When you're first teaching, Structuring your Pilates class takes time and effort. You spend time preparing your class, listing the exercises, deciding if they work together as they transition through strength, mobility, flexibility, and co-ordination. You're continuing your Pilates Education.

Initially you need notes to remind yourself of the order you're going to teach. You'll still be developing your teaching style, deciding on your "voice".

In time of course this all falls into place, you no longer feel chained to your notes, you can deliver your class almost automatically. Continuing your Pilates education is paying off.

There's a definite learning curve when mastering a new skill.

The Conscious Competent Learning Model

It's now, when you've been teaching Pilates for a while, gaining experience you can sharpen your skills to become the great Pilates teacher you want to be.

Michael King https://www.mkpilates.com/en/

Anyone Can Learn the Pilates Repertoire...

Yes. I believe learning the repertoire is the easiest part of your Pilates teaching journey. Being able to perform the exercises beautifully will give you a great sense of satisfaction but it doesn't mean you'll be a great teacher.

It's More Than Performance

Teaching movement whether to a group or an individual is a mixture of the physical, the psychological, intuition, observation and awareness. Noticing your client is performing any particular exercise safely is a given. In addition you need to observe how easily their body is dealing with the exercise.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

When watching a client perform an exercise, consider how it looks. Does it seem natural or do you see struggle. In the years I've been teaching I've yet to meet someone who is equally strong, flexible, mobile or co-ordinated.

This is the reason I don't grade my sessions. The Pilates repertoire has a well defined beginner, intermediates and advanced range of movement. Someone may be strong but lack flexibility and or mobility. They'll find the full 100 relatively easy because it's strength dominant. The Saw however, a combination of rotation and forward flexion may be a challenge. I'm reminded when working with clients how every Pilates exercise is a combination of all elements from strength to co-ordination. This is the reason it's such a great method for everyone and all abilities. nualacoombspilates.com/healthy-ageing

Full 100

Hiding Behind Strength

A strong client can hide their lack of control, using their strength to "work" the exercise. I mean their strength over-takes any benefit from the correct sequencing of the set up for the exercise.

Simply being able to support the weight of the head and limbs for the full 100 isn't proof the work is coming from the inside (stabilising muscles) out (the superficial muscles). When observing this strong client you might see the following:

You probably won't see all of the above but you will certainly see some. This client is working too hard. Putting the emphasis on the muscles moving them rather than starting from their deeper stabilising muscles. They will seem to almost attack the start of the exercise.

Cueing For Quality

Conversational cueing works best when teaching Pilates. By that I mean giving clients information in a way they can relate to. Rather than a list of objectives - Align you Pelvis, drop your shoulders, engage your abdominals. Describe how changing these placements might feel or look. Drawing the client's attention to the issue rather than giving them direct instructions to fix it.

Our goal as Pilates teachers is to inform our clients in such a way they begin to self-correct. For example that strong client "working" the full 100. It could help them to ask "do you notice your shoulders are up round your ears?" This may well be enough for them to get them to let them go. When you see this change confirm it by asking how the different position feels. Did they notice the release of tension in their neck and how their collar bones (clavicle) became wider.

Eventually with this style of cueing clients will begin to notice how subtle changes in alignment take the stress out of some exercises. Their body awareness will improve with help from you. https://nualacoombspilates.com/changing-habits

Your Why? - Their Why?

Ensure you and your client are on the same page. Get into the habit when you notice something needing change to make sure your client is also aware and the reason you want changes made. When teaching your client is a collaboration results will be permanent rather than just for the class. They will become part of their natural alignment and behaviour.

In Conclusion

I've talked about developing your Pilates teaching skills with Continuing Pilates education. Moving from a debutante to an experienced teacher trusting your intuition and observations to work with your clients to get the best results. I've touched on the importance of:

Questions?

Email me on Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com

Menopause? What is it?

It's Personal

From the Greek translating to - monthly pause

Menopause naturally occurs for every women around age 51 although some experience it earlier. It's the cessation of monthly menstruation for a 12 months. This happens when your ovaries stop producing eggs, as a result levels of hormones Oestrogen and Progesterone fall. Pilates & Menopause are an excellent partnership.

Positive Menopause

Fours Stages of Menopause

Pre-menopause: When no menopausal symptoms are noticeable

Peri-menopause: When symptoms begin to develop due to hormone changes - you still have your periods although they are changing in nature and frequency

Menopause: You've not had a period for 12 consecutive months

Post-Menopause: The rest of your life - without a period for 12 consecutive months

With life expectancy increasing into the 80's this can mean you could be post-menopausal for a third of your life! Pilates & Menopause is the answer.

The Year of Talking...

