It’s funny how when we first start teaching and it seems so overwhelming just knowing the exercise and being able to teach it much less, seeing patterns and things going on with our clients as they move. It is always a question that arises in my Teacher Training Program with students. They learn the Traditional Order of mat and Reformer but, then the Assessing and choices and where and how? It can be overwhelming for teachers right? On top of that our clients we want to keep and so we need for them to feel like they are getting that workout, that coming to the studio is worth their time and money.
As teachers, our eyes and what we see and think of as the one thing in the body in front of us that is really “shouting” the loudest may not be the same as another teacher standing next to us. We may not agree in that moment what to “fix” or “correct”. So for Assessing you are truly going with what you feel and see for your client in that moment. I like to say teaching Pilates is like being a detective every day! We are spending that first 30 minutes or so seeing what is happening and if it gets better or if we need to give a bit of guidance there.
I know for me my teaching style reflects a lot of my personality. I want to create that hour for my client where it is about being challenged in a positive, supportive and fun way. I push them but, not to where they can’t go and they trust that I will not have them do anything I know they aren’t capable of doing. This makes them step past their fear a bit and really go where maybe they didn’t think they could. I am still doing the work of assessing and correcting but, they don’t know that.
I remember a workshop thing I went to and I was so excited about it. I showed up and was ready to learn, observe and meet some new friends. It turned out to be an experience that as a friend and fellow teacher says “was a learning one”. The workshop was one of correcting with “you are doing that wrong”, “ that is not right”, “ what is your foot doing?” and the feeling of failure for me was palpable. For the first time in my Pilates journey, I wanted to go home from a workshop and not be there. Luckily I made the friend I was just talking about and so, again there is always a reason we go through some door right?
There have been many studies on teaching using positive reinforcement and I am a true believer in that! One of the best test outs in my Teacher Training was recently when a student “corrected” her client and used only positive words. She never uttered “don’t” “no” but used words that were clear, direct and positive. Her tone of voice also reflected that. So, when she told her client to stand on the Reformer and the client kneeled she didn’t say “no, stand not kneeling” she said “oh, we are going to stand” in a light airy tone and the client just popped up and in no way felt they had done the wrong thing. I was as you can imagine very proud of this one!
Have you ever had a client apologize for not being able to do something? The client says “oh, sorry” because they thought they did something wrong or “that wasn’t right was it?” because they feel they didn’t do it correctly. It is important don’t you think that we let them know they are doing good! When I am teaching they do think they are doing great even as I am “correcting” them. When we finish they are happy, felt challenged and did good work, and yes I tell them every time “great job today”.
This 4 hour workshop for me is showing teachers not only the Assessment in the work and in your clients session but, in how do you correct in terms of not only where and what exercises you think would help but, how do you tell the client to move in ways that are corrective but, not letting them know “something is wrong’ or whatever that “issue” is for that moment. Everybody is different and the way we move is as well. I love this workshop as again with all mine and the full participation of the group because we can see how by just moving the client and using the work and apparatus to “correct” when that hour is done and we revisit the “issue” it may not be perfect but, we as Teachers have improved it for the client. For the client, all they know is they did good, worked hard, and they got what they came for!