Posts filed under Education & Training

Don’t Go Higher-Go Deeper!

The other day I was mentoring a wonderful teacher and she asked what she could do to add further intensity and challenge to her Mat programme to make sure her clients do not get bored. My answer was,

“You don’t need to go higher, you need to go deeper”

c33686553c74dfd8b1571643b5a12d48It struck me that this is the essence of Pilates which makes it so different from other forms of exercise. Understanding this is what differentiates a beginner from an intermediate practitioner

Let’s take the Roll Up. Initially we focus on the ability to flex through the spine sequentially as we roll up with control and fluidity. So any beginner with a fairly good level of spinal mobility can do this exercise, does that mean they fully understand the complexity of the move? For clients who have been attending our classes but are unable to perform this move, we may highlight restrictions in the lumbar spine or hip flexors and create a programme to enhance movement in these areas so that eventually they can Roll Up with success. But we shouldn’t leave it there! Now is the time to go deeper!

Understanding Points of Stability  

A fundamental element of all  Pilates exercises is the ability to anchor one area whilst moving another.

The greater the point of stability, the greater the potential for articulation.

In the Roll Up, the points of stability are the legs, giving us a large area to stabilise from to help create greater spinal articulation. So look deeper- does the client use the legs to create a strong base? Can the feet stay flexed with the little toe in line with the big toe? Can the legs stay together with the inner thighs connected? Do the hips open easily and the legs stay still?

Get The Two-Way Stretch

It’s all about oppositional pull

Now we are going into the intermediate realms! As the client rolls up can they reach with the fingertips and through the heels whilst drawing in the opposite direction with the navel to really create oppositional pull and space through the spine, further increasing the opening of the whole back line?

When these deeper elements are achieved in the client’s movement we see and feel the true magic! Now we are ready to higher or deeper still!!!

If you have enjoyed this please join us for The Moves workshop on 21st January where we will go deeper into the whole Mat Repertoire. For more information please click here.

The Legalities Of Having a Website-Who Knew??

law-guide_bookYou all know how much I love my job of running a Pilates Teacher Training company and we all know how it is incredibly rewarding and inspiring to be involved in something we are so passionate about. The actual teaching, creating and developing  courses, qualifications and workshops is the fun part, what I find most challenging is application of the legalities of running a business, making sure that I tick every box when it comes to website and social media lawful requirements. A few weeks ago I saw on Facebook a post by the fantastic Suzanne Dibble, reminding me of the law when using social media. Delving deeper into her posts and website, I realised that I was missing two important policies on my website that are a legal must, Website Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. The guidelines seem to be that if you offering more than just a small information-only website then you will need to post "Terms & Conditions" somewhere on your website and if you are collecting any data, e.g. email information, then you will most certainly need a Privacy Policy.

Both policies will vary to small  degree depending on your business but please take a look at the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy on the JPilates website to help write yours if you wish. I know some of you may be thinking "Well of course you need these policies!" but just in case some of you didn't know........!

References

http://www.suzannedibble.com

Thank you to Akasha Wellness for allowing me to use their documents as templates!

Image from emplaw.co.uk

How to teach a beginner class to an experienced exerciser

Recently I have been asked by several Pilates instructors how to teach beginner Pilates classes to experienced exercisers without boring them to death! Often these clients are used to training at high levels of intensity and it can be difficult to strike a balance between encouraging precision, integrity of movement and technique and maintain suitable intensity, focus and interest. First and foremost we need to understand and recognise the needs and goals of the client- why are they attending the class?

Since September I have been teaching at the beautiful, newly opened Reformer studio, Akasha Wellness. Almost all of the clients are new to Reformer and are attending in order to increase strength, flexibility and to be challenged!After ensuring that there are no injuries or conditions that may impact on their exercise programme, I teach fairly demanding classes, designed to enhance their strength, mobility and flexibility. Although I constantly embed and cue correct movement and technique, I see the achievement of precision as on-going task which can take weeks, months even years to attain. Perfect movement is not something that can be taught in the first few classes and in attempting to "over-correct" and "over-talk" we can restrict natural movement and reduce the sense of well-being. We need to allow clients to make mistakes without fear of failure. This is how we learn. Giving time to make mistakes and self correct teaches increased body awareness and self-responsibility for ones own practice.

Both instructors and clients should acknowledge that to achieve results, Pilates requires dedication and commitment. As Joe Pilates stated, “PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE are vital qualities in the ultimate accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavour” It is a long-term, lifestyle choice giving you time to strive for and achieve precision, control and flow.

