fbpx Skip to main content

Working with Adaptive Clients: Thinking Outside the Box, with Cody Jussel

Episode 63:

Working with Adaptive Clients: Thinking Outside the Box

Today we chat with Cody Jussel about working with adaptive clients in the Pilates studio. Cody is a Pilates teacher based in Santa Cruz, California. She has taught Pilates for around 15 years and holds a master’s degree in kinesiology along with a deep passion for working with the adaptive community. Adaptive athletes are people in the movement community who have a permanent impairment whether from birth or acquired through life circumstances. Cody offers her best tips for working with these clients via collaboration and open mindedness.

What You Will Learn:

  • A short history of the Paralympics and CrossFit Games, and their inclusion of adaptive athletes
  • How Pilates instructors can tune into adaptive clients’ needs and preferences
  • Why you should focus on the task at hand and let go of the notion of alignment 
  • How to be more helpful to the adaptive community
  • A brief overview of phantom limb pain and how it impacts workouts

Alignment isn’t everything

Pilates instructors naturally want to focus on quality of movement and achieving the right shape in an exercise. But what do you do if your client has three limbs or an injured spine? Clients with amputations above/below the elbow or knee, or spinal cord injuries all have different degrees of movement capacity. And in these cases, focusing on things like pelvic alignment may actually make the task at hand impractical or uncomfortable. Cody suggests focusing on the task rather than alignment. This might look like encouraging your client to simply try to balance on a yoga ball without falling off. Focusing on the task at hand helps adaptive clients to meet their goals which typically center around daily living rather than specific movement goals.

Seek to understand, set goals, and collaborate

Cody is constantly learning from the adaptive community about how to be more helpful, understanding, and effective as a Pilates instructor. She encourages instructors to listen deeply in order to tune into adaptive clients’ needs and preferences. For instance, some people may not want to be told that they’re an inspiration while others might not mind. She encourages us to try to step into their world as much as we can by being mindful of whether our studio facilities are accessible for people with wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and other special circumstances.  She reminds us that there is no such thing as a right way to work with an adaptive athlete and emphasizes the importance of thinking outside the box, setting goals, and embodying a collaborative approach.



References and Resources mentioned in this episode:

About Cody Jussel:

Cody earned a Master’s of Kinesiology from A.T. Still’s Graduate School of Health Sciences with a double major in orthopedic rehab and adaptive sports. She has been teaching Pilates for 15 years in a variety of environments from large health clubs to small studios and accumulated over 500 hours of observation in clinical settings from outpatient rehab to acute care and pediatric PT. 

In 2020, Cody opened her own studio focusing on adaptive athletes. She’s passionate about growing a network of Pilates professionals who are focused on redefining adaptive training and providing resources and access to high-quality training for adaptive athletes everywhere. Cody holds certifications in Pilates from the Midwest Pilates Institute and the PMA and has CrossFit L1 as well as a certification in nutrition coaching from Precision Nutrition.

How to Connect with Cody Jussel:

About Raphael and Cloe:

Raphael Bender, CEO, Breathe Education

Raph believes everyone deserves the opportunity to transform into a better version of themselves. His main strength as a teacher and movement professional is the ability to distill complex research findings into a simple, science-based approach to help people move fearlessly, thoughtlessly, and painlessly. He LOVES running, weights, cycling, and Contrology.

Raph holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology (Rehabilitation), a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Diploma of Pilates Movement Therapy, and STOTT PILATES full certification.

Cloe Bunter, Trainer, Breathe Education

With 8+ years in the industry, both teaching Pilates and nurturing new instructors, Cloe is passionate about empowering new and seasoned instructors to think critically and move fearlessly. Empowered instructors empower their clients, and in turn, change lives.

She finds great joy in building connections with clients, students, colleagues, and the broader movement and rehab community. Co-hosting the Pilates Elephants Podcast, with Raphael Bender, has provided an incredible platform to bust common Pilates, movement, and rehab myths whilst creating a worldwide community of critical thinkers who are elevating health literacy.

Cloe is fascinated by movement in general, and its ability to enhance our lives, at any age. Her own movement practice includes Contrology/Pilates, running, weights, and kettlebells. She has a Diploma of Clinical Pilates, Cert IV in Pilates, and Cert IV in Training and Assessing.

How to Connect with Raphael and Cloe:

Raphael Bender’s new book:

  • Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here

Stop Faking It & Really Know Your Stuff Pilates Q&A:

USA (PDT): Every Tuesday at 6pm
Australia (AEST): Every Wednesday at 11am
Australia (AEDT): Every Wednesday at 12pm

Please join us for our Stop Faking It & Really Know Your Stuff Pilates Q&A weekly open-mic Q&A all about helping Pilates instructors become masters at their craft.

We will kick it off with 5-10 minutes of debunking a myth within Pilates or teaching a slice of Breathe Education’s latest insights that you can take and apply with your clients today.

Then we’ll go open-mic to answer all of your questions around tricky questions like disc herniation, arthritis, stenosis, joint replacement, abdominal separation, shoulder impingement, and many more. Click here to register.

Our Pilates instructor training is 100 percent online, so you can study from anywhere in the world.

Earn recognition: Your Breathe Education Pilates qualifications are recognized by the Australian Government, Exercise & Sport Science Australia, and all major insurers.

Build your skills: with our pilates instructor training, you’ll learn the original Contrology exercises created by Joseph Pilates. Plus, you’ll learn the most current, science-based ways to cue and program those exercises, how to work with injured and pregnant clients, and nurture beginners.

Gain confidence: Learning is fun and easy when you engage with our state-of-the-art eLearning system, filled with straightforward, relevant content and structured to guide your training as you build skills and confidence.

Feel supported: You’ll learn world-class problem-solving skills, not just a list of answers. Our student success team and trainers will provide you with all the guidance, challenge, and support you’ll need to become what you want to become.

Google Rating
Based on 251 reviews
Digital Marketing by King Kong