Knowing how to teach strong introductory sessions is a crucial part of every Pilates instructor’s toolbox. If we’re unable to communicate to new clients the value of starting a regular Pilates workout, then it’s going to be a hard go of building and retaining a clientele. 

For new instructors, trying to figure out what to teach, when to teach it and how to help clients connect can be an overwhelming experience; especially when we’re just getting a sense of who the client is and why they want to do Pilates in the first place. 

So it makes sense that once you’ve learned the content, you learn how to put an intelligent, thoughtful and adaptable structure around it to provide every new client with an individualized program that is designed to show the client 2 key points: 

  1. What they can do
  2. What they have the potential to do 

40%: I know I can

When new clients begin we want to respect and encourage the confidence they have in their existing skills and abilities to learn and move. This means learning about your client beforehand via their PAR-Q and questionnaire, understanding how active they are and what conditions they’re working with and for how long. 

Creating a Pilates workout that provides your client with a few exercises that boosts their confidence translates into them feeling successful (vs overwhelmed) and inspired (vs defeated) to build on that strength so that their goals are achieved. 

By providing them with a program that is 40% of what they can do, you’re setting them up for a positive mindset that will motivate them to keep going. 

60%: I think I can

But introductory sessions also need to challenge your client. 

Creating Pilates workouts where the majority of the exercises move your client to feel what they have the potential to do can encourage them to appreciate the value of adding Pilates into their routine. 

By getting them to move differently, with more awareness and attention to detail, they’re feeling the potential of efficient movement, improved posture, and muscle endurance that can help them participate in the activities they love doing with minimal ease and effort. It can also teach them that learning something new requires control, focus and coordination which is good for their self awareness and brain health. 

And all of this translates into feeling better. 


As instructors you’re set with the task of creating thoughtful programming that attempts to address all the benefits mentioned above. And as your experience builds, you’ll get a stronger sense of what key exercises to include so that introductory Pilates experience is a good one. 

Adults learn differently than children.  So the traditional training model of direct instruction, in which there is little collaboration and the instructor assumes full control, can often be an ineffective way to connect with new clients. 

As you plan your introductory sessions, think about structuring your workouts to include the following:

  • Collaborative (they’re learning about Pilates, we’re learning about their abilities and collaborating within the session for optimal results)
  • Self Directive (we’re developing a program that encourages them to connect the dots between exercises and sequences to enforce the purpose/value of Pilates and use in everyday activities)
  • Autonomous (regardless of their Pilates experience, their lived experience/knowledge brings value to the session)

We all know that assessing your new client’s movement is key in programming. But to optimize the introductory sessions and create a win-win situation for both of you, you’ll also need to go beyond movement and pay attention to how your cues, corrections and teaching approach are being interpreted and embodied. 

If complex cues, images and corrections aren’t helping your clients connect, how will you adapt the workout? 

Or if mat based exercises are too challenging because they lack the kinesthetic awareness to move well with their own body weight, how can you redirect the workout in order to keep them focused, challenged and confident? 

Being able to assess your new clients’ levels, acknowledge where they need to begin and then adapt the workout to be effective enough that they feel success but still keep it challenging enough so they feel the value of doing it, is all part of developing your skills as a great instructor. 

Are you looking for ways to program better to retain your clientele and build their Pilates workouts smartly? Join us for a Studio3 workshop that teaches you exactly that. Email us at for the details