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:
- Logan Aldridge @aldridgelogan
- Amy Bream @onelegtostandon
- I AM ADAPTIVE @iamadaptive
- Adaptive Training Academy @adaptivetraining
- YouTube footage of the Stoke Mandeville games here
- Zebrafish nuero here
- Joseph Pilates Bednasium here
- Paralympic powerlifting world records here
- CoreAlign here
- Up to 85% of amputees experience phantom limb pain here
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:
- Find SC Body Mechanics on Instagram
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:
- You can find Breathe Education on Instagram here: @breathe.education
- You can find Raphael Bender on Instagram here: @the_raphaelbender
- You can find Cloe Bunter on Instagram here: @cloebunterpilates
Raphael Bender’s new book:
- Strengthen The Person Not Just The Body Part here
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