Estimated reading time 5:00 minutes
You know those teachers that always seem to have a full schedule and clients fight to get on it? Those teachers whose clients refer to them all their friends and family? And their schedule is booked way in advance?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret.
In my experience those really good, busy teachers, the “Pilates Superheros” with full schedules, are the teachers that personalize each session their clients.
These “Pilates Superheros” not only address the client’s goals but they also personalize the program for the client’s postural needs and their adjust their cueing to speak in that client’s language.
To convert the client, you need to communicate the goal of the exercise and connect the goal to the client. Boom.
So, I want to share with you an insanely simple trick to get started taking your teaching up-up-and-away!
Well, it goes without saying that one of the most important aspects of teaching is understanding what you’re teaching. Seems obvious, right. But you don’t have to know literally everything there is to know about Pilates to begin teaching. The depth of your knowledge will develop throughout your career teaching.
With teaching Pilates, knowing what you’re teaching means:
1 – Understanding and cueing the exercise movement or choreography.
2 – Understanding and communicating the goal of the exercise.
If you think about it, the cueing of the exercise is really just teaching the how (#1)— How to do the exercise; How to breathe; How to position the body. What the “Pilates Superheros” does is takes it one step further (#2) to help the client better understand the why — why did you choose this exercise for the client; Why will the exercise benefit their posture; Why is it small/slow/subtle.
Let’s workshop this a little.
Pull out your Pilates teaching manual. For each exercise, I’d like you to write down a one sentence goal. How do you figure out the goal or the why of each exercise?
1- Identify the target muscles:
What muscles does the exercise target?
What muscles does the exercise strengthen?
Are these muscles working concentrically, eccentrically, and/or isometrically?
This may require you doing each exercise so you can feel it in your own body.
2- Identify the exercise focus:
Next, read through all the information in your manual about the exercise i.e. start position, breath pattern, exercise focus. What are the key areas a client must focus on so that they “get it” or “feel it”?
Are there parts of the body that need to be stable?
Are there parts of the body that are being mobilized?
Put #1 and #2 together and voila!
You now have the goal of the exercise.
Write the goal (in pencil) in your training manual near the name of each exercise. This way you can constantly refer back to it when practice teaching.
Just so you can see an example, let’s use the Matwork exercise One Leg Circle. The one sentence you write might be something like to stabilize the pelvis in neutral during hip circumduction.
For this purpose your exercise goal may be very anatomical. Then when you say the goal out loud to your client however, you’ll need to give it a bit more sparkle and rephrase it in layman’s terms. I can just see a client’s eye glossing over if you explained, “We’re going to do One Leg Circle which will challenge the stability of the lumbo-pelvic region while performing hip circumduction.”
Instead you might instead say something like, “Let’s do One Leg Circle which will challenge your abs to keep your torso still while your leg circles in the air.”
When practice teaching, say your one sentence goal for each exercise. It literally takes 5-10 seconds to say. But the benefit you (and your client) reap is enormous.
Using this simple trick you will slowly find that you better understand of why you’d teach that exercise to a client. And you will hear the why cues come out of your mouth more naturally. And, with ease you rephrase them into your own style and voice.
Now, wanna take this to the next level?
The last step is to observe a “Pilates Superhero” in action. Perhaps it’s the course faculty or an experienced instructor that teaches at the studio with you.
When you observe the “Pilates Superhero” instructor:
- Listen for cues that deepen the client’s understanding of the exercise.
- Pay attention to what the instructor asks the client to focus on.
- See how the instructor continues to pull the client’s attention back towards the main goal of the exercise without an overwhelming amount of detail. (You’ll likely also see lots of smaller details that are ignored so the client can focus on the main goal.)
Each time you observe a session taught by a “Pilates Superhero,” go back to your manual and incorporate what you learned into the one sentence goal for each exercise. Refine, refine, refine the goal over time.
Now you know the trick to crush it like a La Croix.
Remember, the exercise goal is why you would teach the exercise to a client. This one sentence goal, communicated at the beginning of each exercise might be the most important thing you share with your client. It’s what your client needs to hear to better appreciate what they’re learning with you, as well as how you’ve customized the session for them.
Get out there and connect with clients through the goal of the exercise!
As always, share with me your comments.