Posts tagged #Instructor Training

How to encourage clients to practise Pilates at home.

"PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavour"  So states Joe Pilates in Return to Life, yet how do we encourage this diligence in our clients? Joe Pilates insists on us never taking "the night off" and not succumbing to momentary weakness and Mary Bowen recalls how he required his clients to commit to a minimum of three sessions a week. We all know how such commitment to the system would produce incredible results but realistically many of our clients attend only one or two sessions due to financial, time or other restraints. So how can we encourage our clients to practise more in order to progress and address any issues? An easily accessible and effective way is to give them short videos to do at home and here is an example of the Swan Dive taught at a low level as a 3 minute fix.


It is simple to record, upload and edit on YouTube and even though I hate to see and hear myself on camera, clients love it-so lights, camera, ACTION!!

I would love to hear how you encourage your clients to practise more!

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

Music- To Play or Not To Play!

images-4If you ask a Pilates instructor if they use music in their classes the answer is often an emphatic "Yes!" or a shocked "No!" The question of whether music enhances or distracts during Pilates is often a hotly debated one. Some may argue that it distracts from  the precision of the exercises and  the search for the mind-body connection especially for those new to the method, whereas others believe that music can immediately create the calm ambiance and focus which can be hard to achieve initially.

Music causes  incredibly powerful and profound effects  involving several response mechanisms. These include:

  • The psychosocial response- the spiritual and psychological response we have to music
  • The cortical response- creates visualisation and imagery
  • The limbic response-how we react emotionally
  • The thalamic response-automatic body response to the rhythm of the music
  • The corporeal response-our physical reaction to the different sound vibrations.

In the light of these responses surely music would help deepen and enhance our mind-body connection, breathing and awareness?

Music should always create and support smooth movement sequencing, integration of breath and enhance inward focus. It should never intrude, detract or dominate the class.

MFP Logo (For Jo)Lisa Horner, the co-founder of Music for Pilates, definitely believes in the importance of music in Pilates.

"I personally love using music in my Pilates classes. I find it creates a calm relaxed atmosphere so clients can really focus on the areas that we are working on, giving them that whole mind-body experience that Pilates requires. As a teacher I also find it calms my soul which reflects in my voice helping the clients to work in a more intensified, slow, controlled rhythm. This is why it is so important to me to find that right music, which was surprisingly difficult and frustrating. I would find a lovely piece and then right in the middle a random squawk or screech from an unrecognisable animal or a deep boom from a Didjeridoo, shaking you and the clients out of your serene place. There is also that "small" problem of paying for a PPL licence or finding music that is licence free. My husband Perry, is an international song writer and music producer, so it only seemed natural to create our own licence free music, forming "Music for Pilates". We set to work tweaking the bits I knew would not work and testing in my own classes, until we found the balance of rhythm and calmness just right for Pilates."

Music can also be used to choreograph the movements. This is definitely for the more advanced student where the movements seamlessly flow through a choreographed sequence adding more challenge and enhancing the movement dynamics. The Pilates Instructor Only Class on 22nd November will be a fully choreographed class set to some beautiful tracks from Music For Pilates. To book your class please contact
As always I would love to hear your thoughts!

5 Steps to Choosing the Right Pilates Teacher Training Course

Deciding which is the right Pilates Teacher Training Course can be bewildering. There are an overwhelming number to choose from making it extremely difficult to decide which is best for you. Here are a few tips to help find the right certification programme to suit your needs. 1. Go to as many different Pilates classes as possible: Being instructed by a variety of teachers will allow you to experience different teaching styles. If you particularly like a certain way or type of teaching ask the instructor who they trained with and if they recommend the training programme.

2. First Impressions...Try to meet the director or principal tutor of the company and if possible observe them teaching a session. This will give you an excellent idea of whether their method of delivery is going to suit your learning needs and keep you motivated.

3. Time restraints and course content: Decide how much time you have available for your training-a course can be like a part-time job! Do weekends or weekday training suit you best? Find out how much additional home learning is required as well as the course length. Some companies offer on-line training, assess carefully if this is how you wish to learn. Some material such as Anatomy and Physiology can be learnt independently but I believe it should be strongly supported by face to face tuition. Pilates especially is best learnt and understood in person.

4. Financial options: The cost of certification can hugely vary. Look for payment plans to help spread the cost of the training.

5. This is just the beginning! Certification is only the beginning! The real learning starts once you are instructing your own clients. Look at the continuing education programme offered-are there any workshops or short courses to enhance and further develop your knowledge? Do they offer continual support or an instructor community where you can raise questions or share experiences?

If you would like any advice or help please feel free to contact us at and visit our website for full details of our courses and workshops.

Posted on October 20, 2014 and filed under Uncategorized.

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!

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.

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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 or email


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!

