As promised in my previous blog, I’d like to talk about how I learned to have what we’ll call “X-Ray Vision.”
I can’t take credit for the phrase—it came from a client I trained 16 years ago in Miami. We’ll call her Meg. Meg was moving out of town and was upset to leave her favorite trainer (me) behind.
I hold a special place in my heart for Meg because, from the time I started training her until she left town, she had lost almost 100 pounds, just 10 pounds shy of her ultimate goal of 160 pounds.
I tried to reassure Meg that she would find another instructor and that now she had the tools and knowledge to continue staying fit. She said, “How am I going to find another trainer with X-Ray Vision?” To this, I replied, “What?”
She told me that I had a way of seeing what she needed to focus on, where she was misaligned, and what she needed to do to have proper form.
My eyes started to water: I thought that was so sweet. Being a new Pilates trainer and hearing that from one of my clients was so inspiring. It made me want to get better and better at teaching.
A few years later, when I opened my first studio, I remembered Meg and the sweet compliment she paid me, and I thought, How in the world am I going to teach these skills to my staff?
I started by really making sure they knew the anatomy of the body and the different planes and range of motions.
Once they were comfortable with that, we dove into the following common posture misalignments:
Did their shoulders round forward?
Did they arch their back?
Did they stand with their knees fully locked out?
Was their pelvis tilted forward?
Once we determined what their natural posture was, we looked at which muscles were tight and which were weak.
All of these observations will help you as a trainer. If you know your clients’ weaknesses, you can choose the appropriate exercises, which is crucial in an effective Pilates program.
Remember: Always go back to the Pilates principles of alignment.
The first place I start is with the feet. Every Pilates trainer is different, though; some start with the pelvis, others start with the shoulders. It’s all good!
Help your client obtain the proper alignment, and encourage him or her to hold that alignment throughout the exercise.
When a client walks through my front door, I observe how they walk, how they stand and whether their kneecap is aligned with the second toe. Is one shoulder higher than the other? Is their pelvis rotated? Do they walk with a turnout? Is their back arching, or do they have “forward head?”
The X-Ray Vision visual cues are endless.
Of course, they have NO idea that I’m assessing them, which helps, because I want to get a sense of how they naturally move and stand. This speaks volumes.
All that being said, make sure you get a complete questionnaire from every client and ask him or her about previous injuries and if they have any special physical needs.
By the way, if you have questions about any of my blogs or have a topic you want my opinion on, please let me know.
I hope this will help you become a more effective and successful trainer.
I feel so fortunate to do what I love—and love what I do.