Making Pilates consumer-friendly is not as difficult as it sounds. Offer high-quality, consistent, recognizable Pilates classes and sessions.
As I near my 50s and my third decade of teaching Pilates' Contrology, I am becoming more and more classical and conservative in my approach to Mr. Pilates work. Does that mean I never vary? Or that I never teach other exercises? Absolutely not! What it means is that:
- I can differentiate for myself and my clients which exercises are Pilates and which aren't.
- I teach the exercises developed by Joseph Pilates, generally in his order. If I teach a non-Pilates exercise, which I often do, I identify it as such. If I substitute an exercise in a series, skip an exercise, or go slightly out of order, I know that I am doing that and have good reasons why. Of course, I find myself doing that less and less.
Now, those of us in the fitness and pilates teaching worlds tend to get bored easily. We tend to always look for the newest, greatest, best new thing ever. The problem is, most Pilates consumers, like most consumers generally, like consistency. Even me.
Our customers don't want what is new. They want what works. Creativity, yes... but within what works.
This became clear to me recently when I took an advanced reformer class at a different studio, and there were very few recognizable pilates exercises in the class. Very little footwork, no 100s(!), no short spine stretch, no long stretches, no knee stretches, no teaser! What we did were a lot of interesting exercises at very high repetitions that happened to be done on a reformer - but they were not Pilates exercises. I was disappointed, because while I love creativity and variation, I do expect my advanced Pilates reformer repertoire to be relatively consistent and was looking forward to doing advanced work with a spotter and some correction of form.
You know, even though I don't routinely eat McDonald's fast food, I usually go at least once when in a different country. It's comforting to have a meal where you know exactly what you are going to get and what it will taste like, even with slight regional variations.
If I walk into a Pilates studio anywhere in the world, I also have some expectation of consistency. That is why I chose that studio as opposed to a yoga or zumba studio. There is an order and progression to the Pilates exercises. When that isn't apparent, the work is no longer Pilates, no matter how many reformers are in the room.
The biggest boutique brands who have lasted over a decade in the fitness world offer a consistent experience. Soul Cycle, Flywheel, Bikram Yoga, Exhale, Real Pilates (and its coming annex studios) are all great examples of this. See any instructor at any location and you will have a similar experience.
The best teachers will still shine, with a great eye, useful corrections, and an appropriately intense workout within the system.
In 2014, I strive as a Pilates teacher to be more real, more true to myself, my clients, and the fabulous exercise method that Joseph Pilates developed and I am lucky enough to teach.