Practicing Pilates regularly has many health benefits including better posture, improved flexibility and joint elasticity, more toned muscles, and much more. But what use is practicing Pilates regularly if it is not done correctly? Proper form is of prime importance while practicing Pilates. How then to achieve proper form? A vital component of teaching Pilates is effective cueing.
Lately, I have been pondering over the subject of cueing. As a Pilates instructor teaching group classes since 2002, I suddenly realized that some of my cues are as natural to me as saying “Good Morning” simply because I have been repeating them multiple times daily for 15 years.
The realization actually came to me when I started training a new client who is a lawyer, a gentleman in his early 60s. During our first private pilates session, he carefully and verbally analyzed every cue I used – some resonated with him and some didn’t. For instance, I often use the cue “draw your navel towards your spine” to get clients to engage their core muscles or “draw your front ribs towards your back ribs” to get clients to avoid flaring their ribs and arching their back. However, not all cues work for all clients.
The beauty of cueing, and thus the power of cueing, is that when I am teaching a group class and I use a cue, I will notice instantly if that particular cue did not resonate with one client because I will see that everybody in the class is performing the exercise correctly except for that one client. That’s when we, as instructors, have to work harder to come up with other cues until we find one that does resonate with that one client. Our feedback comes from the client’s movement – the moment we use a cue that does resonate, we see the change in the client’s posture and then the exercise is performed correctly.
Some of my clients tell me that some of the cues I have used help them in their daily life too.
For instance, last week I used a cue with a client whose feet were slipping- I asked her to “imagine she had four suction cups on the soles of her feet and to press all four suction cups down evenly”. She later told me that she has been following this cue when she is out walking her dog and it has helped her to feel more stable and her gait is better.
Listening to and following your instructor’s cues will greatly enhance your Pilates practice.
Nikita Chugani, PMA®-CPT