Pilates class design tips & guidelines

When designing a Pilates class, there are so many options available. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. Here are a few tips and guidelines you can consider when designing your classes.  Don’t feel pressured to use them all in one shot. Start with one or two and see how they work for you!

Sagittal before Lateral

When teaching movements, do front-to-back movements before you do side-to-side movements. For most people, this will build more support for the body. If you want to explore this further, check out the Core Integrity workshop at Body Harmonics.

Mobility before Stability

As we move through our daily lives, our bodies get “stuck” in patterns. Mobilizing the joints before stabilizing them will allow the body to thaw. It will also help to create a more optimal position in the joint.

Mobilize major joints: Hip, Spine, Shoulder

When focusing on a particular theme that involves one body part, it’s easy to overlook everything else. By mobilizing the hip, spine and shoulder joints, we make sure to get the body feeling great from head to toe. Just like in the childhood song “the thigh bone’s connected to the, hip bone”, our body systems are interconnected.  Often when we move, strengthen or re-align one part of our body, it’ll have positive results in another part.

Inner unit before the outer unit

The inner unit is made up of small, deep muscles. They are considered our support system. The outer unit is made of larger muscles that move the body. While it’s important to work both the inner and outer unit, if the inner unit is active before the outer unit starts to work, bodies will move with more ease and better support.

Foundations exercises before the Classics

The classical Pilates repertoire is made of some fantastic exercises. They’re challenging, smart and fun to do. However, if most of us jump right into these complex total body exercises without ‘warming up’ the different parts, we won’t do them to our fullest potential. They may also not feel as comfortable if we jump right in. Make sure to use the Foundations exercises from Body Harmonics Matwork Intensive’s Module 1 and build up to these classics. You’ll add more variety in your class and people will walk away feeling supported and strong.

AOS, POS, Lateral, DLS

What are these crazy letters? They are the acronyms to our four Core Integrity outer unit systems: Anterior Oblique System, Posterior Oblique System, Lateral System and Deep Longitudinal System.  Use them in the order listed above when possible. Our Core Integrity course dives into the how and why behind this.

Work the “long” muscles

When you look at imbalances in the body, often muscles are longer on one side and shorter on the other. Rather than simply ‘stretching’ out what’s tight, look at the body and notice what’s ‘long.’ Sometimes what feels tight is actually a ‘long’ muscle that’s weak and needs support. Work these ‘long’ muscle groups and see if that makes a difference. This type of strategy is easier to apply when working one-on-one with someone, as it’s difficult to tailor a class to participants who are all built differently.

Now it’s your turn

Are you using any of the strategies listed above? If so, which?

If these strategies are new to you, which are you interested in trying first?

Share with us in the comments section below the article.

Author: Larisa Makuch

Larisa Makuch Pilates Larisa Makuch is a Pilates & Movement teacher, teacher trainer and ELDOA instructor. She draws on her experiences to create innovative teaching and business strategies. Larisa has a Body Harmonics Comprehensive Pilates diploma, several Specialist diplomas and a BA.

“For me it’s all about helping people move better, feel better and build their confidence each and every day. I especially enjoy those ‘aha’ moments when clients and colleagues make discoveries that translate into more freedom, more joy and less pain in their lives.”