Teaching & Learning
How to Pass Your Comprehensive Pilates Exam
By Portia Page
Preparing for any exam is not easy, but for some reason preparing for a comprehensive Pilates exam can be especially grueling. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some suggestions to help you feel more confident.
1. Set a schedule/calendar for studying
First off, set aside a 3-4 month period in which you will have a regular routine of studying and practicing. Each week should consist of 4-6 hours of studying your manuals and anatomy books, 4-6 hours of practicing exercises or taking classes, and 4-6 hours of observing and/or teaching. While this may seem like a lot of time, it’s really just setting you up for success in developing a long term practice and a lifetime of good habits. Spreading this time out throughout the week and each day is also important so that you don’t get burnt out and fizzle at the end.
2. Set a regular schedule of classes/teaching/observing hours
Set up regular classes that you will participate in as well as times or classes that you will observe and/or teach. Setting a regular schedule will keep you on track with keeping the material fresh in your head and in your body. Recruit friends and family who are interested in Pilates to take classes from you. Also ask if you can perform Postural Assessments on them so that this process starts to be natural for you. By doing this you will get quicker and more accurate. Once you do a Postural Assessment, put together a well-rounded Pilates session for each person and practice with them on a regular basis. Mark your progress as well as theirs. You need to be able to provide modifications for lots of different body types and limitations as well as conditions and injuries, so there is no better way than to do this than for your friends and family!
When observing teachers, visit as many as possible. It’s always better to see different instructors so you can figure out what type of teacher you want to be and then learn as much from that person as you can. How do they teach? Are they more visual, tactile, or verbal? Watch how they’ve put together a session, and how they use transitions. What makes them different than other instructors? What qualities do you admire and why? All of these things are important to think on when developing your own Teaching Persona.
Set aside a weekly or bi-weekly meeting (or at least a conversation) with your Pilates Trainer to discuss any areas that you need to work on or to ask questions that you will develop through your training and observing.
3. Review your records and log your hours
Make sure that you log all of your practice, observation and teaching hours. This is important, as you will have to send in this record with your test-out application. If it’s incomplete, your application will be denied. This log is also insurance that you are not taking the exam too early after you have finished your course work. It’s important that you take this time seriously and really focus on getting in as many hours as possible working with other people, observing more experienced instructors and practicing the moves on your own body. Also, review the Personal Practice and Student Teaching Evaluations that you were given throughout your classes. You will need to pinpoint areas that are challenging for you both as a teacher and a student, and find your strong points. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and strive to highlight your strengths and make a real effort to conquer your weakness as much as you can.
4. Review every exercise from each course (Mat, Reformer, Apparatus)
Take out your manuals and go through each exercise in EVERY manual. Do you understand how to perform the exercises? How to teach the exercises? How to modify and/or challenge the exercises for a particular client? When going through the exercises and the manuals, take copious notes. If you have any questions, write them down and address them with your Pilates Trainer during your weekly or bi-weekly meeting. If there are exercises that you cannot do, whether it be a limitation, a condition or just inability at the time, figure out ways to modify the exercise for yourself. This is good practice for the real life teaching experiences that are right around the corner for you.
Not every instructor is capable of doing every exercise and that’s okay. If you know how to modify you will be well prepared and will teach your students in a safe and effective manner that they will appreciate and return for!
5. Make cue cards for regular/favorite exercises
Make separate cue cards for those common exercises that you use all of the time. Or if you have developed a few routines, put each exercise on a separate card and annotate the card with specifics that are important and critical to that exercise. For instance, The Hundred. List key points for set up, movement sequence, modifications/challenges, cueing/imagery, number of repetitions and anything else you feel is important or necessary. This will take some time, but it will be well worth it! In the end you will have an assortment of cards that you can interchange and mix up to put together repertoire for your clients and classes.
6. Practice, practice and more practice
Like the old adage goes, practice makes perfect!
Congratulations on taking the next step in your Pilates career!