Pilates Teachers' Manual

Planning Your Class Around a Theme

November 12, 2020 Olivia Bioni Season 3 Episode 10
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Planning Your Class Around a Theme
Chapters
0:00
Welcome
1:20
Benefits of Having a Theme
6:07
Potential Themes
12:14
Themes in Group Classes
14:41
Setting Your Class Apart
16:35
Themes Benefit You Too!
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Planning Your Class Around a Theme
Nov 12, 2020 Season 3 Episode 10
Olivia Bioni

Planning your group classes with a theme in mind offers great benefits to your students, and to you! Tune in to learn about how a theme can simplify your class plans, offer depth and mini progressions in leveled classes, and help to encourage higher attendance in your group classes! 

I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and follow the podcast on Instagram and Facebook @pilatesteachersmanual. Full show notes, episode transcription, and chapter markers can be found on the podcast website here: http://bit.ly/pilatesteachersmanual. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast for updates, and rate and review wherever you listen!  Episodes now available on YouTube: *https://bit.ly/YouTubePTM

Email [email protected] with your feedback.   

Support the podcast:    

Visit https://links.oliviabioni.com/affiliates to take advantage of some sweet savings! 

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Tobu - Good Times [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/YHSH9k9ooZY
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/goodtimes

Track: Tobu & Itro - Sunburst [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/4lXBHD5C8do

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Planning your group classes with a theme in mind offers great benefits to your students, and to you! Tune in to learn about how a theme can simplify your class plans, offer depth and mini progressions in leveled classes, and help to encourage higher attendance in your group classes! 

I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and follow the podcast on Instagram and Facebook @pilatesteachersmanual. Full show notes, episode transcription, and chapter markers can be found on the podcast website here: http://bit.ly/pilatesteachersmanual. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast for updates, and rate and review wherever you listen!  Episodes now available on YouTube: *https://bit.ly/YouTubePTM

Email [email protected] with your feedback.   

Support the podcast:    

Visit https://links.oliviabioni.com/affiliates to take advantage of some sweet savings! 

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Tobu - Good Times [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/YHSH9k9ooZY
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/goodtimes

Track: Tobu & Itro - Sunburst [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/4lXBHD5C8do

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.

Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the [00:01:00] podcast. Today we're going to be talking about how to plan your class around a theme and why planning your class around a theme can be super liberating for you as a teacher, can really benefit your students, and also talk about some possible themes that you may want to explore in your classes.

I think this is an important thing to talk about because I'm not sure if teaching Pilates is your only thing, or a part-time thing, or just an occasional thing. But for me, I teach about 20 group classes a week of both mat and equipment classes. And the majority of the classes I teach are at set levels, so the choreography and the exercises that we're exploring are kind of set for level one classes, for level one and a half classes, in level two classes. Because there are sort of limitations within that, I need to personally keep myself interested in what I'm [00:02:00] teaching. 

Another thing that teaching around a theme can really be helpful for is group classes are not like private sessions in that, you know, in a private session, you are having a conversation with the person in your class. You're designing the class specifically for this one person, for their needs, to help them meet their goals, to really connect with them over their specific stuff. And group classes, in addition to really just being sort of a general workout experience, you may have some familiar faces, but you may have people who have never done Pilates before, or have never taken class with you before. 

And there isn't really a progression. The level one class that you're teaching in April will still be a level one class in May. And there might be things that you can build on, which is why I'm going to loop back to that in terms of working with a theme. But the class itself is not progressing. You're not [00:03:00] going to suddenly start doing advanced choreography in a level one class. Because if someone's brand new to your studio, they're going to sign up for that level one class and you still need to teach to that class description, that level. 

Themes can be useful because even though I'm teaching 20 group classes, I don't have to teach 20 unique classes. By having a theme, I can sort of notch it up in higher level classes, I can scale it down for a more beginner class, and I don't have to come up with a brand new idea every single class that I teach. 

Even for classes that are mixed level, or you could do a little bit of anything in them, planning within a theme is really useful because it does give you a little bit of structure. It gives you a framework to play inside. And depending on what equipment you have available to you, there really is infinite things that you could do, and by picking a theme, you can narrow it [00:04:00] down and then really get creative and get interested in one thing and lots of ways to do that one thing. 

I'm speaking for the majority of this episode as a contemporary teacher who is able to mix in, in addition to reformer and chair and springboard and magic circle, I also can play with the stability ball, the Bosu, the TRX. And my mat classes I can play with the foam roller or a towel or a strap or a resistance band. So there is a little bit more freedom that I have in terms of class structure and plan. But I would say even if you're a classical teacher and teaching the exercises in the same order, you can still have a theme or something that you're choosing to emphasize and if you can incorporate a prop, you know, you can still do a themed class, even within the classical structure, in my opinion. 

