30-Day Wunda Chair Challenge: UPDATE and Full Confession!

30-Day Wunda Chair Challenge: UPDATE and Full Confession!

Hello all you lovely Pilates peeps!

Well this post is loooong overdue.

Recently I've just returned from my first UK Adventure of the year and it's been grand.

Many thanks to Jayne O'Brien and all the amazing instructors I met at Equinox Kensington in London. UK hospitality at its finest!

And a big congratulations to new mum Amy Kellow (my Vintage Pilates classmate from The Work and Teaching the Work). What a pleasure to have a reunion in your studio Everybody Pilates. Amazing to see your staff and clients again!

It was such a pleasure to meet and work with such fine teachers and blog subscribers. Thanks so much for all your kind words. Your feedback warms my heart and is truly TRULY appreciated.

Keep up all your hard and sweaty work, hang on to your dynamic opposition and I'll be back in Portsmouth this October. 

I hope you've had a chance to check out this extra post to somehow make up for my absence of the last 3 weeks. I wrote it a while back for Gratz. You know I love to play Pilates Detective: Andrea and the Case of “Why is it called the Cadillac?”

30 Days of Wunda: The good, the ugly, the confused

Thank you to everyone who undertook my recent Wunda Chair Challenge

And now for my Pilates confession…

Full disclosure: this one dusted me. 

Gone were the heady times luxuriating over the Small Barrel.

My body didn't feel as good after my Wunda as I had anticipated. Hmmm…

I'd gotten better at some of the exercises but where was the amazing integrated feeling Pilates creates in my body? Randomly I felt stiff and couldn't figure out why.

Why did my back feel amazing on the Barrel?

Why has the Wunda Chair left me feeling gimpy?

Don't blame the exercise: Wunda Edition

A little factoid about your body on Pilates: The body gets used to feeling good.

If your workout behavior changes – or God forbid stops – the body gets cranky.

“WTF? What happened to those Pilates exercises you were doing?”

So again a little detective work was in order.

First off we've got our beloved Pilates System

Like a well-tuned orchestra, each apparatus has its part to play.

The Wunda Chair is not our major apparatus that reforms the body. It is not the Reformer. It functions more efficiently as a place to address a specific issue. This does not mean one cannot get a fabulous workout on the Wunda Chair, but often we've got to show up with all our stuff at the ready. 

We don't seek out the Wunda Chair for full support and assistance, right?

For my Wunda challenge I had to ask:

What is happening naturally on the Small Barrel that I can't find in the Chair exercises?

The brilliance of the Small Barrel – which I discovered and which many of you reported – was the way the apparatus supports, informs and corrects the back. 

For me in particular the Small Barrel alerted, assisted and supported me to correct my imbalance – one side of my powerhouse that doesn't like to work very well.

The Wunda Chair by its very nature and construction offers no feedback or support for the back. So my imbalance gets a free ride.

In this way the Barrels and the Chairs make a good team.

Good to know. 

Where to go from here?

Now armed with new information from the Small Barrel, I know how to work the weaker side of my powerhouse. My new plan is to start all over again with my 30 Day Wunda Chair challenge.

And I mustn't neglect my Small Barrel exercises! I learn so much from The Small Round One. I didn't know how good I had it over there…

I shall report back!

A little while back I got all gaga over the Small Barrel Project. Serendipitously I was strolling through my notes from Teaching the Work and found this gem:

“Spine Corrector: It cures all.” – Jay Grimes

And to that I say “Repetition is the mother of all learning.”

One more time and I'll have it!

Here's where you can find me in 2017.

The Gratz Cadillac: TRULY The Best of its Kind

The Gratz Cadillac: TRULY the Best of its Kind

Photo by Jack Coble

I hope you'll enjoy this re-post of an article I wrote for Gratz Pilates a little while back. Originally published on their blog, I thought you'd also appreciate my bit of Pilates detective work. Treat yourself to a Cadillac workout afterward and you'll be glad you did 🙂

It’s been said that Joe’s Cadillac apparatus received its name from a mid-century General Motors’ Cadillac advertisement which declared the car to be “the best of its kind.”

Would vintage Cadillac adverts help me to locate the specific ad?

I’m curious.

Could this story be true?

Sadly, the roots of the Cadillac name need to be relegated to the category of “more myths about Joe Pilates and his apparatus” as I did not find an ad with the specific wording ‘the best of its kind.'

