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Evolution of Planning

Client Focused Programing

Creating a client focused programming style is the evolution of planning for me. This development in my planning style has been directly influenced by both my personal and professional growth.

The significant professional growth that stands out to me was during my Level 2 Reformer Certification. By 2017 I had over 15 years of Personal Training experience, yet I found myself lacking confidence as a “Pilates Instructor.” That left me creating plans from a place of insecurity.

Let’s consider Evolution of Planning: Phase ONE

From this place of insecurity I was creating plans with a detail I hadn’t used since I was a newly certified Personal Trainer.

Evolution of Planning

I would spend considerable time outlining every exercise, in precise detail, including pictures!

My notes went as far as including detailed cues, what springs to use and various modifications for every situation I could imagine. It didn’t take me long to realize this type of planning was simply not sustainable. I was losing the most important aspect of planning, the people!

Thankfully, coupled with this professional growth, I found myself with an opportunity for major personal growth. This opportunity came in the form of retiring from 40 years of managing a Pediatric Dental Practice. It is no easy feat to make a decision to move from guaranteed security to a more risky role, however, I took the dive!

For the first time in my life, I choose me!

I saw an opportunity to fulfill my life long passion and chose to dedicate myself as a full-time instructor.

So there I was, trying to embrace a new style of training, while increasing both the number of classes I was teaching as well as working with more clients on an individual basis.

Now entering Evolution of Planning: Phase TWO

My goal at this point: to feel organized while meeting the needs and expectations of my new, larger client base.

I shifted my planning and transformed my full page notes onto small recipe cards.

In “teeny tiny writing”, to quote one of my clients, I continued to include as many details as possible. I wrote on recipe cards for every class with the intention of helping myself stay focused, providing myself with a reference point, personal security and confidence.

Let’s pause here for personal growth reflection. Have I left Phase ONE?

Evolution of Planning: Phase Two

Evolution of Planning: Phase Two

Phase ONE of my planning style had a few major draw backs. All the details triggered an internal fear of missing a step or changing the order. I was spending an unbelievable amount of time writing out my plans and I was feeling a lack of connection with the people in front of me.

To answer my previous question,

No. I had not left Phase ONE, not really. But Phase TWO proved to be an important stepping stone.

I am great at watching, teaching and adapting to the changing needs of the clients in front of me, yet in my Phase TWO I was still blocking myself from relying on my years of professional experience.

Sometimes the best laid plans are not always for the best, and apparently my “teeny tiny writing” strategy didn’t feed my confidence. Instead, it emphasized my reoccurring theme of feeling a lack of connection with the people.

Our 2019 summer break gave me the time I needed to reflect and consider the evolution of my planning and how I could readjust my thinking.

Here’s where I landed in the development of my planning:

Evolution of Planning: Phase THREE

Evolution of Planning: Phase Three

I began Phase Three by writing a list of movement themes. From there, I began developing a list of exercises to attain the goals of these themes, sometimes we call these build-ups, family of exercises or vignettes. I still use the recipe

cards to help me feel organized and prepared for the classes.  However, I left out the extreme details and contingency plans.

I began choosing to trust my experience, instinct and the intelligence of the person in front of me.

This gave me space to create a class that flows and can change based on what I was observing in the moment.

My confidence was growing.

New decade. New Phase.

 

Evolution of Planning: Phase Four

Evolution of Planning: Phase FOUR

The 2019 Christmas break gave space for me to regenerate before preparing for 2020 clients.

This phase in the development of my planning process was set in place before we left for our cottage. There I spent a glorious week reading, colouring, walking with my family, watching movies and sleeping!

So far in 2020, I have continued to use themes for each week. I have divided a book into Reformer and Mat class sections. Each week I record ideas for the various themes. I create my ideas in a more organic and free form.

This ignites a creativity that feels more natural and less forced. Thus allowing me to be fully focused on the client(s) in front of me.

My goals during evolution of planning, Phase FOUR and beyond are to permit myself space to continue my personal and professional development as an instructor and in turn provide quality, client focused classes and private sessions.

With gratitude to each person who encourages and supports me,

PJ Wight

Our Pilates Training Recipe

The upcoming blog posts are going to describe and hopefully create intrigue around our Pilates Training Recipe. 

