The Art of Teaching Pilates: Voice, Touch, Variation

by Leslie Braverman on February 21, 2015

 Leslie Braverman is devoted to training Pilates pros-in-training how to share the principles of Pilates—and to do it with keen attention to the individual client.

The art of teaching Pilates is to connect with clients in ways that are meaningful to them. Pilates teachers need multi-layered ways of communicating with clients in a group or private setting; it’s a creative process that keeps teaching vibrant, dynamic and engaging. We practice and perfect our skills, finding the right combination of cues for each client at every stage of their experience.


Learning is a Multi-Sensory Experience

Just like children, adults use their senses to discover new things about themselves and the world. When we’re small we observe how others stand and walk. We try to emulate them. A parent uses their hand to guide and shape a child’s hand around a pencil. We listen to others speak words to learn language.

Many of us learn movement best after a demonstration. The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is exceptionally true when teaching new or complex choreography.


Leslie explains how to do the exercise “Adductor Press” on the Split-Pedal Stability Chair.

Kinesthetic learning happens when moving our bodies or watching others demonstrate movement. Physically learning or dramatizing a task can help anchor information—nothing compares to a future instructor experiencing what their clients’ will feel. 


Leslie describes and demonstrates how to put the handles on the Split-Pedal Stability Chair while a student models her actions.

Auditory cues are essential in classrooms. As children, we learn to listen through singing, music and the stories that unfold around us. We hear words, but we also receive information based on tone, rhythm and other sounds. A chime signals that it is time to become quiet and pay attention. An alarm signals danger.


In a Pilates studio, we instructors use our voices to direct movement. Language, of course, expresses details about the movement, but voice is also used to tell a student where the emphasis should be placed during an exercise or to indicate the quality of the movement. We vary tone, pitch, speed, and volume.

We can, in a single word, deliver more complex information: “Reeeeeeeach your leg away from you.” It’s possible to alter timing or rhythm with our voices and add other cues, such as clapping or snapping our fingers.SONY DSC

The power of touch or “hands on” cues provide important feedback, spatial orientation and situational awareness. A strategically placed prop—a ball or flexband—provides excellent input.

Pilates teachers ultimately link movement with the reward that client’s feel when their efforts mesh with good direction. It feels good when movement is aligned, new patterns become routine, and progress is achieved. Try it for yourself. We’re here to guide you.


Pacific NW Pilates is studio, school and fitness family under one roof. Click to learn more about our education courses and workshops, private studio sessions and group classes. Or call for details: (503) 292-4409.

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