By Lisa Jackson
Pilates is an incredibly intricate practise that benefits both your physical and mental wellbeing. It improves posture, balance, flexibility and muscle strength; enhances body awareness; supports mindfulness and elevates the spirit. It’s unique because of the variety and number of exercises within the system’s repertoire that allow an Instructor to choose specific exercises to suit an individual client. The smallest of modifications can make all the difference. It’s little wonder then that to learn Pilates, in its true form, it’s critically important to find a ‘good’ Pilates Instructor.
There are four things you should look for in choosing a Pilates Instructor. Let’s take a look.
1. Education and experience
First and foremost, a good Pilates Instructor will be highly-qualified (with a minimum Diploma level qualification). They should be experienced in working with real bodies of all ages, shapes and sizes, and value continued education and mentorship to stay up-to-date with the latest research. As a client, specialised attention in an open, friendly and encouraging space ensures you’ll master the correct Pilates technique and get the best out of each session. You should feel that you’re safely progressing at a level and pace appropriate to you.
2. Depth of knowledge
There is a lot more to Pilates than choreography. Simply knowing the exercises is not enough to be able to teach other people. That’s why, a good Pilates Instructor will have studied the history of the Joseph Pilates Method. This isn’t about appreciating the past (although that can be valuable). It’s about understanding the underlying principles of Joseph’s work, how to modify and vary exercises when needed and how to work with individual needs and challenges in today’s society.
3. Appreciation of different learning styles
Everybody learns differently and a good Pilates Instructor understands that. Their role is to help you better understand, connect and achieve your goals, so they will actively explore different strategies to find what works best for you. For example, mixing up the types of cues they use (to support you through an exercise) can make a big difference. Some people require more proprioceptive feedback and need to be guided by their teachers hands to better feel the muscles required to work. This doesn’t mean your instructor should use inappropriate touch but they should know how to direct correct muscle patterning with their hands. Others can simply watch and follow a demonstration, or need some kind of visualisation to help them feel deeper connections. Often it can be the mix of all three that achieves the best results. Remember the time and investment put into your choice of exercise is for YOU – not the Instructor. It is not ideal if your instructor is “working out” with you and you are simply watching them to try and follow what they’re doing.
4. Passion for what they do
A good Pilates Instructor will be visibly passionate about what they do. They will live and breathe the Pilates Method, openly sharing the physical and mental benefits of Pilates with anyone that will listen. In studio, a good Pilates Instructor’s priority will be YOU. Offering a high level of personal care and attention, they will ensure your Pilates experience is an enjoyable one where you feel safe, comfortable and empowered to reach your goal.