Curbing Your Expectations As A  Pilates Teacher

Your client comes in for their session and starts to move, the Pilates teacher in you sees so many things to “fix” or “correct”. Where do you start? You find yourself telling them all these things you want them to do, how to do it and what not to do. You feel yourself getting frustrated as they aren’t “getting it” or doing what you want. Yet you keep trying and trying. Could it be maybe you are expecting too much in this one hour with them? Should you curb your expectations a bit? There are some tips I give those going through my Teacher Training that helps curb those expectations as Teacher and help your client “see” what you are asking.

Sometimes for new teachers, the excitement of all that you have learned and all that you have discovered in Pilates may cause that “unload” on each client. All the verbiage, all the tactile cues one after the other. You want them to learn the shape of rolling back, elephant, stomach massage and the hundred. You want them to feel everything and understand all the things that you have to offer them. For the client that is a lot of information to take on and to move at the same time so, at some point, you can tell they have shut your voice down and are no longer hearing what you are saying.

Even experienced teachers can want all the years of knowledge they have for that client in that moment. To try to get in there and give so many details to the client that again, the client just gets lost or frustrated. It is almost the more you know, the more you want to explain or tell the client.

When I was in my Teacher Training Program, so long ago the internet was but a dream, I was doing my observation hours and watching “the” teacher at the studio. She could spout out anatomy like a textbook and her hands went everywhere with such force and conviction that you thought she must have 8 arms! She spoke so quickly and on so many things to her clients, round here, deeper here, scoop, inhale, on and on and the anatomical words kept flying out for body parts. To be honest, at that point I had to really think about what that body part was. I watched in awe and thought “ I will never be able to do that!”. I took a private with her and the same thing, I didn’t understand what she was asking me to do, how to do what she was asking me and I was thinking “I am going to be a horrible teacher I can’t even do this!”. I was so deflated. If I was a client would I have continued? She was a wonderful teacher but, for me, it was too much. I think for most clients we can curb those expectations and not expect everything in those moments.

Every client comes to Pilates for a reason and as a Teacher, you see things that can help them in their day that you want to get them to understand and feel. So, how can you as a teacher curb your expectations and give that client what they need and at the same time keep them motivated and challenged and keep both of you from getting frustrated?

Here are my Tips to help you curb that expectation

1. Let go- Take a breath and let the client start moving. Just give them some simple cues to get them to understand such as “heels together and push out” or “pump your arms up and down” Watch them and start to see how their body is figuring stuff out for you.

2. Pick one thing- Give the client a focus for the session. Pick one thing for that work out for them to keep focused on and just keep cueing it for them as a gentle reminder, maybe in a positive way where even if it is lost you can say “great heel connection” and then they will take those heels and make that connection.

3. Realize their movement- Everyone has a movement ability and range that is unique to them. We can guide them down a path but, ultimately they will go where they can go and how they can get there. Don’t forget that Pilates is their movement, for them.

4. Pilates is constant learning- This is the wonderful thing about Pilates and why clients come for over 20 years. They continue to learn and discover more and more about themselves and the work. Show them the potential and where they have come from and where they are heading.

There is a quote by Jay Grimes (a long-time student and First Generation teacher of the Pilates method) that I was reminded of as I was writing this blog and he says: "You can't teach Pilates. You can only offer it to someone.” I like to remind the students going through my Teacher Training of these words. Remembering these tips along with Jay Grimes’s words takes that expectation of what you want and lets you help and guide the client in a way that ultimately will surprise you and your client.

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