What will it be this year?

 

accomplishments-and-resolutions

What will it be for you this year?
The year it was Capoeira was perhaps the most life-enhancing for me.

Each year, I seek something that I can be a beginner in. Something I can do 3 times a week as a newbie, a tyro. Something where I must experience what it is like to know nothing, learn, study, work hard and accomplish! Something where I can learn from an expert in a field that I know nothing about.

I’m not a fan of resolutions. They are not only nearly always broken which then makes the failed resolver feel guilty, but they are usually guilt-inspired, too. Either you’re going to work out more or eat less of this or eat more of that or do something that is so completely out of your norm that you despise it. You’re going to go out less, drink less, go out more, drink more?! You’re not doing them. You’re not. You don’t want to you. Guilt is not a good educator. Guilt does not inspire. Guilt is not an enhancer for life. Resolutions fail. If you’re the one person reading this who says “My resolutions don’t fail” then I applaud you! Go for it! But you are one of not-so-many.

What if you did something that you want to do? Not a punishment, but something you find interesting and fun! And as teachers, here on The Pilates Teacher Blog, what if you were a beginner at something that you are interested in that might make you an even better teacher? What if you put yourself in your beginner clients’ shoes? Your clients come to you after the new year looking to fulfill their resolutions or start mid-year hoping to accomplish something important to them. Achieve goals. They come as sheer novices seeking guidance from you…the teacher. What if you did the same?

Sure, we can all remember being a beginner. I remember being a beginner at Pilates. I remember nearly everything about it! Can you recall what it was like being a beginner in Pilates? Do you remember what it was like doing each exercise for the first time? (Strange!) What it was like walking into a Pilates studio for the first time? (Weird! Every apparatus looks horrifying!) Having a teacher stand over you and touch your abdomen? (Unless you’re a dancer, this is bizarre!) Taking some time to remember what it was like to be a beginner in Pilates yourself is an important task. Remembering what it is like to be a beginner and less accomplished makes you extra compassionate to your clients.

Along with the vital quality of being compassionate…becoming a beginner, again, makes you a better teacher! You will learn from your new teacher some skills that you don’t already have. Putting yourself in an unusual circumstance enhances your ability to recognize good (and not so good) teaching skills. I mentioned Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) at the start of this article. When I started training in Capoeira, I didn’t realize how much I would learn about being a teacher. I thought I was just going to get an excellent workout! Two of my teachers were particularly special: Eletrico and Mestre Boneco (these are Capoeira knicknames). Eletrico was one  the most clear and encouraging teachers I had ever had in anything (aside from Germaine Salsberg in tap, but  I haven’t been a beginner in tap since I was 3 years old). He was remarkably sure of the technique of each move, when and how to use them in the playing of Capoeira. If I had a question, he always answered it clearly in a way that made me very sure that I really understood. He cared that I understood. Then there was Mestre Boneco. “Mestre” is Master in Brazilian Portuguese. And he is the master indeed. He was overjoyed with Beginners! He’d walk into his classes and exclaim “Beginners!!!” He recognized that Beginners are everything to a real teacher! Teaching beginners well, encouraging their growth is what brings life what it is that we teach! Mestre Boneco spoke in a very powerful voice. Loud, sure, but it wasn’t just volume that commanded the room. His voice bellowed in a way that made each student know that they were individually seen and cared for. His voice was strong and supportive. My female or male teachers in dance and Pilates never used a voice like this. The most famous directors I worked with never had this. My greatest academic teachers did not embody this. I learned that if I wanted to teach with the strength that I had inside of me, that I must lower the tone of my voice, use more muscular and deep notes. I’ve always been known for my musical voice in my teaching, but hearing Mestre Boneco command the room as he did with his resonant voice and joy for beginners…it called me to attention and drew me to be excited to learn. His voice made me feel he was ever-present, supportive and happy to be there for us! We were a bunch of nervous beginners…we needed support! I certainly did!

