1. Ask questions — When selecting for a private Pilates instructor, ask your teacher about their education, background and experience. Ask if your teacher has received comprehensive training on all the Pilates equipment. Another plus: the teacher is certified by the Pilates Method Alliance as a Certified Pilates Teacher (or CPT).
You may also ask if they work with individuals with your similar concerns, and how things turned out. Your results may vary of course, but it’s helpful if your teacher is experienced. If you’re still not certain, you can ask for references. After you begin working together, questions still matter. If you do not understand your teacher or the exercises, speak up! Our job is to help the movements make sense to you. Other great questions to ask: if you experience postural concerns, how can we work together to improve them? How often should I do my home practice? How can I improve function in my weak knees/stiff shoulders/low back etc.? What home equipment should I use?
2. Do your “home” work — Some teachers can help you create a list of the mat exercises; a home practice can help accelerate your progress between sessions. In fact, Joseph Pilates invented pilates equipment to assist people with mat exercises. Your time on the reformer can help you grow into a regular home practice.
3. Honor your appointment time - You made a commitment to your health, and arriving on time helps you gain the most from your session. A late arrival will mean your session is cut short. You owe it to yourself to arrive with enough transition time to your practice! Also, know the studio’s cancellation polices. Most places have a minimum of 24-hour cancellation windows to avoid losing a session credit. We know emergencies happen, but an unnecessary late cancellation means a missed chance for us to help another student.
4. Give feedback - This helps your teacher and yourself. Think of small victories you can share at your next session. Ask about concerns you’re having with the training. If you like the way your teacher cues a particular movement and wished they did the same for others, say so!
A great way for students to track their progress is with a journal, poster, or whiteboard. Pilates training usually takes at least 10 sessions before noticing positive changes. A visual tracker can help you stay motivated and committed. With Pilates, your body and mobility will improve, so if you notice something changing, write it down!
5. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall off track - Consistency matters, but nobody is perfect. Treat your practice as a long-term project. As a work in progress, you may have to check back in regularly with your teacher for a tune-up. Reach back out even if you have completely stopped. There’s no need to feel shame as you’re willing to try again.
As teachers, we understand the ebbs and flows of life. We definitely have been there ourselves. Always know that we’re here to help guide you towards a successful lifetime Pilates practice!
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