In this article I am sharing a few handy tips for Pilates Instructors. Becoming a Pilates Instructor is very exciting as you get the chance to share your passion with other people. At the same time you are guiding your future students through a connection between body, mind and health.
“Pilates is complete coordination of body mind and spirit.” – Joseph Pilates
I am a Certified POP Pilates Instructor, which is a modern version of the Classic Pilates. My tips below are for both regular Pilates- and POP Pilates Instructors.
6 Tips for Pilates Instructors
1) Get to know your class
As a Pilates Instructor it is very important to get to know the people in front of you. With this I mean get to know their injuries, weaker body parts, (fit)journey, physical pain, etc.. You can start your class by asking your students if they have any pain or difficulties. Most students will say nothing due to being shy, but will mostly come to your after class. Make sure to offer modifications for all levels, just to make sure anyone can follow along.
After a few weeks or months you will get to know most of the needs of your members. Look at the person in general when giving options so they know you are talking to them and that they need to follow these cues. If you know their name, you can speak to them personally.
2) Guide your students during class
I always show the most difficult movements and options before starting the exercises, so my students know what’s coming next. I will start the exercise with easy options and cue my more advanced students to build up their moves (f.e. : going from Low Plank Hip Dips into a full Plank).
Once the exercise starts, it’s important to cue your students with counts and words, f.e. “only 8 more!… 4 3 2 1 switch sides” ; “inhale down, exhale up” ; “Tuck the navel in and keep your core engaged”. Your students need your guidance, trust me!
3) Give options
Every person and body is different. That’s why you always need to give easier and slower options of the exercises. If a certain movement doesn’t work for one person due to injuries or any other reason, you can suggest another move which feels better for him or her.
You can also tell them to insert a moment of rest when needed. Beginners or people with injuries will need more breaks, so make sure they feel like they can do this whenever they feel like it.
4) Be prepared
Practice your class at home, because it is very unprofessional to show up unprepared. But don’t worry if you’re forgetting a certain movement during your class. I mostly just invent another move that fits in the exercise. Your students don’t know your choreography, so they won’t notice your mistake as long as you’re taking professional care of it.
- Make sure your phone, tablet or other music device is charged
- Turn your mobile device on ‘Silent mode’ or ‘Airplane modus’
- Check your playlist and update if necessary
- Make sure you know every move and all the variations
- Take notes and bring them with you if you feel like you might forget something
- Bring your own towel and a mat to the class, because honestly.. I don’t like to use gym mats since everyone is using these. And they are mostly smaller and thicker than a Yoga- or Pilates mat.
- Bring water! Talking while performing the routine and making sure your students are in a proper form can be pretty exhausting (in a good way). You can take a sip of water in between two tracks or during a small break, but don’t drink too much.
5) Have fun!
A Pilates class shouldn’t be boring or “too hard”, it should be fun! And that’s why I tend to use small talk or little jokes in my classes. Some exercises are really hard (f.e. Earthquake or Teaser holds) and that’s why your students will need the little distraction. Just make sure to still give them cues to stay in a proper form.
I also smile a lot during my classes, because I just feel so grateful and happy to be able to teach POP Pilates to all those amazing people! And some people don’t receive lots of smiles from others, so why not share yours?!
6) Guide your students through the breathing
Breathing is one of the most important parts of the Pilates work-out. People tend to hold their breath when an exercise gets difficult, but your muscles need that oxygen. That is why it is very important to guide your students through the breathing part.
Tip: Inhale when it’s easy, exhale when it’s out.
I receive a lot of questions on how to breathe properly during the Pilates exercises. Most newbies will focus more on a proper form instead of on the breathing. It’s a lot of information to process, so give them time to catch up.
To be honest, I also used to be a breathe wrongly until I understood how to get into a correct position and how to maintain a proper form. Once I got there, I could start to focus on my breathing and noticed it was a real challenge to inhale when it’s easy and to exhale when it’s hard (it’s different with Yoga, which is why it gets confusing).
After a while it became a habbit and my Pilates workouts felt like a natural flow. So give your students the time they need to be able to follow along with your classes.
- Looking for beautiful active wear and Pilates mats? Make sure to check out POPFLEX!
- Would you like to become a POP Pilates Instructor? Join the POP Pilates Online Workshop (International Program) and discover the fun of becoming Certified!