Thursday, November 25, 2010

Preparing for Advanced Pilates Exercises

When planning to teach an advanced lesson to my Pilates clients, I incorporate applicable preparatory exercises into the session. My lesson plan begins something like this: Today I want to teach Breaststroke, Teaser, and Horseback on the Universal Reformer. So, how do I safely and effectively prepare the clients body for these exercises? I begin by looking at the end product and working backward to the fundamentals. I assess whether the client has the strength and flexibility to achieve success with the exercises. I review spotting and safety for the client. I make sure I am able to execute the exercises to provide a visual demonstration of the exercises.

I know the client must warm up the back extensors, the arms and shoulders, and the hamstrings for Breaststroke. The abdominals and hip flexors must be ready for the Teaser. The inner thighs, core, and shoulders must be active for Horseback. Breaststroke includes the element of coordination. Teaser includes the element of control. Horseback includes the element of balance. So, I must make sure all of these components are included in my warm-up.

I choose preparatory exercises that will meet my goals and develop my lesson plan from this perspective.

A lesson plan for the above class might look as follows:


1. Coccyx Curl

2. Head Roll Up

3. Puppet Arms

4. Elbow Circles

5. Big X Lifts

6. Feel Good Arm Circles

7. Alternating Side Bends

Mat Exercises

1. Hundred

2. Roll Up

3. Single Leg Circles

4. Rolling

5. Single Leg Stretch

6. Double Leg Stretch

7. Swan

8. Single Leg Kick

9. Double Leg Kick

10. Teaser

11. Side Kick

12. Battement (Leg Pull Down)

13. Banana

14. Push Up

Reformer Exercises

1. Footwork

2. Coordination

3. Serve the Brownies

4. Rowing 1

5. Rowing 4

6. Swan Facing Front

7. Serape

8. Backstroke

Now, I am ready to teach the advanced exercises in this session. The body and mind have been warmed up and established for success. Underlying principles, intention, and form have been introduced. All that is left is time for fun mastering these 3 exercises.

The teacher demonstrates the chosen exercises giving a complete description of the movement and the desired goals. All three exercises should be spotted to provide client safety and peace of mind. Allow the client to see the exercise first, perform the exercise with a spot, and finally do the exercise without spotting (if comfortable).

At the end of the class I include a cool down period that will allow for rest and relaxation of the body mind. Stretching exercises, relaxing over a small ball, and breathing round out this class for a perfect work-out.

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