Posted on January 28 2017
Joseph Pilates believed and was quoted as saying: “The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.”
As Pilates Instructors we have probably already discovered what it is about Pilates that motivates us. We teach his work, we continue to master and explore his work and we share our love for his work. Making us true Pilates Nerds!! However, working with our clients can be quite different.
So how do we help motivate our clients to progress and create a lasting change that ultimately equals happiness and success – and of course makes them lifelong clients and our most valued Pilates Nerds!!
Who we are and how we teach is pivotal in how we work with our clients. There will always be some reflection of our own attitudes and ideas that will impact how our clients or we react to certain situations.
One of the first things I tell my new students is that the best quality to learn is to be present and have a genuine desire to help. Our toolboxes can be full of exercises that include modifications and variations of all kinds but unless we can really see what our clients need to make progress then the toolbox is irrelevant.
Our best tool to turn our clients in to Pilates Nerds and keep them motivated usually comes directly from us as teachers and the environment that we create within our studios.
Consider these motivating points below:
How passionate are you about what you do? Passion is infectious and one of our greatest assets as a teacher. Ask yourself if you still love what you do, do you feel excited about a new day with your clients? Do you feel daunted by the challenges some clients bring or excited to learn more from these challenges? Why do you teach Pilates?
Staying passionate about what we do can at times be difficult. Life’s challenges require more from us at times than we may be able to give, which can turn something that we love in to a stress. This can be very true for many studio owners who love what they do but also have the added pressures of running a business. Understanding our own limitations can help reduce some of these stresses and keep us passionate and present.
Be aware of how much you may be taking on. As new instructors it is important to limit your shifts to no more than 3 or 4 hours. Teaching clients takes concentration, an ability to think on your feet and requires us to share our energy, this can be very tiring when we first take on our own clients. Even as senior instructors it is important to ensure your shifts do not prevent you from taking food breaks, or simply some time to rest between clients. Remember our very last client of the day deserves the same enthusiasm and attention as our first.
Being comfortable with knowing our own skillset and teaching strengths is also important to maintain passion and enthusiasm. If we are constantly teaching clients who have needs beyond our experience or scope of practice we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and unsatisfied which often results in a lack of confidence.
Ensuring you maintain your own practice and having a mentor or even having allied health practitioners who you trust and can discuss and refer clients to can help keep you motivated.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CLIENTS NEEDS
The first session with a new client is your opportunity to set the foundations for your ongoing relationship. Taking time to speak to and understand what your client needs is vital, but the magic is in whether you truly hear your client and understand what it is they are looking for in Pilates, and how you can both achieve that. Remember motivation comes from a sense of feeling progress. What motivates your client may be very different to what you think should motivate them, be clear about what progress the client wishes to make and for what reason. If you think your client should be losing weight or should be pushing their limits for the hour but they are looking to de-stress, stretch and simply move then your goals do not match and this person will quickly become de-motivated and stressed. Remember to listen to your client and discuss how you can both make their goals realistic and achievable.
Be prepared to adapt to your clients needs and show empathy, whilst at the same time encourage them to want to achieve and make progress, remind them of their small successes along the way. A show of genuine enthusiasm when they achieve something can be a huge motivator. Building this trust with your client and being able to adapt to their changing circumstances is key to helping motivate and maintain commitment to their practice.
Remember one size does not fit all and each person learns differently and is motivated for different reasons. Being able to adapt and tap in to what it is each client needs is key to building a long term relationship and having a studio full of Pilates Nerds!
Consistency means you understand where your client is at and what exercises need to be consistently re-enforced for them to adapt and make progress. Always remember your client may come to you only once or twice a week, they are not being exposed to the same exercises each day as we are as instructors. I often ask my students, “Is it your client who is bored, or is it you?”. Often a teacher can want to throw toys and hard challenges at a client because they may feel they need to change things up or create variety. Try and be aware of who this may be for – you or the client? Remember to master something and feel a sense of progression, you must be practicing. If a client is being given different direction in every session there is no way they can achieve progression through consistency and dedication.
Also, try and encourage your clients to be consistent with their sessions, re-enforce to them that progress can only be made when they take on the responsibility to commit to their practice each week. As their instructor try to maintain this consistency within the studio, if you are unable to teach a certain week, find an instructor who can fill in for you. When we demonstrate a lack of commitment to our teaching then we open the doors for our clients to find excuses to miss sessions.
Set an example - stay dedicated to your own continued learning and your own practice, find a mentor or somebody who motivates you. Your clients will be motivated by your own commitment and continued growth as a teacher, they will see the benefit of growing with you, your new knowledge and ideas and can only benefit from this.