The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Hello there my lovelies!

Thanks for joining me for yet another post in my Teaser series.

Today we've got perhaps the Method's finest: Teaser on the Cadillac avec Push Thru Bar (PTB).

It's 2 Exercises in 1!

The Teaser on the Cadillac is brilliantly 2 exercises in 1.

Part 1: Upper Body Reach

From the lift in the waist all the way up to your fingertips, the upper body must learn to connect into the deeper back muscles.

What luck!

We've got a brilliant way to work on just that.

(Many, in fact.)

Begin lying down, arms overhead with hands firmly gripping the PTB. Note you also have the luxury of the mat behind you for feedback and support.

With hands on the apparatus – PTB – push into the bar as it starts to move toward you. In this way we can connect our fingertips into the deeper back muscles.

With our backs against the mat we can tangibly feel what's going on (or not going on) behind us.

Never let the spring push you around! This must be your Pilates mantra.

Part 1 is lovely for lots of folks whether they'll continue to the full-on Teaser or not.

To recap:

  • Set up your position under the PTB.
  • Pull in your stomach, exhale and drop your ribs: get as much of your back on the mat as you can.
  • With a firm grip on the bar resist! as it moves toward you bending your arms.
  • Do not let the spring push you.
  • Sustain this connection as the bar changes direction to move upward.
  • You should not lose control of the bar – it should not accelerate!

Part 2: Teaser options

Using the helpful lift of the PTB you've got several options for your Teaser, depending on who you are.

You can work just the upper body.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Or you can explore your full-on Teaser here.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

You can lift the lower body with the legs straight a la Teaser 3.

If necessary you can begin in the Frog and reach out to your angle as you roll up.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Okay you've made it up to your Teaser, so now what?

You've got a few options here as well. Traditionally you'll complete your Teaser 3x.

You've even got an optional “dismount.”

One Potential Sequence for Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Begin with Part 1 to arrive at your Teaser.
  • Roll up to your Teaser.
  • Lift your back and bend your arms 3x a la Shave on the Reformer. Your back should not sink when your arms bend.
  • Roll down.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Roll up to your Teaser a second time. Keep the arms straight and the back lifted.
  • Lower and lift your legs 3x a la Teaser 2.
  • Roll down.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Return to your Teaser for a 3rd and final time. Here you've got some options:
  • Alternate – arms bend 1x, legs lower 1x. Repeat 3x.
  • Roll down.

OR

  • All together now! Bend arms and lower legs together and then lift everything up.
  • Repeat 3x.

What was that about a dismount??

Let's put it all to the test. You've completed 3 Teasers and you're ready to move on.

  • Use the lift of your back to reach up and return the PTB without a sound.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Both arms reach to up to the sky and the toward the toes to finish on your own – unassisted – in your beautiful Teaser.

Voila!

Check out this short video tutorial for more info and tips for a perfect Boomerang ending.

Thanks for watching!

Related posts:

And here's where to find me in 2017.

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

Joe Pilates had a keen eye.

Joe looked at the skeleton and noticed the specific way our feet hang on the skeleton.2-Way Stretch and the Anatomy of Pilates

In the natural position of the bones the feet have a slight splay to them.

For this reason we use the heels together-toes apart position in our beloved Pilates method.

You may have learned this position as Pilates Stance.

Jay Grimes maintains there is no such thing as Pilates Stance. It is a made-up word. Joe didn’t make it up or use it. Joe simply looked at the way the bones hang on the skeleton.

To V

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

I love the connection and organization of the lower body I get from using the heels together-toes apart position. It's great when standing and even better when I have my lower body reaching into the air.

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

For me – I've got a slight bow to my legs – I find it to be ideal.

However, the V is not the only option we've got for our Pilates exercises.

Parallel feet hip-width apart proliferates in the method as well: Neck Pull, Short Box, Long Back Stretch, Up Stretch, Elephant.

Joe Pilates wants us to have it all.

Or Not to V

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

Certainly there are individuals for whom the V position of the feet is not appropriate.

  • Structurally those with knock knees often need a parallel-feet-apart position to have room for their knees to not overlap.
  • An individual with a knee issue may need to omit the V position – among other things – for a while.
  • The ballet dancer who lives life in turnout could find a nice challenge in a parallel position.
  • Those with a weaker side – also me – benefit from using a parallel position so each side must work individually and cannot rely on the other.

But what about those who could kinda do either position?

In our Pilates method there are no hard-and-fast rules. In fact, if you learned certain rules in your training, what would happen if you considered them to be simply guidelines?

Maybe the V position looks okay, but upon closer inspection it doesn't seem to be… quite… right.

What's to be done?

Let connection be your guide.

Every lesson we teach – just like our own lesson – is a work in progress.