For JPilates Associates, this month's Class Plan is a Matwork plan for the beginner but experienced exerciser. Contact info@jpilates.co.uk to request your copy.

Side note: We always need to have full understanding and knowledge of any injuries or conditions which may impact on exercise choice and intensity and seek medical consent if necessary.

You're hired! Top tips for success when auditioning for Pilates jobs.

alan-sugar-amstrad-and-the-apprenticeWith our Autumn Level 3 Diploma in Teaching Mat Pilates students due to sit their final assessments in a few weeks, we have been discussing the practicalities they will face once qualified and ready to launch themselves into our industry. One of the areas we have discussed is auditioning for jobs at Pilates studios-just what are studio owners looking for? Michelle Smith from the Pilates Pod, Hitchin has recently been interviewing for Pilates instructors to join their studio and here are her invaluable top tips!

  1. Arrive with at least 10 mins to spare. This will allow time for an introduction, to check out the studio, equipment and bodies participating. Arriving at the last minute or late makes me think you are unorganised and will be the same in the job. Saying “I didn’t have time to do that” just won’t cut it!
  2. Be confident but subtly so. We want to see you’ve got the confidence in your teaching, what you’re saying and having a good rapport with the bodies in the session and staff.
  3.  Be calm and prepared. Despite whatever stresses you’ve had in the day getting here, appear calm and in control. Plan your lesson in advance so you know what equipment you want, stay within the time limit and know what you want to get across.
  4. Treat the teaching as if it was a normal class. We want to see your style and personality, see you correct, modify and have fun  with the bodies in the session.
  5. Know your environment. What works for a gym style class with fitness adaptations, stretches and tone of language may not work for a  Pilates studio setting so remember to do your research in advance and plan accordingly.
  6. Swot up on the business you are applying for. The teaching part is one part but with a quick interview chat after we also want to see you know a bit about the company you are wanting to work for, and why you want to work for them.
  7. Impress us! This is your 15 minutes of fame so remember to show us the best bits about you and your teaching!

When looking for work at Pilates studios, I would strongly recommended offering to audition as often studios have cover lists.  Jo Webster from Akasha Wellness says "The key to a successful instructor audition is that they demonstrate a passion for Pilates, an ability to build a rapport with clients and a have a level of professionalism that will support the studio / brand"

So with all these fabulous tips success will be more or less guaranteed! Break a leg!

Pilates Pod are looking for instructors for full time positions and cover. For more information please contact info@thepilatespod.co.uk.

Just Love JPilates Associates!

I have to admit that JPilates Associates is the best thing I have ever created! The founding principle of JPilates has always been to constantly support and develop a friendly, vibrant Pilates teacher community where any question can be asked, any concept can be openly discussed and ideas can be shared so that we constantly learn and progress and creating JPilates Associates has completely fulfilled this.

One of the areas I most love in my work is creating new adaptations and variations of exercises and then choreographing classes to further inspire instructors. Being able to offer Instructor Only Classes and Daily Fixes to you means that I can help bring fresh ideas and also practically address any areas you wish specifically targeted such as Pre Natal Pilates. This month I am so excited to have added a slow motion video of The Boomerang so you can really analyse the different elements of this fantastically dynamic move.

Another really rewarding aspect for me is being able to have individual mentoring time with you. This can either be for your own personal development where we work on your Pilates practise or further developing, focusing and structuring your business and marketing plans and ideas.

The Associates Area ensures that you keep up with recent research and continual professional development through articles and updates. We also review books & DVDs for you to help expand and enhance your own Pilates library.

I love being a part of this amazing Pilates community and our Virtual Night’s Out have been so successful with us enjoying a glass (or two!) in the comfort of our own homes chatting about all things Pilates. I love to hear us being able to support each other and offer advice and experiences.

So thank you to everyone who is part of this special community!

For more information please click here

The Amazing Pilates Reformer!

Pilates.I recently have started teaching weekly Reformer classes at the beautiful Akasha Wellness Studio in Bishops Stortford. Each class I teach reinforces the absolute elegance and grace of the Reformer repertoire. We all know the fantastic benefits of Pilates including flat abdominals, strong  back, long, lean muscles, flexibility, overall body conditioning and injury prevention and there is no piece of Pilates equipment more cleverly designed to deliver and enhance these benefits than the Pilates Reformer.

