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.”
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