Dear Pilates Teaching Colleagues
Having browsed through Peter Fiasca’s book “Discovering Pure Classical Pilates” a couple of years back, I was slightly embarrassed for him. The excessive use of bold type to underline key points concerning heretical misinterpretations of Pilates, and the somewhat polemical subheadings (“The Great Decline: Derivative Styles of the Traditional Method”), smacked of someone losing their marbles.
I’m beginning to have sympathy with his position (perhaps I am losing my marbles), though our viewpoints differ a little. I’m not fanatical about teaching only ‘classical’ Pilates repertoire but I’m with him when he says “Pilates is not physical therapy”. If not losing my marbles then at least I’m becoming less temperate with regard to the realm of Pilates teaching. Sure, we all have different backgrounds, different influences, loves, hates etc. but I’m writing this to ask if we can agree on a few basics.
Pilates is not magic, it’s a system that facilitates teaching good movement.
Pilates is therapy only in as much as movement is therapy.
We teach, clients do – in other words, we don’t do Pilates to our clients.
If our clients believe that they can only do Pilates in our presence we have failed.
We don’t work on our clients problems, they do that.
What clients do in their classes is based on what they need, and what they want. If they ask “What do you want me to do next?”, we’ve given them the wrong impression.
Unless we have medical qualifications, we do not diagnose, or treat.
It’s not our job to determine which specific muscles are culpable in, say, an asymmetry (so it’s not appropriate to be saying, for example “Your left obliques are weaker then your right”).
We have the chance to ‘set the bar’ of what’s possible for our clients, and we should set it high.
We have the tools to help people to be better – if there’s no sign of that happening over time then we should be directing them elsewhere.
We should be practicing what we teach – all the time.
We should be taught by another teacher, regularly.
Oh, and perhaps most importantly, strong is not a dirty word.
Love your writing, and agree with all of your points completely.
Only because I have been in Pilates land 20+ years, am also a Structural Integrator, and have invested vast amounts of time and income into continuing education, I sometimes propose theories to people like “maybe your left leg pushes more than your right”.
It is not for me, nor is it nessasarily useful, to spend time and energy to figure out why. Just try to help make a change.
Thank you Shelly.
The last line of your comment would make a great Pilates teacher manifesto.