But first I’d like to open with a recap and a clarification for future consideration when reading upcoming blogs.

The purpose of our blogs is to share with our clients. It is to explore what goes on behind the scenes and how each person can get the most out of their time at the studio. As well, we hope to share with those who don’t know us by describing who we are, what we do and why we love teaching Pilates so much.

The greatest difficulty I’m running into while writing my blog articles is this:

The context that underpins every part of our studio is missing because we teach the person (or people) in front of us not the exercise, this is the context of our Pilates Training Recipe.

Practicing the Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) with the person in front of us results in

outstanding moments

opens doors previously unknown to our clients (and us)

and gives meaning to each movement and exercise.

For example, we can have two different people with the “same” low back discomfort and pain. We help each person learn how to move in ways that feels energizing, efficient and pain free albeit differently. So different, in fact, that if the person (context) was removed and the two concepts were described back to back it would sound as though we are contradicting ourselves.

This leaves me with a wee bit of a conundrum given that the blogs speak about the exercise without the specific context of the person in front of us.

Over the next few months our blogs will be discussing how we put our Pilates Training Recipe together in order to give clients an opportunity to continue to get more out of every session or class they attend.

 

When reading the word recipe please picture a person in the kitchen embracing the process of creating a meal. The recipe is deeply ingrained, they don’t need to follow exactly, instead they begin, they taste, they adjust.

 

In other words our Pilates training recipe is abstract, offering us a platform to embrace the most important part of our training, you, the person (or people) in front of us.

 

Because here’s the thing.

You are a unicorn, unique, outstanding and full of surprises.

And Pilates is the “unicorn of fitness.”

The intention of our Pilates Training Recipe is to create an atmosphere that allows you to embrace where you are & how you are before trying to change, adapt or keep up.

#4U*AboutU

Pilates Principle: Flow

The word Flow has become a very hot topic in the fitness industry. These flow video’s often consist of a person or people moving through fancy exercises, often in perfect unison, relativity quickly and with what seems is perfect ease — I feel like they’re always of smiling people too — and there might even be a #fridayfriendflow that insta everything is chasing.

Don’t get caught in the chase or the keeping up!

Instead remind yourself: these video’s are short moments of time capturing the end result of lot’s of practice and development of skill. They can be beautiful to watch and inspiring for your own workout however it is imperative to realize in a world of instant everything with short snippets of exciting moments there are hours of behind the scene dedicated efforts going on.

flowTraditionally, the principle of flow is when routines are completed through a gentle motion with grace, ease and fluidity. Continuous, smooth, and elegant movement is achieved as you transition from one pose to another. According to the principle of flow this will bring strength and stamina.

How to practice this principle effectively:

  • spend time in practice, slow intentional practice of the transitions
    • let’s use a golf swing as an example (a client Steve Knipping made the connection for me)
    • it’s not just the back swing, the follow through or finishing position that must be practiced, explained, or understood
    • instead it is the practice of how you transition from a back swing INTO the follow through INTO the finish position
    • this practice takes a SLOW centering, precision, concentration and control — the brain needs slow so it has time to interpret, repeat and learn new motion
      • as a side note have you noticed how the principles are coming together to achieve a method?

Before starting the practice of the flow between exercises, spend time with in the flow of one exercise. In other words, how do you use the space between the start and the end of one repetition of one movement and how do you use the space between one repetition and the next which creates your set.

Pilates Principle: Breath

#trainfromyourbrain

A hashtag trend I am 100% on!

I first came across it on instagram while following Physiyolates – Brain-Body Fitness and have become addicted to their posts feeling greedy to gather snippets of their insights and wisdom. Full transparency, my “damn I wish I had said that” gets triggered A LOT!

Their words resonate so fully within our philosophy of movement at the Art of Fitness that I feel compelled to share their wisdom via re-posting and now in this blog. I’ll come back to Physiyolates’ greatness in a moment.

 

But first, breath as a Pilates Principle.

