I’m not sure if this article get’s filed under “Life” or “Pilates”. Or is this one where it is “Life Lessons from Teaching”? Likely this last one.
Life Lessons from Teaching: Expectations.
Whether your a Pilates teacher, professor, personal trainer, doctor, parent or, well…any human who works with other humans…we all develop expectations. Expectations are our imagined desired outcomes of any interaction. Expectations are our “goal-setting” plans whether they are realistic or not. Ah…there’s the rub! Expectations are best developed when they balance the reality of the situation and possible outcomes or results; however, especially as an American, often our expectations are not congruent with the results. What to do? What to do?
So many teachers reach out to me with their frustrations over their clients. I recognize this frustrations. Perhaps you will, too:
Why can’t my client do this exercise?
Why isn’t my client advancing after this many sessions?
My client isn’t making the lower abdominal connection! What’s wrong with her?
My client is still hurting after all of this time!
My client doesn’t work hard enough!
My client won’t stop talking to do the work!
My client only wants to stretch!
Your client has goals.
You have goals.
We have to align our goals together.
Let’s consider why your client comes to Pilates. Why do people come to Pilates?
To get fit
To help their aching back
To get better posture
To get that “Pilates Body” (Whatever that is!)
To be better in his sport (golf, tennis, skiing)
To get rid of chicken wings of the arms
To get a lifted bum
To get a flat stomach
Know your client’s goals. Remind yourself of his/her goals before each session. Work…work to help her reach an attainable version of her goals…relative to what else she does or does not do in life; relative to how viable these goals are; relative to commitment and desire.
And what about you? What are your goals in teaching?
To earn money
To help people
To do something you enjoy
To do something that is active rather than sedentary
To have a flexible schedule
To be able to have Pilates all day every day
Know your own goals. Remind yourself of your own goals before each session. Then seek to satisfy your goals within that session and each day.
Now, I think we can clearly recognize that our clients’ goals and our own goals are for the most part quite complementary. However…we have to make sure we keep it that way. Sometimes, especially in the teaching field (Pilates, PT, school/university, parenting) we want more for our clients (students, patients, children) than they want for themselves. Or…different. There are times, absolutely, where we need to encourage our clients to want more for themselves. However, that must be within reason and relative to what they already want for themselves. For example, we think a client can do The Teaser. She thinks it’s impossible; however, when she finally gives in and gives it a try, she realizes that it was possible all along! She didn’t trust herself and then she gave into her trust in you and then learned to believe in herself more! These are great moments. However…what I’m really talking about are the unreasonable expectations that I listed above when you want your client to be more advanced, more connected, more driven, more something than they want. The frustration builds in you! You know what I’m talking about! You get almost angry at your client and find her lazy or unwilling or difficult. What if…what if she is really just different from you? What if she is a slower learner? What if she is just weaker than you had expected? What if she is more uncoordinated that you realize? What if she doesn’t care as much as you do?
You see…that’s the reality. Very often our clients do not want the same thing for themselves as we want for them. And you know what? That has to be OK. That has to be 100% OK. We have to alter our expectation to be appropriate for the client in front of us. Of course we will encourage. Of course we will push a little bit more than a client would push themselves. That is our job. But we cannot change a person.
Now…this is where we get to Life Lessons via Pilates:
Each person develops at her own rate.
One person will be a beginner for 5 sessions and then race on!
Another person will remain a relative beginner for her entire Pilates career.
One person may lift her vertebrae apart from each other the moment you cue it!
Another person may take weeks and months.
One person will learn the names and set ups of each exercise on each apparatus quickly
Another person you might have to repeat it time and time again.
And this is how it goes. Everybody progresses at his or her own rate. It is we, the teachers, who must adjust our expectations.
So, your client doesn’t have the drive that you want her to have. That has to be just fine. You’ve got to find the value in what she is doing. Remember her goals. Remember before every single session what her goals are. Just keep working toward them with her…rather than against her.
Your client came for a while, his back got better and then you never saw him again. It’s easy to be frustrated. Why not be glad for him that he received what he needed? Remember, his goal was to just get his back better so he could go back to golf. Remember, your goal was that he stay as a client 3 times a week for the rest of forever. Oops! Inappropriate expectation.
Check in before each day: What are my goals?
Check in before each session: What is my client’s goal?
Do you keep client cards? Client cards are papers for each client that lists what exercises your client does, when she learned each exercise, your client’s ailments and your client’s goals. Refer to your cards.
Balance your expectations. The folly of man (one folly) is an inability to reconcile reality with imagination. Keep your expectations high for yourself and appropriate for others. No one is you. Your client deserves to have her goals considered. Gosh, you’ll have a much better time teaching and your clients will have a far better time learning if you keep it in balance.
If you have any comments or thoughts, please do share them below!
And please check out the sidebar for Workshops I’ll be giving around the world. Remember, you are welcome to come to the seminars for all of The Intensives, one at a time, a la carte. They are open to you. You need not do the entire Intensives program if it is not possible for you!
Also, reach out for Skype sessions, consultations, Q&A.
info@TheVerticalWorkshop is where you can find me!
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