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

August 1, 2015 at 5:05 pm 3 comments

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 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!


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!


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 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:
Listen to the samples and then go to the link to purchase.
Want to just purchase, go directly to

****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!
****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

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Expectations Your Favorite Client

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. agirlaboutpilates  |  September 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Hi Shari,

    This was an interesting article.

    I have been personally working very hard towards making my classes faster paced that what I currently teach at.

    After watching your rhythm video and audio clip my question is that how do you incorporate the cues to the rhythm because otherwise one probably will just end up counting numbers for the steps of a particular exercise.

    I enjoy taking my clients through the experience of awareness of different muscles and focus in spine in almost every exercise. Tips on how to combine these would very helpful.

    Although based in India I hope to be able to attend your bridge program sometime in the near future or atleast take a private session when I visit States.

    Warm Regards, Taru

    Taru Chaddha | Founder & Chief Instructor |Redmat Pilates | |


  • 2. Pippa Taylor  |  September 19, 2015 at 3:01 am

    Hi Shari!
    I have been listening to your audio workshop for a week now and it’s great to have in my ear, walking the dogs, driving the car, doing the washing up! I have gotten so much out of the workshops that I have attended with you in the past and I feel this audio really supports everything I have gained so far. The rhythms are clear and make so much sense! I had a few of them in the bag before hand but listening to the accents has given my voice a new lease of life and therefore my teaching. I have some clients both in the studio and group mat that like to cruise and I am now able to pull them into the rythm of the exercise and get them working on a higher effort level with less effort from me, result!
    Next step, trying to work my own body through the full pace of the whole practise session, I’ll get back to you on that one.
    Thank you! Pippa

  • […] And then…then you’d better be real clear about your rhythm and tempos (Need a great assist here? Check out my The Music of Pilates…it’s the rhythms and tempos of Joseph PIlates exercises and why each is as they are in ways you can learn and practice and get PMA CECs! Click here: The Music of Pilates Read this piece: The Best Pilates Teaching Tool) […]


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Full info listed under “Workshop Calendar” at

EVERY DAY at your home:
The Music of Pilates

Teacher Training/Bridge:
Atlanta, GA
Colorado Springs, CO (pending approval from pending approval with the Division of Private of Occupational Schools in CO.)


February 21-23 Atlanta, GA

March 7-8 Boston, MA

March 27-29 Geneva, SWITZERLAND

April 17-19 Pittsburgh, PA

May 8-10 Vienna, AUSTRIA

June 5-7 London, UK

August 14-16 Atlanta, GA

September 25-27 Colorado Springs, CO

October 17-18 Chicago IL

October 23-25 Vienna, AUSTRIA

November 4-5 Tacoma, WA

November 20-22 Ann Arbor, MI


Workshop Download – The Music of Pilates

Buy, Info, FREE Sample

Sessions: Live-Streaming

Would you like to do a workout, question/answer or mini-workshop session with Shari? Each week, Shari works with teachers all over the world via Skype. Email Shari at


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