It seems 2022 was the year of talking, writing, making TV programmes and many other public platforms about the Menopause. Every day saw more articles, books, films etc., on the topic whereas before it was mainly a handful of female writers discussing it.

Pilates & Menopause

Hallelujah! it's out of the closet but if you're reading any of the posts on Facebook, or looking at any Menopause support groups it looks like the consensus is - Menopause sucks big time. Symptoms from anxiety to Paranoia appear to be common.

Everyone's experience will be different and how we cope will vary too but my experience with clients going through the stage of the M word is - exercise helps.

https://www.balance-menopause.com/dr-louise-newson/

Why Pilates for Menopause?

Pilates is a system of movement that focusses on quality of movement according to the Principles:

When working with these principles in mind a Pilates class whether it's for beginners of more experienced practitioners is a calming, focussed place where time spent is beneficial when Menopausal symptoms come calling.

Benefits of Pilates for Menopause

Pilates is a full mind and body programme, there are no fast-paced exercises although a free-flowing natural rhythm is encouraged. Every exercise begins with attention to the deep abdominals that stabilise the Pelvis and Spine. As movements develop to include larger muscles and limbs attention to Breath, Control and Precision are the objectives of the class.

The result of such deliberate concentration throughout the session either on the mat or using the Professional Pilates equipment is a session that is effective without stress, a definite bonus for the women going through the stages of Menopause.

https://nualacoombspilates.com/what-can-pilates-do-for-you

In Conclusion

I hope you now have a sense of the benefits a Pilates class can bring to your concerns during all phases of your Menopause journey. Whether you attend a class specifically for women dealing with this stage of life or a general Pilate class you'll find an outlet for symptoms you're experiencing as well as a place to talk should you wish to. Taking control of your situation always feels good. You don't need to be a victim of this natural although at times challenging life event.

Should you want to discuss the possibility of taking classes at my studio (not necessarily for Pilates & Menopause) in La Garde Freinet contact me at Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com

or call +33 (0) 6 73 99 37 85

Helpful links: https://www.balance-menopause.com

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause

After many years teaching all types of fitness and Pilates one of the most common problems I see is poor posture, in particular round shoulders. My clients are concerned about their posture and ask me, "how can I fix round shoulders" they see it as ageing.

Continual use of computers and mobile phones encourages poor posture and round shoulders, chest muscles are over-worked, back muscles become weak. Now your head is pushed forward creating tension in the back of the neck.

Pilates for forward head position

Fix Round Shoulders

Strengthen Mid-Back

Strengthening your mid-back will help avoid unwanted strain on the neck and back by allowing back muscles to hold and maintain best posture. Avoiding or helping alleviate round shoulder posture.

Using spring tension, Pilates professional equipment will bring awareness to placement of Shoulder-blades when strengthening this area. At the gym avoid focussing mostly on the chest muscles (Pectorals), balance your workout with back and shoulder exercises.

Strengthen and mobilise upper back to fix round shoulders

Swimming is also a great way to target these muscles.

Develop Flexibility in the upper back

The upper back (Thoracic spine) has a natural curve, poor posture can create a hump (Kyphosis) that's stiff, at times painful. Together with a forward head position the potential for neck pain and headaches is increased.

Exercises to work this area in the opposite range of motion are what's needed to lengthen and extend the spine eventually changing posture, counter-acting round shoulders.

Avoid round shoulders

Back Extension

A simple way to activate the muscles in your upper back - lay on your front with arms at 90 degrees, keeping your abdominals engaged to support the low back - inhale to lift your head and chest from the floor. Think length rather than lift - depending on mobility in this area the movement may be small - don't force it.

Stretch Your Chest

When back muscles become weak and chest muscle are over-active pulling the shoulders forward, quality of breath can be affected. A balanced programme for back extension and flexibility, releasing and opening the front of the chest will help fix round shoulder posture.

Using an elastic resistance band. Stand tall holding the elastic wider than your shoulders, inhale as you pull the band wide, opening the collar bones, engaging your shoulder-blades. Hold this stretch for 2/3 deep breaths then release - repeat 5 times - don't rush use the full breath to control movement rhythm.

Wall Push Up to fix round shoulders

A simple wall push up will open the chest and gently work the upper back. Stand away from a wall, place both hands a little wider than shoulders, bend both elbows wide then stretch both arms. Make sure your head does not push forward. Repeat up to 10 times.

In Conclusion

We've talked about problems associated with poor posture and how to fix round shoulders with simple exercises. This problem has developed over time, so will take time to fix. However persistance makes perfect. A little attention to this every day - even just noticing how well you're standing or sitting will reap benefits.

5 Reasons to Do Pilates

https://www.physio-pedia.com/Forward_Head_Posture

Nuala Coombs
Pilates For You
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