Learning to ballroom dance was another great experience. Though I had danced all different styles professionally since I was a child, I had never had formal ballroom dance. Being choreographed in a tango, rhumba, waltz or swing is not the same as taking lessons to go beyond choreography. At first, I took group lessons, but soon realized that if I was going to get what I needed, then I would have to commit myself to one-on-one lessons. Somehow I carved out the time. My teacher, Danny, was the guy you’d see on the dance floor and wish you could be his partner. Everyone wants to dance with Danny. So…why not take private lessons? Again, though an accomplished dancer, I was such a true beginner in ballroom! I was happily stunned to be a novice! I love when I know nothing and then give myself the opportunity to learn. I loved that he really had to teach me how to follow, what are acceptable steps and what are not and so much more. I loved that as a woman being “the follow” and he “the lead” I had to go backwards into every step and not know which step/move he was going to lead me into. I had NO IDEA what was going on and that was a great thing! Give yourself up to your teacher and trust! As I took each session, I learned more and more. I went from stepping on my teacher’s toes and feeling lost to dancing backward (in heels) with confidence. I learned the nuances of being led, which steps were appropriate, how to move around a crowd of other dancers without bumping into others…and that made me feel accomplished! Going from newbie to accomplished student made me feel happy!

Struggling and then succeeding brings on happiness! We see this with our clients and we deserve to feel it, too!

Now, as a teacher of movement, you might think that engaging in a movement practice is the only way to embark on this, but it’s not. What about learning a new language? Learn to play an instrument! Learn to play golf! Learn to write screenplays! Learn anatomy and physiology! Learn something new! Give yourself a gift rather than a resolution! Put yourself in beginner shoes and feel the great accomplishment of going from novice to, well, not-novice!

Each year, I embark on learning something new. I make myself a beginner every single year. Sometimes more than once a year. You might say “who has the time for this?” You do. We all do. The time spent on Facebook or some other social media…if you tallied that all together you know that would be enough time to do something considerably more productive that would bring you far more joy and sense of accomplishment than a resolution that you’re going to drop. That wasn’t meant as guilt, but rather to show you that you do have the time. We all do. We all have the same 24 hours in each day. What we do with those 24 hours is a set of choices we each make that either brings us to feelings of true joy or not. Now, in truth, there are times in our lives where it is impossible to do something so satisfying as learning something new and being able to make time for it. Sometimes there is literally no way to build in the time for 3 times a week of study or even one. However…most of the time there is. Sometimes it might just be taking on a new sort of puzzle: crosswords, sudoku… Maybe it’s cooking a new recipe even once a week.

Do something new! Something that you are a beginner at. Be incredibly terrible at it and then learn! Accomplish! Enough with resolutions where you will fail yourself and live in the cycle of guilt. Instead…learn something new. Commit yourself to it for 6 months. Be a beginner who develops and feels the joy of accomplishment. Let that seep into your teaching experience. See how your compassion for your students burgeons and your skills as a teacher grow exponentially!

Enjoy!

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

 

January 4, 2017 at 6:57 pm 2 comments

My Hero…

and then
when all of your heroes are gone
what then?
will you be your own
hero at long last?
will you be so brave
to realize
you
always
have been?
– Shari B.

 

December 27, 2016 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

World Peace Pilates on the 12th of November 2016

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I don’t usually advertise any classes or workshops as a blog…but just a quick note that on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 2pm NYC time (check for your time zone), I will be teaching a live-streaming mat class for anyone in the entire world who wants to join in! Studio S Pilates asked me to do it and I happily agreed! It’s worth sharing here where you all are such a special worldwide community!

The world is an interesting place…especially right now! There is so much conflict in the entire world and even in the world of Pilates. Why not spend a bit of time together just enjoying what we all have to share?! Our common interests and passions!

That is what World Peace Pilates class is all about!

