Session after session we see so many ways that a client can “cheat” during a workout. Even the most advanced of clients can find subtle ways to muster through an exercise. This is where observation, a keen eye and knowledge of proper biomechanics and muscle actions serve a skilled Pilates instructor in assessment and evaluation during the class. The most important role of the instructor during a class is to be an observer. Without observing the client closely on a weekly basis, unhealthy movement patterns can be missed. The client can correct over-use, under-use or inappropriate use of the musculoskeletal system if given thorough corrections weekly. Lasting change is not that easy for most and it takes perseverance on the part of the instructor to constantly critique and do it with a positive tone.
Developing this eye for proper and improper movement patterns takes years of practice and observation. Some ways that I learned to observe certain forms over the years was by watching professional athletes, dancers and gymnasts do exercises as well as working with teachers and advanced students who have a command of the advanced repertoire. The teacher must know the proper biomechanics in their own body before they can identify cheating in another. The teacher must do their best to master perfect form of the Pilates exercises to sense when movement feels “right” and “easy.” An understanding of proper biomechanics influences how a client approaches movement. If the teacher understands how the shoulder or hip functions within the joint, they can convey to clients during class the appropriate cues to get through an exercise, explaining to them how the movement occurs step by step.
Knowing the intention of the exercise, proper biomechanics and having that keen eye, will help the instructor in identifying and correcting “cheating” movement patterns. Our main goal as an instructor is to assist the client weekly by helping them improve their movement patterns with patience, tactile cues and positive reinforcement. This quality service that is provided will lead to a loyal following of clients and continued referrals.
– Julie Rowland Brown