Have you ever stopped to consider your life’s movement story? Where does it begin? What events led you to explore movement differently? What led you to stop your movement practice altogether? How have your feelings about movement shifted with your varied experiences?

Pilates Teachers can often rely on their Pilates story for a source of wisdom – how they were led to the method, what their teacher training experience was like and what they value within the study of the body.  This experience can be a wonderful well to gather from, however, when working with non-athletes, new clients or even “new movers,” your personal story of moving your body holds a wealth of experience that is much more meaningful to your clients.  Using this tool, you can stand beside your clients as a guide rather than standing above them as an untouchable expert. It is vulnerable, honest and leaves room for imperfection and most importantly, discovery within your session.

I believe the full story of your movement experience, from your earliest memories to right now, is your greatest teaching device.  Today’s strategy creates a level playing field of humanity within your session and builds upon your ninja teaching skills of empathy, compassion and encouragement.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you focus solely on your experiences within the session or even default to the codependency of commiseration (sorry ego!)  Rather, use the exploration of your own story (outside of the session) to better consider the experience of the body in front of you.  To access this mindset, I’ve created a 3 part exercise for you below.  Use the following to  explore your own story and create a connected strategy from which to prepare for each session this week.  After completing the exercises below, read on for tools to recalibrate after each session.  The deepening of your work can deplete your energy.  Be sure to support yourself throughout this new way of thinking about your sessions.


Sit quietly, in a room where you will be uninterrupted for at least 10 minutes. You can sit in silence or may choose to put on soft music that provides a movement reference for you.  Breathe deeply for a few moments, quieting your body and mind (as best you can.)  Imagine you were watching a documentary of your story with movement.  What scene opens the film?  What sort of movement do you see? Is it developmental or technical?  Is it free or bound? What sensations do you experience as you watch yourself move? Continue to watch the film, tracking your story, both challenges and triumphs, gathering information about the lessons you learned as well as the factors that helped you move towards the next phase of movement in your life.  Watch until you come to the present day.  When you are ready, take a few deep breaths, stomp your feet, move your hands, come back into your body and open your eyes.  Take out your journal and answer the following questions:


  1. What are the stories that I tell myself about my movement history?
  2. How true are these stories today?
  3. What aspects of my story can I release in order to step into my role as a movement teacher?
  4. What information did I learn that will be useful to the clients I’m working with right now.
  5. What is something my clients might be interested in discovering about my movement story? (what might they be able to relate to?)
  6. What aspects of my client’s movement experience do I now have a better understanding of?

Once you’ve completed these questions, write out 5 major themes of your movement story – include positive as well as the challenging. You’ll use these themes to create an affirmation for yourself this week as you dive into your sessions with new awareness.  Write out your themes on one side of your page and an affirmation (“I am” statement) on the other side.


Theme / Affirmation

Playful / I am excited to play within my movement today.

Free /  I am willing to experience freedom in my movement.

Difficult  / I am ready to meet my challenges with curiosity.

Approval /  I am here to celebrate my movement potential.


This week, before each session, choose an affirmation that resonates with you.  Repeat the affirmation to yourself silently for one minute before you start teaching. (This is a perfect “bathroom-break” activity.)

Stay present within your session and look for opportunities to guide your client towards a more affirming way of adding to their movement story.  After you have finished, be sure to solicit some feedback from your client:


What aspect of today’s session helped you think differently about your movement?

What did you learn today?


How do you feel? – While nice, this doesn’t allow for the gathering of useful feedback for you.



Use this statement to reset:

Thank you for replacing any positive energy I may have lost during this session and removing any negative energy that I may have picked up.


This is a deep-dive practice, but one that will help you be a more present and effective teacher.  Remember that your movement story is your greatest teaching device and while it doesn’t carry CEC’s, it will continue to provide valuable knowledge for the rest of your life!


xoxo Jenna


Need guidance? Email me to book a discovery session at coachjz@jennazaffino.com

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