Pilates is not a one way street. There is a very important collaboration that happens between students and teachers that makes meeting expectations and achieving goals a team effort. Tune in to hear about how collaboration happens in both group and private sessions.
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[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.
[00:00:46] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast today. We're going to be talking about Pilates as a collaboration between yourself and your teacher. I'm going to be looking [00:01:00] at this in private sessions, but then also how it could apply to group classes as well.
[00:01:07] Originally, I wanted to talk about differing goals in Pilates because you know, this is also something that I've kind of been thinking about as I go about my day. I've been thinking about the Pilates principles, which I did a series of episodes on earlier in the show and thinking about, you know, the goals that Pilates teachers have for their students. And then also just kind of wanting to go deeper than the knee jerk reaction or really superficial goals that you may have as a student in a Pilates class.
[00:01:49] What I mean by those superficial goals is, uh, one of the studios I worked at had an intake form for new students that said, you know, why do you want to do Pilates? But I [00:02:00] think is a great question to ask and you can ask yourself, you know, why do I do Pilates? Or why do I want to try Pilates?
[00:02:07] And what people always, always without fail, put on this form as their reason for trying Pilates was they wanted to lose weight or they wanted to get toned or they wanted a stronger core or they wanted better posture. Like I saw those answers time and time again. That's what people were giving as their reason for trying Pilates. And that's not to say that those aren't valid reasons for trying Pilates, but what interests me as a Pilates teacher is why those things are important to you. Why it's so important to you that you're trying Pilates in order to achieve these things. Right? Cause there's usually something deeper than that. You know, if you want to lose weight, like losing weight itself, [00:03:00] doesn't have an inherent meaning, you know, but there's usually a, just like a deeper reason to it.
[00:03:07] The principles of Pilates are really like the classic Pilates goals. And I mean that like classical, contemporary, kind of a school of thought in Pilates, that the Elders teaching Pilates once Joe passed on, or sort of carrying the torch for Joe, that they were often dancers, they were ballerinas and they had extensive dance histories. What they took from Joe and what they took from his book Return to Life is through that lens of a dancer. So things like precision and control and rhythm or flow that, you know, your concentration, these are very like dance things, which again, they're not inherently wrong or inherently bad or not worth exploring, but those goals have a [00:04:00] specific- ulterior motive is the wrong word, but they have a specific intention behind them.
[00:04:08] Maybe from a contemporary perspective, something like the goal of Pilates might be, you know, fixing imbalances. Right. Um, there's this huge emphasis on almost like clinical interpretation of a person doing Pilates in the contemporary world. Things like posture assessments, and you're trying to find neutral spine and, you know, looking for things that are different between the two sides. And I remember feeling a lot pressure as a contemporary trained Pilates teacher to have to look at someone's posture and then immediately know what's wrong with them. You know, having this idea that the fact that two sides are different means that something's wrong with someone and then having to have the solution immediately and like fix [00:05:00] this person. Like there's a ton of pressure on you. If that's how you're approaching your Pilates session, as you know, the teacher has all the answers. It's your job to like impart it to them.
[00:05:12] Uh, Raphael Bender, who's the CEO of Breathe Education, which is a Pilates school in Australia. It's actually the Pilates school that I'm working to become a trainer for and sort of work in their teacher training program. He just wrote a book called Strengthen The Person, Not Just The Body Part. And he has this really lovely part in the book where he says that the client has at least half of the puzzle pieces and the teacher has half of the puzzle pieces and you have to work together to solve the puzzle.
[00:05:49] So building on that idea, this episode is really about looking at Pilates as a collaboration between student and a teacher working together [00:06:00] to really address your goal as the student, because your goal is kind of the only one that matters. Like Pilates among other things is a service industry. Right? So if you're coming to a class, the idea is that you're getting what you need from that class. And it's really your teacher's job to help you do that, not to impose their will on yours.
[00:06:23] Like Pilates is not a one-way street. It's definitely a two-way street. Your teacher can offer insight and help you see things that you can't see because when you're in your body, you can't always see your body. It's really about working together.
