Featured Posts

How to Engage Kids with Targeted Programming at Your Studio

Pilates COREterly - Courtesy of Balanced Body Inc

Spring 2014

Pilates Programming - Kids Just Want to Have Fun!

by Larkin Barnett, BA, MA

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.36.03 am.png

“The true object of all human life is play.” — GK Chesterton

To create his method, Joseph Pilates drew from several movement disciplines. This combination makes it a perfect fit for kids, because children’s fitness programs require this type of variety for physical and mental development.

Pilates instructors have a lot to offer children because one area of expertise includes mindful fitness. After all, children explore their world first through their rich imagination and five senses. Children who experience the joy of learning to “control” their own bodies then take on the bigger challenge of moving with purpose in work and play. They grow up more comfortable in their own skin. They are being given the mindful tools to becoming people dedicated to their own personalized physical fitness or sport for the rest of their lives. Our children are the most important resource on our planet so let’s get moving!

Why Add Movement

Creative movement in fitness settings provides an answer to our nation’s health-crisis of sedentary, overweight, and diabetic children. Pilates instructors who grow a youth-based business are helping our children to move “one repetition” closer to a healthier future. Each day, more of the arts are being completely drained from our children’s schools. Yet studies show parents believe dance, music, art and drama make their children better students and better people.

Creative movement provides a specific art-orientated vocabulary that builds a child’s mind/body connection, as well as their language, math and science skills. Expressive movement involves mastery over the body in all its varieties. It reinforces an outlet for the joy found in rhythmic action. Children need variety, complementary activities (like games) and fun. Creative movement cultivates a “can do” attitude, stimulating both the right and left sides of the brain. Not to mention, children move through space with confidence, uninhibited by the fear of being judged for not having moved in “the right way.”

Planning Your Program The extra twist is that with children there are two sets of clients: the children and their parents. When you strike a balance between satisfying the needs of the children with the result-oriented desires of the parents — the sky is the limit, so be sure to communicate with the parents.

Once you’re ready to begin, it’s important to remember children aren’t mini-adults, so design a fitness program that is full of kid-friendly variety and less complex exercises. Also, keep in mind that each child is extremely unique and a helpful common denominator to the group dynamic is mindful exercise. A comprehensive fitness program promotes problem-solving, self-esteem, social skills, and fun creative self-expression. If you make it fun they’ll enjoy learning about anatomy-based visual imagery, while simultaneously being introduced to the power of their mind/body connection. Children need shorter intervals of exercises. It is essential to provide a full curriculum of movement disciplines in order to mix it up!

Designing Your Class

Begin by getting physician clearance.

It’s important to design a non-competitive fitness curriculum in which boys and girls can move at their own individual pace, discover personalized potential, and build self-esteem. Keep the class focus upon aspects of self-motivation, safety guidelines and proper form. Next make sure there is an appropriate warm-up and cool down portion to every class. Make the essential Pilates principles of movement the foundation for teaching these disciplines. For consistency, build in ways for them to chart their own progress. Include ways to burn energy, build bone density, balance, endurance and strength.

Identify main elements to explore in a particular lesson. Provide the kids with ample time to refine, practice and choose solutions. Experiment with cueing using a supportive and natural voice, which is your most potent teaching aid. Be aware of your posture and energize your own body. Create a comfortable, friendly and non-competitive environment.

Expressive Movement for Ages 5 to 8 A successful children’s fitness program must be based upon a combination of functional and expressive movement for physical, mental and emotional development. Developmentally, creative movement is hands down the winner for cultivating self-expression and emotional stability, while building optimum physical conditioning. Children organize, perceive and understand the world primarily from their physical senses. Before the children focus on the detail-oriented Pilates movements, begin each class with an easy non-competitive movement approach that explores their full movement potential.

Younger children will be more apt to enjoy and concentrate upon Pilates refined moves or yoga poses after delighting in skipping, running and jumping with joyous abandonment. Expressive movement is an essential energy release and a biological necessity. Children need these intervals and short bursts.

Therefore, lay the groundwork for every class with basic locomotion movements, such as walking, skipping, jumping, etc. Now that the children have expended their energy they can start the portion of class to master Pilates. Axial mov