It’s a 1.5 hour session. A 55 minute mat class and then 30 minute question/answer session. You can send questions ahead to Sunni Almond who is hosting at: studio_s@icloud.com or bring them out in the moment that day!

For registration, go here: https://studiospilates.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?appointmentType=1947492

It’s only $30 and a complete tax-write off!

World Peace Pilates-cize with me on the 12th of November!

I hope to see you there!
– Shari

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

November 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

Finish It Strongly!

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Finish it strongly!

The most important repetition…
Which  is the most important repetition? The first? The second? The last?
Is this a trick question? Is the winning answer “All of them are equally important?”
Well, I guess that is the perfect answer: All of them are equally important. However, today I want to discuss the one that everyone dismisses. Perhaps the most important…
The Last Repetition. The Final Repetition.

Yes. That final repetition in your set. You do three, five, sometimes ten repetitions. What happens to that final repetition? Often times…it fades off into nothing-ness. Not a real repetition. It gets lost like the end of a sentence. Does anyone care about The Final Repetition? That last repetition?

Perhaps after this little article you will!

Repetition Number One

Now, the first repetition of an exercise sets the stage. The teacher sees what the client has taken from previous sessions, previous exercises of the day, previous cues. The first repetition is the starting zone that lays the groundwork for all other repetitions of that exercise. From the first, we know what to cue and where to progress this exercise in the limited number of repetitions for that exercise in that session.

If we’ve got those three, five, sometimes (rarely) ten repetitions, we must gather a lot of information from that very first repetition and apply that to how we cue our client in repetition number two.

Repetition Number Two

Here’s your chance, Teacher! You pull out the stops! You’ve observed that first repetition and all that has ever come before and you’ve got a cue. (Just go with one cue…let’s not go overboard and drive our client’s crazy with more than they can handle in the moment.) You’ve got the most important cue relative to the moment and the arc of your client’s physical journey. You say it loud and proud!
She gets it or doesn’t.

Repetition Number Three

If this isn’t your final repetition…then you’ve got more time to refine. A different way of saying the same cue if she didn’t get the action you were hoping for in repetition number two. Perhaps a different cue if she did get the first one! Maybe it’s a hands on cue. And you can keep cuing like this through the second to last repetition…

What ever it be…you are building and developing to…

The Final Repetition

A remarkable thing seems to happen in The Final Repetition. Strangely, after all of that good work in repetition numbers one, two, three…five, sometimes, nine and ten…after so much good…so many of our clients drop off in the middle of it. And what do we as teachers do? Apparently we let them. I see this with teachers all over the world. I teach those teachers in session and I see arms drop down out of Pull Straps II  (The T-Pull) before the end of the repetition. I see half of a Short Spine. I see a sloppy final Double Straight Leg Stretch/Lower-Lift…and just about every exercise you could name…that final repetition is a throw away.

I remember talking with a quite famous teacher and he told me that we do five repetitions because most people drop off on the last repetition… we teach five so they at least get in four solid repetitions.

Well, that didn’t sit well with me. Why would we have one repetition that is a waste of all of our time? Your time. My time. Wasted.
Why not do all repetitions  as though they matter? Because they do, you know.

I decided to eliminate the drop off on The Final Repetition. I would work for it in my own workouts and I would get my clients to work for it, too. I just added this little phrase:
Finish it strongly!

That’s it! That’s all it takes! During the last repetition right before your client wants to fall herself and give up…say “Finish it strongly!” And do you know what happens? Your client does! It’s gorgeous!

Every exercise must have a strong beginning, full middle and complete end!
Finish it strongly!

