6 Tips to be a Successful Pilates Instructor

December 30, 2020

What makes a successful Pilates Instructor? Does it follow that the most competent client in the class will naturally become the best teacher? Many shy away from the idea of becoming a Pilates Instructor because they aren't 'good enough', but what makes a successful Pilates Instructor may surprise you! We give you the tricks of the trade and tips to be a successful Pilates instructor below!

We feel that it goes without saying that you should choose a thorough and comprehensive training course, this is a topic in its own right so we will cover this in another blog, coming soon!

1. Be clear, concise and structured with your instructions.

Particularly with new clients, they need you to tell them exactly what to do state the exercise, explain the setup, followed by alignment, and then the action/movement. Remember clients process information differently, so you may need to verbally explain, physically demonstrate, and physically correct to ensure all participants get the information they need to perform the exercise correctly.

If you are teaching Reformer Pilates, the Reformer becomes a major consideration in all your cues.  State the exercise, then explain the reformer set up working from the footbar up to the straps, before you start addressing the body setup and alignment.  There is nothing worse than getting the clients lying on their back on the reformer and then realising that they need to change the springs! 

2. Always have a class planned!

If you are a new instructor, we highly recommend that you have a written plan with the entire class laid out in front of you. If you plan the class ahead, it is much more likely to cover the rest of the tips we have below. Particularly with Pilates, clients need to book into a class in advance, which enables you to review any injuries or special requirements in advance and plan accordingly. We encourage all our instructors to plan the same workout for all clients in the class you can provide modifications or extra challenges by increasing the intensity through the springs etc Giving levels enables all clients to work effectively at their level, regardless of how they compare to the rest of the class.

As you gain experience, the plan may become more fluid and evolve depending on who is in your class on the day, any unexpected injuries or physical limitations, or even the mood of the group on the day. But if you have a basic structure and work within this framework, it is much easier to just modify one or two moves rather than inventing an entire class on the fly!

3. Ensure the class flows smoothly

While sometimes it might make logical sense to group all exercise working the same muscle groups together (all legs, all arms etc), sometimes the class flows better if structured around the use of props or body positioning. Particularly on the reformer, a class flows better if you group all exercises using the box together, or the position of the footbar, or the spring tension etc. Similarly, with Mat Pilates, group all side-lying exercises together in a sequence so the clients aren't flipping over and back again multiple times. Remember, if you are doing a sequence of exercises on one side, ensure you allow time to repeat the exact same sequence on the other side!

Try also not to take too much time between exercises to setup and explain. Much of the cueing happens once the exercise has commenced, and experienced clients will get frustrated if they are standing around waiting for a comprehensive explanation. State the exercise so experienced clients can start setting themselves up, newer clients will then start to follow making your job easier! We don't want to leave anyone behind, so once the experienced clients are moving, check in on the newer clients and provide any assistance required. This keeps the class flowing and keeps all clients happy. The best class is when the clients are surprised when we reach the end the ultimate complement is when clients say “That didn't feel like 50 minutes at all!

4. Cover all muscle groups

While the core is the foundation of all Pilates classes, a 50 minute core class is not ideal! Here at Premium Pilates and Fitness, we ensure that all our classes cover all muscle groups. Sure, Barre and Jumpboard are predominantly legs, but we do have arm and core segments. With Reformer, there are so many fabulous exercises to chose from, it may be tempting to cram feet in straps, side lying glutes and then some standing side splits into the class but do add some arms too!

5. Address the correction to the entire class

Most of the cues you will use in a class will be dictated by what you see your clients do in a class. If the entire class is doing everything perfectly, then it will probably be a very quiet class! However, as you see things that need to be adjusted/tweaked, articulate that adjustment to the entire class. If there is still an issue, you may want to demonstrate. By this stage, most of your class will hopefully have figured it out. If you have one or two still struggling, address the individual quietly and directly, maybe with a physical correction also. Try not to single any one client out in front of the rest of the class and highlight that they are “doing it wrong.  A subtle and private assist is more effective than calling an individual out in front of the others.

6. Bring your personality into your class!

The BEST Tip to be a successful Pilates instructor!

Pilates classes are generally smaller than most group fitness classes so your clients get to know you quite well. Similarly, you get the chance to know your clients too! Make it chatty, address your clients by name, commend them for their form, praise them for their effort, encourage them for pushing through the burn, empathise with them as they fatigue. Clients will like your classes not only for the moves you teach, but for the energy you bring to the room, for the vibe you create within the class, for the way you make them feel as they leave the studio and head back to the reality waiting for them outside. Be the highlight of their day!

Click here to find out more about our Instructor Training and how you can become a Successful Pilates Instructor!

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