Pilatespeak – Choose Your Words Carefully
Remember the great novel 1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)? Remember “Newspeak”? It was the choice use of words to create a mentality and society that behaves in the way that the government wanted eliminating free thought and independence. It was author George Orwell’s way of expressing the power of the lexicon. What you say is directly related to how you think and what you do. There is no separation. If you say it…that is how you behave.
What does this have to do with Pilates? Everything.
When we teach, we must choose our words carefully. What we say is exactly what our clients do. If we are wise, we will pick words that embody the intention of the exercise. With this, our clients learn the exercises more easily…and not just the movement, but the action.
Pilates is about action. Length. Space. Strength. Opposition. We’re looking to create a balanced body and mind. That body has length, space, strength, opposition. That body is energized for Life. That mind is creative, flowing and focused. The movement is flowing, joyful and spontaneous. There is no habit. There is no compression. There is no force.
With our words, along with the method, we create an environment of length, space, strength, openness.
So…choose your words carefully. Speak Pilatespeak.
Remove all words that indicate compression, tension, force, shortness, pain and replace them with words that represent Pilates length, space, strength and openness.
Here’s a guide:
Common – – – Pilatespeak
Down – – – – – Lengthen
Push – – – – – – Reach
Squeeze – – – – Hug
Drop – – – – – – Lower
Release – – – – Resist
Grab – – – – – – Place
Tummy – – – – Abdominals
Pinky – – – – – Small Finger
What’s it about? Psychology. Yes. We’re working the body and the mind. We have to understand how people learn. You see, the first thing people learn is what they burn into their memories. We are imprinted with our initial experience. Unlearning that is difficult. Not a little bit difficult…extremely difficult. It’s really important to teach the correct action correctly the first time. The first time. So, if you say “drop”…that’s exactly what your client is going to do. And that’s exactly the opposite of anything we ever want to do in Pilates because it gives into gravity. Choose a word that resists gravity…that incorporates length, opposition, control! You have a choices as a teacher. Make ones that affect your client positively.
Why waist your time having to teach multiple actions if one word change will make it happen right away.
For example: Mat: Side Kicks – Front/Back
If right away, on day 1, you teach the very bare technique (literally what body part is moving and where it is moving to) “Reach your leg forward, give it a pulse. Reach your leg back. No pulse.” You’re in business! Your client is working with control and reaching…lengthening…there it is! If you, instead, say what you’re used to saying “Kick your nose 2 times, swing your leg back and hold”…then you’ve set yourself and your client up for failure. Where is the control? Where is the length? You’ll get there eventually, but you could have gotten there on repetition number 1! Incredible. It is!
Why not give your clients (and yourself) an opportunity for success? Why not teach Pilates through your choice of words.
Another example: Reformer: Footwork: Tendon Stretch
Here is an exercise that while it stretches the sole of the foot achilles and calf muscles, as well as strengthens the muscles of the foot, around the shin/tibia and calf, it also needs to teach opposition and control. Remember that there is an equal balance of stretch and strength in every exercise. If on day 1 and every day after, you teach the initial, first repetition of technique while you stand directly in front of the footbar “Reach your heals to me. Lift them up to you.” Again…you’re in business! You just taught length with effort. However, if you say what you’re used to saying “Drop your heels. Lift them back up.” You’ve taught a lack of control that gives into gravity.
Does that make sense?
Here’s another: Mat: The Roll Up
First repetition as a new exercise: “Inhale, curl your head and chest up. Exhale reach your spine forward. Inhale start rolling your spine back. Exhale lengthen your spine into the mat.” That’s just the very first repetition. Already this client is reaching and lengthening. I don’t say “down to the mat” which implies lack of control, compression and release into gravity…I emphasize actions that are part of Pilates.
It makes an unbelievable difference!
Now, there are times that I have to “translate” Common Speak to Pilatespeak in order to teach my client my language. Such as a Swan Prep. First repetition, I might say something like this “Lift your torso and head up. Lengthen back into the mat…down to the mat. Second repetition which requires less words of technique and more rhythm and a sense of the energy or muscularity of the exercise I would say “Lift Up! Lengthen Long to the mat.” Embodying the exercise with the tone of my voice and choice of words.
It takes effort to choose words that embody the exercise. It does! And…if you’ve read my pieces before or work with me in workshops you know what I will say next: It’s your job to make the effort! And…it’s fun! It’s far more fun to choose great words that help your client than it is to choose cheap mindless ones. I don’t blame you for being mindless about this thus far. You’re doing a great job! You’re using the words that your teacher used and her teacher before. But…you can do better! You’re the next level in teaching. Let’s build on what we’ve learned. Let’s not stay in the habits of others…unless they work! And then…let’s even reach beyond that!
Enjoy! Have fun! See where you can stretch yourself…as a teacher! We’re supposed to be working our bodies and minds, too!
*****As always…please feel free to comment, ask questions, request a blog post/article topic, etc. Whatever you need, relative to Pilates, please just ask and I will work to provide! See below for workshop and session details! Thank you for taking the time to further your Pilates education with me!******
Sunday, June 12, 2011
9-10am – Thematic Mat Class
10:15a-1:15p – Archival Mat and Standing Exercises
2-5p – The World of The Chairs: High Chair and Wunda Chair – Your Body’s Best Friends!
For registration and pricing information, contact Elaine at Rhinebeck Pilateswww.RhinebeckPilates.com
Saturday, June 18, 2011
NYC – Real Pilates
Shoulder Girdle: A Delicate Balance
The Shoulder Girdle is a complex system. When I first started teaching, all I knew was “pull your wings down” and “crack a walnut”. The more I study biomechanics, the more I know there’s very little down and no cracking. It’s a delicate balance of bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons…and constant reassessing. Dynamic Stability is what we’re looking for. Let’s spend time studying where we’re going with the shoulder girdle and how to get there in Pilates. We’ll take time with anatomy and biomechanics, Pilates exercises, common ailments and all of your questions. Take a moment to review what you already know before the workshop…then we can grow from there.
Register atwww.realpilatesnyc.com Go to the option “Browse our classes” and then click on “Workshops”. You’ll see it there! If you prefer, you can just call 212.625.0777 .
***Please share this information and tell your Pilates teacher friends and colleagues to come on over for workouts and workshops that will get your Pilates-teaching-juices flowing.***
Again, these are not your typical workshops where you might get 1 useful tidbit. You will leave full of new teaching skills and ways to look at Mr. Pilates work. You will have a new perspective on Pilates that will enliven your teaching and your own workouts!
Shall we set up something at your studio or the one you work at? Clearly, I travel to teach and enjoy it! Read below for more info!
Workshops in Your Studio:
While my vocabulary is classical Pilates, the principles behind my teaching and workshops apply to every style of Pilates.
We have countless topics to play with within technique workshops of classical Pilates and teaching skills workshop that apply to all!
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