The Reformer is one of the most recognisable pieces of Studio equipment and holds an excellent reputation for producing amazing results.  One of the many advantages is the fact it's raised above ground level, therefore providing the instructor with an excellent vantage point to observe and correct alignment and technique. Invented by Joseph Pilates, it consists of a series of springs, straps, pulleys and a gliding platform, the machine offers a versatile, impact free workout that enables the client to perform resistance exercises whilst lying down, sitting, kneeling or standing.

It is because of the versatility of the Reformer that the whole body can be dynamically trained in so many varied and different ways. There are literally hundreds of exercises to enhance strength, length, mobility, flexibility and balance. You will work your whole body from head to toe in challenging workouts that promote natural body movement and alignment.

Oh yes! Every week I feel like a child in a sweet shop!

In the UK more and more Matwork instructors are further enhancing and developing their training by certifying in the Studio Equipment and in 2015 we have added Equipment specific workshops and more Reformer training dates to our calendar

For full details about our Reformer Training visit www.jpilates.co.uk

Writing Terms & Conditions- Boring but Essential!

Every so often an instructor posts on the forum or contacts me about a difficult situation arising due to a class member wanting money back or transferring payments which is not in line with the instructor's class policy. It is a well-known fact that many of us do not read terms and conditions when buying a product or service, we tend to skim down the legal jargon and sign on the dotted line, but clearly establishing terms and conditions is an important step to protecting yourself and your business and avoiding unpleasant confrontations. Although terms and conditions may vary for each instructor, here are some basic tips to help you.

  1. Stay friendly! Just because you are setting down rules and policies it does not mean it needs to be written in imposing and legal manner. Keeping your tone friendly and positive not only means clients will read them through but also that if a dispute does arise they will be more open to understanding.

  2. Keep them short, simple to understand and clear, no need for lots of legal jargon!

  3. Clearly explain your policies and procedures with the most important first. The main policies you may wish to include are payment, cancellation, booking and studio behaviour.

  4. Review other Pilates companies T&Cs to ensure you have covered everything needed. Obviously do not copy as yours need to be specific to your company, but they can be a good reference point.

  5. Keep your terms and conditions up to date. As changes happen to your classes make sure they are reflected in your terms & conditions. Good practice could be to have each client re-sign the T&Cs with their par-q every 12 months.

  6. Check spelling and grammar! Like any documentation, terms and conditions represent you and your company and need to give a professional impression.

If you would like any further advice I would love to hear from you!

Posted on September 27, 2014 and filed under Education & Training.

8 Steps to Success When Teaching Pilates in a Gym

Group of women doing Pilates exercises.The versatility and accessibility of Mat Pilates means that as an instructor you can offer classes in so many different venues, from church halls to dedicated studios and of course almost every gym will have Pilates on its class timetable. I have always loved teaching Pilates in gyms for several reasons.

  • Variety of Clients- Teaching Pilates in a gym means that you will experience a wide range of clients exercising for a variety of reasons, with different preferences and needs. It is never boring as each class presents different challenges. It is a fantastic way for a new instructor to gain experience and confidence.
  • Bringing the Method to Everyone- Joe Pilates wanted Pilates to be available to everyone and by having Pilates classes on gym timetables, the Method is open to everyone and anyone. Some clients stumble into the class as it just so happens to be on at a time that suits them, some attend under misconceptions of an "easy" class or a "flat stomach". After the class they often remark on how different it was from their expectations and how they underestimated how completely worked and energised they feel.
  • Financial Although you may earn more money teaching your own classes, working in a gym offers a reliable income as you will receive the same rate regardless of how many people turn up. So even during those uncertain periods of the year, summer and Christmas, you are a guaranteed a level of pay to depend on.
  • Simplicity- Teaching in a gym means no admin, no marketing worries, no collecting payments, no worrying about leases, taxes, bills- life is simpler!

There are some challenges to bear in mind though!

  • Pack them in!- Whereas in many dedicated studios or your own classes you can limit numbers, often in clubs the limit is the size of the room! So instead of having 8 clients, you may have 40. Personally, I love the buzz of a large class but it is not for everyone and you need to ensure the expectations of the class are crystal clear to both the club and the client. It will not be a class for fine tuning technique and addressing injuries rather a balanced class which focuses on flow and movement, ensuring safety of course.
  • Open to All- You will often be teaching range of abilities and ages from an absolute beginner to an experienced client, from a 4 month pregnant lady to a 70-year-old man and so you need to plan and prepare for a mixed level class and be ready to adapt further if needed.
  • Just a Class- It can be frustrating for some teachers if the clients are not passionate about Pilates. Not everyone will be concerned about correct technique or interested in committing to regular classes.

