Here are my top 10 tips for teaching great Pilates classes…

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Meet & Greet
Know your class participants’ names and make it your aim at every class to find something out about their lives
Always ask how their bodies are today — this gives new participants an opportunity to speak up, regular participants to say if they have overdone it, this gives the teacher a heads up about modifying or adapting certain exercises
Build the bond between the teacher and the participants
Create a feeling of attentiveness and professionalism that you know what you are talking about and demonstrates an outstanding level of care.
Compliment vs Correction
Remember that in a group class there are different levels of emotion and personalities to deal with
Aim for a balance
Observe the participants and their reactions to determine whether or not to increase the challenge or tone it down
Quickly swap a correction for a compliment or the other way round
Aim to motivate clients and inspire them to do the exercise properly, but not to embarrass them if they can’t
Use positive language to create a deeper rapport to strengthen the participant/teacher relationship.

Breathe and get a ‘Pilates Check In’
Offer some 1:1 time for a free 30 minute check in to help with any exercises, challenges or specific issues
If 1:1 is what you want to offer as a teacher then this is a way of introducing a more bespoke element to your teaching, and make your participants aware of this opportunity.

Remember Your First Time in a Class
Attend other classes if possible to tune into your participants’ perspectives of attending a class - feel what they feel, see what they see, hear what they hear.

Considerations for your Participants
Remember that not everyone loves to exercise, so lighten the mood, add personality, share your humour
Aim to create a comforting, welcoming atmosphere
Focus on making the workout and your teaching fun
Share your passion.

Cueing is Essential
Remember that different personalities respond to different cues, use visual and verbal
Use body language, imagery and touch to help build participants’ body awareness
Give lots of different cues to meet the needs of the group.

Remember to teach the whole group
In a group class progress is often slower than 1:1 and will be different for every individual in the group so be flexible with your plan
Demonstrate different levels appropriate to the group
Give your participants permission to try an exercise at a different level that will be more helpful to them
Always have modifications/adaptations/progressions in your head in preparation to enable full participation
Give as much instruction as possible to the general group, avoid closing in on one person, while touching, making eye contact with or creating a visual for the individual participant who may need more assistance.

Group vs 1:1
Group classes will not always be appropriate for everyone, so don’t hesitate to suggest to some participants that they may be more successful or safer in a 1:1 session where their individual needs can be addressed
The same applies to 1:1 participants, they may reach a point where a group class would be more appropriate for what they want to achieve, so do not hesitate to guide them into a group class when the time is ready.

Knowing your Group
Develop familiarity with your class participants and get to know which members you can single out as performing with good technique
Encourage participants to speak up in class when they need extra assistance
Discourage competition and encourage to focus on self
Discourage copy-cats, encourage participants not to copy what their neighbour might be doing as it could be wrong or specific to their individual needs.

Me Time!
Take action to protect from BURNOUT! to serve our participants well we have to be at our best
In order to be the best we can be, we have to take care of our own bodies and brains
Make ‘me’ time a priority for mental, physical and psychological well-being.

Written by: Jane M Thomas of Jane Thomas Pilates, as featured on the BBC.

First Class Pilates — Pilates Done Right!
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First Class Pilates — 9 Great Central Road — Loughborough — LE11 1RW