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#1 gaile

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 12:14 AM

Great interview Lizzie.I found her thoughts interesting although I did think at the end that what she was saying is proabably what any good instructor learns to do.Every Romana teacher I have had has used their hands all the time to guide me and I guess I have learnt from them to do the same and through time you feel whats on whats not,what doesnt feel as strong.I dont know all the anatomical terms and frankly dont care as I have a head like a sieve for that kind of info but I can see/feel whats not working.I am not sure that general clients want an anatomy lesson its enough to be told to conect to my hand and get what I want out of them.I know Stott use a lot of anatomical terms in their manuals and you are very good at remembering that Lizzie but do you use it for clients or is it for you? Also is there anyone who doesnt use touch and if not is there a particular reason why other than perhaps legal?

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#2 lizzie

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 01:59 AM

Thanks, Gaile. I like knowing anatomical details, but I don't use a lot of anatomical language with clients unless they ask (which some do). I do agree with Kelly that it's good for clients to learn a bit more about their bodies, but some people learn that very physically, and others learn it in a more intellectual or abstract way. In the end, in the studio, it's all about learning to move, though.

I think I've posted before about how little many people do know about anatomy when they first come to the studio. Terms that I thought were commonly understood, like "abs" and "glutes", leave some of my clients blank in the beginning. And I am amazed how many clients, including women with children, don't know what the pelvic floor is at all, or think that they're working the pelvic floor by lifting the pelvis off the mat. It would be nice if at some point a mother or doctor or midwife or someone had explained this to them, but a lot of the time, the Pilates studio is the first place they've heard of something so fundamental. So, while I don't ask my clients to learn the names of their rotator cuff muscles or the actions of their psoas, I do want them to know what I mean when I say "abs in" or "pelvic floor" or "use your glutes", and so on. I do know instructors whose knowledge of anatomy is very basic, and they're still good teachers--but then they know the anatomy and the work very well in their own and their clients' bodies.

The whole touch thing really interests me, though. There's such a range of different kinds of touch and ways to be hands-on with clients, and it's something that seems like it can make such a profound difference in the way people learn. I wish I had more teaching in how to do that--I've had some sessions that were almost like getting a Shiatsu massage, and sessions where an instructor used her hands to pretty much move me to where she wanted me, and lots of sessions where hands-on assistance has taught me a lot about how I'm moving. I find that it's easy to get stuck in a rut with touch, and end up doing the same old poke between the shoulder-blades, poke in the butt, pull back on the hipbones routine, especially when I'm tired.

It seems like Kelly is talking more about listening with her hands than necessarily teaching, though, and I'm sure her skills have been refined by all the manual therapy work she's done. I certainly wasn't taught, in courses or in apprenticeships and workshops, to feel very subtle things like obliques as distinct from transversus, and in fact I was told that that's too subtle for the Pilates environment and to be really sure we'd need an ultrasound image from a physio. As a beginning teacher, I'm glad I wasn't expected to take responsibility for the details like that, but if that knowledge is available, I think that's great. I keep learning more about touch from different instructors and from things like Franklin workshops and Alexander lessons, and I'd love to hear more about it directly from the Pilates perspective.

Fortunately, I don't think there's a huge legal concern where I am, but it must be a consideration for a lot of instructors. I haven't even had many clients who weren't comfortable with being touched, but I do think it's important to be able to respect that if they're not, or until they're ready. How was your Power training in this? Do they still have a cautious approach to touch?

#3 bokfukata

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 09:27 AM

At Big Bear, Mejo Wiggins talked about touch during one of the workshops. She said that she's very tactile when teaching and can't imagine teaching without touching clients. I would think that it's something you have to learn experientially. Mejo also made a comment about how some teachers were being told not to touch clients and how ridiculous she thought that was. She didn't name any names but I think she was referring to Power Pilates.

But I think that's a misconception about PP. When I took the beginner mat course, the teacher said that there were tactile cues to give clients but we just didn't cover that in that basic course. That comes later in the comprehensive, I take it. I've had some sessions with a PP teacher and she was very hands-on with me.

About anatomy -- it's true that the "fast and aggressive" NY school of Pilates sort of poo-poos the idea of using anatomical language with clients. My teacher generally doesn't. She said it was drilled into her during her training program not to do that. However, she said sometimes it's very useful. She told me that sometimes she gets her anatomy book out and shows people the illustration of the spine and how many vertebrae we have. She said some people are really surprised to know that we have so many and it really does help them in their exercises. My teacher said some people actually thought they only had 3! When they learn there are many more, they understand the concept of articulating the spine.

#4 reinbeau

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 03:02 PM

Regarding touch: I am a toucher. I was taught by touchers and really do believe judicious touches help movement. You can overdo it, of course, but so far I haven't had any adverse reactions to my touches. We'll see how things progress.

As for not using anatomy terms, I think that's misguided. We were taught during PPSI to not say 'glutes', for example. Why not? Why not quickly educate while you're asking them to activate? That's how I learned. I think you can go too far with the 'dumbing down' stuff for newbies. I'm glad they didn't do that for me. I understand that you shouldn't flood your students with information and respect that, however, most will take in what they can and once they've heard it a few more times it sinks in slowly - the same way their movements change as they gain more knowledge of what you're asking them to do. Those who are really curious will ask questions that I gladly answer, those who don't care and just want the teacher to do all the thinking can continue to be mushrooms, if that's what they want! :P My main goal is to get them moving, all of the refinement comes as they learn, and they can't learn if we talk baby talk to them. At least that's my thinking.

