When you first set up your business it can be hard to establish regular classes and sometimes challenging for clients to adapt to a new instructor. It is therefore important to create an individual style to stand out from the other instructors. You must be friendly, confident and creative.
One of the best ways to keep your clients coming back is to ensure your class choreography is fresh and effective. If you keep the same routines week after week your clients will soon get bored and it insinuates that you can’t be bothered to formulate a class for them. Clients like to see a passion that they can feed off and be inspired by. This can be as simple as modifying exercises or even adding some equipment such as Pilates balls or resistance bands. You could also design specialist classes for target audiences such as sports specific, Pilates for fitness or Pilates for rehabilitation.
A good Pilates instructor must be willing to continuously learn as Pilates exercise is taught from a base of knowledge. Be imaginative, motivating and intuitive. Show that you’re able to think quickly when needed and be punctual! Clients are making time to exercise so you must honour that time constraint by being reliable and showing it’s a worthwhile class for them to attend.
It is important to design programmes for clients according to individual needs. The instructor should be aware and take into consideration injuries or conditions that could compromise their clients’ participation. As such you will need to constantly screen your clients both in written form and verbally. Pilates exercises can often be modified to meet the needs of each participant to fulfil the needs of mixed ability classes with different body types and abilities. However, remember that unless you are a qualified doctor you cannot diagnose a client's injuries and you have the right to refuse a client if you do not feel confident with their condition. Don't be hesitant in asking for a doctor’s note – remember your insurance is at stake. You are, however, encouraged to assess your client’s posture and ability level. It is vital that you are observant and notice problems such as body imbalances and posture defects. A client will appreciate the attention and their experience of the exercises will be more appropriate and therefore more effective as a result.
Another important factor to consider is learning how to market and build your classes, not just through advertisements but through reputation. Ask for feedback at the end of your sessions not only to improve your service but also to be seen as approachable. Offer incentives for current clients to keep coming and to bring friends, and try to offer something different from the rest. An instructor who is enthusiastic and responds to their clients’ demands will retain those clients.
Be prepared to learn from clients in terms of what they like, dislike or need. You will find yourself adapting your knowledge and style to work with each client. With a bank of instructional and visual points you must be ready to adapt to each learning requirement that arises. Practice makes perfect when developing these cues along with learning to work with clients through demonstrations, verbal instruction, visual or tactile teaching.
It is your aim to help clients to understand the connections between the mind, body and exercises. Pilates is an education. Clients need to understand and feel the fundamentals before they can try to advance and stay true to the Pilates method. It takes skill to teach a client to do this, but a client that understands and makes this connection will appreciate you more and respect you as their instructor.
Written by Katie Farnden