Diligently we work on connecting our various parts into center. We work to exert greater control over our muscles, our movements and our daily life.

There's no reason we can't weigh a few options for our foot position while we're at it.

We're learning too.

Our feet are far away from our center and cultivating the muscles of the back and seat with our foot placement is a noble quest worth exploring.

Let's look at a bit of Footwork on the Reformer as an example:

As you perfect your 1st Footwork exercise – Toes – and also the 4th Footwork exercise – Tendon Stretch – ask yourself some questions based upon what you're seeing in front of you:

(Eyes open, mouth shut preferred.)

  • Do the knees look crowded or overlapped?
  • Does it look like one side might be working more than the other?
  • Do one or both knees want to lock?
  • What does the hip look like compared to where the knees and feet are?
  • How's the alignment of hip, knee and ankle?

If you answered ‘yes' or ‘not great' to the above questions it might warrant a trip to the Parallel Universe…

Wait.

What's all that about connection?

In our Pilates workout we're always looking for more action in our center.

All our Pilates exercises for the feet are magical and wonderful for the health, flexibility and well-being of our feet. Agreed.

But wait, there's more.

Imagine if you will, our 4th Footwork exercise again – the Tendon Stretch:

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

Using the strength of the center – stomach lifting and bottom working – we'll stay light on our feet.

The whole body works to lift up in the front and lengthen downward in the back culminating in the heels reaching under the bar.

Often students will want to drop their weight when the heels drop and the ankle must overwork to hoist them back up to the toes. Boo… unhappy ankles…

Constant controlled motion is required as you reach lower with the heels and rise up again.

Hey! This maneuver done standing up is also a great way to end a Mat class:

  • Can you rise up to your heels with the strength of your center and not just by leaning forward?
  • Can you lower your heels without getting any shorter?
  • Never underestimate the Pilates exercises done lying down… you will eventually be asked to do them standing up!

Embrace the Grey

Part of the excitement and the teeth-gnashing of our beloved Pilates Method is there is no one rule to apply to every body you'll meet.

On one hand, Yay! There are not really wrong answers only better and more informed choices to be made.

Conversely, our powers of observation require constant cultivation.

  • We must truly show up and respond to the unique individual in front of us.
  • Maybe watch your student for a while saying nothing and plan your strategy.
  • Assign value to your own opinions about what you see as well as those of your mentors and from your training.

See what you think.

Questions?

Comment and join the conversation, we're a lively bunch!

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

You know me – I am a big fan of my Pilates workout. I never want to skip any of my exercises – if you skip them they don't get better right?

I love all the fun advanced tricky moves – they jazz me up!

However, my understanding and my Pilates practice have matured.

So let's take a little Pilates Field Trip back to where it all began.

The Basic System!

Great power resides in the fundamental exercises you've been doing for years decades. 

I've documented my progress in my Another One Bites the Dust series here and here.

The Another One Bites the Dust series takes a look at a few exercises I hated at first and I now adore. It includes some basics and a couple doozies. Despite our newfound love affair, Snake/Twist and the BreastStroke are NOT basic exercises.

Why bother with the Basics?

A client/colleague of mine suggests the basic exercises are actually the hardest to do well and that's why we learn them first. These things take time…

Kinda true.

Who really feels they excel at the Hundred?

Does anyone have a perfect Elephant?

The Pilates method is skill-based. Like any sport or movement discipline we learn fundamental skills to serve us throughout our Pilates career. Akin to a martial art, Pilates sets us on a path to mastery.

Oh and CONTROL (that old thing?).

Complete control of our body and mind.

Our modus operandi in all things Pilates. Who's in charge here anyway? You or the exercise?

Here's a little test: examine the exercises you find to be extremely difficult.

What fundamental exercises lie within? And how good are you at them? 

More questions to ask yourself:

In Snake/Twist on the Reformer, do you struggle to return the carriage with control?

More. Elephant.

Are you unable to lift your hips off the mat for Corkscrew, JackKnife and Overhead?

More. Roll Like a Ball.

Are you wobbly when you do the Mountain Climb on the Wunda Chair?

More. Kneeling Knee Stretches. More. 2×4 exercises.

Get Cozy with 3 Basics

In today's post we'll revisit 3 basic exercises on 3 different apparatus.

As we explore each of these basics keep in mind a few questions:

  • How does this exercise serve the body I am now?
  • What have I figured out? What is still a mystery?
  • How does perfecting one basic skill translate across the greater Pilates System?

If you enjoy this post and would like to see other basics featured in future posts, just leave me a comment below. I thank you already…

1. Pelvic Lift on the Reformer

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

We learn Pelvic Lift on the Reformer in our very first lesson.

But what's really going on here?

