Progressive Bodyworks | Pilates Mastery with Clare Dunphy


Classical Pilates and Fusion – Can It Work In Your Studio?

May 18, 2011

Bring Pilates out into your life, sports and all activities.  Isn’t that what we teach?  We encourage clients to walk tall, move from their center and bring their Pilates alignment, strength and flexibility to enhance all their activities including cardio and resistance training as well as cycling, golf, skating, skiing and daily life.  When a person learns to move properly, everything changes for the better.  So as Pilates teachers or studio owners you might be wondering how classical Pilates and traditional fitness can thrive together without diluting authentic Pilates?

Current research shows that we need both cardio and resistances training to stay healthy, prevent osteoporosis, maintain or lose weight, and stave off the effects of aging.  Of course Pilates falls into the category of moderate strengthening and stretching, but in order to get the heart rate to climb high enough to have a training effect the session needs to move at a vigorous pace.  Also for new or weaker clients, advanced choreography or fast moving sessions may not be appropriate.  Why not offer more to your customers to target all their fitness needs?  There is great potential here for both the health of your clients and your studio. I look at classical Pilates as the foundation for every mode of movement we do. Most jazz musicians or dancers began by first developing a strong foundation; musicians learning scales and dancers studying movements at the barre for years before they branched out.  Likewise, a strong Pilates base forms the foundation for how we move during our cardio exercise or lift a weigh over our head.  The key is HOW we teach it!

Envision two tracks of programming in your studio.  The first track is strictly classical, working with the complete Pilates “system” on all apparatus. Be innovative in your offerings by considering not only mat and Tower classes, but also offer classes that combine different apparatus.  For example, mat combined with chair or small barrels and power circle; combine reformer, mat and Cadillac sessions.  Be creative with your class endings to include the arm weight series, standing power circle and the fabulous wall series. Educate your clients so they keep a classical class in their weekly routine.

The second “fusion” track builds on the classical track layering Pilates alignment and movement principles to each activity.  In this track you combine cardio and/or resistance training for a portion of the class with classical mat, chair, power circle, barrels, reformers or tower.

Design your class based on the following:

  1. Who is the class for and what are their fitness goals?  (weight loss, sport specific, general fitness)
  2. What is the level of the class?
  3. What apparatus is available? (Pilates tools: mat, reformer, chair, small barrels, power circle, 1-3 lb. weights Fitness tools:  5-15 lb weights, body bars, bosu, step, balls, indoor cycles, slides, jump ropes, therabands, medicine balls etc.)
  4. What format will meet their objective and level?  (classical, fusion, circuit, 20-20-20, 50-50)
  5. What is the purpose of each class segment?  (total body workout, upper body, lower body, core, cardio, etc.)
  6. What exercises will be included to reach the goal of each class segment?
  7. Will I use music or no music?  What kind of music and bpm will enhance the experience?

Sample Classes:

  1. Fusion Class:
    • 20 minute basic/intermediate mat
    • 15 minute resistance training (dumbbells, upper body focus)
    • 15 minute lo-impact cardio or step
    • 5 minute cool down/stretch
  2. Small group (4-6)
    • 20 minute mat
    • 20 minute chair
    • 15 minute resistance and balance (body bar and bosu)
  3. Fusion class (class size depending on # of chairs):
    • 30 minute Chair
    • 30 minute Yoga

3 Steps for Implementation:

  1. Educate your customers so they learn what they need to do to reach their goals. Reinforce that they need to exercise 3-5 times per week whether it is at home, outdoors or at your studio.  Make your message clear about the benefits of varied movement experiences and how to bring the lessons learned from Pilates into other workout modes.
  2. Create programming to suit the needs of your client base.  Make the movement matter!
  3. Guide students to take at least one classical class per week (or more) and bring what they learn in their body to the fusion classes. Steer them into the classes that cover all their fitness needs.

Innovative programming and value-oriented packages not only draws new customers but keeps them coming back for more.  Tap into your creative side and offer new classes that are interesting, compelling, effective and fun. You customers will be delighted and satisfied!

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