So here are 8  tips to success,

  1. Arrive early to meet and greet any new comers or beginners
  2. Verbally screen the class and then observe their movement in the prep phase so you are ready to adapt exercises later in the class.
  3. Take time to observe the class as a whole.
  4. Be clear and concise in your cueing and directions
  5. Don't over talk technique but still be safe
  6. Constantly offer adaptations and rests
  7. Always start and finish on time as there may be other classes scheduled directly after yours.
  8. Remain professional to the gym-remember you are part of a team.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

 

 

Are You Being Served?

300px-Cast_of_Are_You_Being_Served_BBC_1970sLast week our latest Matwork graduates were treated to a brand, marketing webinar from the fantastic MiBrand Fitness Business Coaching giving them invaluable advice on all aspects of branding and marketing for their new Pilates business. One of the key impressions I gained as I eavesdropped was how as teachers we should serve not just sell to our clients. How we need to add value to our product, to always bear in mind our client's needs and goals and help them reach them rather than simply offer a class timetable and payment plan.

This really resonated with me when the following day I received a call from a fantastic instructor who after running a successful class had suddenly lost numbers. She understandably was disheartened and explained maybe it was due to a small price increase (£1 a session) caused by a venue hire increase.  She was considering offering a discount but remembering MiBrand's advice we discussed adding value instead, of offering something for that small price increase such as a short daily video routine, an e-book showing some spine mobility moves or a training diary. The essential element is, of course, knowing your client's needs and goals. Maintaining and generating new interest could be easily created by understanding why they are attending and offer an additional product or service to promote this. So it may be a holiday prep routine to do at home which you introduce on the first day of a new block,  a series of desk based exercises to help relieve neck and shoulder tension or record of flexibility tests.

I think once you adjust your mindset to how can you serve your clients instead of how to make them buy, you completely reverse your strategy and find work so much more rewarding and enriching!

For MiBrand's 6 Steps to a Successful Business Brand Plan click here

As always I would love to hear your thoughts!

Cover Class Etiquette!

I love this weather! As the days get warmer and we start thinking of sun, sand and sea, the dilemma of whether to keep our classes running or take a summer break arises. Many studios and instructors keep their classes running so there is always an increased need for cover instructors. Covering classes is a great way to broaden your experience by teaching different clients in new studios, to create new links with companies and instructors and to earn a little extra cash. But is there a code of conduct for covering classes? Here are a few ideas to make sure you always appear professional and avoid some of the pitfalls:

1. Be early- you will have time to chat to the group and break the ice. It also allows you time to screen for an injuries or conditions.

2. Do not criticise their instructor- a sure way to alienate the group, all clients love their instructor! Just explain that there are many variations of the Method and yours may be slightly different.

3. Do not give out your contact details-poaching clients is in bad taste!

4. Do not apologise- starting the session by apologising for not being their regular instructor can set you up as "second best" which you aren't.

5. Try not to be judgemental- avoid saying "what do you mean you don't do this?" or "have you never done this move?"..

6. Make time after the session to answer any questions.

If you can add to the list please let me know. Our Facebook forum is a great place to post or take up any cover class requests. To join the forum please request on the JPilates page.

Posted on May 20, 2014 and filed under Education & Training.

Mirror mirror on the wall.......

madonnacircusmirrorBizarrely just before I published this post, a discussion began on our Facebook forum about whether mirrors are an essential part of any studio. Using mirrors always splits opinion with many instructors finding them useful in their teaching and in writing this post I feel like I'm going against the flow, but personally I only ever use mirrors as a last resort and here is why....

So often our teaching space has at least one mirrored wall and this frequently becomes the front and focus of the class. In my experience most clients feel uncomfortable looking at their reflection and I always notice a sense of relief when they lie onto their mats. More importantly though this discomfort can cause tension which in turn restricts the mobility and freedom of movement we are looking to develop.