Oh, but vintage Cadillac ads would please Joe Pilates GREATLY.

They kinda sound like him.

The Cadillac ads of the 40s and 50s share the same emphatic tone we find in JP’s manifesto, Return to Life.

Imagine Joe vehemently declaring the following about his Cadillac apparatus:

The universal symbol of achievement!

(See? Universal – a good Joe Pilates word.)

In a realm all its own…

(so Game of Thrones…)

Magnificent beyond all expectations!

(Mine is built like a Mack truck, yo.)

Styled to be copied for years to come!

(How true, how true…)

Beside it all others look obsolete!

(They really like their exclamation points…)

A great experience awaits you!

It will aid to your Happiness!

(I know, right??)

Come home to it after your vacation!

(Oh gosh yes!!! That’s when I need it the most.)

You get the point.

The idea of the story rings true even if the precise slogan is not “the best of its kind.”

Clearly, General Motors and Joe Pilates were thrilled with their creations.

Simplicity in Form and Function

Years ago I worked in a fully-equipped Gratz studio with a vintage Gratz Cadillac built by Donald Gratz. It featured a unique X-shaped safety chain and the studio owner had further equipped it with numerous spring choices.

We had extra leg springs and arm springs, baby arm chair springs and springs from other manufacturers perhaps as well.

We had a spring for each and every scenario one might encounter with a client.

Truthfully at the time I loved having such a choice. It seemed ideal.

Five years later I ordered my Gratz Cadillac.

My one concern was that my new Cadillac wouldn’t include all those extra springs I had come to rely on and utilize.

How would that be?

Would the springs be “too heavy” for some of my clients?

I really wasn’t sure.

My own Cadillac…

Wow.

Nothing says commitment quite like assembling a Cadillac in your house.

(But it will aid to my happiness!)

Finally the day arrived to try out my new springs Cadillac.

Leg Springs and Arm Springs.

Oh and the Roll Back bar springs – there’s a boon – some extra springs I hadn’t counted on.

But that’s it.

Simplicity.

Lying on the Cadillac I learned a valuable lesson about our beloved Pilates method:

The springs must be sufficient to coax the body into a full body workout.

I need to use my whole body to work the springs properly.

The Gratz Cadillac: TRULY The Best of its Kind

This is no arm exercise!

And these springs are PERFECT.

We live in an era with choices of ridiculous proportion.

Enter the Gratz Cadillac: there are choices. Arm Springs? or Leg Springs? Even a few choices for where to place them – low or high – or for standing exercises.

And that’s enough.

Another ad slogan described my feeling for my Gratz Cadillac perfectly:

It’s a “Cadillac among Cadillacs!”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Again – the finest can be YOURS!

What are you waiting for?

Find me in 2017 at a studio near you!

Welcome to my 30-Day Wunda Chair Challenge!

Welcome to my 30-Day Wunda Chair Challenge!

Hey there lovely Pilates peeps!

I've got a short-kick-your-butt Wunda Chair workout for you.

Join me for Pilates Day on Saturday May 6 at California Pilates Center. Register for my 10am Mat class here. Book a private lesson here.

London and Portsmouth I'm super excited to see you very soon!

Wanna book a private lesson for yourself?

Leave me a comment below. I'd love to meet up with you in person.

A Wunda Chair Workout in 10 (13) Exercises

Welcome to my 30-Day Wunda Chair Challenge!

For the record, my self-imposed Wunda Chair challenge proves to be more daunting than my previous Small Barrel Project. With 12 days under my belt, my proficiency has improved a bit. By the end of the workout I am huffing and puffing.

My kingdom for a rolling exercise…

Filming this workout has given me a boatload of information. Oh there's nowhere to hide…

Today's video includes the following exercises:

  1. Footwork
  2. Pull Up
  3. Push Down
  4. Spine Stretch
  5. Teaser on the Floor
  6. Swan/One-arm Swan/Swan Dive
  7. Teaser on the Chair
  8. Mermaid Seated
  9. Flying Eagle
  10. SemiCircle
  11. Going Up Front
  12. Mountain Climb
  13. Star
  14. Optional 14th exercise: Twist

Learn the exercises and you'll be able to complete this workout in about 20 minutes. Be efficient, keep your control and move cleanly from one exercise to the next.

Today's video is a deliberate pace. I chat a little bit about strategies for some of the exercises.

Stay tuned for a future video with a brisk pace and another with extra variations of some exercises.

