Creative movement for Pilates teachers
One of the most surprising elements of being a Pilates teacher is the amount of creativity in the profession. With countless ways to move the body, whether on a mat, reformer or springboard, it’s unlikely that your clients will ever do the same class twice. With this element of creativity, and a desire never to stop learning, we as movement educators are always on the hunt for inspiration. Uncovering a new way to move the body is like winning the Pilates Lottery for a teacher, and there’s an upside for clients as well: it keeps classes interesting, exciting and relevant to everyday life. But a word to the wise: be sure to look at your inspiration through the lens of your training, and apply what you know about biomechanics, progressive sequencing, Pilates principles, and effective cueing before you try new ideas out on clients.
In my pursuit to find ways to influence my own teaching, I’ve challenged myself to go beyond attending other teacher’s classes (also a great way to get ideas, especially from a trusted source!) and look to the world around me for movement inspiration.
As long as you consider the source (Is the teacher qualified? Do the exercises make functional and biomechanical sense? Will they motivate or frustrate your clients?), using social media tools, like Instagram or Pinterest, is a great way to get ideas from teachers all over the world. There’s a large community of Pilates teachers on Instagram that shares movement ideas in images and videos through common hashtags like #Pilates, #Pilatesreformer, and #Pilatesspringboard. By adding these keywords to your feed, you can get inspiration delivered right to your personal feed. Scroll through those hashtags over your morning coffee, and I promise it won’t take long to find a compelling sequence or movement that kick starts your next class plan.
When you’re feeling stuck for movement ideas or class themes, take a look outside for inspiration! Is the weather rainy and cold? If yes, this could be a great day to focus on the theme of joint mobility, since it’s common to feel stiffer on inclement days. Perhaps there was just a snowstorm? Let the instability of ice inspire your class and focus. Think about what people need to improve their balance and better combat the slippery outdoors. Is it lateral core system strength, ankle mobility, or other functional movements you should focus on? Let this kind of logical, science-based thinking inform your exercise choices. No matter what the season, we’re all impacted by the weather, so taking a cue from the outdoors to inspire movement could very well be just what your class (or client) needs
Head outside and go for a walk, or sit on a bench and simply watch people move. Take note of what you’re seeing in passersby—from posture types to gait patterns to hip movement. As you’re observing, try to determine what you’d want to address most based on what you’re seeing, and let this guide your class design. In no time, you’ll find a movement pattern that speaks to you and sparks inspiration.
Back to the books (and videos)
Every now and then it’s a great idea to go back to basics and pull out your training manuals. By revisiting the original Pilates repertoire, you’ll likely find an exercise or two that you haven’t done in a while (there are hundreds!), which can spawn creativity. If you’re short on inspiration, another helpful tactic is to choose an advanced exercise and build your entire class around that exercise.
Lastly, Body Harmonics has two incredible resources for movement inspiration that cater to both Pilates teachers and enthusiasts. Visit our YouTube Channel for more than 200 short videos that focus on various themes, from spine health to hip strength and shoulder mobility. For full length videos, visit Body Harmonics On Demand, which offers dozens of classes at every level and hours of movement ideas for all Pilates lovers. You can also purchase digital copies of Body Harmonics training manuals here for quick reference on your laptop or mobile device.
Happy class planning!