Making your way through your Pilates Teacher Training program is an exciting and overwhelming time to say the least. There is an incredible amount of information thrown at you all at once, and you are expected to retain it all in a very short period of time.
At a minimum, the initial certification part of your training that provides you with the basic qualifications to begin teaching is often completed with the same Pilates Institute, method, and even Teacher Trainer. And you may even stick with that for your continuing education.
The familiar is pretty comfortable.
While the overarching Pilates method is the same as it was designed by Joseph Pilates, if it is truly to be called Pilates, every Pilates Institute has its own approach to teaching, and its own cueing techniques and verbiage for describing each exercise. And when a group of students completes any particular program, they often sound much like the Teacher Trainer that taught them, and very much like many other instructors that have graduated from that same Institute.
As we first start to learn the Pilates repertoire, relying most on manuals and the teacher’s guidance, we tend to follow a script of words, cues, and even choreography that will at least ensure us success on the dreaded practical exam. Ugh, I remember that terrifying day so well.
When we are given a script to memorize for teaching the complex Pilates repertoire, it is so easy to lose our connection with the method, the movement, and the client…or not find that connection in the first place. Movement is dynamic and ever-changing, and so must be our teaching.
Sometimes there is a level of comfort found in regurgitating the same words over and over when you know that it works to get everyone moving in the same direction at once, and for the most part, looking the same. What is missing though is your personal touch, your passion, and the very reason that you love teaching Pilates in the first place.
As a Teacher, the learning really starts the very day you begin teaching. You are working with a variety of personalities, and people from an array of backgrounds. Every one of them is different and unique in their own way and so are their bodies, so we have to be fluid in our teaching to reach each student and keep them coming back.
The way we cue an exercise for a young and fit student is quite different from the way that we would cue the same exercise for a less active or senior student, and more importantly, so is the choice of exercises.
The greatest challenge but the most valuable skill is to find your own voice as a teacher. Your voice is an expression of you, who you are, and what you offer to those you teach. A sense of caring and compassion for your students does not come from the description of the exercises, but the part of yourself that you add to those cues.
When I teach my Teacher Training students, I assign them two important tasks. The first is to make a list of qualities that they want to possess and portray as a teacher, and the second is a separate list of all the positive words people would use to describe them. They are then challenged with how they are going to express these qualities in their teaching. As they play with this, the difference is miraculous, and immediately they become a more personable and confident teacher.
Try that for yourself and let’s see how it helps evolve your teaching to be fully encompassing of who you are and how you want to best serve your students.
The quality that makes us unique as teachers is our ability to adjust to meet the needs of our students, every one. They do not need to come up to our level, rather we need to meet them where they are on any given day. Pilates is meant to be all-inclusive, and to offer a way for every body to move with grace and freedom.
Finding your own voice for your specific clientele will keep them coming back again and again.
Learn how to stand firmly in your own teaching voice with 100% conviction with Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute. Click HERE to check out our Primary Specialist Certificate programs. All Movement Professionals are welcome.
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-NCPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
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