Mirrors can be used to visually show a client imbalances or incorrect technique/ positions but I would much rather help the client to "feel" the correct placement. We do not go about our everyday lives surrounded by mirrors to check alignment and so we need to develop an inherent sense of body awareness without relying on reflections. Unless the mirrors are well placed trying to check technique will alter alignment, potentially create further imbalances and distract from the movement.
If using mirrors really benefits you and clients then they are a useful addition to any studio but I believe mirrors are the same as any other prop to be used only as a temporary aid and dependent on the individual's needs.

I would love the hear your thoughts on this and if you would like to join in the discussion please request to be added to the forum, just message JPilates.

Image from www.womensmafia.com

Ouch! I think I've pulled something!

UnknownLast 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!

8 Steps To Keep Your Pilates Classes Bone Healthy!

As Pilates instructors it can be daunting to work with a client suffering from Osteoporosis or Osteopenia especially in a group setting. With 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 at risk from an osteoporotic fracture in the UK1, we need to carefully consider the exercises and modifications we teach. The main contraindication is spinal flexion due to the high concentration of trabecular bone (honeycomb like) in the bodies of the vertebrae and with over 75% of the Mat repertoire performed in flexion, we can sometimes feel very restricted and apprehensive about what we teach.

One of the main goals of the Pilates for Bone Health workshop was to put a positive spin on working with clients suffering or at risk from Osteoporosis, to focus on what can be added to sessions rather than what needs to be omitted and to encourage bone health throughout our classes.

Every time we exercise muscles, tendons and ligaments are pulling on the bones and the bone responds, stimulating bone formation and retention of calcium at the sites bearing the load. So in our sessions we need to promote,

  • Weight bearing exercises- standing, on all fours

  • Resistance- using bands, Pilates circles, weighted balls

  • Impact

Pilates is an excellent exercise system for those with Osteoporosis or low bone mass so keep your sessions bone healthy by following these 8 steps:

  1. Emphasise alignment throughout the sessions

  2. Focus on strengthening the back extensors and scapula stabilisers

  3. Promote dynamic stability

  4. Encourage spinal extension especially thoracic

  5. Strengthen site-specific areas- hips, spine, wrist

  6. Enhance joint mobility

  7. Challenge dynamic balance

  8. Include weight bearing exercises.

As always I would love your questions or comments.

For more information please contact www.jpilates.co.uk or email info@jpilates.co.uk

References

1.  Van Staa et al, 2001

When Did Pilates Become the Easy Option?

bored with PilatesEarlier today as I was pushing myself through a challenging Tower workout, a discussion I recently had with a colleague came to mind. She commented that when she could not be bothered to do a proper workout she went to a Pilates class. So when did Pilates become the easy option? This made me reflect on how many clients have experienced Pilates as just “lying on a mat, hardly moving”.  They have never been taught The Teaser, Corkscrew or even heard of the Boomerang. Is this because they lose interest before they reach a perceived level of skill, is it due to their inability to execute the move or is it because of the instructor’s concern for potential injury? With so many clients encouraged to do Pilates after injury or to help manage low back pain are instructors forced into teaching a style of class which reduces perceived risk rather than challenges the ability of each individual?

Exercises which have evolved from Pilates are, of course, an excellent rehabilitation tool, although I believe the focus on mindful, precise and controlled movement rather than any specific cueing of muscle activation allows clients to regain confidence in their movement and take responsibility for their recovery. But this is not Pilates but rather Pilates-inspired exercise.

For the normal, healthy client surely we should be challenging them to the limit of their ability, to enhance their strength, flexibility and mobility with every exercise. Why should a beginner spend the first class lying on their back, lifting a heel when in simply walking into the class and picking up a mat they have worked far harder? Some may argue that the integral precision and technique of Pilates are only attained by working gradually through the levels but the incredible rhythm and coordination of the movements are not found by reducing the exercise to floating a heel while fixing the pelvis. As Joe Pilates states,

PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE are vital qualities in the ultimate accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavour”

He recommends practising Pilates daily to achieve the ability to perfectly execute moves, not five repetitions once a week of a severely reduced, modified version. If, as instructors we promote the often quoted benefits of Pilates that,

 “Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit"

then surely we should strive to achieve Joe Pilates original intentions, to teach each and every move, modifying or omitting only where necessary to suit the individual, encouraging daily practise, until our clients can perform them with control, fluidity and precision.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments as always!

