Class themes are a valuable practice you shouldn’t overlook. They’re not only a way to make classes more meaningful and interesting for your clients, but for you as an instructor as well.

Today I’m sharing 53 of my favourite class themes. There are some for novice and experienced clients, as well as some to “wow” a class when you sub or just need a bit more inspiration. You can use them teaching Pilates classes or any other type of movement, whether at the gym or in a dance class.

I challenge you to apply these or your own ideas to your classes and private client sessions this season!

Novice clients

  1. Full Body Movement in all Planes – just to move
  2. Flexion and Extension – to balance the front with the back
  3. Breath + Core Activation – to turn the core on
  4. Same Exercises in Different Positions, going from the floor up to standing – to challenge the body in different positions
  5. Rotation – because it helps us do everything else
  6. Lateral Motion + Rotation – combo helps build support and really change our posture
  7. Build up to Plank (or Knee Hover for more basic classes)
  8. Emphasis on Trunk – Joseph Pilates used to call this our Powerhouse
  9. Balance – cuz we all need it
  10. One prop for a couple of classes in a row – for practice and mastery
  11. Breathing – to help us connect to core more thoroughly
  12. Spine Integrity: stabilize lumbar, mobilize thoracic, stabilize cervical and make sure hips are free too!)
  13. Core Support Systems – there is so much when it comes to CORE
  14. Muscle Group Super Sets- muscles get stronger when we tire them out
  15. Building up to a Classical Exercise (at least part way for beginners)
  16. Strength with Length – takes time but you feel strong without tension
  17. Find your Base of Support
  18. Get Warm! – to build endurance and work hard and feel a sense of accomplishment

“WOW” themes – great when you sub or if you lack inspiration!

  1. Full Body Movement in all Planes
  2. Flexion and Extension
  3. Rotation
  4. Emphasis on Trunk
  5. Spine Integrity: stabilize lumbar, mobilize thoracic, stabilize cervical and make sure hips are free too!
  6. Muscle Group Super Sets
  7. Building up to a Classical Exercise

Experienced clients

  1. Connect Spine to Limbs for support and freedom of movement
  2. Core Systems for Spine Support –building intelligent support
  3. Spine Integrity: lumbar stabilization, thoracic mobility, cervical stability and freedom in the hips – the recipe for spine health
  4. Lots of Standing: beginning, middle and end of class
  5. Use Spine Flexion, Rotation and Side Bending to increase Extension
  6. Eccentric Contractions – builds strength and length and makes you work
  7. Weight Shift + Falling and Springing Up – pay attention to when you control movement and when you yield to it
  8. Moving from the Bones – for optimal movement of our joints
  9. Creating Oppositional Movements – to create length in the body
  10. Working from Periphery toward Centre –hands and feet, legs and arms, torso
  11. Working From Centre to Periphery – start with midriff and work into legs and then into arms. Power for all our movements comes from the centre of the body
  12. Attention to the Back of the Body – keeps us oriented in our spines and more centered over our feet
  13. 3D Length in Torso – for optimal core control – create space between ribs and pelvis in the front, sides and back of the body
  14. Crossing the midline – challenge and surprise the brain
  15. 15 Open Chain and Closed Chain Exercises – different types of motion
  16. Build to a Classical Exercise – put pieces together so all parts function optimally
  17. Breath to Create Volume in the Body and Space along the Spine
  18. Activate Pelvic Floor on the Inhale (best on Reformer, esp Footwork)
  19. Appropriate Effort and Contraction: “pay attention to what you can actually control
  20. Two Limbs to One and then Back to Two – weight shift, centre of gravity moving
  21. Partner Work with Therabands – countebalance, coordination, paying attention to so both people work effectively and with appropriate effort
  22. Partner Work with Stability Balls – throw and catch with coordination and rhythm
  23. Jumping/Bouncing – to stress your bones to make them stronger
  24. Single Leg Balances – to build support from the ground up
  25. Advanced Vertical Exercises (Knee Stretch, Mermaid, Around the World, Frog, Twist, Airplane with Rotation, Plank to Arabesque, Horseback, Rowing) – put your body to the test…balance, strength, range of motion, coordination
  26. Strength with Length in the Torso – for support from the inside out
  27. Make Em’ Sweat! – to move, to have fun, to test endurance
  28. Different Speeds to target muscle fibres differently

Remember the following in every class

  1. Get in the frame of mind to totally enjoy teaching and being with your class. Help everyone share in the transformative power of movement for that one hour…including you!
  1. Get passionate about your theme and share that feeling with your classes. If you’re excited, they’re excited.
  1. Share your intention for the class and what you want people to take away that day.
  1. Remind people to work smart not just hard.
  1. CONNECT – to the people around you, to the music, to movement

Do you have any other class theme ideas? If so, please share in the comments section below.