Less Talk, More Pilates

By: Carla Ricalis

(working with unfocused clients, part 3 of 3)

Generally speaking we come to know our clients quite well; we know there are those that can focus easily for the hour and those that who can’t.

Both are equally rewarding to work with because either way as an instructor, you’re provided with a task and you need to be up to the challenge.

But diving into the session with frustration (read: ‘how do I get through the next hour with this client?!’ or being overly sympathetic (read: ‘they’re having a bad day, we’ll just do a couple of easy Reformer exercises and talk it out’) is not going to be a long term solution; and neither makes you a better instructor.

But instead of ignoring their reality and bulldozing your way into the session you had planned, it might be more purposeful to do a quick and quiet reflection on how the source of their unfocused attention is making them feel; agitated, anxious, worried, excited or anticipatory.

And then consider how feeling any of those emotions (or a combination of them) would make you feel.

This perspective shift allows you to access empathy as a primary tool in those inevitable focus-challenged sessions.

And because you yourself are a mover who doesn’t always come into the studio focused, it can help you draw on the exercises you do to rein in your own attention and add it into your clients’ workout.

Empathy is a great tool to continually develop as instructors because it allows us to keep our eye on the ball by trying to find the right combination of exercises and cueing while remaining cognizant of and sensitive to our clients’ state of mind.

Being empathetic doesn’t mean letting the conversation or lack of focus set the pace for the session. And it also doesn’t mean ignoring that person’s reality.

It means the awareness and respect that you have for your client is demonstrated through a thoughtful Pilates session where the set intention is to complete the task at hand; to make your clients feel stronger and stable with more balance in both body AND mind.