Shoulders- please do not melt down!

shoulder tensionWhen I first trained in Pilates I remember being told to draw my shoulders back and down, to melt them down in a soft V and many other cues which were meant to encourage shoulder stability and correct alignment for those who carry their shoulders up by their ears. But does creating downward tension actually help elevate the upward tension in the upper back and neck? These cues also tend to encourage scapula depression which in turn tends to block thoracic mobility. Try this- begin to do The Spine Stretch, firstly draw your shoulders down in a V shape and then try to flex the spine. Can you feel how restricted you are? Does the movement feels very forced? You can also try this in Roll Down, Roll Up from seated and so on..

Then I attended a class with a wonderful instructor who cued "easy shoulders". Suddenly I could move so much more fluidly, with improved articulation and the movement felt completely different.

We can find so many other cues similar to this where the shoulders are encouraged to relax, to soften, to open outwards from the mid back. Even bringing the focus away from the shoulder and cue lengthening the neck, elongating the spine and having heavy elbows.

So now we are encouraging dynamic stability not rigidity of the scapula (this is the same for the pelvis-no fixing- but that is for another blog!) To explain further, as we lift our arms overhead the scapula should rotate upwards, the humerus should slightly depress and externally rotate (this is called scapulohumeral rhythm. If we try to fix or depress the scapula as we do this, we cause a huge amount of unnecessary tension and potential harm. Again try it- raise one arm up focusing on keeping the shoulders relaxed and feel the fluidity of movement then try it again with scapula depression-ouch!

Mark Leyland explains the biomechanics of motion in more detail in his fantastic article The Pilates Shoulder

So over the next few classes try some cues to relax your shoulders- stop drawing them down and let them go! Free your shoulders!

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback as always!

The JPilates Convention photos are here!

So now the dust has settled I thought it was time to reflect on the first JPilates Annual Convention and share with you some of the amazing photos and feedback we received. "I am so glad that I secured the last place at your convention on Saturday, it was the best Pilates course, workshop or convention that I have been on. I really loved the friendly atmosphere, I had such fun as well as learning loads, some of which I have already implemented this morning! I hope you had as great a time as I did on Saturday it looked like it,  your enthusiasm is infectious.Thank you for a lovely and inspiring day!" Virginia McGowan-Brown

"Thank you to you and your team Jo for a great day. I felt welcome and the environment created is brilliant - no one is made to feel silly for questions they ask or things they don't know - I think this is so important to make learning productive and fun. I came away with a lot out of each session and then the champagne at the end to top it off! Well done to you and your team for an awesome day - I would come again! " Rochelle Bloomfield.

"

What a FANTASTIC day.......excellent quality presenters, manuals and goody bag! 

Often with bigger events you have to choose which workshops you have to do but with JPilates you get to do them all!  Each time you attend a JPilates event you have a sense of being part of a growing family, meeting like-minded instructors and creating yourself a supportive network of colleagues......because let's face it out there on the front line can often be quite isolating! The day had such a positive energy.......pack full of activities, ideas and information to challenge your practice and make you think out of the box!  Roll on the JPilates Convention 2014" 

Michelle Ormrod

"What an amazing experience to be able to join a community and feel so welcomed. The convention was a fantastic opportunity to receive high quality and varied tuition.    I felt energised and reinvigorated. My clients certainly felt the difference the next day!" Silvan Aidasani

"Thank you for such a great convention.  It was very motivating and very useful for inspiring ideas and further thinking.  I would definitely come again next year.  I had such a good time and the atmosphere was fantastic.  I really like it when you teach a class so a big thumbs up there. I also found the correction workshop to be excellent and it has made me want to keep learning and improving my teaching skills so I will definitely be booking on more workshops. The workshops were very thought provoking. I found it very interesting and it definitely made me think." Liz Jerome

One of my own favourite moments was when I overheard an instructor say "This is like being on Pilates holiday with loads of your friends!" 

We are now planning next year's Conventionso save the 12th July 2014! To see more fantastic photos please click here.

My Session with a First Generation Pilates Teacher

pilates-shortbox[1]On Friday 28th October I attended the Classical Pilates Convention for a Mat session with the first generation teacher Jay Grimes. What an amazing experience and I thought I would share some of the highlights and my thoughts.

"Mat was never taught but was given as homework "

Jay began by explaining that Mat was actually given to students as homework. Joe ( I was told never to call him Joseph!) never taught the Mat repertoire, irrespective of the famous footage of him teaching dancers at Jacob's Pillow. He would check you on your homework and would know if you had not done it!
Jay spoke of how in Joe's studio you did not have pre-booked sessions but rather you would just arrive and begin to exercise on whatever piece of equipment was free at the time. Jay explained that Joe never had music playing in the studio, that the external rhythm would interfere with your body's own rhythm as you performed the exercises.