[00:06:38] So the question I'd ask you as you're listening, uh, whether you're a teacher, you're also a student of Pilates. And that's, you know, what are your goals? And then what is your, why behind those goals? What beliefs do you have about yourself? About Pilates? [00:07:00] Because the beliefs that we have, like those baseline assumptions kind of shape how we experience the world and definitely Pilates. And then how can your teacher- and Pilates teachers have teachers as well- how can your teacher help you to reach those goals?
[00:07:22] I talked about in a previous episode, the season about the scope of practice of a Pilates teacher, because it's not huge, right. For a lot of these teachers can pretty much teach Pilates. So what can your Pilates teacher do to help you to reach those goals? And I think asking yourself these questions, getting a little bit clear about what you're looking for is going to make, finding it a lot easier, even though your Pilates teacher is there to teach you Pilates. I also recognize that there's a lot more to doing Pilates than just [00:08:00] Pilates, that there is a social element about working with another person or working in a group with lots of other people. There's an emotional component. There's a mental component. Like there's a lot of overlapping things that happen while you're doing Pilates. And I'm not discounting that by any stretch of the imagination.
[00:08:20] So maybe as you're thinking about those goals, if there is something that's bigger than just, you know, nailing teaser, which is also an awesome goal, but I would get curious about why you want to nail teaser as well. And, uh, yeah, just kind of ponder that.
[00:08:37] Coming up after the break, I'm going to be discussing a little bit more in detail about private sessions, how you might apply this collaboration or collaborative spirit in your private sessions with your teacher and also in your group sessions, because group is a little different than privates, obviously, but there's still some [00:09:00] ways that you can see your Pilates class as something that you work on together and not just an authoritarian experience. That's coming up after the break.
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[00:10:15] Private sessions lend themselves really well to collaboration, because it is really just you in the room with your teacher. And depending on how your sessions are structured, I know that when I'm working with people one-on-one, it's really a conversation. Like the entire session is a conversation, and we're doing the work and we're moving and grooving, but I'm also checking in with you as that stuff is going so you can definitely shape that as it happens.
[00:10:47] Not all Pilates sessions, especially one on one Pilates sessions have to be just doing Pilates exercises in a silent room for an hour or whatever. [00:11:00] It's really an opportunity for you to check in with another human being. And because this is your time really share what your thoughts are about how you're going, how you're feeling what's happening. And, without using your Pilates teacher as a therapist, but just kind of letting them know potentially about things that are happening in your life that are kind of shaping what is happening in your body, or things like that. A lot of what happens in my one-on-one session is talking with the person and not always about Pilates, but about, you know, things that are just going on and their weekend and what's going on with your kids and your dog. And, you know, you're just now potty training your puppy and like, how are you doing with that? You know, like it can be more than just the Pilates.
[00:11:55] When it gets to the Pilates bit, the language is [00:12:00] really invitational. This is something I look for in my Pilates teachers personally, and that's that I'm asked if I'm interested in doing something or trying something that I'm invited to explore, and that I also have a really safe place to try things and potentially fail at them because before you get good at something and post it on Instagram, you're really bad at it. That's kind of how it works. You start where you are and you grow from there.
[00:12:35] So a lot of, you know, this collaborative spirit, this working together is knowing that you're not going to be judged, that you're not going to ever be in an unsafe situation, but that you're going to be invited to grow. And you can really do with that what you'd like.
[00:12:56] I think in private sessions and also group sessions, I'll talk about this- [00:13:00] you know, saying no is also fine. For trying something and it not working and then deciding not to try it again. Like that's all well and good, but I think that as part of your private sessions, whether your teachers already asked you or not, that you can share what your goals are, and ideally you have this really safe space to explore. But you can say, Hey, you know, this is something that I'm really working on, whether it's an exercise, whether it's an overall state of wellbeing, whether it's trying to get out of pain, like you want your Pilates teacher to know that, so that as they're building a program with you and, you know, always sprinkling in the exercises that you love, but also sprinkling in the exercises that you love to hate, that you feel that you're heard and seen, and that your needs are being met in terms of the session.
