December 4, 2011
Are you either recently graduated or on the way to becoming certified? Being new at anything can feel awkward and uncertain, and each of us felt that way when we first started out. Don’t sweat it, I’ve been there too and can tell you from experience it only gets better! So I thought I would share a few tips that are my 10 Golden Rules for teachers just starting out.
Don’t get too sexy too soon! Trust the basics and work the system. Each session should include Mat and Reformer with some time spent at the end of the session on the other apparatus. Reinforce the fundamental skills on the other apparatus and see swift results.
Keep it simple - your students will benefit and you won’t burn yourself out. Use simple and direct cues and for goodness sake, give them a workout! Let clients move, yes with control but MOVE!
Schedule in your personal workout time – I mean actually write it down in your calendar. And take it a step further by planning it out. This way you will make sure you work on all the apparatus so the less often used exercises don’t get forgotten. When you do them, you remember them!
Practice getting your words out accurately. Habit words sneak their way into our vocabulary and sometimes don’t even make sense! Practice listening to yourself when you teach, I mean really listen to your words.
A great drill is to practice teaching 3 repetitions of each exercise in time with a video. Visit my Think Pilates! Free video channel and practice teaching along with the 3 rep demonstration. It’s a challenge but will sharpen your timing. Here is the link: (http://vimeo.com/channels/claredunphy#18249470).
Fake it till you make it! Stand tall and project energy and confidence. Your body language will instill energy and confidence to your student as well. You may feel uncertain inside but project strength and grace through your posture and you will feel better too!
Breathe, breathe, breathe – it is the best way to help keep you centered and in the moment.
Take regular lessons from a teacher you admire. Get another set of eyes and input on your practice. Teachers need teachers!
Plan your next continuing education workshop. The learning never ends. Identify the weak points in your Pilates practice. Seek out workshops and seminars that address those needs.
Keep your passion alive! Stay connected to your Pilates community. Keep in touch with fellow teachers on or off line - share stories, workout together, problem solve and and simply talk Pilates.
Filed under: Business Matters,Movement Matters
June 10, 2011
If you don’t know where you are going, how will you get there? Programming for small group training effectively requires planning not only for the teacher and the studio but also requires educating the students. How do students know what class is right for them? What is the expectation for them to progress to the next level and feel successful yet challenged in a group class? By informing students as to what it means to move to the next level, you empower them to take a more active role in their process and to own the work more. You also set the stage for successful teaching since class levels define what the content and objectives are. It is motivating to have clear goals and with spring in the air and summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to maximize your group offerings and motivate students to re-commit to their practice. Below are definitions of each skill level to help students select the class level that best suits them. Try posting this on your bulletin board or including in a newsletter to get students excited about learning more about their Pilates practice. Offer them a challenge and encourage them create new goals. Involve them in the process and watch them grow in their practice.
- Novice — No prior Pilates experience and no injuries. The main goal at this level is to learn introductory mat & reformer exercises and understand how to initiate and stabilize from the Powerhouse.
- Beginner — Knows the order of introductory mat and reformer, and has taken a minimum of ten classes at the beginner level.
- Advanced Beginner — Proficient at basic mat and reformer exercises, knows the order, transitions, and equipment set -ups (including changing springs, foot bar, & head rest)
- Intermediate — Able to do Teaser I (mat) and Short Spine Massage (reformer). Learning the intermediate (PPS-II) order and knows all basic (PPS-I) transitions and equipment set ups.
- Advanced Intermediate — Proficient at Swan Dive (mat), full Tree, and Long Spine Massage (reformer). Learning the advanced (PPS-III) order and knows all PPS-II transitions and equipment set ups.
- Advanced — Knows the entire advanced (PPS-III) system, all transitions and equipment set-ups and is preparing for the super advanced work.
Filed under: Business Matters
June 1, 2011
Being a Pilates teacher is about:
- teaching people to move better
- developing both their mind & body so they can engage themselves
in activities with greater vigor
- and ease
Part of developing the mind is for them to learn the work; I mean teaching students to really own it. In Joseph Pilates’ studio, he required his students to learn the exercise names, springs, orders along with precise execution including rhythm, transitions and their own particular modifications. He encouraged — no, he demanded — that they learn the work. It was all part of the discipline of learning Contrology. The studio was a place students came to learn Contrology, plain and simple. And they saw tremendous results!
Students of Mr. Pilates were taught to be self-reliant, take responsibility for what they were learning and not depend on him to provide repeated reminders. Mr. Pilates understood discipline was a two- way commitment and his high expectations elevated students to realize higher levels of their potential.
Mr. Pilates was ahead of his time in many ways and his message of self-responsibility is as timely today as it was more than 60 years ago.
Filed under: Business Matters
May 18, 2011
Bring Pilates out into your life, sports and all activities. Isn’t that what we teach? We encourage clients to walk tall, move from their center and bring their Pilates alignment, strength and flexibility to enhance all their activities including cardio and resistance training as well as cycling, golf, skating, skiing and daily life. When a person learns to move properly, everything changes for the better. So as Pilates teachers or studio owners you might be wondering how classical Pilates and traditional fitness can thrive together without diluting authentic Pilates?
Current research shows that we need both cardio and resistances training to stay healthy, prevent osteoporosis, maintain or lose weight, and stave off the effects of aging. Of course Pilates falls into the category of moderate strengthening and stretching, but in order to get the heart rate to climb high enough to have a training effect the session needs to move at a vigorous pace. Also for new or weaker clients, advanced choreography or fast moving sessions may not be appropriate. Why not offer more to your customers to target all their fitness needs? There is great potential here for both the health of your clients and your studio. I look at classical Pilates as the foundation for every mode of movement we do. Most jazz musicians or dancers began by first developing a strong foundation; musicians learning scales and dancers studying movements at the barre for years before they branched out. Likewise, a strong Pilates base forms the foundation for how we move during our cardio exercise or lift a weigh over our head. The key is HOW we teach it!