" The order of the moves is of absolute importance, it is a lifetime's work of trial and error"

We began to work through the Mat repertoire with Jay teaching each move in detail and performing the exercises with strength and conviction I was told to "stop dusting my knees and PULL IN my heel to my butt" in Single Leg Pull ( Stretch). The next exercises were Single Leg Straight Stretch, Double Leg Straight Stretch and Criss Cross which took me completely by surprise. They were created by Romana Kryzanowska, another first generation teacher. Classical Pilates is defined clearly as "Joseph Pilates actual exercises executed in the order he created with his intentions" by Shari Berkowitz and after a few comments by Jay about "those who changed the exercises and equipment" , it seemed contradictory to add  exercises which were not created by Joe himself especially as later Jay said that Romana never taught her own creations in front of Joe.

" Let  people be bad....we're all bad when we start...it's part of the process"

As we performed the Mat repertoire there were hardly any teaching cues given except for "squeeze your butt" and "suck in your gut". When asked about this, Jay responded by asking "how can bodies change if they do not move? If instructors constantly adjust, correct and restrict movement how will the client ever learn?" I agree that clients need to move as holding fixed positions throughout the day is the main cause of many issues and so we need to encourage freedom of movement and address imbalances through movement wherever possible. Yet I also believe that cueing is fundamental to a deeper understanding of the correct movement patterns necessary to effectively perform the exercises.

There was minimal reference to breathing. Jay explained that breathing is only cued when it is important, for example on Double Leg Pull (Stretch) and that otherwise it is a normal breath as if you were walking down the street talking to a friend.

The only modifications taught were in Swan Dive and Corkscrew otherwise clients should attempt to perform each move until they eventually understand and "feel" the exercises. "Stop babying people" was a comment repeated. In a fully equipped studio you would use the machines to aid the Matwork movements- this is why Joe invented them.  For example, performing Teaser on the Cadillac with the push through bar would allow the client to build the strength and mobility to perform the Teaser on the Mat. But for many of us, Mat is all we teach and so modifications and adaptations are crucial to create a safe and effective pathway to the original repertoire.

"You can't teach Pilates. You can guide people to find it in their own body"

Jay spoke of how he did not receive his first correction from Joe until he had been training for three months. He stated that you should never correct a client during Footwork on the Reformer but rather use that time to observe the imbalances and plan the rest of your session.

It was a fantastic afternoon, deepening my understanding of the Classical Pilates but also strengthening my conviction in my own style of teaching. I strongly believe in adapting the moves to allow clients to build a balanced foundation of strength, stability and flexibility prior to teaching them the original form. Yet as Pilates instructors we should never lose sight of our final goal- to allow our clients the opportunity to fully experience and practice the 34 Mat moves.

In our workshop The Moves- we will be fully exploring, analysing and adapting the 34 moves. For more information please visit www.jpilates.co.uk or email info@jpilates.co.uk

Many thanks to Amy Kellows for a great Convention and I am looking forwards to attending next year.

Pilates Studio in a Bag

Are you looking for some inspiration and fresh ideas for your classes? Would you like to expand your existing repertoire and explore the Studio Equipment exercises but find that you just don’t have the time, space or finances for a Reformer or Cadillac?

Did you know that we can fit a whole Studio in a Bag?!

The Studio in a Bag Workshop explores classic exercises from the Equipment repertoire demonstrating how with small equipment e.g. foam rollers, mini ball, dynabands etc. you can incorporate these moves in your Matwork classes adding further variety and intensity.

Get a feel for the workshop with this short video: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_4lxKfOKOQ]

Contact us at info@jpilates.co.uk for further information.

Great feedback, from one of our lovely Instructors:

"Fantastic day! SO many ideas to take away to use with the small equipment already in my kit bag. This was the day that got me thinking about the value of equipment training even for a matwork teacher!!" Michelle Ormrod, Pilates Instructor

Website Worries!

website worriesWhen I first set up JPilates it was not the instructor training, writing of Pilates manuals or the creation of workshops that worried me, as I had done this for years at the Pilates Institute, it was the website creation, marketing and branding, domain purchasing and so on which completely bewildered and flummoxed me. I began to receive emails from companies about SEO and for a small fee (generally in the £1000s!) they would ensure greater traffic to my website. I have colleagues who spend large amounts on website designers and SEO companies each month and I began to panic about what I needed to do. Luckily for me I had some great friends who I had trained in Pilates who came to the rescue! We all know the days of printing flyers and doing letterbox drops are long gone, although I strongly believe that word of mouth is still incredibly important. When  a client is looking for an instructor in their area they will just google Pilates in their area then investigate the information on your website often forming an opinion about you and your classes from this. So whether we like it or not, creating a user-friendly, informative, functional website is an integral part of your business development.

