Revamping Fitness Education: Inside Ava Rodreguez’s Mobility Fitness Academy

For our latest interview, we chatted with Ava Rodreguez, founder of Mobility Fitness Academy. Ava’s academy bridges the gap between theory and hands-on practice in fitness, certifying coaches globally. She noticed a big gap between what’s taught and what’s needed in the fitness industry and set out to change that.

Ava shared how her personal experiences with pain and injury have influenced her teaching approach and curriculum. We also discussed the need for higher standards in Pilates and how her academy promotes safer and more effective instruction. 

Ava, you’ve had such an amazing journey with Mobility Fitness Academy. What first inspired you to create this unique program that really focuses on personalised instruction for Pilates and fitness instructors?

My own experience of attending numerous seminars over the years made me realise there is a significant gap between academia and fitness instruction. The fitness industry is unregulated, so there isn’t a bare minimum standard.

This discrepancy between what needs to be learned and what is taught is huge! It leaves instructors thinking they know more than they actually do. This realisation led me to focus on delivering education that provides complex information in a digestible manner, allowing instructors to apply it and see tangible results quickly. This allows them to provide cutting-edge service to their clientele.

Your academy does a great job of blending theory with hands-on practice. How do you make sure that instructors can effectively apply what they learn to meet the individual needs of their clients and improve their well-being?

There are three ways I ensure my M.F.A community thrives! First, I have an exclusive on-demand library dedicated to implementing the tools and knowledge I share. Secondly, they always have access to me—I’m known as the girl who will take your call at 9 pm if you need me! Third, through my social media platforms, I consistently share useful information for my community and audience.

I know you’ve had your own experiences with pain and injury. How has that shaped your approach to teaching and developing the curriculum at Mobility Fitness Academy? What key lessons do you share with your students about preventing and managing injuries?

Pain can be debilitating and definitely alters movement. It changes our perspective, and for me, it sets me on a deep dive into learning. I freed myself from the rule book and focused on understanding the human system rather than just learning exercises. This gave me an advantage in grasping complex theoretical concepts and bridging the gap between theory and application.

This is a great question, and my answer is somewhat controversial. I tell my students that there is no such thing as preventing an injury unless one can foresee the future. A more realistic conversation is about mitigating injuries and minimising the risk of a recurring injury to the same area that has been compromised.

The Pilates industry can be all over the place when it comes to training and certification standards. What changes do you think are needed to make instruction safer and more effective? And how is your academy helping to make those changes happen?

The road to safer instruction is knowledge. A well-informed person makes better decisions, which means there needs to be a governing body that sets a minimum standard. This body should be highly educated in the art and science of human biomechanics to judge what has value. Simply put, knowledge is power, and information is liberating.

I bring in science, and as a result, I’ve gained a reputation as a straightforward educator who encourages critical thinking rather than taking what the gurus say as gospel. When you study science, you learn to break down problems into smaller parts and examine them from multiple angles until you come up with different solutions.

This approach obviously teaches us that there is never one single straightforward answer and that things have multiple variables. I simplify these complex subjects, contextualise them, and deliver them in a manner that is applicable to Pilates and PT teachers so that it makes sense for their purpose.

This contributes to two significant changes. Number one is how they assess what their clients need, whether in a group or one-on-one setting. You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand—that would be like shooting in the dark, hoping to score. Number two is how to programme with a specific outcome.

Today, we often programme classes thinking we’re going to have a lower body class and then choose a selection of exercises supposedly meant to make your glutes stronger. But in reality, things are a bit more complex than that. As teachers, we need to understand these complexities so we can help our clients achieve their goals

I’m curious about what a typical day looks like for you. Can you share some of your daily routines and habits that help you stay balanced and energised?

Full disclosure, I’m obsessed with what I do—I love it so much that I think about it constantly. Whatever you tell me, I will correlate it in one way or another to movement and the human system. My balance comes from making sure I play between work.

I’m an extrovert, so I draw energy from social settings or being out in nature. Because my training downregulates my nervous system, I use walks and beach time to rest, and I go out for dinner parties and dancing to boost my mood. Obviously, nutrition, sleep, and HRT play big roles too.

Looking ahead, what are your big dreams for Mobility Fitness Academy? How do you see the future of Pilates and fitness instruction evolving to better meet the needs of individuals?

My aspiration is to have this work integrated within schools because how we age has to change with our children and newer generations. I want every gym to offer M.F.A classes to help the general population age gracefully, reducing pressure on healthcare and the rush of joint replacements.

I would very much also like big Pilates institutions to integrate this work into their core curriculums. By injecting this in, we will change the narrative and replace outdated cues and beliefs with updated science. This is a great way to build robust careers and actually help our communities.

Look, I get it—education is costly, it’s time-consuming, and therefore the least sexy thing to sell. But we bear a responsibility to the future generation to do better. It’s okay to be wrong about things, it’s okay to change our beliefs—that’s what learning is. Unless the bigger institutions are willing to change, I don’t see how we can move forward rapidly

I believe in the domino effect. If more educators like me stay the course, we will eventually raise the bar. Here in Australia, we need a new association that can evaluate education beyond the selection and instruction of exercises. We need to evaluate the content and its compatibility with updated science.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.