Progressive Bodyworks | Pilates Mastery with Clare Dunphy

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Showing posts categorized as “Movement Matters.”

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

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

Go For the Zone!

March 23, 2011

How do you get into the zone during your workouts? How do keep yourself true to the discipline of clean transitions, advancing your own practice and challenging your own personal ideal? Where do you give yourself slack?  One of the things I have learned over and over again in the years of my teaching is that the commitment to my own practice is directly related to the quality of my teaching.  When I keep my practice strong I find myself so much more engaged, focused, excited and energized not only in my teaching, but also in my daily life.  I realized early on the more I personally do Pilates, the more I have to share about it.  Romana once told me that if I stay true to the method, the method would reveal itself and stay true to me.  What did she mean by that? 

For me, it is simply a matter of working with three important factors.  First, I intentionally work full out every time I practice.  This means to go for quality and not to skimp when I don’t feel like it.  I challenge my personal best by maintaining awareness of extraneous movements and by focusing on precision and movement quality, reaching for the goal of the exercise.  By working with a balance of tempo and control with squeaky-clean transitions, a new world of discovery opens up for the one-hour I give myself.  I know the places in the workout where I have choices to include a variation or perhaps omit something, making instantaneous decisions about how and why to do so; always mindful of where I am going next.  I notice the nuances occurring in the moment and work get the feeling or purpose of the exercise starting with the first repetition and then carry it through to resolution in as few repetitions as possible.  Sounds like a tall order, but that is what goes on in my head.  Experience has taught me that by going deeper in my personal practice, gems of insight are a joyful reward. 

The second factor, which reliably draws me into the zone, is to breathe as full and deep as I can right from the first exercise, whether it is on the mat or reformer.  This works like a charm to clear my mind and begin the flow of the session.  I get in tune with the reformer springs and listen to my breath in time with the sound of the springs working with the movement. I can hear the quality of movement by the sounds I hear.  Immediately aware of tension or sluggishness in my body through the breath, I can control the way I feel.  Bad mood, good mood it doesn’t matter; after a few good oxygenated breaths in timing with the movement I am on my way to the zone.  Early connection with full breathing also creates a deeper powerhouse connection and helps set the rhythm for the entire session.

The third factor that keeps me on point is to keep the workout fresh, fun and varied.  Some of this is a matter of session design.  Will today’s workout be on the reformer, reformer mat, reformer on the cadillac, or will it be on the chair and barrels?  What kind of fun can I create for myself in this one hour of playtime?  What discoveries can I make?  How can I make this hour really matter to add value to my day? What can I do in this workout to make it feel worthwhile?  So a combination of what I bring to the experience is as important as it is deciding what workout design I choose.

Challenging my ideal for that particular day continues to mean honoring my body and at the same time reaching for my edge.  When I expect the best from myself, I feel confident asking the same from my clients.  We are role models for our clients and when our energy is bright and clear, our clients pick up on that and are uplifted as a result.  Energy begets energy.  Pilates is a practice, not a performance and there are always places I can improve.  That for me is part of the ongoing discovery into self-mastery that captured my imagination when I first began Pilates and what keeps me coming back for more.

Filed under: Movement Matters

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