Pilates teachers have a language all their own. Pilates Speak is the use of technical jargon, anatomical terms, and generic/pre-fabricated cues and imagery rather than plain, simple language. But you can break the habit, or learn to see through it.
Pilates training programs involve a great deal of memorization. The Pilates repertoire is huge. Comprehensive programs are relatively short considering the amount of choreography, anatomy, and physics that must be learned. Then there’s the skills to be honed; cuing, mirroring, tactile cues, “teacher’s eyes”, etc. 12 months is only time enough to scratch the surface of how to become a truly effective Pilates teacher.
But for many of us, that’s all we get. 12 months (or less!) and then out the door you go, papers in hand, to teach PILATES! It’s no wonder so many teachers quickly learn how to mimic their own teachers, stealing cues, images, spotting techniques. Standing in front of a room full of waiting bodies, a head full of knowledge, and no idea where to start. Teaching can be TERRIFYING! So our brains switch into autopilot. And Pilates Speak is born.
The thing is, the end of formal Pilates training is really just the beginning of the journey. Last week I talked about questioning EVERYTHING you hear, read, think, or say. That is your path out of the gibberish that is Pilates Speak, but that takes a long time. As new teachers (or students), armed with a minimal amount of regurgitated information, where do you start?
Well, that depends on you. There must be some cue that doesn’t sit well. Some jargon you keep repeating. Some idea that doesn’t reconcile. That’s your subconscious telling you something. Start there.
Ask yourself the 5 basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Once you’ve started forming your own investigation, start asking your own body. Do the thing: the cue, the exercise, the touch, whatever. What would that really feel like in your body? If you’re still not sure, start asking around. Get your friends and peers in on your investigation. From there, you can start to form your own cues, speak from your own voice.
The bottom line is this; as a teacher, everything you say should be in plain English (or your relevant language), and come through the filter of your own understanding, your own experience. Forget the prefab cues, the technical jargon, and ESPECIALLY the anatomy terms. They don’t make you look smart. They only put a distance between you and your students.
As a student, everything you hear should pass through your filter of logic and reason. Does it make sense to you? If not, ask! The more questions there are, the more we all learn. (And nothing keeps a teacher on their toes like a good heckler! 😉)