I love hobbies (like gardening, painting, crocheting, and knitting) that calm the mind and turn us into more peaceful human beings. I find that any repetitive movement is meditative.
It’s tremendously rewarding to create something with our hands. Nowadays most of our work doesn’t show a physical result, it’s just on the computer, in the ether, or in our heads (studying, problem-solving, etc.). Whereas holding something in my hands or looking at a flower bed that I created really fills me with satisfaction and happiness. But...
When starting something new, there is so much that can go wrong
Although I enjoy trying, the truth remains that I have absolutely no clue and no experience with gardening. I never learned it and never felt I had the time, energy, nor honestly, the interest to dig in and read books about the subject and learn gardening skills bit by bit.
During my attempts at gardening, I found myself thinking: “What I need is someone to watch me and tell me one step at a time exactly what to do.” Maybe they could first demonstrate how to do it correctly and then watch me and correct me if I’m doing something wrong. Most importantly, I'd love to have someone look over my shoulder and warn me about mistakes before I even make them. This would save me a lot of time, effort, and let's not forget, money."
I realized that this is exactly how my students must feel when they first start with Pilates. Some of them are intimidated. They feel like they have no idea what they are supposed to do and they really need me to show them and explain to them how to do it right.
Being a beginner at something helps you relate to your newbies. I feel absolutely incompetent at gardening. And I don’t want anyone to make fun of me. It’s embarrassing to think that I’m messing up the simplest things. For some people, gardening just comes naturally. Not to me. But I’m willing to learn.
Help your students feel comfortable.
Starting something totally new, your beginner students might feel embarrassed. They know that they should have started working out sooner. They know that they're not in the shape that'd like to be in, but they’re willing to work on it. Reassure them that you will educate and support them and their goals.
Being a Pilates instructor is about so much more than teaching movement. When teaching Pilates we're not just teaching the body, we need to remember the mind and spirit too. See the person as a whole. Building this skill comes with time and genuine compassion for your students. It can also be helpful to talk with others in the Pilates community and learn from their experience.
If you'd like to connect with teachers and Pilates enthusiasts around the world, you're invited to join our community forum. I know I'm partial, but it's a really great group of people who love the method and love supporting each other : )
To keep reading more tips about considerations for beginners and how to make exercises easier to understand, check out our post in the Lesson Planning chapter in the Pilates Encyclopedia, called "How to Teach a Beginner".