As a Pilates instructor and fitness professional, I like to attend other instructors’ classes from time to time to learn new techniques, try new equipment, and get my own good workout in. I attended one such class last week, and while I don’t want to call out the specific studio, let’s just say it was a good lesson in how NOT to teach a Pilates class. It also prompted me to want to put together a list of some of the things a good Pilates (and in most cases, any specialty fitness class) instructor will do, so my clients and potential clients and even just the general public can spot the good studios, as well as the not-so-good, a little more easily:
1. A good Pilates instructor wants to know about your body.
The very first thing I will ask a new client is, do you have any injuries, or any problem areas? Pilates can not only be safe for many different fitness levels, but it can actually help you heal or strengthen injured or weak areas IF your Pilates instructor knows what you are working with.
A good Pilates instructor will also ask about your other forms of exercise, how often you exercise…even what you do for work! All of these factors can contribute to how your body will respond to certain Pilates moves, and this knowledge can be used by a good trainer to tailor the best workout to your body.
2. A good Pilates instructor customizes each workout to each client.
Whether there are 2 people in my Tampa Pilates classes, or 6, I make sure that each person is doing what is right for their body and fitness level. This might mean lighter or heavier springs, movement variations, fewer or more reps, or different exercises altogether. The beauty of Pilates is that it can (and should) be customized to help you get the most out of your body, without causing injury. What is right for one person might be completely wrong for another (this also goes back to knowing your clients’ histories and bodies).
If your Pilates instructor is not tailoring your workouts to you, speak up. And if you take any fitness class where there are too many people in the class for the instructor to manage, leave.
3. A good Pilates instructor asks about your goals, and helps you reach them. Maybe you want to gain better flexibility; or maybe you’re looking for better lengthened definition in your muscles; or maybe you have always had a “pancake butt” and want to trade it for a cute little round one. Whatever your fitness goals are, a good Pilates trainer should ask you. And then they should help you work to achieve those goals. But if they never bother to ask, or you don’t speak up and tell them, you probably won’t get the results you want from your workout.