Breathing properly promotes effective oxygenation of the blood, focuses the mind on each task and helps avoid unnecessary tension, particularly in the neck, shoulders and mid-back. Exhaling deeply can also help activate the deep support muscles of the body. Breath is brilliant, everything from it’s automatic nature, it’s absolutely life giving purpose, it’s mind, body and soul healing abilities, to the mechanical anatomical function.

 

Direct quote from Physiyolates Instragram post:

“Breathing is literally the most underrated performance tool we have as human beings! You can harness and unlock the power of the brain, the body and the nervous system simply by learning specific breathing techniques to help you to keep a cool head, promote relaxation and control, regulate and reduce physiological and psychological stress.”

 

Instagram: brain_body_performance                    Website: physiyolates.uk.com

 

 

 

Pilates Principle: Precision

Precision is NOT about perfection. Instead, the Pilates Principle of Precision is better described as excellence.

Source: https://www.excelatlife.com

We all get tempted to strive for perfection, because perfection is good, it pleases others. However, perfection will come at a cost, in this case it could cost you access to your body, your learning and your ability to move forward in your movement goals, whether they be to heal, improve or perform.

Precision is energizing and efficient which will leave a positive impact on your body, mind and spirit. Through precision there is an ability to reproduce the movement consistently, with ease of motion.

Your body has it’s own unique language, learn to listen, interpret and respond with precision. The practice of precision brings you into yourself and offers a space to better understand how YOU move and feel in your body.

Precision is where excellence can be found.

Pilates Principle: Concentration

At our studio we apply the principle of concentration as an awareness around what is, what can be and how you plan to move towards it. We do our best when teaching movement through Pilates to speak to what you are doing well, when you’re doing something well and how to do more of that instead of drawing your attention on what NOT to do.

This allows the principle of concentration to orchestrate beautiful strong movement patterns in many planes of space, creating a natural ability to access these patterns in real life.

The full article the next portion of this blog quotes is found at www.selfgrowth.com written by M. Tamsin Thoren.

“Rael Isacowitz, founder of Body Arts and Sciences International (BASI) divides this principle into two parts, awareness and concentration. He regards “awareness as a state of mind — of being mindful and feeling the movement” and concentration as “a more cognitive process of understanding the movement.” (Isacowitz, 9)

Awareness is the initial realization of the body, where it lies in space, how it moves, and any tightness, misalignment, weakness, habitual movement patterns or other imbalances that we may have developed throughout our lives. That initial awareness is critical to achieve a baseline from which to progress. Our muscles and joints contain proprioceptors that tell our brain where we are in space and how far a joint can move before injury. Over time, we train our proprioceptors to feel that misalignments and limited range of motion are correct and representative of our body’s full potential. In order to change those patterns, we must first become aware.

Concentration is viewed as the “bridge between awareness and movement” (Isacowitz, 9) Once you have established your baseline, it is essential to bring that same awareness into every movement. Checking in with your body periodically can help to develop your concentration. If you find yourself thinking about something other than your workout, scan your body, especially those places you are working to retrain, and notice if they are engaged, relaxed, stabilized, or moving as they should be in the exercise. By bringing your awareness and concentration to a particular muscle you facilitate the firing of that muscle. Where patterns exist, it can be difficult to work the correct muscle(s) even with intense concentration, but nearly impossible without that attention. If you don’t know what you should be focusing on in a particular exercise, ask your instructor.

Remember to keep it light, you can over-think things. If you become tense or frustrated, let it go.”

Pilates Principle: Control

As instructors, we guide you through movements, we are doing more then simply counting, some may even suggest we cannot count …

Here’s what we do instead: we are always observing what your body needs. 

We use other movements and equipment to introduce, correct, challenge or reinforce the specific movement patterns your body needs to create balance of strength, stretch and control.

Pilates Principle: Control

Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. No body part is left to its own devices. It is all a conscious, deliberate movement that the mind is controlling. Control is performing a movement with fluidity, which can teach you how to move more gracefully and efficiently.

