Relationship insight for students and teachers

Written by Anne Marie deGirolamo, PMA®-CPT, NASM, ACE, AFAA

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Our relationships with others are so important to us that we often seek professional help to improve or understand them. Have you ever thought about the significance of your relationship with your Pilates instructor or clients? Have you thought about the value of your relationships with colleagues? The trusting relationships built between instructor and client are vital to the improvement of our health and fitness. Equally important are the connections we have with our peers which further our teaching.

Anne Marie teaches at her home studio in Boston, MA.


Listen to your instructor.  Do they empower you?

There are clear differences when comparing a “no pain, no gain”  physical training approach to instruction from a teacher who thinks critically about making choices appropriate for you, with you.  It’s unhealthy to train in a way that requires pushing through pain. Pushing your body to the limit just because you’re told to will only serve you for so long before your body starts giving you feedback in the way of injuries.  Listen to the feedback your body gives you. The outcome is important.

Recognizing how things feel is a big component to making healthy changes.  Trust your body: it can feel tight or sore in certain places for a reason. Your teacher should help you understand the signals your body gives and how to explore new movement that leads to greater uniformity.  Find a teacher who is willing to listen to you and troubleshoot. With a relationship based on trust, you can feel confident asking questions and deciding with your instructor what is right for your body each session.   When you feel confident and aware, you can make improvements that last. A supportive teacher will give you the knowledge you need to feel confident moving your body independently.

Explore ideas with supportive peers.

Teacher mentorships and friendships can fuel your personal growth and will benefit your clients.  Since it can feel isolating to work alone, it’s critical to have a mentor or a group of peers to help you evolve your teaching skills.  Your community of colleagues can encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and provide you with renewed excitement. They can give different perspectives on movements and techniques and act as sounding boards for your ideas. Mentors and peers will learn from you and value you, too.  Sharing a mix of perspectives and knowledge can only benefit your clients and lead to positive changes in their bodies.

It’s all about communication.

I’ve been fortunate to learn from amazing teachers demonstrating the art of teaching.  I believe a great teacher empowers clients to trust their own voice and recognize they know what is best for themselves.  Our relationships in the movement world are as important as the relationships we have with our partners, children, friends and family: they should be encouraging and provide space for growth.  If you are an instructor, I encourage you to ask yourself how you can build supportive relationships with your clients and peer mentors. If you are a client, think about whether you share open communication with your teacher and feel receptive to their approach.  These different types of connections should allow you to learn and explore freely along your fitness journey. You know what is best for your body and best for your teaching, and having a guide who supports you is a gift you deserve.


Anne Marie deGirolamo is a graduate of the Pilates Center of Boulder where she received her Advanced and Master's level certifications.  She teaches in Boston at Every Body Pilates and owns her own personal training business.

Anne Marie was one of my colleagues in MA.  She continues mentoring me long-distance.  In May, 2018, we presented a special workshop together for the coaches at the Training Room of Boston about the benefits of Pilates when combined with a traditional strength and conditioning program.   We look forward to collaborating again in the future on writing and workshop projects.

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