My goodness, my colleagues…it’s only three, five and sometimes ten repetitions. We can all pull out that final repetition. We can do it! The whole point of limited repetitions in Pilates is to keep our clients focused on the exercise so that they can do a few or handful of great repetitions and never have those lousy wasted repetitions we see so often elsewhere. Right.
So…let’s get them making the most of those repetitions. It’s only three, five and sometimes ten.
Of course, there often needs to be a follow up to the now special phrase “Finish it strongly!” For example, Pull Straps II that I had mentioned earlier. Everyone wants to drop her arms before the exercise is over. I say “Finish it strongly! Keep your arms uplifted!”
Yes…that simple to say. Difficult for your client to achieve and that’s exactly why the workout just stepped up to a different level! No matter what the level of your client. No matter what the ailment or combination of ailments…Finish it strongly! Relative to the client’s situation.

Another example, The Hundred on the mat or the reformer or…anywhere. Oh, it looks great for those first several breaths. When you get to the last breath “Finish it strongly! Keep pumping your arms! Give a full exhale!” Now we have The Hundred rather than The Ninety.

Or The Push Through on the Cadillac/Trapeze Table. Of course, that last one just seems like a throwaway…or…”Reach the bar up higher from the lift of your spine! Finish it strongly!”

Or any exercise: Side Kicks on the mat. Mountain Climb on the wunda chair. Swan on the Ladder Barrel. Press Down Front on the High Chair. And so on and so on. Every exercise has a last repetition…make it count!

Watch yourself in your own workouts. Watch your clients and listen to your teaching. What do you say? What is your energy? Do you trail off or do you stay with your client?
Make the most of every moment!

It’s a gift you give to yourself! Finish it strongly!

Enjoy teaching!
– Shari

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

 

 

June 27, 2016 at 10:19 pm 5 comments

Is there a doctor in the house? What is your job and what is not your job?

What's Your Tool?

What’s Your Job?

Well, I thought I’d be writing an article on something completely different today, but I will share that with you next time. It has become more and more obvious to me that we need to discuss Scope of Practice. I know, I know…it sounds boring…but, as usual, I will attempt to make it a non-boring subject! Let’s go!

What is your job? Really. As a Pilates teacher, what is your job? What are you?
You are a personal fitness trainer.
A personal trainer of an extremely refined “phylum” of exercise.
You are not a physiotherapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are not a massage therapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are not a psychotherapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are an exercise trainer in the modality of Pilates. Whatever style of Pilates.
You are extremely valuable in that role. Pilates proves itself over and over to be a very good form of exercise, especially when applying a quality education in functional anatomy/kinesiology to the movements/actions/exercises.
Physical activity/exercise is essential to the health of any human being.
You are valuable by encouraging healthy physical activity.

(Why is Shari saying this like that? What’s she getting at?)

It seems that both clients and Pilates teachers are starting to think that a Pilates teacher is something other than a high-end and very specialized exercise trainer. Just because we craft our sessions for the person in front of us; just because we can work around nearly all injuries and ailments; just because Pilates can often support a person’s system so well that healing occurs when nothing else seems to work…this does not mean that you bear the responsibility for fixing anyone.

Let’s make that clear: Your job is to exercise people working around their injury or ailment. Not into it. You do not fix or heal anyone. Hopefully, the work you do creates an environment (simply by providing a safe place for movement) that allows this person to be more healthy as an organism and that supports the opportunity for healing in an ailing area or system. You do not fix or heal people.

Why Pilates (and other movement modalities) seems to make this possible…?
That’s another article all together and the focus of my life’s work. (Join me in The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives or stay tuned for many more things…)
For the moment, let’s stick to this.