Here are a few ways for you to utilize this principle in your Pilates Practice:

  1. Determine the objective of the exercise
    • practicing on your own? decide on what your intention is for moving through the exercise BEFORE you start, stay with that idea for the duration of the movement
    • practicing in a class? if it’s not been made clear, always feel welcome to clarify with your instructor where your mind is best served to attain control within the movement
    • practicing in a private or semi-private?  like in class if unsure ask ~ OR ~ if you have a specific focus or item of control let your instructor know, together amazing movements will take on new shape and purpose
  2. Quality not quantity
    • the concept of quality not quantity within the Pilates Principle of Control is that you need to wrap up the movement BEFORE your mind wanders. If you are going through the motions to check the movement off a list ~ OR ~ if  you become aware of your mind wandering simply bring it back to your original objective
  3. Focus on what you DO want
    • attempting to use the Principle of Control around what you do NOT want creates tension, restriction and movement that is a little staccato 
    • determine what you DO want use this positive mind centered action as your control

In summary, the Pilates Principle of Control is a conscious choice to practice, steady and hold the mind around a positive objective. Motion Meditation.

Pilates Principle: Centering

There are a few layers within this concept.

Traditionally, this concept of centering relates to the core and the muscles of the core, in Pilates this is referred to as the powerhouse, physically bringing the exercise focus to the center of the body. Centering can also refer  a feeling of balance within or the eternal spring of energy from which all movement emanates.

Energetically, Pilates exercises are sourced from the center.

Centering as a kinesthetic concept takes into consideration the fact that each person is built differently and has an individual center of gravity.

Taking away all other variables (lifestyle, injuries, goals, etc.) your build alone will distinctly affect how the exercise feels and how difficult or easy it is to execute. Sometimes receiving the label ‘lacking strength’ when unable to execute a movement is incorrect. The lack of success may have more to do with your distribution of body weight and build not so much your ability.

So, when unable to execute a movement right away, hold your judgements off.

Instead, stay curious and source which part of and how you could apply the principle of centering it a progress or helpful way. And as always ask for guidance from your instructor, remember Pilates is a practice.

Your Pilates Practice is Cross Training

for living your best life.

Through the Pilates approach to movement we can help you keep doing what you love best.

Not only can the Pilates approach to movement keep you doing what you love, through practice you can improve how you do what you love to do best.

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The foundation of the Pilates approach to movement is based within the abstract  concepts of six principles:

Precision ~ Centering ~ Control ~ Concentration ~ Flow ~ Breath

We will take each of these principles apart in separate blogs to express just how you can best utilize these principles in your Pilates Practice.

In the meantime, this is a fun article, found at www.verywellfit.com, to read How to use Pilates in Cross Training

“Contrology <Pilates> develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” Joseph Pilates

Understanding Spring Tension

The type of spring that is used on Pilates equipment is called a “tension/extension spring”. When this type of spring is stretched from its resting position, it exerts an opposing force proportional to its change in length. In other words, the more you stretch a spring, the more opposing force it provides.

Pilates Style Article by Rael Isacowitz

www.pilatesstyle.com

“In Pilates, sometimes less springs will translate to more load on the muscles and vice versa. For example, when doing the Side Split on the Reformer, one light spring means to a lot of load on the hip adductors (assuming the exercise is executed with the utmost precision and quality). If extra load is added, not only will the load on the hip adductors decrease, at some point, more work will transfer to the hip abductors.” Rael Isacowitz

Click the photo to read the full article by Rael Isacowitz, MA.

Rael has been practicing Pilates for more than 30 years and is recognized internationally as an expert in the field. In 1989, Rael founded BASI Pilates®, a comprehensive Pilates education organization represented throughout the world.

Merrithew Article by Sarah Baker

www.merrithew.com

“Spring tension will also allow for there to be tension through the full joint range, and on both the concentric and eccentric phases of the movement. In addition, unlike traditional weight training, some exercises can actually be made more challenging by decreasing the spring tension on the Reformer, rather than continually increasing it.” Sarah Baker

Click the photo to read the full article by Sara Baker, PT, MS, OCS

Sarah is president of Inspire Health, Atlanta, Ga, an organization providing physical therapy, Pilates, and wellness services with two locations in the Atlanta area. Baker received a bachelor of science in cellular biology from the University of Georgia, and a master of science in physical therapy from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She specializes in spinal conditions and neuromuscular re-education. Inspire Health is a Merrithew Licensed Training Center and Baker is a STOTT PILATES Rehab Instructor Trainer.