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Sample Class: Pilates 50/50

by Linda Freeman on Feb 19, 2009

Pilates 50/50 is a combination class that fuses lower-body standing moves with mat exercises for a balanced mind-body experience that emphasizes Pilates principles. By moving Pilates into a vertical position, you bring a more functional experience to participants while continuing to offer the key elements of core control and optimal spinal alignment. The standing work is also a great way to warm the entire body for more effective spinal movement during the mat exercises.

Pilates 50/50 Details

Format: mind-body combination class
Total Time: 60 minutes
Equipment Needed: mats
Music: Select music that promotes control. Hip-hop or reggae speed is perfect (98-110 beats per minute).
Additional Considerations:

  • Perform the class barefoot. This gives participants a chance to experience alignment from the feet as the foundation.
  • Cue and move in layers: what moves first, second, etc.? Add levers last.
  • Cue stability first, mobility second.
  • Start every movement slowly. Learn the combination and cuing alignment before speeding up to tempo.
  • Use four base movements as the foundation for all standing combinations: squat, plié, lunge or balance.
  • Between each of the standing combinations, allow students to release accrued tension by moving around, performing hip circles or leg swings, or just getting a sip of water. The movement patterns take concentration as well as muscular-endurance work, so students may need a mental break as well as a physical one.

Sample Standing Combination

After a 5-minute standing warm-up, teach several standing combinations (for 20-25 minutes). Here is one combination to try:

Picking Flowers (8-16 reps per side)

Start in lunge position, with right foot forward and left foot back. Feet are aligned with the front hip bones (anterior superior iliac spine, or ASIS); spine is neutral and vertical.

  • Count 1: Lower into lunge, with front knee staying over ankle, spine in neutral.
  • Count 2: Hinge forward at hip, bringing spine forward over front thigh. Arms hang under shoulders. Keep spine in neutral, and do not allow front knee to move forward.
  • Count 3: Bring spine back into vertical position, still low in lunge. Bring arms back and engage scapular retraction; cue “picking flowers” when coming out of the forward hinge.
  • Count 4: Come up out of lunge.
  • Finishing move: Pulse down in lunge for 8-16 counts, then pulse 8-16 more counts in forward-hinged position.

Mat Work

For the second half of class (25-30 minutes), choose a well-balanced selection of mat work exercises that you are familiar with. Include flexion, extension and rotation as well as a nice mix of stability- and mobility-focused exercises. For example:

  • flexion: half roll-back, the hundred (or preps), single-leg stretch, double-leg stretch
  • extension: breaststroke preps and breaststroke, swimming, swan dive
  • stability: single-leg circle, shoulder bridge, one-leg kick
  • full mobility: roll-up, roll-over and teaser series

End your class with a good 5 minutes of stretching for the entire body. Include some stretches for the hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexor/hip complex.

For more information, including warm-up details and three more standing combinations, please see the full article in the January issue of IDEA Fitness Journal or read it online in the IDEA Library.

To purchase the DVD Pilates 50/50 with Linda Freeman, visit the online IDEA Store.

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© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Linda Freeman

Linda Freeman IDEA Author/Presenter

Linda L. Freeman—IDEA Master Personal Trainer, author and frequent IDEA presenter—loves to fuse formats and share new ideas with other fitness colleagues. Owner of Guru Fitness® LLC, ...