Posts tagged #Pilates teacher training

JPilates Retreat in Tarifa, Spain

Studio Tarifa

As I look out at the rain this morning, I find myself wishing I was back on last week’s JPilates retreat in Tarifa. It was simply the most wonderful experience to spend time with Pilates teachers in such a stunning environment.

I loved seeing everyone relax and de-stress, chat and share experiences with each other, ask any questions anytime. All in the knowledge that we had a week to simply focus on ourselves without all the “extras” that our lives bring.

The villa itself was so beautiful, situated in a nature reserve just 10 minutes walk to an unspoilt beach. The views and the grounds were breath-taking and to be able to teach outdoors, either in the gardens or by the pool, accompanied by birds was incredible.

We were completely spoilt by the wonderful staff at the villa. The food prepared by the two chefs was absolutely wonderful using locally sourced produce and the wine was of course, free-flowing!

JPilates Retreat Tarifa

It was such a pleasure to teach 18 classes over the week. We always began with a version of the 34 Mat repertoire-the perfect way to start the day. This was followed by a small equipment class. After lunch we gathered around the pool for a masterclass in correction techniques or session planning. The day finished with a sunset class in the gardens. Bliss!

Above all, the one thing I absolutely loved was to see everyone fall in love again with doing Pilates simply for the joy of their own movement. So often we feel we need to do things perfectly, or we lack time for our own practise, but over the week the progress everyone made was astonishing. I completely felt the over-whelming love of the Method and I know everyone else did too.

So…. next up Valencia in September! I can’t wait!!

Posted on May 8, 2019 .

JPilates Convention 2017- Inspiration & Innovation

This summer we held our 5th JPilates Convention and it was just amazing!!! Each session was designed to give practical ideas, variations and adaptations which could be implemented immediately into Pilates sessions.

From Glide & Slide to Slave to the Rhythm we explored new challenges using gliders and choreographed sequences set to music. In the Cat Clinic  and Pilates for Breast Cancer Recovery we analysed how to promote better movement, strength and mobility.   The day finished with our Summer Party and it was such a treat to share strawberries and cream and a glass (or 2! )of Pimms with you all.

Sunday was dedicated to the Reformer and we delved deep into the Psoas Connection, built Bone Health and reached dizzy heights with our High Bridges, Front and Back Headstands, Snakes and Twists in the Advanced Moves.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and we can not wait for next year!!!

Be a little more serious and a lot less solemn!

This week I found myself flicking through a gardening images-15magazine in a waiting room, (not my usual reading material but there was not much else on offer!) and I came across an article which really struck a chord with me and my thoughts on some aspects of the Pilates industry. The writer, Monty Don, was proposing that gardeners should be more serious and much less solemn  and I could see how his thoughts could definitely be also applied to some Pilates instructors, especially those who are incredibly vocal on various social media sites and forums.

"Seriousness underpins any endeavour worth doing and every life worth living. But whereas seriousness can be worn lightly, with grace and wit, solemnity carries with it the dead hand of the pedant and killjoy"

This is no more true when reading some of the comments and criticisms of those instructors who see themselves as being superior either in their training or knowledge to other fellow instructors. Sometimes Pilates just takes itself far to solemnly!

As Monty says,

"There is a time and place for solemnity. It is appropriate for births, funerals and grand occasions of state."

whereas being serious in our work shows a mark of respect for the Method, our clients and each other. It  still encourages discussion, healthy debate and (fingers crossed) a little  humour without producing the fear of reprisal and ostracism from the very community which should inspire and encourage us.

It is important to remember that as human beings we live in pursuit of happiness, of enjoyment. For us as Pilates instructors, this means encouraging the joy in mindful movement, the sense of well-being and health in a vibrant yet serious environment not only in our classes but in the Pilates world we live in.

So the only question now is do I subscribe to Gardeners World!

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!

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........!


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

Image from

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

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!

Why Dynamic Stretching is Perfect for Pilates

All Pilates movements require a good balance between strength, mobility and flexibility for correct execution, but due to postural issues some additional flexibility work is required to establish good functional length and movement. Every stretch is either static or dynamic and passive or active. Static-passive stretching is the most commonly used and most recognisable, where the muscle is gradually taken to a point of mild tension and maintained for a period of time, relaxing while outside assistance is used to aid the stretch, such as a strap, body resistance or another person.

Dynamic-active stretching is performed by moving through a comfortable yet challenging range of motion repeatedly whilst actively contracting the muscle in opposition to the one you are stretching. The movement should be smooth and controlled and requires more co-ordination but improves functional mobility in sport and daily activities.

