The Lost Art of Teaching Semi-Privates Part 2

The Lost Art of Teaching Semi-Privates Part 2


As time went on teaching in this format became more lucrative. Yes, my life would have been easier if I only taught one person at a time. It would have been even easier to keep everyone together when in duets/trios, but I took into consideration what I brought in financially.

I thought about how much I would earn teaching a private session in one hour, as opposed to what I would bring in teaching two, three, or four clients in one semi-private hour.

Saying that I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Now with COVID-19 I obviously cannot teach Semi Privates live, but I still do virtually. As in person, and now even online, I still allow myself time to breathe and step back to look at the big picture. That “big picture” is now even more full of potential, with the options of different screens/breakout rooms. Alycea Ungaro drills the trainee’s to never trust a client, clients fall on instructors all the time. In this case, NEVER turn your back on a client (is why mirrors as so important) – safety first for the client always. Think of the benefits. You will become a stronger teacher. You will hone the skills to take the floor. Make your clients responsible for their practice, from the 6 principles that we have the first being concentration. Get your clients to think. Romana Kryzanowska would say it was okay if your client wanted to talk, but the most important thing was to keep them moving. To further that idea and quote Susan Moran, “Movement Heals”.

As the years went on I was able to track the progress of clients’ practice. Instructors-to-client relationships are an ongoing conversation, helping keep track of their progress allowing room for advancement, modification, and/or maintaining mobility and consistent growth. It’s easy when an apparatus has an order attached to it (Mat and Reformer), but what happens when you get to the individual needs part of the session? I always refer to the 4 S’s: Stability, Strength, Stamina, Stretch, and sometimes 5, Safety. I started to ask myself how are students advancing in this type of setting. How do you implement thoughtful progress monitoring? I then referred to the 5 “WH” questions to promote progress monitoring. Who am I teaching? What can also be fun is creating a theme for the workout. If they were listening, remembering the order/what was next, what are the spring settings, or when is the headpiece down/up? This is when I knew they were ready to progress. Where are they going-next/progression/exercise/apparatus? Why did I choose this piece of apparatus for part “C” of the individual needs part of the workout? This is where you can start to create scenarios: group instruction vs. multi-level instruction.

As we know modifications are temporary. When clients train in a semi-format they will know their modifications, adjustments, and advancements of the exercises when they are ready. What can go wrong? Always stay close to the person who needs you the most. Pay full attention to all the details in positioning, and sequencing. I require at least 5-10 private sessions before graduating clients into semis. If I feel the client is in over their head in a semi, I keep them within the Beginner System and insert intermediate add-ons where I see fit, this allows me to keep everybody together and moving at their own individual levels all at the same time.

It becomes simple. Teach systematically however the system was taught to you and integratively on all pieces of apparatus that are available to you. Teaching in a semi-format will help identify the strengths and weaknesses of your client. In Classical Pilates we don’t teach piecemeal by piecemeal, we teach the whole body in a full workout, keeping it personable, professional, and fun.

Juan has over 18 years of fitness teaching experience having built an extensive client base in his home city of New York and expanded nationally and internationally. He was introduced to Pilates while a professional dancer in Chicago and counts as his mentors, Romana Kryzanowska, Bob Liekens, Susan Moran, and Alycea Ungaro. Juan served the Pilates community first as a Power Pilates Teacher Trainer, and now as a Master Instructor and Teacher Trainer at Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates NYC Studios located in Tribeca, SOHO and the Upper East side as well as Real Pilates host studios located in Berlin, Dallas, Florida, New Jersey, California and Louisana. Aside from assisting Alycea with the Real Pilates Teacher Training program in NYC, US, and European host studios he has trained celebrity clients such as Mike Birbiglia, Julie Chen, Bobby Flay, Diane Von Furstenberg, Hugh Grant, Mellody Hobson, Alexandra Neil, Kate Shaw, Kyra Sedgwick, Regina Spector, and Sofia Vergara along with teaching a wide range of client levels. Juan has been featured on ABC and WPIX morning workout segments, LA Confidential Magazine, several Pilates workout downloads and DVD’s, and at the Pilates Method Alliance in 2015 & 2017.



Please make a choice regarding cookies on this site

We use cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience.

This site uses cookies

We use cookies to optimize site functionality and give you the best possible experience. For more information see our privacy policy.