You have just been hired by a studio to teach Pilates as an Apprentice Pilates Instructor. Yay!
You know your stuff. You have studied the exercises, know the goals of each exercise, and have practiced cuing them over and over. You studied your anatomy and can tell a client what muscle is working when. But what exactly should be your general goals for your first session with a client?
Here are eight targets to hit during every introductory session. They will help your new client love the routine you taught them, and most importantly, keep coming back for more.
1) Keep it Simple
Be careful to not introduce too much or go so in depth with one concept that you spend the entire hour on three exercises.
2) Get Them Moving
These days people sit at a desk 8+ hours per day. Getting them to move for a full hour will provide amazing benefits to their overall health. Communicate all of the essential exercise information while keeping the session moving.
3) Connect the work with your client’s goals throughout the session
If they want to be able to lift their kids with ease, tell them how the exercises you’re selecting will help them to do that. If they want to have more tone in their arms, tell them how you plan to make that happen. Also kindly tell them if their goal is unrealistic i.e. “I want a six pack in two weeks,” or “I want to lose 25lbs without cardio.” You can help them understand a more realistic goal. For example you could say, “I can help you have better postural awareness and muscle recruitment which will help protect your body from injury and work your core in every exercise.”
4) Help Them Feel Their Muscles
Many of the muscles we are targeting in Pilates are difficult to feel. Layer anatomy with tactile and imagery cues to help the client understand what they are trying to feel. You want them to leave feeling like they worked muscles in the abdomen, hips and shoulder girdle, muscles they may not have even known they have.
5) Infuse every exercise with the basic principles you want them to understand
Find ways to cue exercises highlighting the principles in every exercise. For example I could cue 100’s one of two ways: “Pump your arms inhale-2-3-4-5, exhale-2-3-4-5, inhale-2-3-4-5, exhale-2-3-4-5….” or I could cue “Pump your arms inhale-2-3-4-5, exhale-2-3-4-5, inhale into the side and back of your ribs in a three-dimensional breath, exhale out through pursed lips, inhale deepen our abdominal connection, exhale flatten across your hip bones… ” The second way gets the necessary information out about when to breath and then infuses the breathing principle with the movement. It becomes less robotic and more informative.
6) Design your sessions to best prepare clients for their next session
Your client may have a clear idea of what they plan to do after their introductory session. They may continue with privates because they are uneasy about being in a group or they may need to do groups because of their budget. If you know what their plan is you can tailor their initial sessions along this path. For example, if your new client tells you they will be doing group classes after their introductory sessions, choose exercises they will likely encounter in groups so they can make a successful transition. If groups at your studio are on the mat and reformer, then it might make sense to focus on those pieces of equipment during your sessions versus using all of the other studio equipment.
7) Show your passion
People seem naturally drawn to other people who embody a dream. Your excitement for the principles you’re teaching can inspire your new client to pursue their goals.
8) Have Fun
Most of us are attracted to a good time. If you can help your client enjoy exercise, they’re more likely to continue. Of course you should always maintain your professionalism, but also allow your enthusiasm for what you are teaching to translate into fun!