March 18, 2015 at 10:12 pm 24 comments

Google Search Images Result for "Expectations"

Google Search Images Result for “Expectations”

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!
My client…
My client…
My client…

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.

– Shari

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!
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info@TheVerticalWorkshop is where you can find me!


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Abdominals. Spine. Why? and Biotensegrity. The Best Pilates Teaching Tool: What Once Was Elusive Is Now Available to Learn and Use!

24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jodie  |  March 18, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Wow! Well written and to the point. Thank you.

  • 3. janaeluxe  |  March 18, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Yes! I have to remember to get out of my box regularly. Thanks for this reminder.

    • 4. theverticalworkshop  |  March 18, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you for thinking about it! We all need reminders! All the best to you!

  • 5. Susan pollack  |  March 18, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Well written, Shari! Excellent point:-) it applies to many aspects of our lives and underscores the need for communication and awareness of ourselves and others.

    • 6. theverticalworkshop  |  March 18, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      Thank you, Susan. That’s it…communication and awareness! All the best to you!! – Shari

  • 7. Kirsty  |  March 18, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    What a wonderful article Shari! I’m new to your blog and look forward to reading more! 😉

    • 8. theverticalworkshop  |  March 18, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Kirsty, it’s lovely to e-meet you here! Thank you for reading this article. Please read on and reach out when you have questions or comments!
      All the best,
      – Shari

  • 9. Kirsty Chalmers  |  March 18, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you – what a great little article and one that I shall endeavour to revisit!

  • 11. woman2womanpilates  |  March 19, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Thank you Shari for taking time to put all this VALUABLE information out here for us to read, words do not do justice to what you give us in these blogs! Thank you for this reminder not only to take better care of our clients but also ourselves, after all it was a “love” of Pilates that made us teachers, so very sad to loose that love in the drudgery of day-to-day. THANK YOU!

  • 12. Sarah  |  March 19, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Spot on as always Shari! I love reading your articles.

    • 13. Michael Miranda  |  March 19, 2015 at 12:58 am

      Hi Shari,

      Most if not all of these sound all too familiar! I think for me, I know how an exercise feels being the instructor but I also want to impart the same feeling for them! But they’re not me and like you said, we have to alter our expectations for the client in front of us. At the same time finding a balance of what they want and what I think they need. I have a senior client who also does yoga and he sometimes wants me to help break down or work on a yoga pose or exercise, so I’ll also tie in a Pilates exercise that relates to it! Then we’re both satisfied! But early on I used to get frustrated feeling I didn’t do enough for them, but I’ve grown into my teaching over the last 10yrs and a lot wiser now! Thank you for letting me share & I always look forward to your blog! Btw, Barbara Wintroub, my teacher/trainer says hi!

      Michael Miranda

  • 14. Mary German  |  March 19, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Thanks for the good read Shari. Last fall I started a Goal sheet for clients. It was an interesting project for me to create, since I needed a format that would incorporate a outline for clients to identify their existing base line and then recognize their intentions for the coming seasonal session. This also provide a format for me as a communication tool to open and maintain dialogue. I have continued to redesign it and add on the additional season of classes. We started in Fall 2014, continued through Winter and are now starting Spring. I have kept this information is the past; however, this system brings the clients issues, their base line fitness and knowledge, their additional sports/fitness activities, test results, and their current intentions/goals into one tool we can share with each other to empower their progress. Both my clients and myself love it, because it really documents the progress. Thanks again for the good writing.

  • 15. Maialen  |  March 19, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Thank you Shari… again! Only some words in my mind to say I agree.

    The method is a great tool that we all fell in love, but only we, we love it, can share it with our clients, and this means to dissociate our point of view and theirs. And sharing is no by force, but being emotionally smart too, as Shari. :-p
    Of course that sometimes I get angry with my clients, but then I laugh seeing me from outside. Clients problems are not those! Talking I can know better my clients. I try to relax and listen about her/him. I love understanding them and learning to speak their language, and share the method again.
    Also, as far as the way we “educate” motor patterns have direct influence, the expectations and willings can modify the way the client feels and moves.

    Not only you share the method with love, you share also all these thinkings that are in my brain, unconsciently, and transform it in knowledge.

    Last thing: i think your writing style is so original and cute.

    I hope to see you soon, here or real way.

    • 16. theverticalworkshop  |  March 19, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Maialen! Thank you! Muchas Gracias! I appreciate your thoughts and ideas! You are correct: we WE fell in love with Pilates, but that does not mean our clients have!
      I do hope to see you soon, too! Any way we can!
      – Shari

  • 17. Janet burke-Allen  |  March 19, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Shari, accurate as always! I agree I say that to my instructors, we have goals, they have goals, we meet in the middle! Miss you already!

    • 18. theverticalworkshop  |  March 26, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Janet! I like how you say that!
      I miss you, too!
      – Shari

  • 19. Marcia Shapira  |  March 20, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Thanks Shari for sharing your perspective. I think there needs to be a conversation at the beginning when we clarify their expectations and we should also clarify what we think they may be able to achieve and what needs to put in to achieve that. This may be the client to make a decision to give more and unlock that potential. Everyone has more to give (you know the old saying, Whether you think you can’t or you can, you are always right) it is whether they decide to give more of themselves or not that will help them unlock their potential. Of course this does not mean we need to force them to be different, it just means they also know what we expect to happen if we are layering the work properly and helping them with their specific needs. Cheers

  • 20. Deborah Gray  |  March 27, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Years ago when I used to garden I had an expression describing my experience: “my vision does not always match the reality.” Thanks Shari for reminding me of this and applying it to Pilates. My intake forms include the clients goals but as beginners clients may not have the insight to know what goals are possible! I am going to have my clients write down their goals every three months. I think this will invigorate their response to their sessions and make them more pro-active in reaching those goals.
    This is my first time reading your blog and I look forward to future inspiration!

  • 21. Carolina Granados  |  March 27, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Great article! I have been searching for someone to instruct me in pilates. Las Vegas has so many pretenders; it is difficult to know who to choose.

    • 22. theverticalworkshop  |  March 28, 2015 at 11:36 am

      If you’d like assistance, I’ll be glad to help. Have you had any Pilates so far?
      And, yes, there are plenty of pretenders…not just in Las vegas and not just in Pilates. It’s a shame. However, plenty of great people, too!

  • 23. vesplanada  |  April 18, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    This article is very much on point and I can relate to every single word you’ve written. 🙂 Thank you and I hope you continue to inspire other Pilates trainers like me!


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