Sunday, May 25, 2014

Finding a Great Teaching Model at the Gym

When I met Janet, my Pilates coach, the first thing she said was, "What are your goals?"

We discussed my concerns and all the joints and muscles that were "far below basic" and those that were "proficient" stronger and flexible. She had me do some stretches to gauge my flexibility and lack there of.  

When I said, "Oh, no that would be impossible for me to do."  or "Ouch"  She said, "That's okay, we have other ways to get there."

Then she discussed with me her philosophy and qualifications and told me not to worry, because she had been where I am in many ways and this program had helped her become more flexible and pain free. She explained to me the muscles of my neck and shoulders and how the overuse of some and under use of others are the primary reason for the pain in my shoulders and neck.  Further, she explained how stretching the muscles to lengthen joints, and to move the joint would provide more lubrication for my joints and help ease the pain of movement. 

Let's call our initial meeting, "gathering summative data (existing data that gives us a starting place: NOT the end of learning;  the start of our next steps).

  • Discussed my interest, likes, dislikes.  
  • Outlined my strengths 
  • Defined areas of opportunity for improvement
  • Assured me of her professionalism
  • Explained the road map to relief
  • Knew when to move back a space in initial assessment
  • Let me know that she had empathy and would support me where I was
During our weekly sessions, she always has something a little different for me to try, practicing the skills we began with a bit more of a challenge.  Each week she has a written plan, but if my shoulder gives out, or I have a stiff muscle that refuses to cooperate, she stops and says, "Mmm, let's do this another way." or "Wait, watch me."  As she carefully breaks down each step, joint and muscle I need to engage. 

As time has passed, she says, "Do you remember how hard this was for you?  Beautiful, just beautiful."  She constantly reinforces my efforts, and pushes me to go further saying.  "Do you have one more?" and "Yes, that's it, exactly. See how you engaged your core." 

Throughout each lesson she is "gathering formative data, and letting that data guide her instruction:  

  • Plans carefully 
  • Keeps it challenging but doable
  • Tries a new approach  as needed, seamlessly and without making me feel that I have failed
  • Specifically tells me  when muscles are not engaged that should be
  • Specifically tells me when I am doing something correct
  • Reminds me how much I've learned 
  • Shares in my joy
About 8 months into the program, the pain in my neck that had plagued me for 15 years, or more is gone. Most of my joints which were  far" below basic," are now "proficient" and  "advanced!" I never skip it, unless I'm out of town or ill. 

This machine, the "technology" of the process, did not help me in my on-going quest for flexibility and less pain.  It was the instructional practice of the teacher and her skill in imparting knowledge about not only how to use the technology, but how to change my daily habits.  At the same time, the machine supported my muscles and joints to achieve a greater stretch and more joint usage. Not all technology plugs into a wall.

1 comment:

  1. Pilates is a great way to rehab and strengthen our bodies. I'm glad you found a program that works well for you. I rarely miss either, and when I'm sore ,Elizabeth works her magic to help open things up again.