It seems as though Pilates teachers are feeling a lot of pressure to cure ailments. Your client has osteonecrosis in her knee. I see people all of social media forums asking what to do. I get emails asking what to do. I’ll tell you what to do: Work around that knee. Only do movements, exercises, ranges of motion (ROM) that will not even spark a bit of pain. Strengthen the rest of the body and work around that knee. Pick what exercises, versions of exercises, physical set ups and settings on apparatus to make sure that poor knee doesn’t have a negative experience at all. Choose wisely what to do and what not to do.
And that means you do not tell your client that you can “fix” her knee. You will not use Pilates to help heal that knee. You might say “Because in Pilates we work around your ailing joint, avoiding it at all costs, and strengthen the rest of your body so well, it appears that your body will have a better chance at healing itself.” You see…your client will heal herself. Or she’ll get an operation or go to physiotherapy or get an injection or live with the pain. But you cannot claim that Pilates is going to fix her.
Let’s play out another scenario:
Your client comes to you with a rotator cuff tear. Whether this is a new client or a client you’ve been working with for some time what do you do?
Right. You avoid that shoulder girdle and shoulder joint in the workout. You find out what  ROM of the arm this client has where there is no pain and work within the parameters of…no pain. Indeed, you ask if he has gone to the doctor, physio, etc. You ask if he is getting any treatment and doing any other exercise. Then you create a workout that works around that area. Is it going to be a lot of legs and lower torso exercises? Sure. Not ideal and imbalanced? Sure. And that has to be OK. Do you go in and try to teach this person good shoulder girdle mechanics? Not if the shoulder is injured and in pain. When this person is healed up enough to mobilize his shoulder girdle, then you can address the shoulder girdle mechanics, but…just avoid the area at first. Your job is to give this person a workout working around the area of injury.

It’s tempting, I know it is! It’s tempting to try to heal this person. However, you simply do not have the qualifications for it AND AND AND…it appears that very often just working around a joint really does help a person heal! I mean it! It’s holistic.

Now, the thing is, the Pilates teacher community is one of the most wonderfully giving groups around. We just want to help! We feel so deeply for our clients and want people to feel good…but the pressure that I see building up in the community is unnecessary and damaging. Release yourself from this pressure. It’s not your job to fix people. It’s your job to give them amazing exercise around their ailment so that they can perhaps heal themselves…which is better than you trying to fix them.

I will strongly encourage you to learn about each ailment your clients come to you with. You must educate yourself on whatever they bring your way. Why? So that you can figure out how to work around it. One way to learn? Google. Yes, our good friend Google. Then you have to be wise about what you’re reading when you search an ailment. Please just learn about the pathology. The anatomy of the ailment. Great websites for lay-people webmd.com: http//www.webmd.com
National Library of Medicine: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/medlineplus.html
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-care-and-health-information

Learn about the ailment or injury, take the pressure off of yourself and work around ailments.

Your job as a Pilates teacher is amazing! You are good enough and great enough doing what you do as a very high-end specialized personal trainer. You train people’s bodies to strengthen and heal themselves! Goodness! Pilates teachers are great!

***Do you need help figuring out how to work around different parts of the body or ailments? Reach out to me! I will teach you! I’ll share my tried and true, well-worked guidelines of how to educate yourself and work around anything! (That’s what my Injuries, Ailments and Imbalances  as well as my Mysterious Aches and Pains workshops are all about.) We can work in workshops or private workshops on Skype or video conference. I’m glad to help.

Any questions? Just ask!
Enjoy teaching!
– Shari

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

February 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm 11 comments

Your Favorite Client

 

Favorite

 

Do you have a favorite client? Who is this client? What do you love about this client? How do you treat this client?

Was your answer: “My favorite client is Me, of course!”?
Hmmm…why not? Why is your favorite client someone other than you?

Alas, I will share a guilty pleasure of the past with you that taught me a valuable lesson: Some years ago, my grocery store checkout people kept telling me that I looked like this model from America’s Next Top Model. I mean so much so that they didn’t believe me when I said that I wasn’t her. Now…this is pretty funny considering that I am outrageously short to be one of those ladies. We might think it’s funny for other reasons, but I will just pretend that it is possible to mistaken me thusly…

In any case…of course I got curious about this show and started watching it. I think this was Season 3. It is a ridiculous show. I mean horrendous…except for the fashion and this one tip (or maybe two) that I actually learned from it. What’s so ridiculous and horrendous? Do we really need to see a bunch of massively emotionally messed up girls wearing stupid clothing, fighting and complaining about their blessed lives? No…still…

When asked who she thinks should win this particular season of America’s Next Top Model, this one hopeful participant said something akin to “I think Leslie should win. She is incredibly photogenic…” and some other things. Well…don’t you know that the judge practically handed her derrière to her and said something like this “Why would you be in a competition and not choose yourself as the winner? How can you succeed if you don’t think you’re able to win? You just lost the competition for yourself because you do not believe in yourself!”

