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Rhythm of a Class – An Instructor Perspective

Rhythm of a Class

It is a Pilates Instructors dream to see and entire class moving in a synchronized way however that’s not always the case. Courtney talks about a layering technique she uses, it helps eliminate any uncertainty in a group class setting. Start with the foundation exercise and that is what the baseline is for the clients. She stays at this baseline until all the foundational cues that she is using are being applied by the clients. If the cues are not being applied it tells her that she doesn’t have the green light to move into more complex exercises.

Rhythm of a Class

Once these cues are being applied we can increase the challenge and add another layer, this might mean progression, functional movement, load transfer etc. As an Instructor we need to know that we are able to go together with the clients into more directional complex exercises, not just because the plan was to get there but because the clients are ready to go there.

As an Instructor we always want our clients to have a positive experience creating a sense of accomplishment and desire to come back week after week. When you go to a class and it’s just hard, you get tired, you do so many heavy exercises that your only option is to loose quality, give up or collapse, then the experience is negative as it will leave one with a feeling of having given up on themselves or that you just aren’t good enough, strong enough, fit enough …

What we are looking for in clients is that ‘aha moment.’ During rep one or two the expectations are for the client to “give it a go”, not perfection. Around rep five or six we should see that precision meter go up because the client realizes “oh, that is what you meant.” The next stage we instructors strive to bring into a movement is always the ‘holy crap’, ‘I am getting it because this is intense’ moment.  Now this stage is our fine line, as instructors we want you to feel it however eventually if we play this out to far the client starts to lose their belief in you the instructor if you choose to push them to the point of having to give up or the client chooses to persevere however in the struggle they loose that connection and trust in you. As instructors, we need to watch and observe, and most importantly need to give clients permission to draw those lines themselves as well.

The class or session should leave a client feeling motivated, inspired, curious about what strength and ability they will reach into next. Teaching clients to be light in an exercise when the intensity of that exercise sequence is taking you towards your strength potential, drawing in on your limits, is essential in allowing the clients to create great gains without driving them to disappointment in themselves.

Our voice is powerful, and what Courtney Miller speaks about in her podcast with Breathe Education is that she has a lot of success when ramping up an exercise to ensure that you are softening your voice, have a smile on your face, have a giggle, because we are ‘just doing pilates.’  This helps the client soften the tension and to discover how to use just enough effort to get the extra rep or two with quality and gives a positive note to land on.

To hear the Podcast interview with Courtney Miller yourself click here.  

Planning for Clients – An Instructors Perspective

Planning on its own can be a full time job, but when you learn how to focus in on clients movements during their session, the body you are working with can sometimes plan the workout all on its own, Courtney Miller describes it perfectly in this tidbit of information on planning for clients. 

Planning for Clients

Planning for Clients

Courtney Miller tells Breathe Education that she starts with a theme, it might be symmetry or rotation and then once the bodies start to enter the room she is inspired by the way they walk in the door. There is a bigger picture as an instructor and she likes to observe her clients as they come in and how they walk into the room, how they sit down, how they put there belongings away, do they sit on the reformer first? Lay down? Look at their phone? Rub their shoulders? Roll their shoulders? That is what will typically inspire an Instructor. Going in with a theme but then letting the clients movements inspire is the best way to find success in a group class. 

Tomorrow’s segment is all about our ‘approach to cueing’. 

Incorporating Props in your Pilates Workout – An Instructors Perspective

Yesterday we did an overview of the podcast with Courtney Miller and talked all about the creative process, today we are going to discuss incorporating props into a workout. 

Incorporating Props

You know those blue squishy balls we love to put between your inner thighs and make you squeeze? They are there for a reason! Courtney Miller describes it perfectly in this podcast by saying that she brings a prop in at the beginning of the session with the purpose of finding, for example, adductor connection, this gives the Instructor an opportunity to bring

Pilates Propsawareness there and cue clients to connect to their adductors. Then the prop will disappear and we will work the same muscle group without the prop so now the client has the awareness of where to feel without the prop. Later in the hour, the prop will come back again and its purpose will be to activate a different muscle group. The pattern continues through these sequences to really dig deep into our muscles. 

Have a question about why we use certain props during certain routines? 

Ask us! We are always eager to explain the ‘whys’ of our thought process behind your workouts!

Stay tuned tomorrow for ‘planning for clients’. 

 

An Instructors Perspective Series: Podcast overview with Courtney Miller

Courtney Miller is known in the Pilates world for her creativity; blending yoga, Pilates and functional fitness movements, her clear cueing skills and her way of staying ‘light’ during hard exercises. I watch her Pilates Anytime videos weekly to keep my own creativity juices flowing but also to pick up on her cueing and relaxed nature of getting her message across to a client without being too anatomical. Her classes are fun, light hearted, and most importantly challenging!

Recently my interest was drawn to a podcast interview that Courtney did with breathe education. There are five key points that continue to resonate with me as an instructor: the creative process, incorporating props, planning for clients, approach to cueing and the rhythm of a class.
 
