Become A 2023 Host Studio Today!

My client is dictating the session

I'm a fairly new Pilates Teacher.  I've been teaching for 3 years and I absolutely love what I do.  Sharing my knowledge to help change peoples bodies and attitudes towards exercise is so important to me and I know that I'm good at what I do.  But I'm really struggling with the clients who come in for private sessions and announce what they are willing and unwilling to do in the session.  I feel like they put up a wall around certain things and I find that  too often give in to their requests or get flustered and it makes me lose my mojo before the session has begun.  Should I just accept that some people are going to dictate what we do in the session?  I mean they are paying for it so I don't want to fight with them.  ~ Sincerely, Quiet & Frustrated 


Dear Quiet & Frustrated, 

Not many Pilates Teacher Training programs can prepare you for ALL client types. The skills you need to manage client relationships are mostly built through experience and combined with your own instinct. And it takes a long time in a service industry to really stand firm in your boundaries, principles and knowledge while also "servicing the client".  

So can the clients call the shots because they are paying the big bucks....

That's a hard NO!

Clients can have goals and reasons they wanted to start Pilates.  But it is your training, your knowledge and your expertise that's going to facilitate their success.  You are their educator and leader.... not their classmate or partner in a project.  Once the balance of power shifts to them leading the session, they have no need for you anymore.  

So my recommendation is to acknowledge them but maintain your leadership role in the session.  Try preparing a few counterpoints to common complaints/demands/requests you hear.  Here are some real life examples that. have used:

Client: "Can we jump today?"

Teacher: "Jumping sounds great.  But I have some other things I'd like to accomplish first.  I'll save some time at the end to do some jumping". 

Client: "Can we not do pulling straps? I don't want to work my arms"

Teacher: "Pulling straps isn't about your arms but is about your lats, back muscles and abdominals.  I'm not going to eliminate it but instead try cueing you differently so that we practice making that connection"

Client: "I want to skip Tree.  I can't reach my ankle.  My arms are too short"

Teacher: "The reach doesn't come from your arms.  It comes from the lift in your chest.  Let's keep the leg strong and use it to climb up higher to your ankle.  Do you see how high up your chest is now?  This is the lift we are trying to achieve in this movement".  

Client:  "Can we skip the box? I really hate it"

Teacher:  "Yea I totally understand.  A lot of people feel that way.  But the reason you hate it is because it challenges you.  It challenges your stability, your strength and your flexibility.  If we don't use it, you'll rob yourself of reaching some of your goals.  How bout we limit it to just one or two small movements and build your comfort with the box".