how do I make this happen?”

By coincidence, two months later my University shared a project called “Atlante” which gives students the opportunity to spend a maximum period of 12 months in an extra European University/Company for studies/internship/thesis research. Because of this news, I knew this was the train I couldn’t miss and I applied as soon as possible because the deadline was really close.

This was a lot of hard work. I was in the middle of my departure for a Judo trip in Japan and I had a really difficult time filling out all of the paperwork and sending emails to my University tutors and to the Balanced Body Education Department. Once I headed home from Japan I took the written and oral tests and two weeks later, I received the email from my University saying that I was on the winner list of the Atlante’s Project!!!

The departure date was planned for January 2018. I reached out Nora St. John who helped me to build this 5 month internship in Balanced Body Education.

The next step was to get the right visa and to plan my summer work hours to get enough money to live in the “Golden State” for 5 months. This was not so easy! I worked for three months and I kept working during the weekends to save the money I needed.

After the University courses started again in October and at the end of September we started to get info about the student visa that I needed for that particular kind of internship. The J-1 visa was the one that best fitted for my Internship. It needs the support of what they call a “sponsor” that acts as a sort of guarantor for the student. As you can imagine the fitness/wellness world is not so involved into foreigner internships as much as the business world or the arts world. The first sponsor we applied for declined my application form because of that reason, but in October we finally found a sponsor which was able to accept me for this internship in the health and wellness genre.

As the first official Balanced Body extra U.S. Intern, the BBE department and I designed a program that was centered on spending some practical hours a day, (observing, studying, teaching), in different studios around Sacramento and the Bay Area. After a while the BBE department contacted me saying that they also needed help with the translation of the educational materials. Starting January 2019 Balanced Body will add two more Modules at its Master Instructor trainings and they were also reviewing all the modules PPTs and manuals to make sure all documentation was in order.

In my next blogs, I will talk about my learning and experiences observing and student teaching in studios all over California, other wonderful opportunities which came along and how you might be interested in becoming an intern in the future as well!