Tired of the old routine?
Teach out of your comfort zone!

July 2019
Author: Deborah Mendoza, NCPT, PMA Board of Directors

It is an age old saying that learning does not occur when we are too comfortable. To learn we need to be challenged, step out of our comfort zone and explore.

As Pilates teachers we often push that edge with our clients, by encouraging them to try an exercise they think they might not be able to perform, by challenging their perception of how they think the human body can change, or by exploring with them a new way to move in their own body. We also build our knowledge and understanding of the work by attending continuing education courses. We learn new exercises, modifications and variations. We deepen our knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics and varying health issues we may encounter. But in our studios and in our teaching we often allow the comfort zone to thrive.

When was the last time you pushed your own teaching out of its comfort zone?

Challenge your teaching skills
We all develop teaching styles that support our best teaching skills. If you minimize a teaching skill you are most comfortable with you will develop additional skills to make you a more effective teacher overall. If you like to lead your classes by demonstrating the exercises, challenge yourself to not demonstrate for a class and you may find your verbal skills have to improve. If you usually stop to explain every exercise before your client performs it, try to teach a class with continuous movement and you may find that you have to change your use of voice and rhythm. If you like to give hands on cues, try to teach a session without touching a client and you may find that your client takes more responsibility for the corrections you are giving them. Challenging your teaching habits is uncomfortable, and you might walk away feeling like “that wasn’t my best class” at first but it will help you build your toolbox of skills. The more teaching tools we develop the better and more versatile we become as teachers allowing clients of different learning styles and abilities to learn from us.


Change your environment
We instinctively create environments that are comfortable, and we justify the set up of those environments, often with good reason. But sometimes it creates habits and patterns that are not necessary or are even detrimental. Try rearranging the equipment in your studio, facing your class a different direction in the room you teach in, or maybe even teaching a class outside. Changing your environment might force you to realize you’ve developed a habit of always standing on the left side of the Reformer when you teach with your head tilted to the right and that is why your neck is chronically tight. You might realize how reliant you and your clients have become on a specific mirror in class and a different view forces you to move around your clients and correct them differently. Allow yourself to be inspired by a change of environment that brings new energy and perspective to what you do.


Explore movement
As comprehensively trained Pilates teachers, we rarely have an opportunity to teach all of the exercises we know. It is very easy to get into a habit of teaching the same exercises and sequences with each class and client. Try exploring an exercise you haven’t taught in a while or creating a slight variation on a classic. Teaching an exercise you haven’t taught in a while might help solidify your knowledge of the extensive Pilates repertoire or remind you of information you had forgotten you learned. Creating a new variation on an exercise you teach regularly might shed light on a valuable aspect of the exercise you had not seen before. Exploration challenges how you put your knowledge into practice and puts the responsibility on you to not simply repeat information you have heard or said before, but to deepen your understanding of what you know.


When we get too comfortable in our own teaching, we often lose the excitement behind what we are doing. It doesn’t take much to shake that up and change our perspective. It might inspire you in a way you never imagined!

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Category: The Method