Do you ever wonder how to walk that tightrope of keeping your client happy but, making them do the work you know they need to do? The client comes in and tells you what to do and what exercises they want to do that session and you know it isn’t the right path for them that day. In that moment how do you please your client without falling off that tightrope? It can be a very big balancing act right?
When you first start teaching it is easy to fall off that tightrope and into the whims of what the client is asking for. You want to keep the client, you want them to be happy and feel as if you are truly listening to their needs. Yet, when you do give in it feels as if you have lost a bit of your confidence, your control of the session, it feels as if the client has become the teacher and is guiding that session instead of you, the actual teacher.
I know when I first started teaching I had many, many moments that tested this and yes, sometimes I failed. I wish someone had given me tips then as I was struggling not to lose myself as a teacher. I actually had a client come in once admitting to a late night at an office party and so she was “super” tired and could we do the whole session lying down? I had never heard this one before but, over the years I have had many “request” from “no arms today” to “ I just want to stretch” and my favorite “ can we just work on my abdominals today?” Can you see my eyes rolling back into my head right now?
It happens to teachers no matter how long they have been teaching. I have a client who every week says she wants to focus on her one tight hip, could we just open it up? Should I make her whole session all exercises that just do that? Ignore everything else including her full body movement? No, of course not. It happens to all of us throughout our Teaching career, the client will want something that day that you will not think is best for them but, we want the client to be happy and get what they want out of the session so, here we are back on that tightrope.
There are 5 tips I have to keep your clients happy while not losing yourself as a Teacher
Listen- What is the client actually saying? Are they tired? Scared? Feeling insecure or worried about “failing”? When my client, Janet, was tired and wanted to do everything laying down I knew in my head we would be doing the opposite. She was tired and didn’t want to work because she felt that she wouldn’t do well due to her being tired. So, we started as always on her back, moving and breathing and getting her connected to her body yet, her feeling like Yes! We are on our backs! As the session progressed we no longer were laying down and in fact, the majority of her workout was then up!
Give them a small taste- We want the client to be happy and for them to feel you are listening to them so, for Janet I started her out on the Reformer and with her footwork and the hundred and coordination to give her the sense of “yes, I heard you” and she started to move and relax into the work. As I saw her get more focused then without it being “announced” we were done with the work on her back and moving on!
Show them options but they still think it is their plan- When the client says “ let’s just work arms” or “can we focus on my tight hip” you have a way to guide the client into work that they will connect with in terms of what they were asking for. Carmine who has her tight hip and always wants that focus is given her full workout but, each exercise we talk about how this is “helping” that tight hip. Even starting out with the Hundred and cueing the reach of her legs out of her hips, creating space and feeling that opposition. The whole hour she is seeing how no matter what we are doing it is helping.
Give them homework- Let them know we only have an hour and so, we need to make sure and get the full body moving and functioning so, we are going to go through a few exercises that I want you to do this week to continue this work for yourself. This way they take some responsibility for themselves, you have shown them what to do and listened to what they were asking but, you can still use the majority of that hour to get them what they really need
Go over Goals- Every year January 1st my clients know it is time to go over their Pilates goals. We sit down their first session back in the New Year and chat on what they had wanted for the year before and how did we feel we did and then what is it they are wanting out of this year's Pilates. It is a chance for them to speak about what is concerning them, what they feel is missing or what fears they may have for things. You can make sure over the year to keep referencing back to these goals and it keeps them on a path that you both set together.
Keep your feet planted on that tightrope and know that you are the Teacher! Following these tips will keep your client happy and you feeling secure in your teaching and no more getting lost!