WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER: How hard should Pilates really be?

Reflect on your own teaching. Why have you become a movement teacher? Do you take the time to really teach each individual in front of you? How can you tell if your students are learning from you? What progress do you see?

I love the opportunity to help my clients solve their own challenges like “the mat work always hurts my neck” and “why does my hip pop?”. And as a teacher I love it when my students say, “wow, that was easier” or “that makes so much sense.” Why is it that some teachers get amazing results and some don’t?

The way that we think about and relate to movement can affect how we and our students progress. We each see the world through our own experiences. If you come from a movement background such as classical ballet or pre/professional sports, you might make different demands on your students about ‘perfection’ and ‘working hard’ than someone from a recreational dance or sports background. If you had a teacher or coach who used your performance to measure their effectiveness as a teacher (and they weren’t very good teachers), you might have been yelled at for not doing ‘it’ right without any real instruction. And, it’s just natural that unless we were taught to teach differently, most of us have gone on teach the way we were taught.

I was lucky to have teachers who cared more about me than themselves – they cared that I learned something rather than how people would see them if I didn’t. I’ve adopted that attitude in my own teaching. If one of my students isn’t able to do something to the best of their ability, I look to myself, not them. I take pride in teaching my students the components that are going to make not only their movement, but their understanding of the movement, better than it was when they started. This quality is what makes us educators instead of robots.

I challenge you to reflect on your skills as a teacher. Are you educating yourself so that you can work more effectively or with a different population of students or do you just do the minimum to get by? Are you repeating the same year over and over or are you growing in your personal practice and teaching skills? Are you making things easy for your students to do and to understand so that they flourish?

In the words of Joseph Pilates, “Both [the mind and the body] must be coordinated, in order not only to accomplish the maximum results with the minimum expenditure of mental and physical energy, but also to live as long as possible in normal health and enjoy the benefits of a useful and happy life.” Your Health, p41

Shelly A. Power, BS, PMA-CPT®
Director of Curriculum, Polestar Pilates Education
PMA Board of Directors

5 Replies to “WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER: How hard should Pilates really be?”

  1. I absolutely agree. If one of my students is having difficulty grasping a concept or a movement, then I take it as my own failure and challenge myself to step further outside of my teaching box!

  2. As one of your students who has been a teacher for 12 years now, I can not possibly express the value and gratitude I place on my Polestar training! My path originated in a gym that “drowned” in Katrina, then on to a Wellness Center owned by a hospital and I now I am blessed to be working with 3 gifted DPT and an OT at a Physical Therapy Clinic. Your method of teaching with verbal and tactile cues is THE BEST! Your method of developing an eye for effective movement patterns keeps my teaching skill honed and generates understanding in my students, many of whom have been in my life for those 12 years!!! Go Team Yellow!!!

  3. I absolutely agree. All my teachers helped me understand movements in this way, therefore I educate my clients.

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