There are different ways to plan a pilates studio class since there is no right way or better than the other.
Every class needs to be structured to be organized because you will be dealing with groups of people, small or big. Either way, they need to be guided; therefore, a pilates instructor needs to tidy up their pilates studio and plan their classes.
1st Step: Define the objective of the class and the student’s profile
It is essential to structure a Pilates class that some information is clear that defines the course’s main objective and the student’s profile.
The objective of the Pilates class may change depending on the technique of the place you work. It is prevalent for Pilates studios to have a set of goals related to physical abilities such as balance, endurance, or strength. Pilates studies define in their techniques some class strategies such as massage, circuits, or some objective related to the principles created by the method.
To define the Pilates class’s objective, we need to be clear about the aim of the training program using periodization. In personalized work, it is essential to program the blocks of training sessions to define the class’s objective.
In the case of a group class where the main objective is defined by technical programming, the focus will be to develop a level with that objective as an emphasis without forgetting the global work.
In a personalized Pilates class, the main objective should be what the student needs or expected.
To know what the student needs, we need to do technical analysis, using movement assessment tools or only a clinical assessment of the Pilates principles incorporated or not by the student, the postural deviations present, and the muscular imbalances that exist in every joint.
We need to answer the question: which joints need to gain more mobility and which joints need to gain more stability? After answering that question, it will be easier to understand the class’s property concerning the muscles that need to eliminate tension, stretch, or work to improve stability.
You likely find the same joint that needs all these stimuli. For example, the hip needs to eliminate the muscles’ tension such as psoas major or stretch the hamstrings and stabilize the structure as a whole, mainly, the gluteus medius or the force like the glute that needs to de-tension, stretch, and stabilize.
To define the student’s expectation, we need to talk with her: what is her main objective? What are the results that he expects from the classes? What is your priority?
In the case of a group Pilates class, we need to understand the group’s profile. If it is a heterogeneous group, we must be aware that we need a defined strategy to change the exercises if necessary. When we have an experimental class, we must have a system to use with that student.
It is necessary to determine the level of experience by observing the client’s movement, whether the student or students are beginners, intermediate or advanced.
2nd Step: Put the exercises separated by equipment
For a group class, you must select 2 to 3 exercises per equipment, and the practices can have the same objective, such as three mobility exercises, or also have different purposes such as one mobility exercises, one stability exercises, and 1 exercise for developing a fundamental pattern of movement.
For the Pilates class to have a higher intensity, the exercises must be grouped with stimuli from the same muscle group, three activities that use the same segment, such as the lower, upper, or core limb.
How the exercises will be selected will depend on the strategy you will use and the profile of the students you are working on.
3rd Step: Check if there is a balance in your Pilates class
After a planned class, with the exercises separated by equipment, you check if there is a balance between them. Were the three segments worked efficiently? Were the muscles stimulated in a balanced way taking into account the muscle chains?
Are there mobility exercises for the spine in all directions? Inflection and extension starting with the sacrum and starting with the cervical spine? The twisting and lateral bending movements of the range? Does any exercise work a combination of these spinal movements?
Do the exercises that were selected include movements using all three planes of motion? Sagittal, frontal, and transverse? Are there exercises that work the combination of the three planes of movement?
During Pilates class, do the exercises explore the different positions: standing, sitting, four supports, lying supine and lateral?
In this way, you check if there is a balance in your class between equipment and exercises and correct any possible imbalances.
4th Step: Defining the warm-up – Preparation of the movement and compensation of the movement
In case you verify that there is a position, muscle chain, or movement plan that were not worked, use exercises in the warm-up to working those objectives.
You check the most challenging exercises and do them in the warm-up with a pedagogical sequence that helps you connect with the practices at the beginning of the class with what needs to be worked on as a challenge later.
Step 5: Define the strategy that you will use to change the exercises.
According to your students’ profile, prepare to include modifications to make your Pilates class easier or more difficult.
Determine an exercise modification strategy for beginning students, advanced students, and a possible experimental class.
If your class is in a group, you must find a final exercise to work in a personalized way with each student, according to their objective or according to their need.
Separate some exercises to more preferably floor exercises to use in the movements when your student is changing from warm-up to equipment or awaiting a new instruction. Thus, your class will be more dynamic, and you will keep your students moving.
This exercise must be easy to execute, and the student needs to know it so that with a word, he already recognizes the practice.
Principles of the Pilates Method
In addition, these exercises respect the same six principles of the other exercises of the Pilates Method explained below:
It makes you perform movements with attention, with due visual control, even during the transition from one exercise to another. It works well memory, intelligence, creativity, intuition and helps to relax.
The challenge of centralization throughout the performance is to maintain stabilization of the scapular and pelvic girdles, the activation of stabilizing muscles such as the transverse abdominis , multifidus and gluteus maximus, as well as biomechanical alignment.
This precision leads us to make various postural adjustments and thus maintain the quality of the exercise. Optimization of the application of muscular tensions, very important for the execution of movements. It integrates tactile-kinesthetic, visual, auditory and proprioceptive functions.
Breathing should always be synchronized with movement, a natural inspiration and a forced expiration to enhance the activation of the ” Power House “, or “house of force”, “center of force”. There is a respiratory dynamic that helps increase lung capacity, also protecting against respiratory diseases.
True muscle control means not making careless movements, avoiding inappropriate or undesirable muscle contractions. It also works to stimulate brain functions, such as planning and self-control.
The fluidity of the body must be respected with balanced and continuous movements, in this way the muscles move in the concentric and eccentric phase of the movement, protecting the body from possible injuries.
The instructor in their pilates studio must perceive when this student has a neuro-motor maturity, body awareness and notion of space necessary to the point of mastering all the principles of the Method in basic exercises and then performing the acrobatic exercises safely, effectively and without possible complications.
Thus, if the student performs the uncontrolled movement, without quality, without activation of the powerhouse, without balance, he is not prepared for the execution.
In the beginning, when we start teaching pilates in our pilates studios we need to use a form of structuring to plan classes, it is extremely arduous and it takes us a longer time to get used to it.
Little by little, the process will become easier and it will be faster and simpler to develop a balanced Pilates class that is contemplating the principles of the technique, the muscular chains, the planes of movement and the exercises focused on the movement.
Acrobatic exercises are beautiful and attract the attention of all who observe them, but we cannot apply them to our students just because they insist or to impress others around us.
Who knows what is best for our students is us and as instructors we must know the limit of each student to introduce these exercises.
In addition, show the student that each exercise that he manages to perform while respecting all the principles of the Method will make him reach advanced levels safely.