Research has shown, Herda TJ et al (2008), that although static-passive stretches are beneficial, dynamic-active stretches are more functionally effective. Strength is being built while performing the stretches as muscular force is required to generate the stretch but they can be lower risk as no external force is being applied.  The stretches are movement orientated which can help generate heat making the muscles more pliable and as there is muscle activation and contraction present, muscles are triggered to relax more. As one of the original principles is Flow, dynamic-active stretching really compliments Pilates classes bringing fluidity to the stretches and releases.

Please click here for a short video of a dynamic-active hamstring stretch.

Breathing- Is It That Important?

diaphragm[1]A short while ago I was contacted by a highly experienced instructor who was concerned as a newly qualified instructor had attended one of her classes and at the end had said that teaching the breathing is very out dated and no longer important. To me this demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of how important breath and the act of breathing was to Joseph Pilates and his work. The importance of breath in Pilates can be seen as far beyond the crucial role of respiration. It is the link between body, mind and spirit. It can promote awareness and attention, can enhance natural movement and aid relaxation. This relaxation or release of tension will then allow increased mobility and fluidity of movement.

Correct breathing patterns can enhance the connection between the deep abdominal muscles, pelvic floor and diaphragm, reversely if the diaphragm's movement is restricted, its can affect not only spinal stability and activation but also cause metabolic, respiratory and digestive issues. This can be apparent in clients with forward head posture where the phrenic nerve (the nerve that runs from C3-C5 and looks after the diaphragm) can become compressed and alter the neural feed to the diaphragm. If the diaphragm becomes inhibited it can mean less oxygen is reaching the body leading to a slower, weaker circulatory system which can cause dysfunction and complications.

The breathing patterns recorded by Joseph Pilates in "Return to Life Through Contrology" reflect how the breath enhances the movement patterns. Lateral, posterior breathing allows the lower ribs to remain mobile, so with the inhalation the ribcage expands upwards and laterally facilitating spinal extension. The opposite occurs with exhalation facilitating flexion. Joseph intuitively applied this to his instructions for movements such as Swan Dive and Double Leg Kick.

As Joseph stated, "Breathing is the first act of life, and the last... above all, learn to breathe correctly". When teaching, the breath forms the foundation to all the principles which are essential and integral to Pilates, it's importance should never be diminished.

Here's a short video showing an exercsie which can help to develop lateral, thoracic breathing.[youtube]

Sources:, ADAM

Posted on October 20, 2014 and filed under The Anatomy of Pilates.

Joseph Pilates- A Man of Mystery

pilates-joe-teaser[1]In spite of the worldwide popularity of Pilates, there is still an aura of mystery and discrepancy surrounding its inventor, Joseph Pilates and the history of his life. Here are a few truths I have unearthed and some insights into his  work from his students. It is commonly stated and written in many Pilates books that Joseph was born in Monchengladbach in 1880 but his naturalisation papers filed in New York state he was born on 10th December 1883 and this is supported by his birth certificate.

It is often claimed that he suffered as a child from various diseases and conditions such as rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. Yet he himself stated in apparent contradiction to this,

"I must be right. Never an aspirin never injured a day in my life."

It could be this rumour began in the 1920s when the mind-body movement became extremely popular and magazines such as "Vim" were full of stories of disease-ridden childhoods inspiring exercise regimes which changed lives.

Little known is the fact that he was married at least twice but there is no record of a legal marriage between himself and Clara, in fact on a passenger manifest in 1938 his marital status is declared as single. From his first marriage he had a daughter affectionately known as Leni who visited him in New York.

A fantastic article by Sharry Underwood in Dance magazine, fondly recalls her memories of Joe Pilates at Jacobs Pillow, a famous dance camp where he and Clara spent every summer from 1939-1951. She describes early morning classes where,

"Under Pilates' care I gave birth to three vertebrae I had never felt before, correcting my alignment (lordotic). Joe was famous for correcting back problems saying " You are as strong as your weakest vertebrae, like a ladder with a broken rung"

She ends the article by stating,

"Once you have learned Pilates it becomes a conscience for your body the rest of your life....At 88 I still have my own knees and can bend to place my hands on the floor"

Joseph's legacy continues to grow and evolve. The secret behind its popularity and appeal lies in its versatility and adaptability. As Mary Bowen said,

" Joe was not rigid. In the six years that I was at his studio, I often created exercises and variations in his presence which he allowed.  He affirmed a creative approach to his principles. Some Pilates participants seem to have forgotten this. Joe's reminder to me was "Just be sure that you are always aware of the whole body at all times no matter what you do" The Pilates Method is all about wholeness."

Photograph by I.C. "Chuck" Rapoport 1961

Posted with many thanks to the amazing Tacye Lynette!

Posted on October 20, 2014 and filed under Uncategorized.

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.

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!

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.

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'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 or email

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