Adapting the Side Kick to create a toning series

School Of Pilates Posted Jan 21, 2015 Future Fit Training


Pilates is still on the rise, with more classes included on fitness timetables and more instructors becoming qualified. So how do you set yourself apart?

Adapting the Side Kick to create a toning series

Variation is essential as it stops you as the instructor becoming stagnant and uninterested and it also keeps your customers interested and challenged.

Customers come to Pilates sessions for numerous reasons and will choose the class they attend depending on their goal and style preference.  If you can offer them variation and are able to fit your classes around goal genre and client demographic you can create classes that are individual in style and fresh in approach.

In my experience many people, especially the younger demographic, do not fully understand the full potential Pilates can offer and instead choose to participate in the more body-part concentrated classes such as legs, bums and tums. This classic class is one that can effectively be brought together in essence with Pilates to complement and create an intense, modern ‘feel the burn’ workout that will challenge the body and people’s perceptions of Pilates.

One of my personal favourite sequences to use in classes such as these is my own take on the Side Kick by creating a series of leg exercises on the side, amalgamating the Scissors, One Leg Circle and the Side Kick.  This will not only give you a great leg blasting workout but can also be modified for clients who may struggle, have contraindications to prone position or to the execution of these exercises in their traditional form.

I love to sequence these exercises one into the other with no rest when possible to create one set of 6-8 repetitions per exercise before moving to the next one.  I find that the average mixed ability customers find this challenging yet achievable and they give positive feedback as to its effectiveness.

  1. Side lying leg raise
    Lie on your side with the hips stacked and legs extended. Extend the lower arm, relax your head on your arm and place your top hand to the floor in front of the body for support.
    Raise the top leg, squeezing at the top on the out breath, re-lower on the in breath.
  2. Side Kick improver level
    In the same position on the last repetition of the previous exercise keep the leg in alignment with the hip on the eccentric phase.  Dorsi flex the foot and draw the leg forward on the out breath. On the in breath plantar flex the foot and bring the leg back to the starting position.
  3. Side lying One Leg Circle
    Remain in the position with the leg straight and in hip alignment. Draw the leg forward in a side kick motion on the out breath with the foot plantar flexed.  In breath; out breath create a large circle with the leg, circling up above the hip and down to the starting position.
  4. Side Kick fundamental 2 leg raise and lower
    Next, squeeze the legs together and raise them from the floor on the out breath; in breath holding in the position and out breath as you re-lower the legs.
  5. Side lying fundamental isometric 2 legged raised hold with a top leg raise and lower
    With the legs squeezed together still, keep the legs held up. Try to keep the lower leg off the floor throughout, raise the top leg on the out breath, then close the legs on the in breath.  Complete all repetitions before lowering the legs back to the floor.
  6. Side lying Scissors
    Keep the legs squeezed together and re-lift two legs off the floor, balancing on the hips. Extend the lower leg forward in a side kick motion toward the front, whilst extending the top leg behind the body towards the back.  Continue to switch the legs simultaneously with the breath as with traditional Scissors exercise.

These exercises still give you the opportunity to adapt, modify and build up over time whilst catering for a variety of ability levels.

For example, they can be made easier by allowing rest in between the exercises or decreasing the repetitions. Alternatively, keeping the legs off the floor throughout or raising the number of repetitions will increase intensity and challenge stamina.

Why not add some oblique work in for that extra legs bums and tums experience and to keep your clients guessing?  For example, by simultaneously raising the upper body into side flexion at the same time as raising the legs adds a Pilates twist on the traditional Side Bend, a popular favourite with all waist line toning enthusiasts.  Whilst maintaining this flexed position, using the lower forearm as a support base will increase the intensity further.

Small dynamic pulses or circles will add vigour, a change in pace and that final burn in this series. Push those clients who can do more and challenge their strength, endurance and mobility.  These additions may also be a welcome option for those who struggled with the larger range of motion exercises.

Keeping this fresh approach to exercises and exercise dynamics will allow your customers to reap the benefits of what are traditionally seen as the hard core toning classes with all the benefits that Pilates can offer. It also gives you the option as an instructor to offer a variety of class styles to cater for more and create a timetable of Pilates variation classes to keep you busy, challenged and sought after!

You can read more about becoming a Pilates Teacher here

Written by Katie Farnden

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