16 Aug 2015 Ditch the Plan – Get Real
When I first qualified as a Pilates mat work teacher 8 years ago, I wrote myself a lesson plan that I would deliver to every new client I saw on a one to one basis. That only lasted a few months, after which I tore the lesson plan up and never looked back.
In hindsight, I was new and very passionate, but inexperienced as a teacher. I wanted to be diligent and deliver to the client EVERYTHING I thought they should know. This was the problem – it was what I thought they needed, I assumed what they needed and wanted. But it was just a template, and I quickly learnt that with real people and real bodies you cannot work from a template.
From that day on, I have never planned a private session. Over the years, my sessions have evolved and I do follow a formula that works well for my clients. The formula is changeable and it covers the absolute essentials to ensure the clients receive what they need, on that day, at that time. You could call it real-time!
I changed my focus very early on in my teaching career – from me to the client. I now work with many types of client, from athletes to those in injury rehabilitation and people recovering from illness. Every time I meet a client, whether it is his or her first visit to the studio or the tenth, I seek to grasp the integral, dynamic and changing needs of the person standing in front of me. How could I possibly plan a lesson the day before when I do not know how the person will present the following day? What we covered last week may have resolved or changed the body and there might be different needs. These needs are not just going to be physical – we must consider the emotional and psychological factors too.
For me, the role of the teacher is to look, listen and ask why, why and why again. I take notes, lots of notes, at every session. I measure everything to ensure I know what has changed and how. This knowledge is to hand and I review it before every session, but until I meet with the client on a given day, I will not assume anything or plan to teach a particular exercise. I let their bodies tell me what they need.
This is one of the reasons I absolutely love my job, with a passion. It is the ultimate detective role!