It's the Wunda Chair. I'd say it deserves more than just one video, yes?

My progress so far…

Welcome to my 30-Day Wunda Chair Challenge!

Well I've found my powerhouse. It's an essential element here on the Wunda Chair.

It's called LIFT! You'll need it every time you must lift the pedal.

Makes sense.

Starting with the very first Footwork exercises, the lift you find in the Tendon Stretch will serve you brilliantly in your Pull Up.

Later on in the workout your powerhouse must still work when the exercise demands your legs reach in opposite directions: Spine Stretch, Going Up Front, Mountain Climb and the Star.

Work your Footwork well, friends, and create a strong foundation for the rest of the workout.

Welcome to my 30-Day Wunda Chair Challenge!

Enjoy this short Wunda Chair workout.

Questions? Lay it on me in a comment below.

And here's where to find me in 2017!

The Pilates System: Russian Splits on the Reformer

The Pilates System: Russian Splits on the Reformer

Hey there all you awesome Pilates people,

I hope you've had a good week of dynamic opposition in your workouts. Thank you so much for the emails, comments and good cheer you've been sending my way. It's lovely to hear from you!

London and Portsmouth I will be comin' atcha very shortly. Private and semi-private lessons are filling up – please send me a message if you'd like to snag one for yourself.

I would so enjoy meeting you.

Can't get to see me in person?

Check out my YouTube channel for workouts, exercise tutorials and Pilates inspiration.

Schedule an Internet Lesson and have a full-on private lesson with me wherever you are in the world.

All Hail the Russian Splits

The Russian Splits in our order of the Reformer exercises is potentially the very last exercise of your Advanced Reformer workout.

Now we'll work into the full split for which our Front Split exercise has deftly prepared us.

Like our Side Splits and Front Splits, the Russian Split is 3-exercises-in-1.

For security in this exercise, place a pad on the headpiece of the Reformer and also, if necessary, on the footbar for your back foot.

  • Facing the back of the Reformer, stand on the carriage with both hands on the shoulder blocks.
  • Place your back leg into position on the footbar first.
  • Support yourself with your hands on the shoulder blocks and step your front foot into position halfway onto the headpiece.
  • Keep the back leg straight. Bend your front leg into a deep lunge position.
  • Holding onto the shoulder blocks, extend your front leg forward 3x. Be careful not to lock out your knees.
  • Now repeat the same thing but with no hands: arms cross in front or place hands behind the head.
  • Bring your hands back to the shoulder blocks, straighten both legs and close the carriage.
  • Now for that split: without locking the knees, power the exercise with the back leg and center, reaching the carriage out for a full split 3x.
  • Despite the seductive split, work to close the springs with control. Find your Elephant for efficient carriage-closing goodness!
  • To exit the exercise, bring the front foot onto the carriage first and then bring the back leg down.
  • Repeat on the other side.

What could go wrong?

For years I struggled to keep my back leg even remotely straight.

Tight hips and a sluggish butt make this split exercise a challenge. The next day you may wonder “Why does my butt hurt so much? What have I done? Oh yes… the Russian Split…”

Giving your heel a firm placement on the footbar will assist you as you reach through the back leg.

I like to imagine I am working my back leg (although it remains stationary) in tandem with the movement of the front leg.

I smell 2-way stretch!

Work to find your center to power the action of your front leg. Pull your leg into center more than pushing out the carriage.

Finding your seat will help to marginalize the thighs and hips which may try to take over…

Balancing in this deep squat position can be a challenge. Work this exercise well with your hands on the shoulder blocks before you take your hands away.

30 Day Wunda Chair Challenge: UPDATE!

Today is Day 6 for me.

Even with only a few days into the challenge I feel a new strength in my standing positions. And I mean in life – standing at work all day long and feeling my center instead of in my hips and legs.

Hmmm…

Day 1 got my hopes up for the Star. I felt very strong and successful in the exercise.

Alas, on Day 2, my Star skills were nowhere to be found. Oh well, 28 more days to go.

To soothe my ego after the Star debacle, I added the Twist for myself as a yummy stretch and a feel-good ending.

Find more information on the Twist here.

Lest we forget our trusty companion the Small Barrel…

For the record, I continue to work my Small Barrel exercises before hopping onto the Wunda.

We need our skills of Frog and Scissors wherever we go in the Pilates studio.

On the Wunda Chair we have a wham-bam series of 3 exercises at the end: Going Up Front, Mountain Climb and Star. The Small Barrel skills remind us the center is king!

