I don’t know as a Pilates Teacher if you have ever felt that you are having to prop, modify, change, vary a Pilates exercise so much that you think “hmm...are they still doing the same work?” In the world of Pilates, Pilates Teaching and the Pilates studio we get clients with many “issues” that make Pilates teaching for us a bit challenging. We want to teach our clients in a way that builds their connection and understanding as well as strength and movement to do the work as intended right? So why not as Pilates teachers our “modifying” give that purpose of the exercise so that they can do the movement as intended but, to where their body is in that moment. Who knows, maybe as their Pilates teacher we will get them to the original movement from that “modification”.
How can we do that? How can we as teachers make the client feel the purpose of each exercise even if they aren’t able to do the full expression of it? How can we maybe get that “lost’ connection that makes the modification needed to “fire” to strengthen so that they can continue toward the original move?
All of the teachers in my studio have gone through my Teacher Training Program and one of them who is now teaching at WAP had the best line while he was in the training. We were talking of modifications and the purpose of the exercises and using props. The use of balls, circles, roller etc. He told the story of seeing a teacher with a client surrounded by every prop in the studio. He kept thinking why are they using all of that? The teacher was just throwing things at this client to put here, squeeze this, sit on this and so on. He had a term “that teacher was getting propy!”
Now, don’t get me wrong on props. There is a time and place to use to get again the client to feel and connect, in fact one of my favorite teachers I have worked with uses them to really dig deep and you know exactly why you have that ball at those feet or in that hand!
For me though in terms of modifying the work so that eventually we can get that person where they can go, it is really breaking the work down. Getting that body to understand a piece then maybe the other piece until they have gone where they are capable and maybe by going that route they get to the full Teaser or the full Control Balance or even Handstands on the Ladder Barrel or Wunda Chair.
I never use the term modify for my clients. When they learn an exercise this is how they learn, as I see their capability and what their body can do then I know how to “feed” that work to them. I want the clients to always feel challenged but, that they accomplished something while they were working in the studio. I don’t want them to feel as if they failed in any way.
This 4-hour workshop is full of positive ways to do this for clients. It gives the teachers the tools to take that client on that journey where one day something the client never thought they could do happens! It shows how the breakdown can keep that purpose of the work, the reason you give it there. The strength, flexibility or connection will build for the client and then the work gets deeper.