How to Program for a Diverse Group Class

November 2019
Author: Lesley Logan, NCPT, PMA Board of Directors

With more and more people desiring community and convenience, Pilates classes are becoming more popular. But how do you make sure that everyone has a good workout when there are advanced clients and new clients in the same class? Should you put "beginner," "intermediate" and "advanced" classes on the schedule? What happens when a new client can only come during the advanced class time?

Before you give up on having the best class schedule in town, try out these different options for teaching multilevel clients in one class.

1. Have an "intro to classes" package or workshop.
Have an "intro to classes" package or workshop that anyone who is interested in classes must complete in order to be in your classes. Sure, there may be some push back, but if you share with them how it will help them have a better workout and feel more comfortable, focused, and get to feel the benefits of Pilates sooner, they'll either sign up or move on. And, if they sign up, they're already more committed to you or your studio because they had to do the intro.

2. Use the "regular" or more "advanced" students as models.
Use the "regular" or more "advanced" students as models so they get extra workout and attention.

3. Make sure clients can change their springs and set up their equipment.
Make sure all clients can change their own springs and set up their own equipment. This is why #1 is so good. And, also, you're able to spend more time teaching the class than setting up the classes.

4. Consider a multi-level with multi-equipment class.
Consider a multi-level with multi-equipment class. This approach can seem scary at first, or you may think that regular clients (not teachers) would never remember their Pilates exercises without your reminder. But when they have to remember, they will! Think back to the days of Joseph Pilates' studio. Clients would show up, do their exercises, get some instruction and then go. This is still possible today. And, this option is a great way to increase your income. If you only have one piece of everything you might think you can't do classes. Or, that you can only do mat classes. But if you train your clients to know what their workout is, they will take more control over their workouts and results.
Reading this can feel like a total "easier said than done" idea. But when clients lead their sessions and create that autonomy, they want to come back more and more. In order to do this option, you will want to practice teaching two different people, at two different levels on two different pieces of equipment. If it goes well, add a third person. When you feel you've got the hang of it, announce this option and share it with your friends and clients. This option can take a private-teaching-based instructor from seeing one client at a time to 4-6 at a time, depending on the amount of equipment in the studio.

5. Create client cards that they can grab when they come in.
Create client cards that they can grab when they come in. This way they can review what they learned so far when they look at their card. This will help them be less reliant on the teacher and take more ownership over their practice.

Other tips for filling classes and retaining new clients:

Have client workshops!
These are great opportunities for your clients to dive deep into a subject and deepen their practice, create more community in your studio and offer to new or potential clients as a way to enter classes.

Have FAQs on your site.
This will help potential clients understand how they get ready for classes, what classes to do if they are new, etc. This can be a link you send to clients who are inquiring to help prepare them with their options.

Set up policies and procedures to ensure all participants arrive early.
This will make it easier on the instructor when there are multi-level classes, to start everyone off together. We've all been there when someone is ten minutes late, they've never done Pilates before and now you have to show them how to do everything and keep the class flowing. Your loyal clients will appreciate the policies.

Like doing Pilates, teaching different levels at the same time takes practice. But, if you can take the time to get comfortable teaching different levels of clients in a class at the same time not only will your class be more fun, clients will feel seen and taken care of and you'll feel more inspired.

Not yet a member of your professional association? Learn more on how to become one.


Category: The Method