I was intrigued by this:

For example, there’s a lot of talk in the Pilates world about pelvic floor and transversus abdominis and multifidi engagement, and that inner unit activity. One of the things that’s so interesting to me is that when I go and teach at conferences, I think, how can you tell if someone’s pelvic floor is engaged? And people don’t have any skills to be able to assess that. That is somewhat shocking to me—yes, it’s a hard structure to be able to assess, but I want to give my students and teachers skills to be able to tell, if they’re asking their client to engage their pelvic floor, if they’re actually doing it; and if they’re doing it, what part of their pelvic floor they’re engaging.


Those are skills I'd like to develop myself. I'm sure on my teaching journey I'll have opportunities to take classes from many people, once I've got my comprehensive stuff under my belt.
- Ann, Peak Pilates Certified Classical Instructor, student forever!

#5 lizzie

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 06:57 PM

As for not using anatomy terms, I think that's misguided. We were taught during PPSI to not say 'glutes', for example. Why not? Why not quickly educate while you're asking them to activate? That's how I learned. I think you can go too far with the 'dumbing down' stuff for newbies.


Exactly. We're already asking clients to learn new things--if they can learn the word "powerhouse", they can learn "abs". I don't want to spend my life saying "butt" or "tushie" or "caboose" when I can just say "squeeze your glutes" and be done with it.

She told me that sometimes she gets her anatomy book out and shows people the illustration of the spine and how many vertebrae we have. She said some people are really surprised to know that we have so many and it really does help them in their exercises. My teacher said some people actually thought they only had 3! When they learn there are many more, they understand the concept of articulating the spine.


I have a small skeleton that stands in the corner of the studio. I bring it out with newbies quite often so that people can see what the spine and pelvis look like--I've learned not to assume that the word "pelvis" means anything to people. Same with scapulae--lots of people don't realise how big their scapulae are and how mobile they are, and it's easy to see that on the skeleton model. It hardly takes any time, and if it makes a difference in the client's understanding, I think it's absolutely worth it. It's also really good for teaching pelvic floor activation, because it's so easy to see where the sit-bones and tailbone and pubic bones are and show how they're separate from the femurs, plus it's a little less intimidating than some descriptions I've come across!

Something that I think I heard on The Pilates Podcast one time stuck with me--she talked about clients having beginning, intermediate, and advanced bodies, and beginning, intermediate, and advanced minds. Thinking about it in that way helps me to remember to challenge the people who have really good understanding, but very limited physical ability, and to respect those who are strong and flexible, but "mushrooms" in their understanding.

#6 Siri Galliano

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 12:32 PM

It's pretty simple, you ask, "Can I stretch you?" like in short spine where it is rather intimate.
There are the few who have been abused and are uncomfortable with strangers' hands.

other than that, it's coaching, it's spotting, if you feel confident, they feel confident,
depends if they have had any gymnastics or dance, or never worked out before.

Regarding Romana's approach, she feels people have gifts, some for touch,some for voice,
some for images, and you should develope and use your gift and your experience.
She does roll her eyes at the "California people" who "massage people the whole hour."

And, it depends if you are stretching a 65 yr old woman with bone spurs or a
30 yr old woman who's tight.

Jay Grimes says Clara had hands like claws(her arthritis) but was like an octopus
and was supporting you everywhere.

Bottom line, touch with purpose or not at all.


About language: So I dont get bored, I might say the word butt in 15 different languages, or at
least in the language of the person, French, Spanish, Chinese(pee-goo),Brazilian(bunda),korean(kundangi),
I dont mind anatomical words, but dont like the hip/gay teachers who say squeeze your booty or pussy.

My favorite new word, from teaching all the P.T.'s, is glute mead(gluteus medius), and I like
saying, like in your side-situps or double leg lifts, "Oh, your glute mead is weaker on this side."

I think anatomical names are better than the feminine floating words "Feel the energy extend through
your fingers through the clouds to infinity" the way the London people teach."

Powerhouse comes from Joe teaching boxers his whole life.
And, when you dont speak the language, like when I taught the Chinese or Russians,
your hands, pointing to your own shoulders, stomach, or chin, teach in a Universal language.

Siri Galliano

#7 ojal

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 03:10 PM

Expres yourself in any way to comunicate, to teach. We don't touch fat, meat, flesh, injuries, croquet bones, or sex parts. We touch the body with out meaning anything out of empathy. Be two and feel one.
About words, hands doesn't have words, words doesn't have hands, but together they guide the body at unisono.

#8 Elena

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:30 PM

Hello everyone! I am new to this forum! I simply wanted to add that as a PP Comprehensive and Instructor, in PP we touch and it is emphasized as one of the Teaching components, but you are correct, we are to keep the anatomy simple such as hip bones vs ASIS etc. It was very hard for me to make the transition from STOTT to Power because of this.

At any rate, look forward to communicating and learning from you guys.

#9 reinbeau

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 05:22 PM

Welcome, Elena, I hope you enjoy it here!
- Ann, Peak Pilates Certified Classical Instructor, student forever!

#10 PILATES AFRICA

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:23 AM

Quick note. Im sure this is commen sense. I always ask a client if they dont mind being touched as a correctional tool. I have never had a client object and when i do I will have to use the other tools to teach. HAPPY TEACHING.
PILATES AFRICA




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