Tricks of the Trade

Jul 01, 2003

How have you incorporated Pilates into your clients' programs?

A:
We have brought a reformer into the weight room and trained our PFTs on how to use it. Unlike other pulley and cable equipment, free weights or even stationary equipment, a reformer can be used to show clients several exercise movements. Many trainers work these exercises into their clients’ programs to expose them to Pilates and to give them something different.

We teach our clients that the body adapts to training on a reformer as it does to training on other modalities. Pilates is simply another form of resisted movement. To demystify Pilates and change the perception of it as an exercise form only for certain people, we integrate it as an interesting option for certain exercise movements.

We have had great feedback, but some members still wish to have Pilates-only training sessions. We try to refer them to our in-house Pilates program.

Everett Aaberg

2001 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year

Director of Education and Personal Training

International Athletic Club Management

Dallas

A:
Our spa has incorporated Pilates into its programs in both traditional and fusion formats. For example, we offer our guests personal Pilates sessions. Over the past 4 years, we have tracked a 39 percent increase in sales of this program, due in part to the growth of interest in Pilates.

More than 60 percent of these individual programs are taken by people with no prior Pilates experience; for example, many come to the spa to splurge on a Pilates primer. Of these novices, more than 40 percent sign up for subsequent one-to-one or group training sessions before leaving. In addition, we give guests a printed description of a few Pilates exercises that we recommend they practice at home, and we sell a selection of Pilates videos and texts in our boutique.

We also incorporate Pilates into our mind-body personal training track. We offer personal training sessions in which we fuse yoga, t’ai chi, Feldenkrais and Pilates. Since we started these sessions this January, they have been extremely popular because so many people want to experience the benefits of these mindful programs in a “cafeteria” style.

Our mind-body personal trainers even incorporate Pilates exercises into group personal training. As part of our seasonal “Mind-Body Triathlon” small-group personal training, we take the hotel yacht to our private Palomino Island for “Pilates in the Pavilion,” which takes place in a wooden pagoda-like structure we constructed on the beach.

Pilates fits perfectly into the spa environment because we emphasize mind-body-breathing fitness. For example, after we teach the core stabilization exercises required for isometric yoga, adding isotonic movement to those exercises (such as adding a Pilates-style roll-down or roll-up from a yoga staff) is a logical progression; it creates synergy and interdependence between the two disciplines. All spa guests enjoy the Pilates-inspired personal training touches because they feel they receive cutting-edge exercises to improve their mobility and stability!

Lawrence Biscontini

Group Exercise Manager/Personal Trainer/Nutritional Counselor/ Reebok University Master Trainer

Wyndham Golden Door Spa

Fajardo, Puerto Rico

A:
Pilates has been a big influence in my fitness classes and personal training sessions. I originally experienced Pilates as a ballet dancer but left it behind in the 1980s, when the Jane Fonda fitness craze began. My dance roots always stuck with me, though, so I was excited to see the resurgence of Pilates and mind-body-based fitness.

Because I find it easier to explain and teach movements once I’ve practiced them personally, I signed up for Pilates mat sessions at fitness conferences in the early 1990s and recently hired a Pilates personal trainer for myself. I now have a whole new collection of Pilates exercises to share with my clients. For example, I might do the “teaser” on a BOSU or begin the session with a roll-down. Clients love the variety the exercises add to their programs. They love getting more than just the regular cardio/weight routines and consider it a bonus to learn about new techniques.

Of course, I’m careful to explain to my clients that I am not a certified Pilates instructor and that I teach only Pilates “basics.” I encourage them to continue studying Pilates with a certified instructor, either one-on-one or in mat classes.

Maureen Wilson

Owner/Personal Trainer/Instructor

Sweat Co. Workout Studios Ltd.

Vancouver, British Columbia

A:
Here in Aspen, Colorado, people already do a lot of outdoor or fitness training, so fitting one more activity in is sometimes difficult. Nonetheless, for many people, attending even one Pilates-related session per week can make a difference. Depending on their schedules and budgets, they may take a private session, a small-group reformer class or a mat class. Having these different options helps clients integrate some Pilates into their personal training programs.

I’ve found Pilates very popular among older adults. Some take sessions because they have a bad back or arthritis; in addition to addressing their specific medical problems, Pilates greatly benefits their daily lives by helping them improve their balance, gait and posture. Some clients do three Pilates sessions per week with no other resistance training; others do a few Pilates sessions and a weight training session. One lady in her 70s follows a weekly program of water aerobics, cross-country skiing (or hiking in the summer), one weight training session, one private Pilates session and one reformer class.

Catherine Cussaguet

The Aspen Club & Spa

Aspen, Colorado

A:
Many of my clients are business executives who slouch behind a desk or in a small, uncomfortable plane seat for hours. Often, by the end of the day, they’re plagued by soreness in the lower back, neck or shoulders.

I teach these clients how to use Pilates exercises to strengthen and lengthen the muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and abdomen to correct their posture while sitting, standing or moving around throughout the day. After teaching them how to pull their navels in toward their spines to engage their deep abdominal muscles (which help keep them stable while they sit at their desks, train with weights or do cardio work), I have them practice while they talk on the phone or ride in the elevator.

It’s not long before my clients tell me, “I found my abs!” Once they are comfortable with engaging their abdominal muscles, I can add more difficult abdominal exercises to their programs without worrying that they might use their backs or hip flexors to do the exercise.

Working the muscles of the shoulders, upper back and neck is difficult for many of my clients, but incorporating Pilates strengthening and lengthening exercises into their programs has improved clients’ posture remarkably. Many are even surprised at how much taller they feel after doing the exercises.

Additionally, adding Pilates exercises to my clients’ travel programs helps keep them strong and flexible while they are away, even if they cannot get to the gym. They can do the exercises on a blanket or towel in their hotel rooms.

Basically, Pilates helps my clients become more in tune with their muscles. The decrease in their muscle imbalance improves their posture and flexibility and makes their day-to-day activities easier.

Dee Miller

Personal Training/Corporate Fitness/ Lifestyle and Weight Management Consulting

Owner, FitnessDeeLite

Toronto

IDEA Personal Trainer, Volume 2004, Issue 7

© 2003 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.