Pilates Instructor Dilemmas-What Would You Do?

dilemma 2Over the past few weeks I have had some very interesting conversations with Pilates teachers and other exercise professionals. There appears to be a common theme of reflection and introspection of teaching styles and beliefs, of evaluating businesses and class structures. One conversation was with an instructor who had been working freelance for a Pilates studio for quite some time and who had been told to change their teaching style. The owner has asked for a more "Go for the Burn" style class whereas the instructor strongly believes in balancing attention to technique with fluidity of movement and allowing adaptation dependent on client needs.  I can understand both sides as the studio owner clearly knows the type of client they wish to attract and the style of classes they wish to deliver whereas the instructor's beliefs are an integral part of their teaching style and identity. So what would you advise? I believe there needs to be a balance of respect between the two parties but ultimately as an instructor you need to be fully committed and passionate about your method of teaching otherwise it shows!

Several other conversations evolved around how a very popular, established class can suddenly drop to very low numbers. For the instructor this can be really demoralising and can lead to self-doubt. But so often clients do not attend for some many reasons outside of our control especially at this busy time of year. So what would you advise? On further analysing the reasons why we realised that the term itself was 8 weeks long and for these clients it was too much commitment at this time of year. One solution was in offering a 4 week block which has now filled the class and another was to offer a "pay-as-you-go" term which has been also very successful. This demonstrates that even though we prefer a certain payment structure we may need to be flexible. Again balance is the answer.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these dilemmas and remember JPilates has a fantastic closed Facebook forum where you can discuss, share experiences and ask questions in a supportive and friendly group. Please just click here and request to join. Also always feel free to contact me with any questions at

Posted on November 19, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.

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.

The Effects of Gravity-don't let it get you down!

GravityAs Pilates instructors we love to analyse movement through muscle and joint action, to assess restrictions and compensations and use our findings to help exercise prescription. In analysing movement we must consider the relationship of the movement to gravity. In Matwork the main source of external resistance is gravity, unlike the Studio Equipment where resistance comes from springs. So to explain, if the joint moves against gravity then the muscle group that causes the action will work concentrically (shortening as they generate force). If the movement follows the same direction as gravity then the muscle group that has the opposite action will contract eccentrically (lengthen as they generate force).

For example, The Roll Up. Roll up

In the first phase, as the spine flexes to roll up, it moves against gravity therefore the rectus abdominus and hip flexors contract concentrically, whereas in the second phase as the spine returns to the mat it moves in the same direction as gravity so the rectus abdominus and hip flexors work eccentrically controlling the movement.

Changes in the relationship to gravity means changes to muscles functioning. For example, moving from a supine position to standing as in the The Push Up where the first phase is the roll down. Here as the spine flexes forwards caused by gravity, it is the back extensors which are contracting eccentrically to control the movement not the rectus abdominus, and then contracting concentrically as the spine returns to standing.

Many of the Matwork moves are complex and so the effects of gravity during the movements will produce different types of contraction and muscular emphasis. The Roll Over illustrates these changes perfectly as we consider the leg movement.

Roll Over

To lift the legs up to ceiling the hip flexors work concentrically but as they pass the vertical position gravity will cause the hip flexion so the hip extensors are used to control the leg position. On the return, once the pelvis is on the mat, gravity creates the hip extension to lower the legs and so the hip flexors work eccentrically to control the lowering.

When analysing Pilates movement always try to consider this fundamental relationship between the key body segments and gravity at each phase of movement. Try now to analyse Hip Twist- let me know if you have any questions!

Posted on September 3, 2013 and filed under The Anatomy of Pilates.

Visualisations-Do Yours Work?

visualisation-secretThe success of a Pilates instructor is strongly linked to their ability to communicate with their clients. An integral part of teaching Pilates is in the use of visualisation to convey movement, positions and alignment. Visualisation is an incredibly powerful tool in helping to create the mindful movement required to reap fully the incredible benefits of Pilates. Visualisation can either be direct- anatomical or biomechanical cues or indirect- metaphysical cues. Both types of visualisation create a strong link between the mind and body but need careful consideration.

Some clients do not connect to cues such as the pelvis as a clock or bucket, it can cause them to disengage or alienate them. On the other hand , should our cues be scientific, anatomical terms such as transversus abdominus, glutes, thoracic spine? It is essential that as an instructor we need a thorough, in-depth understanding of anatomy but is it really necessary for our clients?

The importance of good cueing is especially evident in group sessions where many clients may not have the knowledge or indeed the interest in learning the anatomical language required to fully understand these visualisations.

As instructors we develop our own repertoire and style of visualisations which work for us and our clients but we should always be aware of the effectiveness of these cues.

Many exercises begin with the instructor cueing activation of the core, our postural muscles. But it it is important to consider the fact that we do not have conscious control of these muscles- they are controlled sub-consciously by our nervous system in anticipation of movement. Most of these postural muscles work at a sub-threshold state so actively cueing them can interfere with their function in organising the spinal segments and actually cause accessory muscles to contract. As you are reading this you are naturally holding your head up, you do not need to think about it. So how do we overcome this?

The answer lies in cueing the bony landmarks such as hip bones, sit bones, pelvis and so on. Often these landmarks are used to set up positions,  anchor the sit bones, hip bones in line with pubic bone, but take this a stage further and use them to cue the movement itself.

For example, let’s take the Roll Up at a low level.

