Article

Now what?

You finally feel like a Pilates instructor somewhat comfortable in your own skin working in an arena filled with so much access at your fingertips. You feel fairly confident that you can guide any client that walks through the door no matter the how, where or what’s they walk in with.

by Kimberly Spencer @studiofocuspilates

You know the work so well, you can finally be creative and move with smooth transitions. Immediately you discover that nearly every human walking in not only needs core and stabilization work, but also needs all sorts of other joints that don’t really function like they should anymore. You start with the founding principles and modifications and assistants as needed, but now what?

You keep hitting the same areas at different angles with variations of the same exercises with all sorts of props and different apparatus.  Progress continues to climb even as weeks turn into years.  Now the shoulders move but don’t have much shoulder flexion without back extension, or the legs move but the circles are still relatively small, or the spine moves but back extension always comes from the same spot. If you’re lucky, there isn’t any restricting pain.  So you continue to modify, prop, modify and prop. Or push through exercises with one eye closed. You keep repeating the same patterns with slower, more minimal progress.

You will never get more of anything only repeating the same pattern, especially if they tend to be linear as most is in Pilates.  Now before you get your Pilates underwear in a bunch, stay with me just a little longer.  Take one of your favorite Pilates exercise (pick one, because if you’re like me you have at least a dozen).  Mine for this hot second is torso press on the Wunda Chair. There’s so much to love—shoulder extension, ab work, spine articulation, eccentric hip flexion. But its linear. There isn’t one joint that moves into its full articular range. Now go through the rest of your faves.  Same thing.  Still loads to love but still linear.

How will joint range increase if it’s never moving into its full, articular capacities nor training at those end ranges to be able to call on them when needed? How do you increase ranges with the same pattern if the body just doesn’t have the capacity to even move into and beyond that vicinity? Stretching alone (and there’s a lot of physiology to cover in just stretching) might feel great but won’t make any tissue adaptations unless you’re stretching for long periods of time followed by backing that flexibility up with strength training at the end range.

Instead of more props and the same patterns, try breaking down the capacities needed for every joint in those favorite exercises and work on mobility exercises to create, control and strengthen each specific capacity.  Try it in your own practice and then revisit those same exercises.  Perhaps the shoulder flexion for the perfect prone shoulder press may never happen for your client.  But if the shoulder never experiences movement beyond whatever it believes its end ranges are, the opportunity to fully extend the arm remotely close to ear or eye level will never be an option.

So now go seek opportunity.  Go seek capacities. Go build those exercises with a different perspective about pulling it all together from a place where all the joints are given opportunity to explore beyond the same patterns. You will only be giving more Pilates exercises not less.

Not sure where to start?  Mobility training and Pilates is my play arena.  Connect with me because there’s nothing I love more than helping others discover more.  Also join me on Instagram for the month of March where I will be celebrating March Matness with others by sharing my capacity building exploration of the Return to Life Mat Contrology series.

Read about my mobility training journey here and start your own with me by connecting with me on my website.