A question that many of us seasoned Pilates teachers are asking as we see so many studios popping up. Don't get me wrong, I am so happy that the word about how beneficial Pilates can be is getting out there! But there is a problem........
In the bustling city of Dubai, where the pursuit of health and wellness is a top priority, Pilates and Reformer exercises have gained immense popularity. These fitness practices not only promise strength and flexibility but also emphasise posture and alignment correction, or so they should! The fact is that there are so many studios taking on unqualified teachers. Now, when I say unqualified, I don't mean they haven't attended a course; I simply mean that they may not have reached the level of completing their exam. This is highly concerning given that many of the clients who attend Pilates usually have preexisting injuries or diseases.
Also, there are key principles and methodical ways in which Pilates exercises are to be taught to maximise their benefit. Otherwise, you are merely being taught exercises on a reformer and not Pilates at all.
So here are some key things to look for to ensure you know you are attending a quality Pilates class:
A good instructor knows and highly values the positioning of their clients. By this, I mean ensuring your pelvis is correctly placed, your rib cage is aligned, and your neck and shoulders are not taking undue tension.
One of the key benefits of Pilates is targeting all of those small stabilising muscles, and it's those small muscles that make the difference in your shape, in the efficiency of your muscle usage, and ensure we do not see degenerative injuries.
So, if your Pilates teacher does not come and correct you (because trust me, even as a dedicated student of many years, we still all need alignment correction), this is a red flag! Granted, if you are in a group environment, there is only so much time they can dedicate to you as an individual, but at some stage of your session, each client should at least get a little attention and be made aware of key alignment issues.
This is not just the mindfulness aspect, which is so lovely with Pilates, the ability to purely focus on your breath and movement. The breath work has a key benefit during our movements in terms of how it affects your fascia, how it can help with alignment, and even your mobility.
These days we are not so strict as we once were in terms of ensuring the right inhale and exhale are done with the right movement. In the old days, we would get full-on dance teacher style shouted at 😂, but your teacher should cue the breath work to help bring it into your flow. Trust me, as you become more of an avid Pilates goer, you will value how this breath work can help you.
This is something I have personally struggled with a little in Dubai, with so many mixtures of languages combined with my dodgy northern accent. At times, I have just had to jump on and demonstrate. However, if a Pilates teacher is spending all their time demonstrating or even doing the class with you, this is not giving you the quality you need.
Another key element I feel is getting more and more pushed out as the feeling of 'the burn' seems to be the priority. Mobility again is a key element required to help those muscles realign. Also, one of the main principles in Pilates is to ensure the spine moves in each direction (as long as no contraindications are present). I have attended many classes where burning my abs and butt have been the priority and not a mermaid in sight!
The After Effect:
When you finish your Pilates class, of course, you should feel worked but also not heavy. You should feel mobile, pain should be reduced, and you should even feel like you are standing taller!
The guidance of a skilled instructor is paramount to maximising your Pilates journey, especially for clients seeking posture and alignment correction. And more so if you want a really personalised journey, take the time to work 1:1 with an instructor. Granted, this can be a little higher in budget; however, the education you will receive from your instructor will give you the skills to then take away and implement group classes better.
Here's why you should consider working 1:1 with a Pilates teacher:
1. Individualised Assessment: Experienced Pilates instructors assess each client's unique needs, identifying postural imbalances and areas requiring improvement.
2. Verbal and Hands-On Corrections: Instructors use verbal cues and hands-on adjustments to help clients understand and correct their alignment during exercises. This will be purely focused on you for the entire session, and therefore, the absolute optimal benefit can be gained from your session.
3. Tailored Workouts: Instructors create personalised exercise programs, addressing posture and alignment concerns while considering individual fitness levels and goals.
4. Ongoing Feedback: A good Pilates instructor will consistently monitor progress and provide feedback, ensuring clients stay on the right path toward better posture and alignment.
In Dubai, where health-conscious adults seek holistic fitness solutions, Pilates and Reformer exercises offer a remarkable journey towards better posture and alignment. Whether you opt for traditional Pilates or the Reformer, the key lies in choosing a knowledgeable and experienced Pilates instructor who can guide you on this transformative path. Embrace the mind-body connection, personalised workouts, and the power of skilled instruction as you work towards a healthier, more aligned, and pain-free life. Your posture will thank you for it!