Unlike buying a gym membership, where you have to come in, pay a fee, and are then left to your own devices, Pilates is a more intimate practice where each session is guided by an instructor and is tailored to your individual needs, strengths, weaknesses, and goals.
Unfortunately, many Pilates studios skip an Introductory (Intro) Session, which is where you build your foundational knowledge of the practice. This not only limits the progress of each subsequent class but also significantly increases the chance of injury. For that reason, Inner Balance Pilates (IBP) ensures that each individual receives a one-on-one Intro Session where instructors create a custom plan that’s tailored to that particular individual.
To find out more about these Intro Sessions, we sat down Gen DeRose, Owner and Instructor at IBP.
Why do you require an Intro session?
We require the Intro Session for multiple reasons. It gives us a chance to work one-on-one with someone and introduce the basic principles and the foundational skills needed for Pilates. These principles are difficult to learn when you’re in a group setting, as opposed to when the instructor is right there, working one-on-one with you.
Within that hour of the Intro Session, we’re assessing your body function and awareness, learning about any past injuries, creating individualized modifications for the rest of your Pilates journey, and finding areas that need to be propped.
When a person goes into their next class, whether it be a group, semi-private, or private, all of those elements are already mapped out for that individual. This way, he or she is:
A) Not hurting themselves
B) Maintaining the proper alignment
C) Gaining a deeper understanding of the philosophy behind Pilates
D) Maintaining proper form, with control and flow
I like to tell people, ‘I can do all the “crazy things” that they see in my videos because I practice the fundamentals of Pilates every day.’” People should never think that the fundamentals are just for beginners. When the fundamentals are practiced repeatedly, your body begins to understand them to the point where you don’t have to think about them anymore.
The Intro is our way of mapping out and creating a plan for an individual that sets him or her up for success. After an Intro, we either tell a person, ‘You know what? You’re not quite ready for a group class, you need just a few more private sessions to learn the choreography and to understand the basic principles,’ or, ‘You’re ready for a second level class.’”
Why are the movements referred to as choreography?
Pilates is based on a system of exercises that follow a specific order, so we call the different exercises—or movements—choreography, because they’re part of a choreographed system, whereas when you get on a machine at the gym you’re just pushing and pulling. We might have a flow of three different movement continuously going on. You have to have the body awareness developed in order to do it properly.
Is an Intro Session like having a Yoga instructor check for alignment?
Kind of and kind of not. It’s a functional assessment. We don’t just look for alignment. We take you through some specific foundational exercises to see how well your joints and muscles are functioning. These movements also allow us to check for the five basic principles:
- Pelvic Placement
- Rib Cage Placement
- Scapular Movement and Stabilization
- Head and Cervical Placement
It’s as much for the instructors in the studio as it is for the person in the Intro. It allows us to build the right program for that individual.
So can you give me a rundown of what an Intro Session is like?
A teacher will spend an hour with you doing mat work where you’ll go through the five basic principles and you’ll be functionally assessed. From there, you’ll get to work on some of the equipment.
Every session is different because it’s tailored to the person walking in the door. It’s never cookie-cutter, 100% the same. However, everyone gets introduced to the instructors and gets a tour of studio, that way the next time you come in you’re more familiar with your surroundings.
How do you recommend people proceed after an Intro Session?
It’s all going to depend on what we find in the Intro. Some people may need another private class or two, and some people will be ready to jump right into a group class.
The Intro doesn’t lock you into anything, which is another plus. It’s just for you to try it out. Once you complete the Intro Session, you make the choice of the next style of class based on what the instructor had recommended, your budget, and your schedule.
Should people be working out regularly before attending an Intro Session?
They don’t need any experience at all. What’s funny is that sometimes the most athletic people are the ones with the biggest challenges because they’ve always done a ton of activity but never thought about it.
For instance, runners and cross-fitters tend to be really tight and their posture is a challenge, but we get them there. It’s a really great balance for that type of person. Anyone who does the same movement repeatedly is going to have certain postural issues. It doesn’t make it harder for them, they’re just going to have a different focus.
What else should we know about the Intro Session?
There are a lot of studios that don’t assess their students and then a person will go into a group class with ten different levels of students and they can’t progress properly. An Intro Session allows us to place you in the correct level of class. We’re going to make sure you understand the basic principle before you’re in a group class so you don’t hurt yourself and have the best experience possible.
There is also a huge advantage of having a workout tailored to you. This Intro Session becomes the foundation for the rest of your practice. It also gives us a way to look back and see how you’ve progressed.
Interested in An Intro Session?
Glad to hear it! Click here to request an Intro Session. At the bottom of the page you’ll see a space to enter your name, email, and phone number. We’ll send you a confirmation email regarding your inquiry and then we’ll book your Intro!
Once you’re booked, the last order of business is to answer a questionnaire about your health and availability for classes. We look forward to hearing from you soon!