Clare, JPilates Events & Marketing Manager, has some excellent tips to help you create your website:

  1. Be consistent: from choosing your company name to the font for your website, it is essential that you keep this consistent throughout your branding. This includes the style of writing, choice of colours and company logo. You want to make sure that every web page is consistent with the same font and style. You want to develop a uniformed approach that represents you and that also feeds into all methods of communications, whether this is online or offline.
  1. Integrate social media: Facebook and Twitter, or Tweetbook as it’s known in the industry, are now an essential part of your marketing and branding strategy. These social media platforms have now become the main place not only to network but also develop that ‘word of mouth’ element. Having the social media buttons available on every page of the website is a great way for you and your clients to share information and promote your business.
  1. Use accessible language: The average time people spend on a webpage is between 10 – 20 seconds therefore making your website accessible to everyone is the first step in generating business. People don’t want to spend hours searching for the information or deciphering anatomical jargon. They want to see who you are, what you do and how they can contact you to book a session.
  1. Add some personality: When people are looking to start Pilates, they are also looking for an instructor that they can have a connection with and enjoy their class. By letting your own personality shine through will let your soon to be clients get a feel for you, your style of teaching and how you conduct your class etc. Add pictures and videos if possible so that they can get a true sense of your sessions and approach to Pilates.
  1. Unique Selling Point (USP): So there are another 10 different potential Pilates instructors in your area, so you need to ask yourself what makes you special? What is that something else that you have to offer? What is your unique selling point? This could be anything from your level of qualification, your experience with a specific client base, your continual quest for learning; maybe you offer a specialist class such as lower back care or pre & post pregnancy Pilates. Whatever your strength, make sure people know about it!

And above all KEEP IT SIMPLE and keep it up to date. If your classes have changed location, make sure that the website is the first thing that you update with the new information.

Oh and one last VERY important pointer: Make sure that you TEST TEST TEST your website before it goes live - get feedback from friends and family before letting the website go live for public consumption, check, check and check again.

And remember your passion and enthusiasm for Pilates will already help you to promote yourself and build up a client base.

Good Luck!!

Image from blog.gpcom.com

Posted on March 12, 2013 and filed under Education & Training.

The Best Job In The World!

Coach helping people with Pilates exercises.The decision to begin a new career as a Pilates Instructor can be very daunting and nerve-racking, like many others, a change in career is never taken lightly and we spend a lot of time contemplating whether this is the right option for us. But for me and lots of other instructors that I work with, it was the best career decision we have made. There are so many benefits to becoming a Pilates Instructor, for a start it is great to be your own boss! Being able to pick and choose your hours is fantastic and enables you to be very flexible when working around family and other commitments, allowing you to adapt your hours in order to fit in with your lifestyle.

But it is much more than that, teaching Pilates is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling job. When a client tells you that they no longer suffer after living with constant back pain for years and are now able to perform daily activities with much more mobility, endurance and strength, you know that you have contributed to enhancing their quality of life. Or when a client leaves your sessions with a greater sense of well-being, motivation and positivity or where you can observe that your classes provide essential social interaction for an elderly or post natal participant you know your work is done!

Pilates attracts such a wide range of clients, from pre natal to older clients, from those suffering with injuries to elite athletes, this means your work is never dull or boring but fantastically interesting and diverse. Every day our classes and clients present different challenges, each participant has varying needs and goals which we can help them achieve, ranging from postural imbalances to sports specific targets.

As Pilates instructors, we never stop learning. We learn from our clients, we learn from our peers and we are constantly updating our knowledge and evolving our practice. New research is published regularly providing inspiration and ideas to improve and provide greater depth to your teaching helping you to inspire others.

So if you have been considering taking that leap of faith, become a Pilates instructor it will be the best decision you ever make!

For further information on Pilates teacher training please visit www.jpilates.co.uk or contact us at info@jpilates.co.uk

Posted on January 2, 2013 and filed under Education & Training.