We are all living in a completely new world right now. One with social distance, no physical contact, and no touch. As a PT and Pilates instructor, I never would have thought I would be able to continue my work without touch. My patients especially, know that I am very hands-on when teaching and cueing in the clinic. So how was I supposed to transition from the clinic to treating and teaching patients virtually?
As I transitioned my patients to an online platform, I quickly learned that I would have to adjust my ways of teaching. I have always relied heavily on my verbal cues but now it’s my primary tool. When it comes to teaching a Pilates session, I have become even more creative with imagery and explaining what I want my patient to do which can result in a few laughs! “Imagine your abs melting like butter into your spine as you exhale.” Hey, it worked!!
I have also had to become a little bit more creative with my observational skills. Which has made me somewhat of an expert on camera angles and direction so that I can observe what I need to see. By the way, did you know it’s easier to see movement patterns happening if a patient is wearing light clothes vs. dark clothes? With dark clothes, I can still see my patients’ movement patterns, but I was amazed at the difference when someone wears lighter clothing!
The biggest challenge of transitioning to a virtual platform from home has been finding the work-life balance. My husband works full time and we have a 5-year-old son. It has been a jigsaw puzzle trying to balance being a mother, Pre-K teacher, chef, PT and Pilates instructor, cleaning lady and remain a human being. My husband and I definitely share the housework but it is really hard when we’re both working from home. Something has to give! Much to my dismay but to my son’s delight, he gets a LOT more screen time. I mean, what else can we do with a 5- year-old when my husband is on a work call and I have a Pilates session to teach? I would love to think that he would be able to sit and play quietly for an hour but we all know that would never happen. So, I’ve learned I have to let go of certain things and appreciate that I get to spend much more time with my boys.
I have also experienced this shift on a personal level. After hurting my back over 10 years ago, I incorporated private Pilates into my life to keep my body from being in chronic pain. My teachers over the years have provided me with amazing manual cues to help me perform the exercises with precision. My body craves them and my brain thinks it relies on them to stay strong, healthy and pain-free. I was definitely nervous and stressed about switching to virtual sessions. How would I ever be able to perform the exercises correctly without manual cues from my teacher? As we shifted to our ‘stay at home’ lives, I continued seeing my teacher 2x per week virtually. I must say that I feel empowered by my ability to follow the verbal cueing and perform the exercises well. So much of the credit goes to my teacher who gives me the most amazing cues and is able to see when I’m making the most subtle mistake or tiny compensation. Then it is up to me to follow her guidance and correct my movement or posture. And I can do it!! I am learning how to trust myself and my body which I haven’t done in over 10 years! Silver linings do exist.
I must say that this experience has been very humbling and rewarding. Seeing my patients make corrections through my verbal cues, being able to emotionally connect with them virtually and observing actual postural changes happen through a session lifts my spirit and makes me so happy. I still love having physical, direct-contact with my patients but TeleHealth has proven to have its own strengths which can have a significant, positive impact on my patients.