The following series of blog posts is a summary of my perspective and interpretation of Courtney’s conversation and is based on her ideas, descriptions and concepts described within the podcast interview. I was inspired to write this for two reasons: to bring fellow instructors attention to Courtney’s interview as a tool for learning, and to give our clients a glimpse into what goes through the instructor brains during classes and private sessions. 

The Creative Process

As a Pilates Instructor we are constantly working towards solutions via modifications and or concepts that help our clients achieve beneficial and appropriately challenging options for overcoming obstacles. Each client’s body reacts differently to different movements, meaning, we are always on our toes trying to creatively challenge you as a client from one session or class to another. Our goal is to find the options that react well in your body.
 
Becoming a Pilates Instructor stems from a love of movement. We love to get our bodies onto the Pilates equipment or our mats with small apparatus to get into our own body movement sequences. Nine times out of ten our exercise ideas and flows will come out of a personal practice session. This is why you will see us in classes, in the corner quietly working out solo or doing private workouts with other instructors. 
 
Look out for “Incorporating Props” tomorrow! 
 

Get to know: Deanna Underwood

Deanna teaches spin classes here at the studio and is known for her great enthusiasm and amazing spin music playlists!

Deanna

1. Where did you grow up? Exeter and Ridgetown, Ontario
2. Who is the funniest person you know? Tim Pigeau Underwood
3. First thing you do in the morning? Pee
4. What’s on your bedside table? Saje essential oil diffuser – “unwind” oil – every night at bed it runs for 3 hours
5. What’s the background on your computer? Mabel Lake, British Columbia
6. What is the must have item in your closet? Anything cosy – probably a hoody or wool socks
7. How do you take your coffee? I’m a teadrinker only, but if I have to have coffee, it goes with Bailey’s or in a latte
8. Next trip you’re planning to take? Mabel Lake, BC in June
9. What was your first Pilates experience? Steph’s mat class beside the skating rink at RIM Park
10. Which sound instantly puts you in a good mood? Tim’s laugh. That guy can kench!

Congratulations PJ!

After a long winter of studying and practice hours, PJ has successfully completed her Body Harmonics Reformer exam. We are SO excited for her as she leaves for her well deserved vacation later this week. 

YogaPJ’s classes will still run and will be covered by:

Monday 7:15: Katie 

Wednesday 6:15pm/7:15pm: Steph

Friday 7am: Katie 

 

Some Body Harmonics feedback after her exam, which we can all attest to as true: 

“You have a distinctly calm, clear presence about you when you teach. It was lovely to see and experience that in you because it combines the perfect balance of directive leadership with gentle kindness and acceptance which allows participants to be who they are but become motivated to strive for more.”

Congratulations PJ!!!! 

Get to know Stephanie Moore

Stephanie understands that no two clients are the same and believes that taking a fresh, fun customizable approach to fitness is vital to success. She draws on her vast knowledge, years of experience, spirit and tools to develop effective alignment patterns which bring understanding to her clients’ kinesthetic sense.

Stephanie also believes that the classes offered at Art of Fitness care for her clients not only physically, but mentally as well. It’s her goal that through specific mechanics, fitness is able to bring clarity, increase perception and stimulate the mind.

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”- Joseph Pilates

Steph Moore

1. What is on your bucket list? Travel (everywhere), Pottery Wheel Class, Solo Art Show 
2. Where did you grow up? Smiths Falls, Ontario 
3. What food can you not live without? Summer Sausage 
4. Who is the funniest person you know? Am I allowed to say me? 
5. What is the best gift you have ever received?  Hansy
6. First thing you do in the morning? Walk Hansy 
7. What is the one thing people would never guess about you?  Nap time is sacred time
8. What’s on your bedside table? Lamp, Essential Oil Diffuser, Stack of books, water, sketch book, pen and pencil 
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Inspiration is the greatest gift to give others 
10. What’s the background on your computer? Hansy 

Get to know PJ Wight

PJ is a personal trainer here at Art of Fitness, bringing with her over 25 years of experience in the fitness/coaching industry. She is certified with the Canadian Personal Trainers Network and the International Youth Conditioning Association. Her primary goal as a personal trainer and coach is to develop a goal-oriented plan and provide guidance, encouragement and creativity in assisting each of her clients to attain his/her personal fitness goals and improve their quality of life.

Prior to joining the Art of Fitness team, she was a figure skating coaching and attained a Level II coaching certification. She states that two things led her to pursue a career as a personal trainer. First, is her personal love of fitness. Second, she loved coaching and guiding both young people and the young at heart to achieve their personal fitness goals.

Below is part 1 of an interview we did to get to know PJ even better! 

