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Tips for Teaching Pilates to Family

I'm writing this blog for myself more than anything. HA!! Reminders for myself, I suppose. And also great advice for those who are thinking of being a teacher <3


Short Story!

When I first decided to do Pilates Teacher Training I knew I'd need some practice clients. I also knew based on some stories that using family members doesn't always work out. It's almost too easy to say "maybe later" or treat each other different or go off on a tangent or many other things...


I really (really really) wanted my partner in life to love Pilates as much as me. However, I knew it was NOT going to work if he became my practice client.


So, I did the next best thing I could think of: I pawned him off on my trainee friend who needed practice clients!!


I knew he was the type of person who would commit if he knew someone needed his help...and that worked out perfectly! He got to do Pilates for the full 6 months she was practice teaching.


Gentle reminders we need to remember as teachers teaching family:

  • Be patient

    • Sometimes I find myself thinking, "I've told you this" when I'm talking to my partner and I have to stop myself and think about how I love and live in a Pilates world...and he does not.

    • Back up, take a breath, and move forward.

  • Be empathetic

    • When we have heard our family's aches and pains daily for years, it can be challenging to give them the same empathy we can give to strangers.

    • I know this seems weird, but when you are in teacher mode with your family - empathy is key to a great session.

  • Be consistent

    • If you plan a day and time - stick to it. Hopefully, you wouldn't just cancel on your clients at the studio.

    • Stick to your schedule. Plan ahead if you are going to miss a session, just like you would at the studio.

  • Be willing to pawn them off

    • If you want your family to have a Pilates practice, maybe they need to work with someone else before they work with you.

    • It's okay! I paid for sessions for my partner for years...and he just purchased his first package to continue his practice at the studio. FABULOUS! Get it, James!!


If they do let you teach them, here's what I recommend:

  • Bring independence into their practice from the beginning

    • Allowing them to be independent and own their practice puts the teacher / student relationship into a state of collaboration. It also creates opportunities for knowledge and empowerment for the student while allowing the teacher to be a guide.

    • If you want more of my take on this, please read the article I wrote for Balanced Body: The Core - Teach for Autonomy: How to Help Clients be Independent in Pilates

  • Be okay with not "fixing" everything

    • You don't have to fix every ache and pain. Pilates is meant to help with uniformity, strength, flexibility, and more. Just let Pilates do it's job over time...and see my next 2 points.

  • Give them things that make them feel good

    • I start all sessions by asking how the client's body is feeling. And then I pick some fundamentals that I know will get them feeling good before we go into the work.

  • Give them a challenge that is empowering

    • Challenges don't have to be hard. Challenges don't have to be dangerous. Challenges don't have to be "advanced".

    • Know your client. Know what they can do. Find something that will take them slightly farther than where they are in an exercise and see what they can do. This can be as simple as adding instability to an exercise they already rock at.

    • And praise the hell out of their progress!!!

  • Allow them to "figure things out" for themselves or from someone else, even if you've told them the same thing for 3 years...just let them have it.

    • Know that you are doing great as a teacher and if they finally figure something out because Sammy at Target mention it - they figured it out and that's one less thing you have to make them understand. So, thanks Sammy. Moving on!



"Do you teach your partner?"


I do.


Half the time it's because I utilize him in my teacher training programs. The other half is because he asks me if I can show him some things he can do on his own.


I taught him super early that he is capable of doing this on his own, but that I was willing to observe him and give him some tips and new exercises every so often.


Pilates for men

James and I have been together since 1998. He is my bestie, which is why he agreed to this mat session that my Pilates Teacher Training students got to observe live. I appreciate him!

**He loves the fabric resistance band from Two8 Bandz for Neck Pull!!

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