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Things That Make You Go “Hmmmm?” Pilates style

If you have ever come to one of my classes you have heard me say, “What I am going to say is one of those feel it things. Not something you can actually do but try to do anyway!”.  And if you have ever been in class with me, that makes perfect sense to you. If you haven’t, you are probably feeling a bit confused right now by that statement because that is not something you will probably hear in any other fitness class. So why do you hear stuff like that in your Pilates’ sessions?

Your mind is powerful! I believe it is the strongest muscle in your body, so we often use verbal cues and imagery to help you connect and feel your movements deeper.  For example, have you ever been in a Pilates Class where your teacher asked you to roll back from a sitting position to a lying down position and you kind of clunk or fall back with little to no thought about how you did it? But the next time the teacher says, “Roll back but as you do, think of your vertebrae as links in a chain and place one down on the mat at a time”. Those two cues will elicit two very different roll backs because you have already started to connect to the movement differently just by the words used to describe the movement.  Not only will the roll back look different, but more importantly, it will feel different to you. The second cue will evoke in you a thought process that causes you to move with much more intention and control. Therefore, it will be much harder, and you will get so much more out of the roll back.  Even though we as Pilates Teachers sometimes say strange things, and can’t count to save our lives, one thing I can promise you is that we have chosen our words very thoughtfully. Especially our cues! We are trying to paint a picture for you in your mind’s eye so you can connect into the movement on a deeper level because most people are visual learners to some degree.

We have another secret too. We also use verbal cues to stimulate more of your senses, slowing your brain down and concentrating on how your body feels in the moment. When you focus on our words and what you are working on, your mind won’t wander off as often. Concentration is one of the guiding principles of Pilates and a skill we all need to work on in general thanks to the fast-paced, overstimulated world we live in.  It’s also a skill we hope you carry with you in your life because Pilates is a way to live, not just a workout to fill an hour of your time. When you can start to harness this level of concentration you will not only feel physically better after class, but you will feel mentally refreshed as well and your movements outside of class will feel different too! A good Pilates class is better than any meditation I have ever done but goes without saying I am obviously very biased! 

The hard thing is not all cues work for all populations, all genders, and all ethnicities. We at Pilates Cure are constantly working to improve our skills to better serve you and help you make deeper connections, but it’s okay if a cue just never resonates with you. They are not one size fits all and not every cue will hit home for you. Truth be told, it might take a few times of hearing the cue and feeling the move before it starts to resonate with you. Let us know if you have ever experienced it taking six months or more for a cue to finally “hit’ with you by emailing us at [email protected]. We love to hear your stories!  

The bottom line is words matter, your brain is powerful, and you are capable of more than you probably give yourself credit for so let the cues guide you beyond where you think you can go.  Don’t get hung up on every literal meaning of each word and know that different teachers will use different cues so maybe the next teacher will say something that really makes a difference for you. And speaking from experience, your Pilates teacher really does want to know what cue made a difference for you and why. It’s one of the ways we continue to keep sharpening our skill set for you. 

If you are a Pilates or fitness teacher you already know that cueing is a nuanced art form requiring a unique skill set of clear and concise verbal communication to get your client moving in a precise way. If you are interested in refining, editing and building upon your current cueing skills to help your clients move more efficiently, make deeper connections, and eliminate some frustration and confusion don’t miss our upcoming masterclass happening tomorrow, Clear Concise Cues.            

 April 27th at 12:00pm EST – email [email protected] to register 

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