I am amazed at the ease one can find in the strength of the center. We must resist! the tendency to make the Mountain Climb a max-out-your-legs exercise.

Thanks to the Small Barrel – and of course Karen Frischmann – I was surprised and delighted to have greater stamina, balance and control despite being perched high on top of Mt. Wunda.

Although some #pilatesproblemsolving will be necessary for the Star… stay tuned!

Enjoy this short tutorial.

Stay tuned for more tutorials on the Wunda Chair exercises. Leave your requests in a comment below.

And here's where to find me in 2017!

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

For Andrea

A big thank you to Studio Flo Pilates for hosting me this past weekend.

It was a pleasure to be in your studio and get to know your teachers. I love connecting with fellow Pilates nerds! Thanks for stimulating such a wonderful conversation on the order of the Reformer exercises. I look forward to future collaborations with your bustling studio!

It was a fun 2 months of focus on the Reformer. Thanks also to Studio S Pilates for hosting my Transitions workshop in the month of March. You guys are always a good time 🙂

If you're like me, maybe you too can't get enough of the Reformer?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the studio…

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

Our beloved Pilates method: so many exercises, so little time…in our workout hour.

Many of you participated in my recent Small Barrel Project.

I was thrilled to learn you found the Barrel exercises to be as helpful jaw-droppingly informative as I did. The Spine Corrector packs quite the Pilates connection wallop.

Reformer? Check.

Small Barrel and Spine Corrector? Check, check.

Wunda Chair?

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

Anyone??

I find myself so wrapped up in my Reformer and Mat workouts, that the Wunda Chair in my studio literally gets dusty.

Oh dear.

The Mat exercises function as a barometer for “How's it going?” – are all our exercises on the Reformer and around the studio truly making our skills better and therefore our Mat exercises better?

Given this POV I propose the Wunda Chair exercises challenge our skill building in the same way. Now the playing field is tiny, mostly above ground level and fierce!

The exercises done on the Wunda Chair are sometimes familiar: Swan, Teaser, Horseback, Spine Stretch, Star. However our Mat surface here on the Chair is minimal.

No lying down and not much room to sit or kneel.

Our Wunda Chair exercises put a different spin on our fundamentals:

  • The Roll Up on the Mat and the Elephant on the Reformer become the Push Down.
  • The Knee Stretch Series on the Reformer morphs into the Mountain Climb.
  • The Wunda Chair closes up the parameters for our Spine Stretch.
  • The Frog shows up everywhere: Arm Frog, Frog Facing Away and Frog Facing Chair.
  • Swan Dive is similar minus the support for our prone body position.

With our beloved Pilates method we're always in familiar territory and yet NOT.

I plan to implement a Dust Off Your Wunda Chair Challenge for myself.

30 days.

13 Exercises:

  1. Footwork
  2. Pull Up
  3. Push Down
  4. Spine Stretch
  5. Teaser Stretch
  6. Swan/One-arm/Dive
  7. Teaser on the Chair (video tutorial at the bottom of  this post!)
  8. Mermaid Seated
  9. Flying Eagle
  10. SemiCircle
  11. Going Up Front
  12. Mountain Climb
  13. Star

Wanna play along?

Let me know in a comment below if there are exercises in my 13 that are unfamiliar to you.

I'll film a video of this full Wunda 13 Workout and also highlight unfamiliar exercises in a tutorial of their own.

Let me know what you'd like to see next!

A few of the exercises are daunting, and please know I feel the same way.

And if you've got a favorite to stick in there, feel free. There are sooooo many good ones.

13 exercises?!

Yes. My list began with 10 only to grow to 13 as I couldn't part with a few faves.

Teaser on the Chair

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

Today's exercise will start us off with a bang. I find it particularly hair-raising, but with further exploration and connection I am gaining more control.

Sweet, sweet control.

In the video at the end of this post you'll find tips to refine your Teaser on the Chair:

  • Teaser on the Floor is a strengthener of our Round shape and of our Teasers all around the studio.
  • Teaser 1: legs remain in the air
  • Optional pumping the pedal: remember our priority of closing the pedal with control.
  • Teaser 2: legs lower and extend the hip.
  • Teaser 3: Everything down, everything up. Jay Grimes described this version to me as “just like rock-a-bye baby…” as I was sweating buckets of course.

Enjoy this short tutorial. 

Share your successes in a comment below.

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