Last week an extremely worried and concerned instructor contacted me. She is an excellent, highly experienced teacher who for the first time had a client injure themselves performing an exercise during the class. She wanted to make sure she was following the correct protocol, firstly to reassure and care for the client but also to meet the legal requirements expected of her. So what should you do if this ever happens in your class? Care of the Client
Of paramount importance and your first priority is the client. Following an injury ensure they are suitably cared for and seen by a medical profession if necessary. Within 24 hours follow-up with a telephone call and, if you feel it is appropriate, a card wishing them a speedy recovery, reassuring them that any missed sessions with be refunded and that you are looking forward to seeing them back in classes soon.
Write an account of the incident and record any action which was taken. If possible and appropriate ask the client to also sign and date. Having a brief class plan outlining the exercises taught should also be added.
Evidence of the Screening Process
You need to ensure you have the correct health & screening documentation prior to a client beginning any exercise programme. This highlights any potential areas of concern which may require a medical professional's consent and ensures they are fit to exercise. This is often in the form of a written questionnaire such as the PAR-Q ( Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) It is good practice to ask your clients to re-do their par-qs every twelve months to make sure the information is correct and up to date. You can create your own par-q and I recommend basing it on the widely recognised Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Par-Q.
When working in studios or health clubs you may not have access to the screening information so it is of vital important that you verbally screen the clients before the session begins. Questions should include, are there any injuries, is anyone pregnant and is anyone new to Pilates?
Know Your Limits
As a qualified Pilates instructor you are trained and insured to teach Pilates. Be aware of the boundaries of your qualifications especially as classes such a HITT Pilates are becoming more popular. Unless you have additional qualifications you should not teach high impact moves such as squat thrusts, burpees and so on. Nor should you offer specialist classes such as Pre & Post Natal or Children's classes unless you hold the relevant qualifications. Always check the restrictions of your insurance policy for the age range and type of client you are covered to teach.
Remember accidents and injuries do happen in classes and often it is not the instructor's fault, but you need to make sure you have all the correct procedures in place.
As always I would love to hear your thoughts and any questions!