I’m always trying to think of ways to make my pilates classes better — for the students and also for myself. I realized that no matter what I do to give you a good class–whether I add new exercises or change the order or focus on certain areas of the body… ultimately you are the one who needs to do the work and get the most out of it. Since I try to offer you solutions to fitness roadblocks, I’ve decided to share the things that often break the flow of a pilates group class…If you are guilty of doing some of these things, I’m not saying that you should never speak in class, I just want you to be aware of your actions and how that affects everyone including yourself.
Habit: Request Lists to your Teacher
Now, I know there are some things that feel great and you want to do them, but try to restrain yourself from blurting out exercises you want to do during class. I know that in my case, I always plan in advance the basic structure of a class. I also know that I have to alter that structure already if there are any new students or people who need modifications. It’s very disruptive and also distracting to have yet another “change” to make during the class. Be aware that if you really love some exercise, you can most likely do it at the end of class.
I will say, though, that I get to know what people like and do try to weave those exercises into class. Some people like the butt blasters – hips/butt series on the side, others really like Short Spine, and still others want to do additional arm work. I’m okay with getting your likes…just be respectful of the other students and me too!
Habit: What’s this do?
I love educating people on what exercises do for the body, but the truth is…in a large class or even in a small one, it takes my attention away from everyone to answer one person. Keep in mind that your instructor needs to focus attention on every body to insure everyone is getting something out of the exercise. If no one seems to be getting the exercise at all, I try to adjust my instructions or simplify the exercise. If you are one of these people who needs to know specific reasons for doing certain exercises, make an appointment for a private lesson or again, ask the instructor after class.
Some people really love making sure we do no more or less than 10 reps on every single pilates move. The truth is, I’m looking for a certain number of good form repetitions. Also, if I see a class in general looks tighter in their hamstrings or hips, I might let them do a few more leg circles or some other lengthening exercise for the back of the legs. If I see a class of people that look like they need a bit of tightening in the bum, I might do more footwork then normal. Conversely, if I know the class consists of people who have some form of lower back pain, I probably won’t do certain exercises in order to avoid further injury or strain.
If it makes you feel better to count, do it, but don’t yelp out to the class, um, that was only 5. Their just might be a reason for only doing 5. Instead, try to make each one of your repetitions count.
Also, sometimes I am horrible at counting because I’m watching your bodies or adjusting a machine for 1 person –I’ll admit it, so if you like to count and I notice it, I’m going to make you do it for me! Hahahah….so beware!
Habit: Holding Your Breath
This is a simple one…I don’t care when you inhale and exhale. Just do it. And let me hear you! You don’t have to do dragon breath or lion breath (not sure what the yoga breaths are called, but I think you know what I mean), but try to inhale through your nose and then exhale through pursed lips. The breath gives you power and helps you stabilize your body. Check out 2 of my earlier posts on the benefits of breathing: Just Breathe and Pilates Breathing For Beginners.
Habit: Beginners Rule!
If there’s something I see often…it’s beginners who want to take on pilates all at once. I try to tell them to dip into the practice slowly or at least with a little bit of patience. I encourage people to understand that it seems easy at the beginning…and then when they understand more, they will naturally challenge themselves. Don’t add weight to the reformer too quickly. Try to wait before you add props to your mat workouts. Try to stay in the moment, breathing evenly, listening to the instruction…and ask questions if you have no idea what you are doing.
Beginners – the best thing you can do for yourself to really give pilates a good shake is to take a few private mat or reformer sessions, so you can start the journey the right way. Once you “get it”, you’ll be able to take your own workouts further and get more out of them.
Now, it’s your turn…. Please leave a comment below answering these 3 questions:
1. Do you prefer the class to move quickly or slowly…or it doesn’t matter?
2. What’s your favorite exercise to do in group reformer class?
3. Do you like a class that is all business, all chat, or a nice combo of both?
I look forward to hearing your responses!