After I spent a year rehabbing a professional athlete and a second-year supporting his most successful season, he moved on from the Bay Area (common among professional team athletes) for better contracts and new teams! But neither of us were ready to let go of the working relationship we had – so I threw out an idea, “Want to try a FaceTime session?” This lead not only to an additional two years of working together until his sports retirement, but also opened doors for me to work with high-risk pregnancy clients on the opposite coast, amputees from their bedrooms in other states, and recurring in-studio clients vacationing in exotic places! There are some distinct challenges, but I hope some of these ideas will make it more successful for you to broaden those you can help.
You don’t want your client to fuss too much with moving the camera throughout the session, so if the camera needs moving, I preplan for it in my program design to make it 1 (max 2) per session. Seeing different parts of the body is key to cueing proper form in Pilates, and I have found a 30˚ angle to their body position is ideal! I can see foot, lumbopelvic, and shoulder girdle placement easily as they flow from one exercise to the next.
Some clients have stands, others prop with yoga blocks, some are on laptops – as long as I can see them and they can hear me, it’s all good!
Not an obvious concern until you have a client wearing black sweats and a black t-shirt with the blind cracked open, and the sun is pouring in! I let all my FaceTime clients know before the start about clothing attire. Never black! Never matching top and bottom. Hair pulled up or pulled aside for full viewing of back and shoulders. A well-lit room and space where the entire body can be captured on the screen plus room for limbs moving.
If you can’t adjust them physically and not 100% confident of their placement upon visual inspection, then it becomes apparent how important verbal cueing is. Start by practicing with a friend (preferably not an instructor that knows what you are aiming to say and can read between the lines), but someone not as comfortable or familiar with Pilates. If very unsure, have a third person watch your client so that they can step in if needed to avoid injury or significant concerns. Set up a camera to record what they do as you stand with your back to your client, cueing them through their exercises. Then watch the video and see what went awry! Using the objects in their room, analogies for connections, and asking them to double-check their spring tensions can help ensure your client stays safe. The ultimate test – Short spine! I have all my instructors do this – it’s a great test and a quick way to firm up verbal cues!
Some of my clients have a reformer, others a resistance band and hand weights, others a wheelchair and walker – but this is not the equipment I am referring to.
High-Speed WiFi is crucial for both parties. You don’t want a situation where you are cueing placement to avoid injury, and the video freezes or that the connection keeps dropping.
Volume – I have worked with clients in hotel gyms and made sure they had wireless earbuds. I want them to hear me without taking away anyone else’s workout experience. If in the privacy of their home, they should have a quality speaker to be able to listen to you.
Location – I like to hold these sessions at my studio – so that I have all the equipment that they have and can demonstrate if necessary.
I know – its silly, but always be clear of timezones. I always look at my schedule of availability, but then provide that available time in the client’s time zone with the appropriate abbreviation attached to avoid miscommunication. For example, I have a 10 am PST availability for my client traveling to Italy, I will let them know that their training is scheduled for 6 pm CET! My regular FaceTime client in Virginia is scheduled for 1:30 pm EST, so I am ready to go at 10:30 am PST!