Themes are great for helping plan your [00:05:00] class and they really do make building your class or your programming a little bit easier, partially because it gives you that structure, but also because it helps you concentrate all of your ideas in one place. And so you can really dive a little bit deeper, I would say, because you're saying, all right, this is what I'm spotlighting this week. 

I'd say the best themes are ones that interest you and that's from your personal Pilates practice. Like, what are you working on? What are you interested in? What really struck you in a new way as you are moving your body this week, or today? If you're interested in it, your students will be too. 

I love when I take a class and the teacher says, Oh, you know, this is something that I just learned, or this is something I've been playing with because there's just more connection there. Also, you get to engage more with what's [00:06:00] going on. You can share the discoveries that you've made and help your students make some of those discoveries as well. 

So this is by no means the only themes that you can have for a class. But these are some that come to my mind when I think about planning classes and having a theme. 

You can build your class around an exercise or up to an exercise. So when you think about those peak Pilates exercises or those really challenging exercises that people tend to be working up to, or really working on, I'm thinking about the roll up or teaser or snake or piking, especially on the chair, but really anywhere, any of those like quote peak exercises. You can take an exercise, like any of the ones I listed or any other one and break it into pieces. And what are your legs doing? What are your shoulders doing? What is this body [00:07:00] shape? Can we do it in different body positions? 

You know, piking on the chair. Can we do it seated? Can we do it standing? Can we do it lying down? Can we do it on our side? Can we do it kneeling? Like all of these things can just help your students make the connections that if you want them to. Find that deep spinal flexion find that tuck of the tailbone, find that abdominal connection. You can explore it in a bunch of different ways and kind of build up to that exercise. You get to weave it in as you're working your arms, as you're working your legs, as you're doing side body, we just keep returning to that theme so that, you know, we have all the pieces we need when we get to finally working on that exercise in its entirety.

You can build a class around a movement. You could focus on thoracic extension, you could focus on rotation or spinal flexion. And then just like working on the exercise, can we do it in different body [00:08:00] positions? Can we do it on different pieces of equipment? Can we find that movement in a variety of different exercises, and it doesn't have to be something that happens in every exercise. 

Like if you've got to incorporate some arm work, like, okay, well maybe we can throw some thoracic extension in there, but maybe we don't. But it's just that when it shows up or maybe the most of the exercises or some of the exercises that you're choosing, you're just highlighting this movement so that students get to, again, connect with it in a new way.

You can build a class around a principle of Pilates. I tend to think of them as the six Pilates principles. I've also heard the eight Pilates principles, but the big six, I think of our breath, control, centering, concentration, precision, and rhythm. And then even if you were teaching a classical class where you know exactly what's coming next, you could still highlight that [00:09:00] principle or just again, bring your students' awareness to how that principle is playing out in the exercises as you go through them. In that case, you could teach a pretty regular class and just have something a little bit extra that you can share. 

You can build your class around a prop. It might be the magic circle or the stability ball or the TRX or the jump board, the box, free weights, the Bosu, anything where you can take a piece of equipment that you have, and just incorporate it into the exercises that you're doing, whether it's spending the entire class working with that prop, or again, you're just kind of bringing it in and weaving this theme through your class.

It's kind of like storytelling where, you know, okay, we're going to be working with the stability ball today, you know, can we use it in footwork? Can we use it when we bridge? Can we use it when we work on our arms? Can we use it in some leg exercises? And just [00:10:00] bringing your students' attention and helping them find new things out about the exercises, whether it's adding more support or adding more challenge, but really using the prop to keep students engaged with what's happening as well. 

You could build your class around a holiday or a season or a celebration. We just had Halloween in the United States. And so I definitely did a Halloween themed class. If you follow me on Instagram at @oliviabioniwellness, you saw my Halloween reel of ways that I could take exercises that are pretty standard, canon, classical Pilates exercises, like short box. But if we do long spine rock backs with our arms across our chest, we could call the mummy rock backs. And if you did it with your arms forward and with really limp wrists, you could do Nosferatu rock backs or, you know, even doing the rotation from short box and long spine with our arms doing Thriller. So you can take exercises again, standard [00:11:00] exercises, but just give them a little bit of a twist that'll make you smile, hopefully, and also your students smile. 

Coming up after the break, I'm going to be talking about how having a theme in your classes can give you a bit of an edge when you're teaching group classes and also how, and I've alluded to it, but a little bit more how those themes can really benefit your students and help them learn and grow. That's coming up next.

Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.

Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit [00:12:00] links.OliviaBioni.com.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now back to the show.

