About 3 years into my teaching career, I was living in Boston, and working at a Pilates studio Every Body Pilates, in Belmont. It was clear to me very early on that my time in Boston was limited. I ended up staying for almost 2 years, mainly because of the owner of Every Body Pilates, Kirstin deFrees. I knew that I could learn from her. Besides being a kind and loving boss and friend, she’s an amazing teacher. I remember thinking “I want to teach like she does one day… with her patience and ability to get clients to do what she asked.” In fact, during a review with Kirstin one of her pieces of advice to me was to make sure when I ask a client to do something, that they actually do it. Make their movement effective.

I have never forgotten what Kirstin told me, and I can pinpoint that time as a turning point in my teaching. I credit her for helping me get to where I am today, a teacher trainer for the Equinox Pilates Institute in Los Angeles. I’m in the position to pass on this invaluable piece of advice, as one of my jobs is to make our trainees effective teachers. If you can learn this tool early on in your teaching, it will make you stand out among the many teachers out there. And your clients will stick with you because they will see results. Anyone can teach, but not everyone has the ability or awareness to teach effectively.

What does being an effective teacher actually mean? To me, it means when asking your client to do something, make sure they are actually doing it. It’s the exact advice given to me 5 years ago. Be present as a teacher, follow through with your instructions, and don’t just go on cruise control. In my opinion, there are layers to learning to teach. First you must memorize the information, then you may imitate those you admire and respect, and finally you’ll take what you’ve learned and come into your own as a teacher. This will happen in stages; however, what you can do from the start is guide your clients with effective cueing. Get them into positions where they don’t have the option to not use their muscles. It’s actually a pretty simple concept: Be Present and Aware. Advice that can also be applied to your life.


1 | Sally McRae

November 6th, 2011 at 1:14 pm


Great advice Kristin! I am a Pilates teacher in Atlanta but I also like to take classes from other teachers, it keeps me fresh and I always walk away with some ideas, sometimes it’s a new cue or image, sometimes it’s a “what not to do”. Many times I have walked away thinking that the teacher has lost his/her passion as I felt like I was being taught by an automaton, going through the repertoire but the teacher was not present. It makes such a difference in your experience if the teacher is present and mindful and the workout becomes yours.

2 | admin

November 6th, 2011 at 1:43 pm


Thanks Sally! I know exactly what you are talking about, which I guess is where this post came from. My teaching has improved even from just passing this on to the apprentices. As teachers, it’s our responsibility to give our best to our clients.