Pelvic Lift brings our workout full circle. It echoes our Footwork series at the top of our Reformer workout with the added element of holding your hips up off the mat. At a certain point I learned (and perhaps you did too) to place my hands underneath my tailbone as a guide to keep the pelvis level.

Okay my pelvis is level but what am I doing?

First let's examine the order of the universe.

Pelvic Lift is our last exercise done lying down before our Control Push Up series and our Splits. Here we strive to have one more moment of length in the low back and low body before getting up onto the Reformer never to lie down again until we finish.

More complex versions of the Pelvic Lift – and where we'll need this skill – include Short Spine Massage, Long Spine Massage and Shoulder Bridge on the Mat. I could name a few more, but you see how this goes, we only have one exercise…blah-ty-blah-ty-blah-ty…

#lengthintheback

Think about the length we cultivate in the Short Spine Massage:

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

The tailbone reaches long and away from our ribs as we make our way slowly – deliciously – to the carriage.

The Pelvic Lift is a tiny version of this same stretch.

Pelvic Lift has our rib cage/middle back anchored to the carriage as our belly scoops in and our tailbone reaches long and away toward the footbar.

Finding my Pelvic Lift skill was so satisfying. It's one I'd been doing for years of course, but yet it remained shrouded in mystery for a while.

2. Pull Up on the Wunda Chair

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

The Pull Up is one of our basic exercises on the Wunda Chair. Every exercise on the Wunda is a challenge even the first ones we learn.

The Pull Up is pure powerhouse.

Find your lift deep in your center or the pedal is reluctant to move. Sure you can cheat and shift your weight off the pedal and onto your arms, but you'll only regret it later.

Where might your Pull Up skills come in handy?

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

Yes the Kneeling Knee Stretch series is a basic exercise but perhaps the most complex and formidable of our fundamentals.

The Pull Up skill will help to address the shape of the back in the Knees Off which often suffers.

How about more advanced exercises served by the Pull Up?

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

Tendon Stretch anyone?

Although a strong Elephant is also essential for success in the Tendon Stretch, your Pull Up skill will create the lift and rhythm for this exercise. Oh and that gorgeous back shape!

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

When you first learn Snake/Twist on the Reformer, you may only learn the very first bit:

Getting up into the starting position with control and the carriage in.

Not easy.

This is a pure Pull Up/Powerhouse move. With a bit of Elephant thrown in for style!

And now our Pull Up is not straightforward – arms on different levels, one one leg, etc…

Oh dear…

3. One Leg Circle on the Mat

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

Oh gosh, I've hated the One Leg Circle on the Mat for years…

In my first ever beginning mat class years ago I was just so thankful to have survived the Roll Up. The One Leg Circle was my exercise to rest up before Roll Like a Ball.

I've noticed a common theme with me and the Mat exercises. Ones in which my first thought was “What's so hard about this exercise?” have become my MOST challenging exercises to do properly. One Leg Circle, Single Leg Kick, Leg Pull – ooh I see a little theme here – I must beware the one-sided exercises!

If only I'd known…

One Leg Circle is the first exercise we learn that is one side at a time. And it's a nice one. We get to lie down. In the studio you may get a strap on your foot and some handles.

But what's really going on here?

The One Leg Circle is a shining example of choreographic distraction. Our circling leg is so flashy and right in front of us it's hard to focus on anything else right?

But you must focus on EVERYTHING else.

Pilates Mantra: The part of your body that is just lying/sitting there doing nothing should actually be doing all the work.

The One Leg Circle is about stability. One leg is “resting” on the mat? Imagine you are standing on that leg.

Yes. treat the One Leg Circle like you are standing on one leg with the other one reaching out in front of you. Wowza – how hard would that be? Stay tuned, if you're disciplined and consistent, it's bound to happen and soon.

Let's see where else we'll find our One Leg Circle skill:

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

Not too long after learning your One Leg Circle you'll be introduced to its unstable cousin, the Side Kick Series. Another exercise I loathed for years…which I dearly love now. Unbelievable.

Now lying on your side, your support is minimal but your body must be controlled and strong as you move your leg not only in front of you but eventually LOTS of places.

In our Reformer workout, our beloved Tree will turn into not only the One Leg Circle (with a box underneath) but also our first taste of the High Bridge.

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

Now you'll need your stomach and your stability of that standing leg!

Later in our Pilates career we'll confront our One Leg Circle in the Star with minimal support and a reaching leg that also eventually behaves very fancily…

A Pilates Field Trip: Revisiting the Basics

Note my “deer in the headlights” expression no less. Clearly I'm surprised to find myself in this position…

Thanks Joe Pilates! You never leave us unprepared.

Want to see your favorite Basic featured in this series? 

Let's have a look! Leave me a comment below.

 

 And here's where to find me in 2017.

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!