This topic is a very important concept to talk about with your clients. For real body metamorphosis to take place, attention to detail, heightened awareness, and a good dose of patience is crucial. And as for you the teacher, you must be able to explain to your clients why you are doing what you are doing and how your choices directly or indirectly affect their personal goals. Most clients who come into the studio have this idea embedded in their psyche that movement has to hurt to be effective.

Conventional workout wisdom seems to push the idea that high-intensity cardio and weight lifting are the only ways to lose weight. They believe that this constant shocking and taxing of the human system sculpts and forces the body into a more desirable shape. In this type of workout medium, body awareness and balance takes a backseat to how much weight you can leverage. Yes, this type of movement “burns” and you can feel sore afterwards. Many mistake this fatigue as an indicator that their workout regime is working.

But often, the person gets sidelined by injury by setting aside all functional movement principles (which happen to be at the core of the Pilates movement ideals) to instead use all of their asymmetries to complete the said task. What they accomplish is a building up of strength around their tightnesses which translates to more ingrained body asymmetries, which catch up with them later in life. Add on to that that if you try to work out with top intensity all the time without allowing the body to fully recover, you create a workout model that supports mediocrity. You are truly only as good as your last rest. Without question, this is not a desirable situation for your body to most efficiently move through space with ease and grace.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Pilates cueing style is about the precision of the movement, attention to detail, and focus on the proper chain of command in muscle recruitment. When you overload your clients with motions that are counter-intuitive to how the body is functioning in gravity now, it only strengthens what is already overworked, and completely bypasses the stabilizing musculature that needs to be activated primary to any movement, especially loaded ones. By using the Pilates Method, you put this core activation as prerequisite to any larger movement. So when you are working with your clients, it is essential that you start your work with getting the bones in the correct placement in relation to gravity, and then you can load small amounts of weight to challenge this stabilization and organization. By working this way, you will automatically stimulate the body and activate the local musculature.

This type of work is subtle in nature, and many people don’t understand how this can be helpful. Tell them you are priming the body for movement. Because their habitual movement patterns have kept them stuck where they are, a new “program” needs to be downloaded into their body before they can load it again. The subtle work is what really changes their body and affects every single facet of their life. Only with this command of their body-mind connection fully established can they return to more intense workouts without fear of injury or asymmetry. By creating a very strong inner body to support the outer one, the client can move through life unencumbered with a strength that is solid from the inside out. This is the goal. True strength can only be achieved if all areas are balanced and without tension. You can “work out” without ever “working in.” But if you focus on the inward work, then outward results are sure to follow.

We hope you found this article helpful! Tell us your own thoughts below.

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  1. Mara_285

    Very well written and so important to remind teachers as well as student. It’s all about educating the student.

  2. Denise_151

    Love, love this topic. Totally agree with everything said here. Pilates is all about working from the inside first. I was taught Pilates principles apply to every movement during the exercises. And, it is our duty as professionals to teach/cue students the importance of why and how to incorporate these principles into every exercise. Experienced in teaching, you can always tell when a students isn’t concentrating on their movement or breath.
    So true, it’s not the ‘burn’ we feel during or after Pilates. It’s a rejuvenation of the body!