Question #18: Helping clients move with control.

Caitlin has an important question for us this week. You will undoubtedly have clients, both new and seasoned, that like to move quickly or without the “thoughtfulness” that is integral to Pilates.

Pilates truly is a different method of movement than most have experienced in their active life. We don’t often move slowly and methodically in gym class or sport. However, slow and steady does win the race!

When people come to Pilates, we have to change their mindset about movement a bit. We do that by asking them to think about their movement in certain ways, for example, noticing the shape of their spine, how they are breathing, and where they are in space. These are all very high-level cognitive activities, when someone may just be coming to you to move.

Here are some tricks to help people get more into their bodies…

1) Vary the tempo – have clients move at the quick pace they are used to, then ask them to do the same movement at a slow pace, then fast again. You can point out areas of instability when they move fast (ie. the pelvis rocks back and forth), then how those areas are more still when they move slowly. Ask them to then stay stable throughout regardless of speed.

2) Set the pace – have them move in each direction to a count of 4 at a pace that you set. Ask them to notice the difference in sensation versus when they move quickly. Then remind them of those sensations when they speed up again (ie. are you still feeling…? If not, slow down to a pace where you are.)

3) Add more resistance – more springs require more control. If clients are racing through movements, try adding heavier springs that make them slow down. Make sure to remind them not to move with momentum against this heavier weight. One cue is to ask them to push with even effort all the way through the movement, and resist the pull of the springs on the return.

Do you have a question related to your teaching or movement practice? Send it to to be featured in a future Ask Holly.

Written by
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

© Movement Monthly 2019. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.