When I began my Pilates career, the thought of working with pregnancy clients terrified me. Probably because I have never had a desire to have children and so I didn’t think I was capable of understanding or providing for the needs these women would be requiring.
I voiced my concern to a mentor at the time (who is male). What made me think he would know – he hadn’t had the experience of being pregnant either!
Anyhow, his advice was to plan 2 sessions: 1 for studio/clinical setting and 1 for a group class setting, so that I could take away that panicky feeling and have confidence to know that I had enough repertoire to safely guide someone through their Pilates hour. Sound advice. I wonder why I was so blinded to be able to think of doing that? Oh, that’s right … crippling FEAR (aka imposter syndrome)
Do you know that phenomenon of attracting what you are most needing to learn? Well, before I’d even had a chance to create these programmes, I was influxed with more growing babies than I knew what to do with. So, I began my steep learning curve! But you know what I found? These women were bodies that benefitted from movement. And sure, there are a few glaring things to avoid for them, but honestly, they are still bodies that have joints, muscles, ligaments, fascia, bones and skin that are longing to move within their ranges. As soon as I comprehended that, the fear of not knowing what to do because I hadn’t been pregnant, oozed away.
We are guilty, and wise, to classify people into “special populations” (pregnancy, back pain, osteoporosis, disc pathology, rehab – knee, hip, pelvic instability, runners, dancers, skiers … the list goes on), because yes there are precautions to take with certain ailments so that we don’t make things worse. But hopefully I can inspire you to remember that you are dealing with far more than just the special condition. It’s impossible to be able to have had every injury/condition that you will come across. I deal with multiple men with prostate cancer or neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease – I don’t know first-hand what those are like. But I do know about the body and movement in immense detail, and I keep learning about topics that interest me and ultimately benefit my clients.
As Pilates teachers, we are gifted to treat the whole being. And if you know anything of how you have been created, you will appreciate that everything affects everything else. So even if you find yourself repeating exercises (and beating yourself up for not being more creative), know that you are still providing immense benefit to the body in front of you.
Pilates is such a rewarding movement practice. Who decided that we have to make it so fancy that we have forgotten the essence of what we are meant to be doing? It’s about functional re-education, helping people to restore their natural movement ability as much as possible. So remember to check in with how your client is feeling through the session, because trust me, no one has the same experience even if they have the same condition.
And if you find yourself still stumped as to what to do with your “special population”, then go back to creating a plan, or even better, get together and have a play with a colleague or a mentor to spark off some creative ideas like I did the other day with a fellow teacher. We had so much fun imagining she was 32 weeks pregnant – we even created a baby bump for her to “feel” her way through various exercises.
And if you’re still looking for more, then consider joining the mentorME membership to get inspiration directly from me and like-minded teachers sharing their experience through this incredible career of movement.