Instructor of the Month
Introducing James Shaw, owner of BLOC Pilates
I found Pilates after a dramatic weight loss. Pilates not only changed my body shape but gave me greater strength along with improved flexibility and mobility of my muscles and joints. I’ve been teaching Pilates for 3 years now. I teach mat Pilates with small equipment and hold my Pilates Reformer Certification provided by JPilates.
I recently launched BLOC Pilates based in Sutton Coldfield. The classes are designed to cater for all levels of experience and we strongly believe in striving for "Progression not Perfection". We work through the Pilates movement sequence, looking to deepen our knowledge and movement practice to improve strength, mobility, flexibility and balance the body. Everyone comes to class for different reasons and understanding these reasons is the key. We love to bring a fun and flowing element into our classes to challenge both body and mind.
How would you describe your style of teaching?
I love to bring a fun and flowing element to our classes. I treat our classes as movement practices and use them to exploring the functionality of the body. I start each month off with a new sequence of moves and we work on the technique and alignment of the moves. As the month progresses, we add variations to the moves and link them to give a flow by the end of the month’s sequence. I love to teach in this manner as it gives the clients chance to get to grips with a move and understand their benefits.
What is your client base like?
I have a mix clients, most are a beginner’s level and a few looking to deepen their knowledge. I also have a handful of Private Pilates tuitions where I travel to them. Most of our classes are a varied mix of ages from 21 to 67. I also have managed to get quite a few male clients.
What is your most favorite move and why?
My favourite move is the “Hundred” I love the deep abdominal connection from this move. The change in breathing pattern intensifies the energy which you feel in the powerhouse.
What is your least favorite?
My least favourite move is the “Teaser”. I have very tight hamstrings which means this move is very challenging in my personal practice. I feel letting your clients know your challenges in your own personal practice is key to show them with practice every move is possible. Nobody was perfect without practice.
You have recently started your own company, what are the important things instructors should consider when setting up their own business?
I wanted to create a strong and clean brand identity so I looked different to the other classes or studios in my area. I’m striving to build a brand name so not to be about me (using my own name) and keeping it about the Pilates, benefits and clients.
Clean and cohesive website I can drive clients to for information, this cuts down on messages and questions from the clients. Plus, it gives the client more trust and faith in the company
I wanted my social media to reflect the branding of the logo, website and my vision for the brand. I wanted to stay away from twey Pilates posts and still wanted to have a strong identity. Working on creating a lifestyle feel and aspirational. This is something which is constantly evolving.
I used Facebook, Instagram and word of mouth. As I created a strong and coherent brand. It makes the Facebook adverts more impactful and people are interested and intrigued as it doesn't look like anyone else. I also networked with independent businesses.
What do you find most challenging about your work and how do you overcome this?
I love challenges! Life is full of them, I feel without challenges you don’t grow and what’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t go right and you learn another lesson. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey of solving.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Pilates instructor?
Helping people achieve their goals is the most rewarding part of my job. Being part of someone else’s Pilates journey.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’m currently looking at sport science and body mechanics courses to deepen my knowledge in this area and then to side step into professional sports starting with tennis and golf. I’ve been in talks with the PGA and proposed an "Improve your Swing through Pilates course."
If you could give one piece of advice to a new instructor what would it be?
Keep it simple, when you first starting teaching it’s a mine field. People like people so don’t be afraid to show personality. Be approachable, have fun and let your clients love you.
You can connect with James on