Can I Teach Myself Pilates?

pitfalls to avoid when teaching yourself pilates Sep 05, 2021
Pilates client beginning her Online PIlates session with her Pilates Teacher
For more than 7 years now I have been having private French tuition with a teacher who is a native French speaker.  Speaking French had been my dream since I was a child and I first started with a basic course during my university days.  I studied on and off over the years but for various reasons, I never progressed past very basic levels. Courses were cancelled when students dropped out or they were changed to days that I couldn't attend.  I'd take a break for a year or 2 and then try another course.  The internet changed everything, finally, I could teach myself French!  Or so I thought.  I was able to memorise many vocabulary lists on various topics and listen to the exact pronunciation, but constructing sentences still eluded me.  I was getting frustrated as French grammar can be complicated.  I had no chance of learning this all on my own so I hired a talented private tutor who spoke to me in French from day 1. She set me plenty of homework and high standards to achieve.  It was such a relief to finally begin to make the kind of progress I'd only dreamed about.  I'm still having private lessons to this day and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.  Through consistent effort,  I've reached a very high level in speaking, listening, reading and writing but there is still so much to learn and I love the challenge.  Where would I be now if I had never hired a tutor all those years ago?  Still stuck on Bonjour, Comment ça va?  I'm guessing.  So let's look at how this translates to trying to teach yourself Pilates.
Over the years I've had a small number of clients who have given up Pilates sessions with me to practice what they have learned by themselves at home.  I once farewelled a client with this intention and as she walked out the door, another client, her former classmate mumbled "Good luck with that."  When I asked her what she meant, she replied that the woman had no chance of succeeding with this plan as she had such a busy, chaotic life she would never be able to make time to practice Pilates by herself.  As the woman was in her 60s with several health issues, I certainly didn't recommend it and was sure too, that would it be the end of her Pilates practice.  So why do we need a Pilates teacher for guidance and instruction?  Why can't we just practice by ourselves?
Correct Technique is Vital
Pilates is a unique multi-layered movement practice and like anything worthwhile, it takes time to establish the correct basic technique and then more time to establish the connections and develop body awareness.  Most beginners need to build up their confidence as they have to learn the correct breathing techniques, how to connect their abdominal muscles and how to combine this with movement.  That's why Joseph Pilates said it takes is takes 10 sessions to feel a difference and everything starts to come together at this time.  It's an ongoing journey and just when you have mastered something it's time to add the next challenge.  This is also what keeps Pilates interesting and helps you achieve your health and fitness goals such as becoming pain-free and moving with ease.  It's important you establish good technique in the beginning as poor technique is harder to change the more ingrained it is and poor technique can lead to injury.  Therefore it's important to have a strong visual with instructions such as a video to follow or a teacher like myself to correct you so you can ensure your Pilates practice is as effective as possible. 
Teachers Provide Support and Accountability
When you are dealing with health issues such as back pain for example it's important to have the right emotional support.  In addition to making sure you are using the correct technique in your Pilates practice,  I can give you the support and encouragement you need to keep going until you become pain-free.  l also ensure you are practicing the exercises that will be most beneficial for your individual needs and answer any questions you may have along the way.  You need clear direction and guidance at this crucial time in order to get out of pain as quickly and efficiently as possible and who better to help you with this than someone who has been helping people do just that successfully for more than 16 years?  When you are accountable to someone for your Pilates practice you are much more likely to follow through and attend your sessions.  Like the woman I mentioned above who was going to practice alone, she has no one to hold her accountable and when life gets in the way, you can be sure her Pilates practice is the first thing to be dropped from her schedule. 
You need to avoid the rut and be challenged and progressed
Change happens when you are in a relationship with another person such as a coach, teacher or mentor and this can be in person or online.  Business owners, athletes and school students all have professional coaches or teachers to accompany them on their journey to achieving the results they desire.  So if your Pilates practice is entirely solitary, you have to understand that you can't expect to see much positive change and forward progression on your Pilates journey.  I've had clients in the past who have made the mistake of practicing exactly the same exercises each day, year in year out and despite being advised that this is not recommended have continued to do so.  This is like being stuck in a giant rut.  It's great these people have the commitment to do this daily but unfortunately, their bodies will adapt to these movements and it will no longer be a challenge as they need to be striving to reach new challenges in order to increase their strength and flexibility.  There is no one to show them the next step or how to gradually increase the degree of difficulty. Their needs may also change during this time such as being diagnosed with a health condition that requires changes to their particular exercises and again, there is no one to help them do this effectively.  So basically they are stagnating and possibly risking injury as their current exercise program is no longer relevant for them anymore.  
Even Teachers need to be Taught
While Pilates teachers are more than capable of practicing by themselves, you will find the vast majority of Pilates teachers attend sessions with other Pilates teachers.  I've always done this myself and for more than 15 years pre-Covid, I attended 2 Pilates sessions each week, a private session and a small group of 4,  with a highly experienced Pilates Teacher.  Since Covid, I've used online options.  This is not because I don't know how to do Pilates but because I need someone to tell me how I can improve, give me new challenges and make sure I do the exercises that I like least because these are the ones I need to do the most.  I get to experience a different teaching style to my own and I'm pushed out of my comfort zone.  Any bad habits that are emerging are also corrected and rectified.  It's also much more relaxing and effective to let someone else teach you instead of having to teach yourself, so you can really go within and focus on the connections and the movements, which provides maximum benefit.
How can I do Pilates with you?
Just like my private French tutor who finally helped me to achieve my dream of speaking French, I'm here to help you achieve life-changing results with my unique Pilates program.  JS Mind Body Pilates is my online Pilates studio and it caters to individual learning styles.  Following my highly detailed on-demand videos is the equivalent of having your own teacher.  Many of my clients have commented that it feels like I'm in the room with them telling than what to do, just like I would in the studio.  We have mirror neurons in our brains that help us to learn by imitation.  When you watch me demonstrating the exercises it shows your brain what is possible and that you can do it too.  There are tutorials where I break down exercises in detail so you can establish good technique, movement sequences with different aims and for various conditions such as osteoporosis for example.  There are very small basic movements for when you are in pain and more challenging workouts for when you have recovered.  I provide detailed instructions along the way and it's reassuring for you to know you are completing an ideal number of repetitions.  If you are in pain or want intensive training and ongoing support, then you need 1 on 1 Pilates which is a real-time session via Skype.  You begin with a 1 hour in-depth Initial Assessment where I would look at your past medical history, your movement patterns, do a postural assessment, teach you how to connect your abdominal muscles and then we talk about what your goals are for Pilates.  I then design a Pilates exercise program specifically for you.  At your next session which is a 45 min Skype session, I take you through that program.  You can continue with these sessions until you become more comfortable and familiar with what you are doing and then you have the option of continuing with 30 minute Skype sessions or just working independently through the on-demand videos.  Between classes I suggest which exercises you should practice from my library of on-demand videos to further fast track your progress.  This way you are fully supported on your Pilates journey to enjoying pain-free living.  If you already have Pilates experience or a minor injury and feel confident to work through my highly detailed library of on-demand videos independently this is another option you can take.  I also offer email support if you need any exercise suggestions or have any questions along the way.  You also have the option of a Strategy Call to help you establish a plan of action for your Pilates journey.   Whichever option you choose, you will find high-quality instruction that is tailored to your individual needs.  So as you can see, there is no need to be practicing on your own when there are high-quality, cost-effective and time-efficient options available to you to help you stay happy and healthy at all stages of life.  If you have any questions please email me at [email protected] It would be my pleasure to help you progress and thrive on your Pilates journey!

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