And there it was.
From America’s Next Top Model.
Inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places.

OK…what was so interesting? It’s that we have to want ourselves to succeed. This woman couldn’t possibly win if she didn’t consider herself the absolute winner already. If you think someone else is going to win…someone else will. If you don’t think you can be the frontrunner…you cannot be.

Now…how does this relate to Pilates. Especially since those who know me know that I do not believe in competition. I say “Competition exists, but we do not have to be competitive”. In our world of Pilates, people always fear competition. Why? There are plenty of clients out there for all of us.

So…how this relates to Pilates is about how you think of yourself in Pilates…and how you treat yourself in Pilates. How you answer the question “Who is your favorite client?” is everything. If it’s Judy at 5pm on Tuesdays or Mark 3 times a week at 12noon…
Anyone who comes 3 times a week;
My celebrities;
That sweet older gentleman;
That young ballerina;
The football player;
The lady with diabetes and heart disease…
then you’ve got to reassess.
It’s got to be you. You must be your own favorite client.

Who should get the best workout of the day? You.
Who should get 3-5 sessions per week? You.
Whose injuries and ailments should heal because of Pilates? Yours.

Schedule in your workouts
Teach yourself with clear goals. You’re workout is FREE! Do it!
If your method doesn’t seem to help you balance out…ask for assistance from someone’s that does. I will help you! Just email me!

When you teach any other client, it’s always best if you have already had the best you can give…because you’re your own favorite client. That also means that you must treat yourself well in a workout. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Work yourself out at your own level. Not some suppose’d teacher level. Meaning most teachers are not Super-Advanced or even Advanced. Could you be? If you’re consistent in your workouts and have a clear plan of development, then one day, but what if you’re not, right now. What if you work yourself out at the right level for you…like you would for your favorite client…who is now you?

So…that’s all I have to say about this. Really, it’s quite simple. Shift your focus of who is the winner; who is your favorite client. Why shouldn’t it be you? Why couldn’t it be you?

Enjoy!
– Shari

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

December 22, 2015 at 5:34 pm 18 comments

The Best Pilates Teaching Tool: What Once Was Elusive Is Now Available to Learn and Use!

The Rhythm of Life... The Music of Pilates...

The Rhythm of Life…
The Music of Pilates…

I knew what I was learning. I knew how special it was and simply assumed everyone else both learned it and saw the value in it, too. Growing from client to student to teacher, I realize, of course, that not everyone picks up on the same aspects of anything. It’s this way in all of life. Pilates, too!

What I’m talking about is the greatest tool we as teachers can use to help our clients and help ourselves in the Pilates session or class. It’s the rhythms of each exercise. I thought it was utterly obvious to everyone how vital the rhythms of each exercise in Pilates are…but it seems that most people did not recognize this. Some never heard them at all. Some discounted them as unnecessary, some couldn’t pick them up by rote and just tossed them out, some did pick them up but  cannot verbalize it to share.

You see…nearly all movements in life take on a rhythm…a pattern of beats within a particular segment of time. Whether it be a song, your heart beat, your walk, your speech, how you sweep the floor of the way you stir your coffee or chew your gum…let alone how you dance, lift weights, etc. We develop rhythms to help us be efficient in the way that we do these actions. Rhythms are consistent in the pattern and there are accents that highlight certain aspects of any action.

Now, each Pilates exercise is a set of repetitive movements; you do a series of repetitions or sets. With that, the pattern of accents, the rhythms ought to be consistent from one repetition to the next and, if we’re wise, they should highlight important parts of the accent helping us connect into the purpose of the exercise. They should assist and challenge.

