Smart Energy in the First Session

By: Carla Ricalis

(teaching tips for first time clients)

I don’t usually teach first time clients but when I do, even after 25 years, there’s always a mix of excitement to share and nervousness to convince. Yes – this IS the best type of exercise for you; and let me try to show you why without making it too challenging or so overly detailed that you have no idea what I’m talking about or what we’re doing….sound familiar?

So many factors are considered in the first session; age, personality, health, fitness level, injuries. But it’s also key to get a read on their ability to focus and the best learning strategy for them.

Instructors commonly approach an intro session with the goal to give; ‘what can I give you for the next 50-60 minutes’ tends to guide our teaching.

But turn that into ‘what can we teach each other in this first session’ you might find that you’re able to program better and more efficiently for that intro session.

A first session should always work towards answering the following questions:

“How quickly can they pick up what I’m teaching?”
“Are they able to embody the verbal cues and images I’m giving them?”

If it’s a yes to both, consider challenging them with some harder variations on certain exercises (all other factors being considered). Don’t be afraid to explain the breath in a bit more detail, or challenge them with kneeling, standing or even endurance based exercises.

But if they aren’t responding to your approach of teaching, you’ll need to switch quickly to another mode; demo, simplify your cues, minimize your corrections, get them on the equipment sooner so there is an external force they need to work against and maybe forego the imagery until further down the road.

Another smart tool to adapt for teaching an intro session is becoming more aware of how the client relates to a new environment. Do they look visibly uncomfortable lying on their backs? Because a new space, new person, unknown surroundings and movement could put some people in a more vulnerable position creating some anxiety and consequently less focus.

Rather than starting supine, get them sitting or standing so they’re able to see around them and can gain a bit of comfort and confidence. Once they experience how things are going to go and that the Cadillac Trapeze poses no real threat, get them back down on their back for some supine movement patterns.

It’s important to let the learning flow both ways in the intro session.

Learning to adapt to the individual based on their initial movement and learning style means expending smart and purposeful teaching energy back into the session.

And the result is a more rewarding experience for both of you.

Join us for Studio3’s Better Self Awareness Series – March 1, 8 & 15. Here are the details.