Roll up1.Seated on the sit bones, with the ribcage directly above the pelvis and a sense of length through the spine
2.Keeping a stillness in the mid back, exhale and move the hip bones away from the thigh bones
3.Inhale to return, lengthening to the start position
Try it now...

Can you feel how the deep postural muscles activate naturally with the movement? Why not try to teach your next session without cueing muscle activation using bony landmarks only? I would love to hear if you found improved movement  and some new visualisations.

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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]

Contact us at 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

Practise What You Preach!

I recently heard someone say,"Never trust a Pilates instructor who doesn't do Pilates" and this made me think of just how much time I allocate for my own training and personal movement. I thought to myself, " Well every time I teach I am focusing on my own posture, activation and breath and so I am constantly aware of integrating Pilates into my daily life and movement but in actually getting out a mat and performing the exercises well.....(blush!)"

As instructors we fully appreciate the immense benefits of practising Pilates, we see the vast improvements in our clients' movement, posture, strength, flexibility and sense of well-being. So surely we should make time to enhance our own movement and ability? We all have incredibly busy lives especially as many of us work full-time and/or teach Pilates in the evenings and weekends, have family commitments and so on. Also I find that in teaching so much Pilates, I tend to train different elements on free days to balance my exercise programme.

However Pilates is different from other training systems, its incredible success lies in its functional ability and relevance in every day movement. As Joseph Pilates said,

"Contrology is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakeably reflected in the way you walk, the way you play, and in the way you work"

So for inspiration and assistance, last month I began to post on Facebook and in the JPilates forum video clips of 10 minute routines for you to do each day. The routines are intense as you will only perform a small number of repetitions and they are designed with instructors in mind so please modify if you need to. I will keep adding to the series and hopefully we can all reap the fantastic benefits of Pilates and practise what we preach! As Joseph Pilates said,

" Make up your mind that you will perform your Contrology exercise ten minutes without fail"

Below are the first two routines, to receive notification when new ones are posted please subscribe to The JPilates Youtube Channel here [youtube] [youtube]

(For all those dedicated instructors who do train each day-apologies!)

Shhhh! Don't Mention The Pelvic Floor!

shhhAs Pilates instructors we understand the importance of teaching correct activation of the pelvic floor muscles to our clients. We know that the pelvic floor musclesare an essential part of spinal stability, working interdependently with the other trunk stabilisers (Sapsford 2033). Yet in spite of its fundamental importance in spinal health, posture and every day functions there can be a tendency to be vague about how exactly to activate the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is shrouded in mystery, for some it can be embarrassing, for others non-existent and not only for our clients but for ourselves as well. Surrounded by women in a group session, does the one man really want to be told to "draw up his testicles?" Also if we can not feel or see the muscles working it seems to be a blind act of faith to just believe it's working whilst quietly questioning " Am I doing this right?" So how can we effectively activate and train the pelvic floor whilst sparing the blushes? The answer could be in changing our cueing from isometric contractions to dynamic training, by using myofascial tracks and the co-contraction with the diaphragm.Try these examples and see if you feel the pelvic floor activate.

  • When standing, lift up the inner arches of the feet.
  • Before lifting into the 100 imagine squeezing a small ball between the knees without reducing the space.
  • In the Shoulder Bridge hover the heels off the floor.
  • On exhalation sound gently sound "HHHHHHHH"

More ways of cueing the pelvic floor through dynamic movement will be explored on the Pilates-The Next Step workshop. For more information on our courses and workshops please visit or contact us at

References: The Female Pelvis Blandine Calais-Germain Pelvic Power Eric Franklin                                                                                                 Image form

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 or contact us at

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

5 Steps to Choosing the Right Pilates Teaching Training Course

Deciding which is the right Pilates Teacher Training Course can be bewildering. There are an overwhelming number to choose from making it extremely difficult to decide which is best for you. Here are a few tips to help find the right certification programme to suit your needs. 1. Go to as many different Pilates classes as possible: Being instructed by a variety of teachers will allow you to experience different teaching styles. If you particularly like a certain way or type of teaching ask the instructor who they trained with and if they recommend the training programme.

2. First Impressions...Try to meet the director or principal tutor of the company and if possible observe them teaching a session. This will give you an excellent idea of whether their method of delivery is going to suit your learning needs and keep you motivated.

3. Time restraints and course content: Decide how much time you have available for your training-a course can be like a part-time job! Do weekends or weekday training suit you best? Find out how much additional home learning is required as well as the course length. Some companies offer on-line training, assess carefully if this is how you wish to learn. Some material such as Anatomy and Physiology can be learnt independently but I believe it should be strongly supported by face to face tuition. Pilates especially is best learnt and understood in person.

4. Financial options: The cost of certification can hugely vary. Look for payment plans to help spread the cost of the training.

5. This is just the beginning! Certification is only the beginning! The real learning starts once you are instructing your own clients. Look at the continuing education programme offered-are there any workshops or short courses to enhance and further develop your knowledge? Do they offer continual support or an instructor community where you can raise questions or share experiences?

If you would like any advice or help please feel free to contact us at and visit our website for full details of our courses and workshops.