I love teaching group classes, but I also recognize that they're kind of their own animal. As I mentioned before the break, you may have some people who come to your classes religiously. If you're teaching, especially if you're teaching at a given level, you're going to have these same faces in your class and that's amazing. 

But you are also very likely to have people there who you don't know, or it's their first class with you, or the studio. People who have kind of variable schedules, they might just be trying to get in [00:13:00] whenever they can. And those classes aren't really going anywhere. It's really up to you to come up with new things to teach and new things to share.

And it is really easy to fall into a rut. If there are certain exercises or certain things that you feel really comfortable doing, it's really easy to just fall back on those things and not add in new things. Again, not necessarily like now this is like a level two exercise or an advanced exercise. But just new ways of doing the same exercises, even just so that your students are experiencing something fresh.

The themed classes really help you, as a teacher, continue to engage with Pilates in ways that are ideally fun and interesting to you. If you are, you know, getting to the studio early before you teach classes and you're going to play around on the reformer a little bit, get a little bit of your own workout [00:14:00] in. If you're taking classes with other teachers, looking at the things that are really piquing an interest in you and your brain and in your body, and then finding ways to share that with your students. 

It's kind of like multitasking in your workout, you know? If you're doing something and you're like, Oh, it's really interesting how my shoulder works or feels in this. Like, all right, let's do a class about your shoulder and let's, you know, let's get into that. Let's talk about that. Let's explore that to the greatest extent that we can. It's important that you're loving what you do and when you're teaching things that are interesting to you, your students know, and they're going to react really positively to that. 

When you have a theme, whether you're marketing it or not, it really does make what would be an individual class kind of an event or kind of something special that your students don't want to miss. I usually pick themes on a weekly basis and I teach [00:15:00] at one studio on Monday, Wednesday. I teach at another studio on Tuesday, Thursday. I've got a mat class that happens on Tuesday, Thursday. 

So if I introduce something on Monday or Tuesday, I'm going to build on that in my classes again on Wednesday and Thursday. Are people necessarily who come to your class on Monday and Tuesday going to also come to your class on Wednesday or Thursday? Maybe, maybe not, but you are creating this idea that, Hey, if you enjoy the stuff that we were doing on the Bosu, I've got even more Bosu stuff, even more challenging Bosu stuff, coming up next class.

And FOMO is really powerful, right? The fear of missing out is really powerful. So whether you're announcing on social media or you're just sharing in the classes themselves that, Hey, this is something we're going to be working on. It gives people a little bit of a teaser. It gives them a taste of what's to come and hopefully it gets them excited to [00:16:00] continue working on that thing that you introduced. 

And the great thing is that even if someone doesn't come to the class on Monday or Tuesday, it's not like they're going to be missing out on things necessarily. They'll still be able to enjoy and explore everything that happens on the class that they come to.

But if you do have students who can make it to both classes, they're going to gain a deeper understanding and a little bit more nuance about what you're teaching because you've given them kind of a multi-course meal of movement. 

It also holds you accountable. If you get in the habit of telling students, Hey, we're going to be working on inversions. Hey, we're going to be working on thoracic extension. Then you've got some stuff to brainstorm, or you've got some things that you can really focus on for yourself as well. It widens and deepens the conversation about whatever you're teaching. You can get a little bit more into the [00:17:00] nitty-gritty and even though you can't necessarily progress your group class within this little tiny framework, you can. 

Students are drawn to, and students learn from teachers that are really deeply passionate about what they're teaching and really deeply involved in what they're teaching. Themes may be a way for you as a teacher, to look at the exercises in a new light and also find new ways to explore and engage and encounter the exercises. We know that there is no end game in learning Pilates, that there is just constantly more to discover. This gives your students a chance to make those discoveries as well.

Naturally, this is only something you're going to want to do if it resonates with you. You don't want it to feel forced. You don't want it to feel like, well, I guess I have to do this now and like, really like, you're [00:18:00] obliged to do this. No, but if this gives you some energy, gives you some enthusiasm, like, Hey, I always wanted to do a class about hip extension. Well, fantastic, you know, and that's great. It's just another way to look at your class as you're planning it, especially in group classes, which are just kind of wide open a lot of times. It just gives you some playground to play on. 

Really big thank you to my supporters and members on Buy Me a Coffee. I'm looking forward to sharing a coffee with you later on in November in our very first zoom call, zoom party. Your support is what makes this podcast possible. And I am so, so thankful to you for your contributions. 

Have a great week and I'll talk to you again soon.

Thanks for listening to this week's chapter [00:19:00] of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual, and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

The adventure continues. Until next time.



Welcome
Benefits of Having a Theme
Potential Themes
Themes in Group Classes
Setting Your Class Apart
Themes Benefit You Too!