Progressive Bodyworks | Pilates Mastery with Clare Dunphy

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Teaching Ruts

June 11, 2013

Ever been stuck?  Stuck teaching in a similar fashion, cueing with the same words, 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. 

1. Take inventory of their current Pilates goals.
2. Prioritize current body issues, exercises or movement patterns currently challenging them.
3. List the exercises I had given them on each piece of equipment. 
4. Ask if they were progressing and if so, in what way and how that looked. 
5. Write this for each person, using it as an opportunity to check in and reset goals.

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 both me, and my client, to grow into the full program over the 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,Movement Matters

Grow Your Private Client Base

January 23, 2012

Build your business even in this economic climate.  Sure it can be a challenge so here are a few ideas to help you build your base by getting exposure to potential new clients.  Take a multi-dimensional approach and remember that you generate the energy – so yes, just get out there and do it. 

1. Word of mouth:  There is nothing better then word of mouth referrals.  If you already have a few happy clients let them know you have space available if they know anyone who would benefit from your services.  If you are already teaching small group classes or mat classes, offer a 30-minute apparatus special.


2. Public Speaking: This is not as scary as it sounds.  Share your passion for and the benefits of the work!  Local community groups, senior centers, Chamber of Commerce and even hospitals are always looking for speakers to talk on various wellness subjects. Another is local sports teams or coaches.  


3. Network and cross-market with local shops and businesses:  Create a community of Pilates lovers!  Meet the owners and sales people at your local spa, salon, massage, and clothing stores.  What can you do to help them increase value for their customers?  Perhaps they are personally interested in what you offer or feel it can add to their customer experience.  Simply ask if they are willing put your information in a visible spot.  Get your brochure, business card, and post card in front of as many people as you can. You can do the same with chiropractors; massage therapists, and physical therapists if this is the population you want to attract.


4. Create a fun event that brings people together:  An open house inviting current clients, friends, and the local community - that is informative, yet fun - perhaps a demo with your students performing 3 reps of reformer or mat, maybe set to music to give extra flair.  Include local artists to show their work, have cheese, wine, and appetizers. Give it a theme like ‘ladies night’ - be creative! 


5. Make some noise:  Write an article for the local newspaper, or get them to write a story about you.  It could be a success story, a charitable cause you champion or an educational article.  You will be amazed how many people read these stories and pass on valuable information to others.

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Tips for New Teachers

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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). 
  6. 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!
  7. Breathe, breathe, breathe – it is the best way to help keep you centered and in the moment. 
  8. Take regular lessons from a teacher you admire.  Get another set of eyes and input on your practice.  Teachers need teachers!
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Why Level Pilates Classes?

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

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