Envision two tracks of programming in your studio. The first track is strictly classical, working with the complete Pilates “system” on all apparatus. Be innovative in your offerings by considering not only mat and Tower classes, but also offer classes that combine different apparatus. For example, mat combined with chair or small barrels and power circle; combine reformer, mat and Cadillac sessions. Be creative with your class endings to include the arm weight series, standing power circle and the fabulous wall series. Educate your clients so they keep a classical class in their weekly routine.
The second “fusion” track builds on the classical track layering Pilates alignment and movement principles to each activity. In this track you combine cardio and/or resistance training for a portion of the class with classical mat, chair, power circle, barrels, reformers or tower.
Design your class based on the following:
- Who is the class for and what are their fitness goals? (weight loss, sport specific, general fitness)
- What is the level of the class?
- What apparatus is available? (Pilates tools: mat, reformer, chair, small barrels, power circle, 1-3 lb. weights Fitness tools: 5-15 lb weights, body bars, bosu, step, balls, indoor cycles, slides, jump ropes, therabands, medicine balls etc.)
- What format will meet their objective and level? (classical, fusion, circuit, 20-20-20, 50-50)
- What is the purpose of each class segment? (total body workout, upper body, lower body, core, cardio, etc.)
- What exercises will be included to reach the goal of each class segment?
- Will I use music or no music? What kind of music and bpm will enhance the experience?
- Fusion Class:
Small group (4-6)
- 20 minute basic/intermediate mat
- 15 minute resistance training (dumbbells, upper body focus)
- 15 minute lo-impact cardio or step
- 5 minute cool down/stretch
Fusion class (class size depending on # of chairs):
- 20 minute mat
- 20 minute chair
- 15 minute resistance and balance (body bar and bosu)
- 30 minute Chair
- 30 minute Yoga
3 Steps for Implementation:
- Educate your customers so they learn what they need to do to reach their goals. Reinforce that they need to exercise 3-5 times per week whether it is at home, outdoors or at your studio. Make your message clear about the benefits of varied movement experiences and how to bring the lessons learned from Pilates into other workout modes.
- Create programming to suit the needs of your client base. Make the movement matter!
- Guide students to take at least one classical class per week (or more) and bring what they learn in their body to the fusion classes. Steer them into the classes that cover all their fitness needs.
Innovative programming and value-oriented packages not only draws new customers but keeps them coming back for more. Tap into your creative side and offer new classes that are interesting, compelling, effective and fun. You customers will be delighted and satisfied!
Filed under: Business Matters
May 2, 2011
It is easy to get stuck. Stuck teaching in a similar fashion, seldom varying lessons, and working on the usual apparatus day after day. In recent conversations with several teachers, I was curious to hear how they keep workouts fresh for their clients, how they planned and built progression into their sessions and if they truly worked with Pilates as a full “system”. Remarkably, each person shared the tendency to shy away from equipment they didn’t understand well or didn’t personally practice on, or found they regularly got in a rut teaching the same way with the same tempo using the same cues and the same exercises with their clients. Without a plan or a map, how can you get where you want to go? It is no surprise they periodically felt “flat” and uninspired in their teaching. I personally related to their stories as I been there before myself. While workshops were inspiring and I got plenty of information and new ideas, it wasn’t until I did my own homework and applied what I learned that transformation ensued. Here is what I did to develop a strategy for each client.
First came an inventory of current Pilates goals along with a review and prioritization of current body issues, exercises or movement patterns currently challenging them, and what exercises I had given them on each piece of equipment. Then I asked myself if they were progressing and if so, in what way and how that looked. I wrote this for each person, using it as an opportunity to check in and reset goals as necessary.
I was amazed at the insight this process brought seeing everything written down in black and white. It enabled me to create a plan and purposefully construct a workout strategy that targeted their needs. I decided to zero in on one or two priority issues at a time. I pulled out my exercise lists on all the apparatus and created a complete list of all the exercises that could help each issue, fully realizing that I would tackle each issue in stages. At the top of the list were mat and reformer exercises. Then I listed the remaining exercises on the cadillac, chairs, barrels, and accessories that could help my client. Now I was ready to get creative.
My goal was to plan five different workouts that specifically addressed the areas I identified. I developed a template with 7 columns and enough rows to list each exercise I planned to cover over the course of six sessions. The first column listed the exercises either beginning with mat or reformer then 2-5 exercises on 2-3 other apparatus, and an ending. The remaining six columns represented 6 sessions where I could take notes after the session. I took care not to introduce more then 1-2 new exercises or variations per apparatus in a given session, indicating which exercises I would introduce each session. This allowed me and my client to grow into the full program over six sessions. I discovered it was much easier, with the full lists in front of me, to come up with five different workouts and created a theme for each session.
By spending the time to invest in my client’s progress and success, I found I had invested in myself as well. This process pushed me out of my comfort zone and re-opened my eyes to the beauty and vastness of the Pilates System. I also realized how important it was for me to actively continue exploring the possibilities available within the Pilates system and keep on seeking greater depths of what it has to offer, remaining wide open to the unfolding its mysteries. Romana was right when she said, “stay true to the system and the system will stay true to you.”
Filed under: Business Matters
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