Toni Ferrer has been a Holistic Spanish Tutor for over a decade in Manhattan and Jersey City with students ranging from babies to adults, from executives to celebrities. Learn about this fascinating approach to learning Spanish (or Catalon, or English as a second language) by reading on:
JCG: How did you get into this?
Toni Ferrer: I grew up in Spain in a touristy area. A bunch of my dad’s retired friends from England and Holland would spend their summers in Spain, and since I didn’t have school or much to do, my dad suggested I teach them Spanish. Later, my dad brought me into his office to tutor his colleagues from north Europe. They, in turn, helped me with my English. Soon, I had a waiting list.
Later, I went to school in London and then moved to Boston for college and worked in finance, and the company moved me to New York, where I continued tutoring in my free time. Then I discovered Gyrotonic, a type of holistic fitness. I got certified and after a year, I quit my “real” job and opened up a Gyrotonic studio in Jersey City, which I also used for tutoring Spanish. Hurricane Sandy wiped it out, so now I am full-time tutoring off-site while I look for a new space.
JCG: What is your teaching style?
TF: It starts with the correlation between mind and body. When you work with energy, the other person feels that, and it in turn affects you. For instance, if I don’t like the vibe I get from my personal trainer, I am going to go to another one. With tutoring, it’s the same thing.
When students come in, we often take a few minutes to do some breathing exercises or meditation. It could also be five minutes of bongers (a percussive massage tool), or I hang them upside down on the inversion table, which defeats gravity and brings more blood supply to the brain. I cannot teach a student who comes to class with a negative, worn-down, or anxious mindset. It’s the same if the student is hungry or dehydrated—so I have organic teas and water and healthy snacks.
Adult students who have jobs and families and lots of responsibilities really need to enjoy that one or two hours a week they get away from it all, so I often do laughter yoga. When you laugh for a prolonged period of time, it does wonders for the physiological and psychological state of the body. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to relax.
We all need to come from a place of calm to concentrate. Many students have commented that I am different from other tutors because I care about their personal well-being.
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