If you have read my blog in the past you know I try to keep a positive attitude. I also talk about perspective and finding the ‘lucky’ in your life. Often times it’s all in how we choose to look at things!
Tonight I had one of those experiences that I just had to share!
I teach a regular pilates reformer class on Monday nights. There are only 4 reformers – this class is usually full with others waiting to see if they’ll get a spot. This is a good thing for several reasons. 1. I get paid based on the number of bodies 2. I enjoy sharing pilates with folks so the more the better 3. a full class keeps this fitness facility happy with me!
Tonight for some reason no one was signed up for the class. Not one single person. It’s not a holiday week yet- so I really couldn’t explain the lack of reservations. I teach another class before this one and after that class I noticed a middle aged gentleman sitting in the hall. I thought he must be waiting for his wife but I asked “Are you here for the reformer?” Surprisingly he said yes. This facility allows all members one free trial class and he mentioned this was his freebie and said “I’m a sucker for marketing”. While I love showing new people the reformer – I get paid virtually nothing for ‘first time free’ people and here was one who seemed to be only in it for the freebie – not a potential new student. (note- let’s be clear – I never got into pilates thinking I’d make it rich… but I do still have a mortgage to pay!)
As I do with any new student, I asked if he had any issues or injuries I should be aware of. He explained that he had Neuropathy and as a result had very little sensation in his feet or legs. He also said he had issues with balance and because of this had found it hard to workout. As a result of that- he’d gained quite a bit of weight. He told me that he used to do bootcamp and workout with weights but lately had not been able to do those types of activities. Pilates as he explained was sort of a last ditch- let’s see if this works – effort after a long line of trying other exercises, therapies and seeing specialists. Instantly, I began thinking and rethinking how we should approach this class. Trying to decide what he could comfortable do and what might be an issue. I was so glad he had shared this information because there are definitely movements that require balance and an awareness of your placement that could be too difficult and even dangerous.
I explained the principles of pilates to my new student – the breath, the core, the neutral spine – even the foot centers even though I wasn’t sure how much we’d be using them. We began with double leg work and I showed him how to put his feet on the bar. We tried a few repetitions of simple parallel leg work and I stopped to check that this was ok and he felt comfortable. Next we switched to pilates V or first position and I had to help him place his feet on the bar .. he was unable to tell if his foot was touching the bar on his own. Once I could get him situated – he could do the exercises.
As we moved into more work for the core, lats and arms – I explained the concepts of the work and prioritized what he should focus on first, second and third. I knew since he had not worked out in a while some of this was going to be quite challenging. I also knew keeping the legs drawn together in table top might be difficult without the sensation necessary to feel his legs. We focused first on what his core should be doing and secondly on his breath. He was eager to take direction and very conscious of doing the work properly. We worried less about the proper position of the feet or if the magnets were engaged.
With each different exercise, I made sure he felt comfortable and safe and we proceeded slowly really going over the movement and breath. As an instructor I felt pushed and challenged to select the right exercises, make the necessary modifications, keep my client safe and also provide a complete workout. While I always try to bring my best to class – this one in particular had me working at the top of my game!
At the end of class we chatted for a bit and he told me how much he really enjoyed it. It was obvious he had worked hard as his shirt was quite wet and he said “this was quite challenging but it’s what I need and something I feel like I can do!” I was so pleased to have been able to offer a solution. This ‘first time free’ client left my class and immediately purchased a package of 10 more classes. And I just happened to notice he’s signed up for my next class.
I truly enjoyed the experience of sharing pilates with this gentleman and helping him feel hopeful and encouraged. It was obvious in our conversation he didn’t want to be sedentary or out of shape but had really struggled to find something he could do. I am so glad as fate would have it we had the opportunity to have a private one on one session. It would have been very difficult to introduce this gentleman to the reformer in a class full of regular, advanced students. Because we had the chance to go slow and work through the concepts – he’ll be ready for a group class in the future but wasn’t frustrated by not being able to keep up his first time. Some things really do work out the way they should.
I’m a better instructor for having this challenge and grateful for helping a student find an answer and hope. I’m lucky he chose my class and no one else did that night!