Posts tagged #Pilates Training Courses

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.

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 info@jpilates.co.uk.
As always I would love to hear your thoughts!

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

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

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!

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.

Image from www.67notout.com

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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fEANylIcic] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoXCMo6UZE4]

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

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.