// Over and over… Repetition Pilates

Can repetition really add interest to your Pilates class? By taking just one or two actions and repeating them with different variations, it can, says Kayla Duke.

Have you ever considered taking one basic Pilates move and repeating it over and over in different positions, angles and levels? Taking just one or two actions and then repeating them with different variations makes it easy to create classes which, although simple in format, still deliver a challenging session to participants.

Let me explain. There are six different positions around which I structure my Pilates classes:

  1. Standing
  2. Neutral spine standard position
  3. Seated position with half and full roll downs
  4. Side position
  5. Lying with front down, back work
  6. Teaser.

Neutral spine standard position

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Seated position with half and full roll downs

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Side position

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From here I choose what the focus of the class will be. For example, the focus demonstrated in these pictures is rotation work at the hips, while maintaining centre control. Further variations could include circular movements of the legs and arms, forward and lateral movements. In Standing work I would start with lifting the knees, then add a rotation out to the side and back in to the front, before returning the foot to the floor.

As demonstrated in the pictures (photos 1 to 2), I repeat a knee drop with a chest lift in the neutral spine standard position. This is practically the same movement as in standing, but when performed in standing we are working on balance, core control, posture and alignment of the full body, whereas when lying down we are working the inner thighs, hips and perfecting pelvis position and control (of course, we are still working on alignment and core control as we do in every Pilates movement). The pictures (photos 3 & 4) also show a more challenging or higher level option of raising the feet off the floor into table top position when in neutral spine position.

The same movements are shown in the roll down position (photos 5 to 8) and side work (photos 9 to 11). The only position where variation of this move must be implemented is when lying face down and working the back. A similar arm movement can be performed from side to side, but of course it is not possible to do any forward actions. I firmly believe that strong back work is essential in every Pilates class in order to balance the work done by the body. With so much focus on the core, if we neglect the back we run the risk of rounding the shoulders or slouching, even though the centre may be very strong.

Following the six positions listed above will target the entire body, but of course you can add more. If your classes are short, you may choose to do roll downs, half or full, or cut them out and just work with the teaser. A good alternative would be to add ‘rolling like a ball’, which is a great exercise to perform after strong back work as it provides relief to the muscles surrounding the spine and also works to create greater centre control and balance at the top of the movement.

If your class is restricted by time, you may choose to remove standing work, but personally I like to start and finish with this when possible because I believe standing is the position in which participants can most easily feel their alignment. Doing standing work at either end of the class enables participants to gauge the improvement in their alignment and increased length through the whole body when they perform it second-time around, at the end of the session.

If you come up with a number of different focuses and use this method of repeating a move over and over in different positions, angles and levels, your mat work classes will contain enough variety to ensure your participants achieve physical gains and don’t get bored with the same old class, time after time.

Pilates not only creates good posture, but also conditions the entire body, resulting in a longer, leaner, more toned physique. With slow flowing movements and control applied to each and every exercise, in combination with the continual use of Pilates breathing, the mind will be active and focused, creating a full mind body connection and workout.

Kayla will be applying her freestyle skills to the aqua environment when she presents at FILEX 2011. Choose from:

• Contemporary Aquilates (A2W)

• 1, 2, 3 layer! (B2X) (with Naomi Ling & Megan Rehfisch)

For program information see page 46 of your FILEX brochure or visit www.filex.com.au where you can view the entire brochure and register online.



Kayla Duke
Currently based in Singapore, Kayla is group exercise country manager for California Fitness. She instructs, choreographs programs, trains and assesses instructors and regularly presents nationally and internationally. Before beginning her career in the fitness industry, Kayla danced for 17 years in stage productions, giving her a truly unique presentation style. Kayla was named Network’s Author of the Year at the FILEX 2010 fitness industry convention.