Your ability to program for an individual’s alignment is essential. It’s hugely important for determining goals and meeting them, as well as for safety and client retention.
It begins with assessment of each individual’s unique posture and alignment.
Begin by performing a postural analysis on your client (See Part 2: Your ability to assess alignment and “Using Postural Assessment Everyday”). Once the postural analysis is in your toolbox, you will be able to make specific and targeted choices about exercises and their modifications.
BTW learning to program for posture is best learned with practice clients who are not paying big bucks for the session.
Now, from the postural assessment you can sleuth out clues that will help select exercises and modifications that will benefit your client’s posture and alignment.
What are the key postural features you see in the postural analysis? Write those key postural deviations down.
Key deviations are the ones that stand out the most, the ones that are the most important, distinguished, gross, or biggest deviations from ideal alignment (Pages 8-10 STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer Support Materials Manual). Just look at all the deviations you’ve noted on your postural analysis and determine which are the most important to address.
Next, ask yourself what else should be addressed in the first few sessions:
In general, assessing postural features like an anterior or posterior pelvic tilt or exaggerated curves of the spine are a good starting point. For example, your client’s pelvic position and curve of the lumbar spine can help determine if you will work more in neutral or imprint.As you learned in your coursework, during the first few sessions you aim to infuse the exercises with the Basic Principles, mobilize the spine in various planes of motion, mobilize the shoulder and hip joints, build initial strength in the core, and begin to strengthen the arms and legs (Page 20 STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer Support Materials Manual).
Based on those key postural features, write down your primary goal for your client.
Then look at your client’s registration document. The goals they listed for themselves should not be discounted. Think about ways to infuse your goals and the clients goals into the session. This may be with exercise selection or simply cuing an exercise to highlight a different focus. Say the clients goal is to tone the arms for their wedding. Well, even an abdominal exercises like Hundreds can be cued to focus the clients attention on the work of the arms and shoulder.
Based on those combined goals, write down what exercises and/or modifications would target the muscles that the client needs to strengthen, lengthen or shorten, and that get them moving in a larger, healthier range of motion. Write down what exercises can you add to the workout to mobilize their spine in all planes of movement, mobilize the hips and shoulders, and build initial strength in the core.
Now you should have a full list of exercises that might be helpful in moving your client towards those goals. Look at this list and brainstorm how you can highlight the basic principles to help your client gain understanding of their alignment and posture. Write down cues you foresee needing based on their posture.
This process of creating a client program based on postural assessment will not only give you a great BIG list of exercises that are targeted and specific to your client but also prepare you as instructor to keep an eye on their progress and continue to adjust their program to meet their goals.
After each session, write down which exercises, modifications, and cues worked for the client. Then take note of any progress that your client might have made.
As you continue your sessions with your client, keep referring back to your list of key postural features and your primary goal for your client. Within no time you will find your program begins to auto-populate. And the best part is that if you continue to program to individual posture and alignment, you will have no trouble building long-term client relationships.
Lastly, want more on this topic? Read this: Getting Started: First Steps in New Client Programming.
Let us know in the comments below if this is helpful.
And as always, thank you so much for reading.