As I teach people of all styles of Pilates all over the world, I find it interesting to see how very many styles do not use rhythm as this special tool and how even the style that I was trained in seems to have lost track of these rhythms. Yet at the same time, teachers and instructors of all styles share their frustrations of teaching a session or class…and it is clear to me that rhythms would help them. One of the great frustrations is keeping clients moving while they cue into the exercise. And keeping clients together in a group class. They say that it’s difficult to keep your clients working at the same pace. That often people stop when you cue. That you can never really get them “going”.

Does this resonate with you?

WHAT DO I DO?

What I suggest is to discover the appropriate rhythm for each exercise. Teach rhythm as soon as you can in an exercise. If it’s a new exercise, the first repetition is really just the technique of an exercise. That is what body part is moving and where it’s moving to. By the second repetition of a new exercise, you can flow right into the rhythm of the exercise. That is the muscularity and feeling of the exercise; the accents, the drive of the workout (at the appropriate level for the client…of course it is different for all people). If an exercise is not new, but one your client does all of the time, after you call out the name of the exercise, just start the first repetition in rhythm already. Get your clients flowing into the way you are desiring.

With that, you must teach in rhythm for a few repetitions before you can leave that rhythm and start teaching out of the pattern. you see, if you set the rhythm strongly, then your clients will keep going even if you are quite…another great tool: Silence! However, silence is only useful if it’s supported silence. That means that the rhythm has been taught and kept, the cues are strong and necessary and your clients are “getting it”! So, speak in-rhythm for a few repetitions before you talk out of rhythm.

You keep clients moving by setting the rhythm!
You keep multiple clients moving together by setting the rhythm!
You drive the workout (at the appropriate level) by setting the rhythm!

Exercises practically teach themselves if you set the appropriate rhythm! Again, the accents in the pattern of beats in the repetition will challenge or support the body during the movement. Fast movements challenge stability. Slow movements encourage and support stability; they teach stability so that you can mobilize elsewhere.

It’s very tempting to make all exercises rhythm-less. Slow and smooth and all the same. We often feel that our clients can “get” the exercise better, but the truth is that they are not challenged by the movement when it is all slow and silky. It is predictable and easy to stabilize against…because there is no “against”. Life happens quickly and suddenly. Our actions in Pilates are to prepare us for the actions of life. It is rather unpredictable. We must play with different scenarios. Rhythms and the ensuing tempos (speeds) helps us!

It makes life so much easier! Teaching is easy with the right tools! Teaching is fun with the right tools! The pressure is off if we use what we have available to us!

THE MUSIC OF PILATES

For me, I teach Joseph Pilates’ exercises. He happened to created a particular rhythm for each exercise. He was very specific about it. In fact, I have interviewed many of his former clients and they have told me that rhythm was more important to him than breath. Yes! Rhythm! Once the rhythm is set, then the breath happens by itself. It’s remarkably efficient!

Whether you teach Joseph Pilates’ exercises or not, each exercise you do can be done to a rhythm that highlights and supports the client, the teacher, the movement.

Now, I mentioned tempo a moment ago. Tempo is the speed at which you do the pattern of beats or accents. You can do something fast or slow or anywhere in between…that is tempo. The time. Rhythm is that pattern of beats.

Let’s take a non-Pilates tune: Happy Birthday. Sing it in your head (our out loud) Don’t rush…imagine you’re singing it for a good friend…
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Pilates…!
Happy Birthday to you!

There is a pacing to it. There are accents (some parts are smooth and some are sharp).
You use your voice or the sound to keep the listener engaged.
You use your pitch (high notes or low notes) to high light different sections showing importance!

You could sing it fast or you could sing it slow.

Now, you could use this for The Hundred or Short Spine…but it is not the right song for The Hundred. It’s not the right song for Short Spine. It would do…but it’s not just right is it? Would it be great if you sand The Hundred Song? The Short Spine Song?