[00:13:55] Because I mean, that's why you do a private session is so that you can say, Hey, this [00:14:00] is what I want to work on. This is why I want to work on it. And then your teacher can kind of meet you there. And we see what happens. Like that's the magic. As I mentioned in the previous part, I think it's also really important to see yourself as the student as having some of the answers, you know. And sometimes the teacher is just showing you things that you already know potentially, or maybe forgot, and that you kind of pleasantly surprise yourself. That's my favorite part of a session where either I do something that I didn't think that I could do, or I'm working with a client who does something that they didn't think that they could do. Um, I think that's really kind of awesome.
[00:14:43] But really the most important factor here is that it's not just your Pilates teacher telling you what to do the whole time, without any input from you. You are a valuable co-creator in the experience. And I think that that's nifty.
[00:14:59] [00:15:00] Believe it or not, that's also true in group sessions. And you might say, how am I co-creating anything in a group session? Well, in my view group classes are really a suggestion, right? Your teacher has prepared a program. They may not have known that you were going to be there, but they've got a pretty cool set of adventures planned for you. Right? And as a student in the class, you can always take what you need and leave the rest.
[00:15:31] Pilates is not a competition. It's not you versus the person next to you. It's not you versus anything. It is lots of beautiful things happening together at the same time. So when you're given options to spice things up or cool things down that you feel comfortable taking the variations that are what you need on a given day and not [00:16:00] really assigning a value to that variation. It's not better to do something on one leg. It's not better to do something on two legs. It's not anything other than the exercise on one leg or two legs and how you're feeling on a given day.
[00:16:15] You can also communicate with your teacher, you know, through the options that you're taking you, that you're doing the things that feel right for you. But you can also check in with the teacher before or after class and let them know, Hey, this is kind of something that's going on in my body so that your teacher can keep an eye on you. They're just kind of apprised of an ongoing situation. That can be really helpful. And I know it's really easy from the outside looking in to say, don't feel pressured to do you know what the person next to you is doing?
[00:16:47] I mean, I've definitely been in classes where I'm like, no, I have to like really prove myself, and believe it or not, sometimes it's worse when you're a teacher if you take a class at the studio where you work, because then you're like, oh my gosh, I've got to do [00:17:00] everything, like the most advanced thing, or how else will I be a teacher?
[00:17:03] But that's like really not the mindset that you want to go into it with. And what's helped me both as a teacher and as a student is to find the class where I feel encouraged and that I feel that I can do the things that I need to do without feeling like I have, you know, judgmental eyes on me or anything like that.
[00:17:27] And, you know, finding teachers that really helped to create a space where I could try those things or, you know, I'm really feeling out of it. And I just want to take the most stable, most gentle options of exercises that I feel like I'm able to do that that's really helped me because I know that Pilates isn't a competition, but I'm competitive mentally sometimes. And so not being able to do that, uh, it can also be a good thing, kind of taking it out of my hands.
[00:17:58] But just remembering that [00:18:00] even in a group class, It's your class, it's your reformer, it's your mat. It's your experience. And you can really shape it. The teacher is giving you suggestions. And that's how I think about teaching. That's how I think about the exercises is like, here are some, you know, it makes me think of all the food that we have in the United States says serving suggestion on the cover of like a cereal box. And it's like this beautiful picture with like strawberries in your Cheerios or whatever and it says, you know, serving suggestion.
[00:18:34] Well, all of your Pilates class is an exercise suggestion and you can choose to take it or not take it because ultimately you're in the driver's seat. And you can still work with your teacher, whatever your teacher is giving you. You can take what you need and leave what you don't.
[00:18:53] I want to say a really big thank you to all of my supporters on Buy Me A Coffee, including our newest member, [00:19:00] Amanda. Thank you so much for your contribution. I really appreciate your support on this project and look forward to chatting with you in a zoom chat soon.
[00:19:09] And I know the holidays are getting a little bit busy, but I'm hoping to keep the podcast going on this biweekly basis, but also playing it just like a little bit by ear, because I'm not sure exactly what the holidays have in store, but I will, of course keep you posted. I hope you have a great couple of weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:19:38] Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates, too? Check out Pilates Teachers' Manual, available everywhere you listen to [00:20:00] podcasts. I hope to see you next episode. Until next time.