By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 22 2017 09:00AM
The second in a series of blogs by our Pilates instructor, Matthew Atwell, exploring The Pilates Education's particular, focussed approach to teaching Pilates
This is the second in a series of blogs where I explore my ethos, looking at some of the personal and professional values that inform how I teach Pilates in my work at The Pilates Education.
Creating an optimal learning environment
We will continue to explore what is unique about my Pilates approach by looking at one of my main priorities; that of creating an optimal learning environment for my students to absorb the most benefit from the practice of Pilates.
We will view this in light of teaching group Pilates classes. However, the key principles guide my approach to all teaching; mat and equipment Pilates classes being delivered to individuals and groups alike.
Some structure for the journey
Encountering Pilates without any structure or plan would be like setting out to climb a serious mountain without a map or guide; a venture that could be hazardous, with little chance of safely navigating the journey. That is why the Pilates student relies on the teacher to determine their route through the vast array of Pilates repertoire.
As a school teacher, I found the more organised and structured I was in my planning, the better the student progressed. However, I also discovered that my structure had to remain flexible to what the student needed in the moment. So being prepared to let go of the initial plan was also vital.
This is much the same in the Pilates encounter, and at the onset of starting the business I felt that structure was missing from many Pilates classes I attended. I don't mean the individual classes, as these were often balanced in the types of movements being performed, but more in the wider journey a student took over a period of time.
This is, of course, more of a challenge when teaching Pilates in groups. So, I decided to make a plan.
Laying a mutual foundation
One of the differences between teaching Pilates in groups and teaching in schools is that Pilates students lack a mutual foundation. A school class has covered the same ground, and integrated specific competencies before meeting you, which is more conducive to leading them forwards in their journey together.
To remedy this, I devised a foundational course that introduced new students to primary mat repertoire and key anatomy concepts, over the course of six classes. But perhaps more importantly, I determined that Mat Foundations would run in groups with a maximum of eight people, to allow space and time for individual feedback and questioning.
I am amazed by the results every time!
The course proves to lay a wonderful foundation where students explore how to perform the exercises safely, more effectively, and learn to recognise my way of explaining things. Plus it has become an excellent enrolment into my elementary (entry level) mat classes, which also take place with a maximum of eight students.
Onwards and upwards
Two tendencies tend to outplay in larger class sizes than this: an individual's growth is either too sudden, with the student failing to properly integrate skills needed for future challenge, or so slow that they become unstimulated and bored.
Plus, when undergoing my training I rarely encountered material in group classes beyond that of an intermediate level, which seemed to hold so many people back from exploring the potential heights of the repertoire.
So, I identified the need to steadily guide my students onwards and upwards in exploring more challenging repertoire at a pace that is right for the individual.
More recently, this led to launching Mat Transitions, a sequel to Foundations where students are safely guided into intermediate repertoire and anatomy concepts. It has been rewarding to see how enthused people have been in the transition to this harder repertoire, and I anticipate a further advanced training course to lead people into an advanced level mat class when the time is right.
Join me next time where I will share about my own commitment to continued growth in the practice and study of Pilates.