This is what I call “The Music of Pilates”. It is the music you create with your voice to sing the song of the exercise. Sometimes you sing it quickly. Sometimes you sing it slowly. You sing it just enough that your client ultimately sings it to her/himself. She hears the music in her head whether she is with you in the studio or at home practicing. And yes, yes, we want our clients to practice at home on their own. We must encourage their independence.

Here is an example of The Backstroke and The Teaser on The Reformer. This is a video of my recording of “The Music of Pilates” downloadable workshop I will “talk” more about just below:

Originally, I had planned on writing this article for America’s Independence Day because this tool is all about independence. Your clients will still need you, but not to count, not to remember the exercise and certainly not not not to keep moving with the desired accents that make the exercise the exercise!

“The Music of Pilates” comes out of your mouth and plays into the speakers of your clients’ ears! It is some of the most beautiful music ever!

Again, it makes teaching effective and fun!
It makes Pilates easier to connect to and do!
It makes difficult things supported and easy things easier!

HOW DO I LEARN “THE MUSIC OF PILATES”?

So how do you learn this? Can you just pull it out of thin air? Well, I do believe the way to learn it is to hear these rhythms over and over again and embody them (do the exercises to them). They become part of you and then you can teach them. However, most people don’t know how to teach them so where will you access them?

A couple of years ago, I went into the recording studio and created a very special recording called “The Music of Pilates”. It is a 3 PMA CEC workshop that you listen to. You don’t watch it. You listen to it. You learn by listening. You practice by verbalizing and by doing the exercises to the sound of my voice. What I’ve recorded are the Mat and Reformer at what are commonly considered the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced exercises of the classical repertoire.

You will learn the following:
The intention of each exercise
The rhythm for each exercise
Why that rhythm
How to count that rhythm
How to verbalize/teach that rhythm

The Music of Pilates

The Music of Pilates

There are 3 modules:
Module 1: Introduction of why rhythms are important and how to use The Music of Pilates

Module 2: Teaching/Learning Module. This is where you will learn the following:
The intention of each exercise
The rhythm for each exercise
Why that rhythm
How to count that rhythm
How to verbalize/teach that rhythm
…and there is time to pause and practice.

Please listen to this audio clip from Module 2 of Backstroke on the Reformer:

Module 3: Practice Module
In this section, you either verbalize or exercise through the full matwork and then the reformer work. There is no pausing for teaching like in Module 2…it is just the work out. We do full repetitions of each exercise in full rhythm and flow. They are the advanced tempos (speed)…so…it’s a workout! Some people are shocked to see that the Advanced Mat is 18 minutes long. And then I say: Yes,  yes it is! It’s not a teaching moment for you for your clients…this is your practice where your focus, your theme is rhythm and flow!

Again, tempo is speed and you can always play with tempo by slowing an exercise down or speeding it up…but for the purpose of this program I’ve created…it’s rather brisk! Enjoy! Work yourself up to it!

And then there are the PMA CECs. If you would like to take the evaluation after you’ve gone through the recording…email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com and I will send you the evaluation. You fill it out and email it back to me. I check it over and offer suggestions if needed and send you the 3 PMA CE certificate!

To encourage purchase of this so you all can use this special tool, I’m setting a special price for a limited time of $50 for “The Music of Pilates” rather than the normal $99.

Now, again, it’s a downloaded workshop that you listen to. There is no visual. This is an important aspect of the learning. We often think we’re visual learners. Sure, part of you is. However, you must be a kinesthetic learner an aural learner and more.

Please go to this page on my website: http://www.theverticalworkshop.com/the-music-of-pilates/
Listen to the samples and then go to the link to purchase.
Want to just purchase, go directly to http://theverticalworkshop.spinshop.com/store/redeem/shariberkowitzthevertical/29171

****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!

If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!
****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

August 1, 2015 at 5:05 pm 2 comments

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