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From Form to function for Pilates Teachers

From Form To Function | How Pilates Teachers Can Make a Real Difference

teaching skills Oct 04, 2020

How do you go from being a good Pilates teacher to a great one?

In your teacher training, you learned the form of the exercises. You learned how the movement should look and what body part should be moving where when. And that's great- that's exactly where you need to start. 

But to take your teaching to the next level and to truly help your students move better and feel better in their bodies, you need to learn to teach people how to function. After your student understands the general shape of the exercise, take it deeper by helping them break free from their compensation patterns. That means you'll be helping them balance their muscles so that they all work together, rather than some muscles doing all the work while other ones get sleepy.

This sounds great, but how do we do it?

How to make the transition from teaching exercises to teaching movement

Many Pilates teachers think they have to memorize each muscle involved in each exercise

I'm not saying you shouldn't study anatomy, but I am saying there is an easier way to get a grip on understanding function than remembering each individual muscle for each exercise. 

I've updated the Pilates Encyclopedia to help you take your teaching from form to function. Watch the video to see the exciting new addition. 



Let's take the example of the Side Kick Series: Front + Back

Here are the questions I ask myself as I think through the movement:

1. What plane of movement is it on?


2. Which joint is moving in which direction

Hip flexion (on the way forward) and hip extension (when the leg swings back)

This is where some memorization is coming into play. I will try to remember all muscles responsible for hip flexion and hip extension: prime movers, synergists, and antagonists  -which I can now look up inside the Pilates Encyclopedia membership.

3. Which part of the body has to hold still against the movement?

Spine + Pelvis + Shoulder Girdle ( = Trunk)

Trunk stabilizers on the sagittal plane are working to prevent movement 

Does this make sense? Let's practice. 

In the comments below, choose any exercise from the Pilates repertoire,  and analyze it this way. I'm happy to help if you get stuck.


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