One of the essentials of Pilates that has been lost over time is autonomy. Each student should be working toward knowing their personalized work out, the order of their exercises and proper and efficient set up of the springs, straps, pole and box. Independence allows you to maintain mental focus, flow through the exercises without stopping so as to achieve an aerobic workout, and build confidence and coordination as you move through the work out. This is true for beginners and experienced students alike.
In Joe’s original studio clients got a few private lessons to learn their individual work out. Then they began working out on their own with only a couple of teachers on the floor to assist if needed or to give them a push or pull. In the studio Joe constructed a large board with pictures of him doing all the exercises (you can see one of his picture boards in the background of the photo in this post). Students would refer to the pictures to help remember their order and when they showed an understanding of the exercises in their program, Joe or Clara would add another exercise to their work out. So while you are working out at home do an exercise program that is appropriate for your level and individual needs then work to get flow and dynamic into that work out. When you are ready, add a couple of exercises and work to incorporate them into your old program. Remember that it takes time to condition and change your body so be patient and diligent in your efforts.
For teachers, the best reasons to make your students independent is so that you can see them move. As your students move through their workouts you will notice issues of asymmetry, tension, weakness and lack of coordination that can be addressed with exercises on the cadillac, chairs, barrels, mat or with Pilates accessories. As you help your client build strength and symmetry over time, you will see their reformer work out change like magic! The greatest result of making your students autonomous is that you can be a better teacher and they can get so much more out of their work outs with you.
To see the class that this post is referring to, please click here: Teaching Clients Autonomy