A blog piece for pilates teachers providing extra tips on enhancing your class!
Have you been teaching your pilates classes for a while now and in need of that extra oomph of inspiration? Or are you new to teaching and wondering how to make every class fresh and as great as the last? Whichever stage you’re at we have got you covered!
Here are our top 17 tips for how to make YOUR class a 10/10 every time!
1) Be professional. This applies before you even step foot in the studio with your advertising & marketing. Ensure you advertise your qualifications, state what your class will involve, what they should bring, the cost, location, and times. Then show up EARLY to always be there to greet the first participant and direct them to the studio. This puts participants at ease immediately. This also allows time for checking any health problems and giving you time to think of modifications.
2) Set your studio up correctly. Have all mats and head cushions orientated correctly for the start of the class and any additional equipment beside each mat space. This again takes the pressure off of your participants and ensures everyone is facing the correct way for the class to run smoothly. This also saves setting up time when they arrive!
3) Look the part. Make it clear that you are the class instructor. This helps new participants identify you, but also provides a sense of professionalism for each class. This could consist of a set uniform such as these Pilates T-shirts , Pilates jumpers, or Pilates socks, or simply having clean, tidy workout wear on that doesn’t look messy or worn. Having a good water bottle also looks good and promotes hydration to your class.
4) Always wear a watch. This is essential for keeping track of time to correctly execute each section of your class and guarantee you do not overrun! This removes the need to constantly check the clock in front of your class too.
5) Learn the names of your class participants. This provides a personal touch and makes participants feel valued as part of the group. Using their name to acknowledge their progress and efforts shows that you are paying attention to them individually and not just on auto pilot addressing a generic group.
The class design:
6) Have a clear start and end to each class. Set the scene by advising what the class will focus on. Create a positive vibe and get them in the zone for their workout by building heat and expectation from the warm up. Make them happy they came to class! Wrap up the class with a definite ending point such as advising “this section is our cool down stretches” or finish with relaxation to send them home refreshed.
7) Set a theme. This is a great way to vary your classes instead of just running through the exercises week after week. For example focus on one of the pilates principles, breathing patterns, mobility, or use an exercise principle such as strength, endurance, or flexibility.
8) Introduce building blocks for harder exercises. This allows you to introduce harder exercises for those able, but also allows those less advanced to participate. Demonstrate the final exercise, then provide building block pieces to help build the strength required for that exercise. You could build on it each week by adding a new piece to work towards it. This creates a goal in progress too.
9) Alter the breathing patterns. Changing up your breathing cues can alter the pace of the exercise, and class. For example, 1) Exhale on one movement and inhale on the return; creates a steady pace 2) Exhale to move, inhale to hold; creates a pause for endurance, or can be used to lengthen a stretch further on the inhale 3) Exhale for two movements, inhale for two; creates a faster pace.
10) Incorporate full body exercises. Lots of pilates exercises isolate individual muscle groups, and this is the beauty of the programme. However adding some full body exercises will make your class work harder, create a challenge with a bit of sweat! This gives satisfaction from completing these challenging exercises. E.g. Leg pull in prone level 2 works the upper body, core, and glutes as you perform repeated leg raises.
11) Add in “pauses”. Pausing during an exercise makes the exercise last longer for an endurance effect. Or it can be used to really emphasise technique. As they hold the position provide short technique cues to refine their set up. These little adjustments make the muscles work more specifically and therefore create a harder exercise!
12) Give them a take home message. For example, finish with “chest stretch” and instruct them to “perform this every day after work to open their chest and reverse the seated posture from an office job”. This gives them something to focus on to benefit further from your class by carrying it over into their week, whilst ensuring they think of their pilates class out with the studio! Great return customer marketing!
Your teaching style:
13) Alter the visual cues. Visual cues aren’t for everyone but they really can alter how you perceive an exercise. Giving them something to focus on such as “slowly moving the leg around in a circle as if your big toe was painting a circle and going over the same line each time” can be much more beneficial in muscle activation than simply describing what to do. Visual cues can be a great way to emphasise the pilates principles such as controlling the precision or flow of an exercise.
14) Alter your voice tone & volume. Use gentle, softer tones for stretches and cool down style exercises as a way to wind down the class, and consider louder instructions for the harder exercises. Simple one or two word commands such as “slowly”, “steady”, “great!”, “keep going”, “exhale, inhale” can direct harder exercises without the waffle when they are concentrating hard and may not process long instructions. This variance can lead class structure and emphasise direction.
15) Vary your teaching position. Starting from the front of the room is always a good idea, however as the class develops don’t be afraid to move around and instruct from the centre of the room so everyone can see your demonstration from different angles, or as the class turn to face a different way, move with them to keep the flow. This keeps them interested too by changing their viewpoints.
16) Relate the exercise to a task. This also works as a visual cue and provides meaning to an exercise. For example, explaining how “side kick” is great for strengthening your gluteal muscles and corrects leg alignment whilst mirroring s a runners pattern will appeal to the runners in the class, or how “dumb waitor” corrects any slouched postures from desk work simply help them understand why we do this exercise.
17) Make it personal. It is always interesting to hear what a teacher’s favourite exercise is, or one they have been enjoying recently, working to improve on, or a new one they’ve learnt etc, so talk to your class ad let them know why you’ve chosen that particular exercise today.