I'm hoping that you have been following along with Dan's Journey on my blog. If you haven't you should give it a read- it's mainly about motivation so far, and making changes in your life. But for me, this work with Dan has made me realize that I haven't been adequately documenting my clients' progress over the years. This time, I am going into a specific 12 week program where it will be viewed by the public, and I want to show documented, quantifiable progress. I regularly observe changes week by week with my clients, but I rarely make notes and give verbal feedback, or indeed, even give specifics in my conversations with them after classes. This time, I want to put more of it down on paper, so that's why I am adding my thoughts to Dan's blog this week.
From my perspective, I have seen Dan improve a measurable amount even with only 4 total hours of Pilates over the last 3 weeks.
The three things I have observed most visibly are:
1. His breathing capacity and control
2. His core strength
3. His knee and ankle flexibility
He mentioned on our first session that he recently quit smoking. I could see that the breathing we were doing was challenging for him right away. In our fourth session I can see deeper and longer breathing - possibly more awareness of breath and a bit more of a relaxed posture in the shoulders and chest which allows this to happen. I'm quite used to seeing this with my clients because I make breath a real priority in my classes, so they practice the whole time we are together. More practice = quicker progress with breathing deeply and evenly, and connecting breath to movement and muscle engagement.
Fortunately, we can measure base core strength with a simple exercise- the plank. I have been asking Dan to do an all fours plank exercise every time we meet for a session. His first week, he held it for 3 breaths. The second week, for 5 breaths. The third week, he did 8 breaths. Again, this is something I have observed with both myself and my clients. Breath by breath, we improve our time each time we try. The challenge soon will be to slow the breaths too!
Dan has knee problems from a past injury and I observed in our first session an imbalanced knee and ankle alignment. He has been doing wall assisted squats in my sessions and I observed a real improvement in our last session- he was able to squat to a lower level, and it was smoother and more controlled.
I've observed other small changes such as a bit more balance and a tiny bit more flexibility in the torso. However, I can't give a measurable result for these yet. My job is to see what is working, what isn't, and make adjustments accordingly. After 3 weeks I am feeling more confident about what we need to work on, and pleased to see his progress.
So- Keep it up, Dan! Add that extra session in if you can this week. If not, I'm sure we will get there soon :)
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.