There’s really no sugar-coating when life throws you a curveball (or a dozen of them) it can be challenging to stay positive, inspired, consistent, and motivated. It’s ironic that the very thing we need the most, a consistent practice, can be the very thing we resist amidst a chaotic environment.
It’s understandable in our current climate and as a collective, our whole way of life has been uprooted leaving us in unknown territory with no end in sight. As teachers, educators, and leaders in our communities, we must take care of ourselves and find the means to stay motivated but, we must also lead, encourage, and keep our clients on track.
That means maintaining a regular practice.
We know that a regular Pilates practice greatly aids in the improvement and/or maintenance of the immune system. Pilates boosts your mood, energy, and can alleviate stress, getting you out of your head so you can get a break from your problems. Tom McCook reminds us that our practice gives us a broader perspective and just as it boosts our immunity, it builds our resiliency. Resiliency enables us to push through and forge ahead.
It is a rare soul that craves abrupt change, the majority of us need time to adjust and adapt. In the case of a global pandemic there is a lot of fear and grief; grief for what was, for expectations of the future, and from a lack of social interaction. There is a fear for one’s own health and well-being or that of loved ones as well as economic pressure. As the world awakens to its deep-seated systems of injustice and oppression, a collective consciousness of guilt, helplessness, defensiveness, or resistance is occurring. All together that creates an unstable environment, in which our basic needs of safety are threatened and our nervous systems become stuck in fight, flight, or freeze. Humans are social creatures. James Crader says we are “solitary animals that thrive in packs.” Getting through tough times together within our social circles has also been taken away. This can paint a depressing picture if we dwell here, however, obstacles are what fuels positive change, resourcefulness, creativity, and resiliency.
Pilates Anytime teacher, Norris Tomlinson, beautifully writes, “Empathy! Although our mission is to teach movement, during these times we also have to express empathy for the feelings clients bring to the session such as anxiety about current events, depression about confinement/restrictions, and loneliness from distancing. Expressing empathy will open the door to better receiving the benefits of what we have to offer them.”
Brett Howard emphasizes returning to our skills as teachers. Having a specific intention of how we can help our clients achieve their goals by selecting attainable but challenging material and providing clear instruction and supportive feedback.
Sharing the benefits of their practice, whether it’s through a call, email or newsletters continually reminds them of their why and the long-term goal of longevity. James Crader shares excellent resources of self-massage and breathwork that can be incorporated into your classes to help foster a safe space.
It’s fair to say that almost every teacher prefers the in-person teaching experience over online but see value in the nuances for learning. Both Brett Howard and Norris Tomlinson agree that one isn’t harder than the other, they’re just different and require a slightly different skillset. Jonathan Oldham, on the other hand, says “yes, it is harder.” Many teachers would agree with that as they’ve seen their numbers drop from individuals that just don’t want the virtual experience. However, the clients who have adapted to virtual classes are participating more frequently as it provides structure and normalcy in a time of unwelcome change, says Jonathan. Clients become less reliant on tactile prompts and feedback and are taking ownership of their practices and self-correcting.
Feedback from our Pilates Anytime teachers include using a lot of imagery, referring to exercises done previously, acknowledging progress, and thanking them for inviting them into their homes. As teachers, we have the opportunity to grow our use of verbal instructions and to improve our problem-solving skills.
Now more than ever a sense of community is essential. Creating opportunities and resources in which clients have a sense of commonality, support, and accountability. Creating challenges, checking in with clients through a phone call, text or email goes a long way. Write blogs and newsletters focusing on the purpose and benefits of a consistent practice reminding them why they started and why it’s more important than ever to continue. Many clients benefit from setting goals. Ask them what they want and need.
Some form of structure and routine is vital during times of chaos and constant uncertainty; it provides stability, purpose, and some control in an otherwise uncontrolled environment. A structured and consistent Pilates practice is a valuable gift to provide to clients. It’s more than physical; it’s a mindset and mood enhancer. Your practice builds your capacity for resiliency to undertake and problem solve in all areas of your life.
As some of us are thriving in this new climate, many of us and/or our colleagues are struggling. The same tips provided for motivating clients can be applied to us. Making sure we are scheduling in and protecting our time and space for our own practice is vital. As you bear the responsibility for motivating your clients it’s important that you are also getting support, inspiration, or accountability. Find your tribe, reach out to other colleagues for support, find an accountability partner, and do things you enjoy that are not work-related. Everything you would tell your clients, tell yourself - get out in nature, get enough sleep, eat healthy and stay hydrated.
Staying motivated is an ongoing journey. We are social beings. In a time when physical contact and connection are restricted, we are providing a sense of community and connection through structure, empathy, and guidance. Creating a safe space in which clients can be seen, heard, and valued along with tools to physically energize and stay healthy is a valuable resource to our clients and communities.
We’d love to hear from you, in the comments below please share your takeaways and what you’re doing to keep yourself and your clients motivated!