PJ Wight

1. What is on your bucket list? Trip to Australia to see my cousins; travel to Scotland, Ireland, England, Italy, Alaskan cruise
2. Where did you grow up? Kitchener, Ontario
3. What food can you not live without? eggs
4. Who is the funniest person you know? Gary 
5. What is the best gift you have ever received? Finding my birth family
6. First thing you do in the morning? turn the alarm off
7. What is the one thing people would never guess about you? my age 🙂
8. What’s on your bedside table? Tiffany lamp; clock radio and decorative turtles
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? follow your gut instincts
10. What’s the background on your computer? The beach and the ocean

 “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or otherwise it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them”- Bruce Lee

Pilates Can Take Your Yoga Practice to the Next Level

Many yoga practitioners lay down on their yoga mat with a specific goal in mind. I want to deepen pigeon pose, I want to hold my handstand effortlessly, I want to float into crow without bruising my triceps. No matter what your goal is during your Yoga class, we have the secret.

Pilates is often compared to Yoga, but there is a defined difference. Pilates requires strength and precision, teaching you to move from a solid foundation, and connect to postural muscles that are universally underused. Learning to connect to these postural muscles can lead you into a lengthened chest position during triangle pose, control your centre of gravity during half moon, and flow through chaturanga lightly in neutral alignment.

PJ Yoga

Here are a few key reasons why Pilates will take your Yoga poses to the next level.

Proper Alignment

Pilates is all about positioning your spine in proper alignment, so you can walk out of your session and take this posture into everyday life. Focusing on balancing the musculature helps create symmetry between the left and the right sides of your body. Working both sides simultaneously, you’re able to compare the strength of both sides and work them equally. You can take this knowledge to your Yoga mat, and connect to your muscles equally during balance poses to help your stability and use your core properly to protect your back during back bends.

Flexibility

Pilates exercises incorporate dynamic stretching, so not only are you strengthening one muscle, you are getting a stretch through another. Although Pilates does not solely focus on flexibility, it is known to create more flexibility and length through the muscles, lengthening your body from head to toes. Learning how to dynamically stretch and stay neutral also protects your muscles from hyperextension during Yoga classes, this allows you to engage proper muscles before you lengthen into a stretch to avoid injury and create lasting results. 

Stronger Core  

A stronger core equals less back pain. Ask anyone who came to Pilates to relive back tension, they will tell you that they experienced some sort of relief. Our bodies were made to move, it only takes a few classes or private sessions to remind our body how to align and work properly to avoid tension. Having a strong core leaves more room for mobility through the body while doing Yoga, instead of suffering through back pain during poses. As a beginner going into a Yoga class, you may not realize when and where to connect to your centre, by incorporating the Pilates principles you can trust that your body is properly flowing from pose to pose. 

Allows you to Work Deeper

Once you start focusing on your abdominals, you realize that your bodies movements are powered through your core. Try doing downward dog without your core engaged; you’ll most likely leave with back pain. During exercise our larger muscles like to take over, Pilates helps us zone into our small, more intrinsic muscles. During Yoga classes, you will notice more strength during movements. With stronger abdominals, you can improve every single one of your poses on the yoga mat. If you decide to work one on one with an Instructor you can even mimic and improve your entire Yoga routine by dissecting each exercise.

Overall, Pilates can help Yogis advance into poses that they hadn’t felt possible before and avoid injury. Have you always wondered how that girl at the front of class effortlessly holds her position in handstand? Well now you’re in on the secret!

 

 

 

 

Get to Know Erin Mahony

Welcome to our new series “Get To know Our Instructors”. We grilled Erin with 30 random questions, that we will post for you over the Spring Session! Have a question for Erin? Email us and stay tuned to see it answered! 

Lower back weakness and muscular imbalance initially brought Erin to the practice of Pilates more than 15 years ago. What initially began as a prescription for rehabilitative and strengthening exercise has since developed into a tremendous passion of hers! As an ambitious woman going after a variety of athletic pursuits, Pilates compliments her lifestyle as both student and instructor. Training clients to be conscious of posture, breathing and alignment in various exercises, offers increased core strength and greater body awareness. As a Pilates instructor, Erin looks forward to educating her clients, challenging them and having fun!

Learn more about your Tuesday evening Instructor, Erin, below: 

1. What is on your bucket list? Open a market stall at the Paris Wincey Mills, run a hobby farm with my family, rent a houseboat for a holiday, knit a sweater, travel to Australia, play a gig at a coffee house
2. Where did you grow up? I’m a home-grown honey, born and raised here in Kitchener-Waterloo
3. What food can you not live without? Grandma Elsie’s homemade perogies
4. Who is the funniest person you know? Uncle Doug
5. What is the best gift you have ever received? My husband and two step-children
6. First thing you do in the morning? Meditate
7. What is the one thing people would never guess about you? I love to crochet
8. What’s on your bedside table? A lamp, my happiness journal and a few random pieces of jewellery
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “Always remember, everyone is doing their best with what they know”
10. What’s the background on your computer? Boring old black default screen…it’s a work laptop so I haven’t personalized it

Want to take a class with Erin? Click here to register.   

Certifications Include:

  • Certified PhysicalMind Institute Vertical and Matwork Intensive
  • Body Harmonics Pilates Reformer Intensive – Apprentice
  • Half Marathon Runner, Participant in Sprint level triathlons
  • Member of ROW Masters Swim Program