The Why is as Important as the How

When I started my Pilates Sol Teacher Training, I knew right away what would set my program apart from so many of the others.

I would focus on the “why” behind each exercise, not just the “how”.

So why is the “why” important?

First off, anyone can teach the how. It’s fairly easy to learn a bunch of instructions and then parrot them back to clients. For instance, 

"Curl your head, neck, and shoulders up while you reach your arms and legs. Begin pumping your arms as if slapping water. Breathe in for five pumps, breathe out for five pumps."

There’s the 100s, in a nutshell. Throw in some imagery, make sure you know your safety cues, and YOU TOO can teach Pilates. (Was that snarky? I was going for funny.)

And clients will happily go along, but are they really THINKING about what they’re doing? Can they really peel all the layers off the Pilates onion and get to its essence if they don’t know why they’re doing particular moves?

As both a teacher and a student of Pilates, knowing WHY I am doing something always makes me better at it.

Let’s take the 100s as our example again. Sure you know how to do it, but did you know this is WHY we do it:

  • It’s a warm up exercise that gets the blood pumping

  • It strengthens the abs (I know, you knew that one)

  • It establishes stability of the torso and then challenges that stability by adding movement of some of the extremities

As a client, knowing these things might make you better at the 100s faster than if you didn’t. As a teacher, knowing why you’re teaching the 100s gives you the ability to modify the movement for clients of special populations while retaining the essence.

I feel so strongly about this that the very first thing on the top of each exercise page of my teacher training manual is a space for my students to write the essence of each move.

I also recognize that not every client wants to hear this stuff. That’s why I layer it in gradually in small bits over the course of days, weeks, and months. And over time, my clients have what I call “light bulb moments” where it all comes together and they “get it”. Those moments make teaching Pilates so rewarding, and teaching the why behind our method makes them much more frequent.