The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 1

Thanks again to the lovely Lesley Logan for collaborating with me on this YouTube video series.

Over the course of 3 posts we'll take a closer look at the 6 exercises which make up the Rowing Series on the Reformer:

The 6 Rowing Series exercises as they appear in the order of the Pilates Reformer exercises:

  • Rowing 1: Into the Sternum
  • Rowing 2: 90° 
  • Rowing 3: From the Chest
  • Rowing 4: From the Hip
  • Rowing 5: Shave
  • Rowing 6: Hug

Generally we learn our Rowing exercises in the reverse order, sometimes in pairs. You might learn only Rowing 5+6 at first.

Or maybe you'll learn Rowing 3-6 and do them for a while before adding Rowing 1+2.

Looking at the demands and complexities of the Rowing exercises, Rowing 5+6 – while not a walk in the park – are the most straightforward of the 6 exercises: the back shape remains the same throughout the entire exercise and you have only one movement pattern to learn.

In Rowing 3+4 there are multiple moves per repetition and Rowing 4 includes both a Round back and a Tall back.

Rowing 1+2 have more complex choreography, more than one back shape and more coordination is required to close the carriage with control.

So for this week's video collab we'll look at the last 2 exercises in our Rowing Series.

Rowing 5: Shave

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 1

The Shave is perhaps my least favorite of the Rowing exercises. Keeping a long and lifted back shape is a challenge for those of us with tight upper backs and shoulders. Here's a few tips to help us love our Shave exercises:

Get a jump on it in the Transition!

  • Keep arms long and flip your handles.
  • Reach arms down and forward with the palms up. As the arms get overhead turn palms to face downward and bring the thumbs together and the forefingers together.
  • Bring arms straight overhead and bend into the starting position.

Now for the exercise!

  • Place hands at the base of the skull if possible with the palms facing back of head.
  • Find your scoop and your seat and reach arms straight upward on a slight diagonal.
  • Bring fingertips together. Press them firmly against each other.
  • Resist the spring as the hands return to the starting position, elbows reach out to the side.
  • Repeat.

Bonne chance!

Rowing 6: Hug

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 1

Recently the Hug has become one of the most challenging exercises. It's not easy being tall and lifted! Again you'll get a jump on your Tall back with an efficient transition.

  • In the midst of your last repetition – with arms overhead – open arms into the Hug position keeping your back tall.
  • Pull your stomach in to move the carriage.
  • Sit up super tall and S-L-O-W-L-Y reach the arms open.
  • The handles should be vertical. Notice if your pinky finger doesn't want to touch the handle. Insist that it does!
  • Repeat.

Enjoy this short tutorial collaboration.

Thanks for watching!

Wanna see more video collabs like this one?

Suggest your favorite exercises in a comment below!

And here's where to find me in 2018

Back to the Basics: Everything Old is New Again

Back to Basics: Everything Old is New Again

Hi there!

I recently wrote a post on the importance of revisiting our basic exercises.

As an advanced Pilates practitioner, skills earned over time shine brightly in our most fundamental and straightforward exercises. Any difficulty with our beginning exercises will show up later in our favorite Pilates circus tricks.

Am I right?

Elephant, anyone?

The body – it is a-changin'

We are currently in the midst of a Pilates renaissance.

Curiosity abounds as the traditional exercises we get from Joe Pilates beckon to countless instructors of varied training backgrounds. Apparatus designed to support the original system gains new fans every day.

In the past I would hear questions like:

  • “Don't you get tired teaching the same exercises all day long?”
  • “Having an order you use for everyone sounds like lazy teaching.”

Or something to this effect…

My understanding of the system at the time was that fundamental exercises, once mastered, would open up more exercises and variations for the devoted client.

Also each day our bodies are different – how will we do today? Our group of exercises will tell us the story: where we excel and where we fall short.

But wait – there's MORE

I'm sure you are familiar with one of Joe Pilates most famous marketing slogans:

In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you'll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you'll have a whole new body…

What about that ellipses?

Less familiar is the end of this sentence: or your money back.

The results mentioned in this quote are predicated on Pilates done 3 times a week with Joe Pilates – a man we all understand to be sufficiently confident (and then some!) in his life's work to make such a claim.

A whole new body might take a bit more time if you're attending 1 weekly Mat class.

Or in my case, the new body showed up 5 years post The Work – just as Jay Grimes predicted…

That guy is always right.

New Skills, New Body, Same Old Exercises

Last week I spoke about ‘meat and potatoes' exercises done on the Reformer and Mat.

I was also thrilled to discover a post from Brooke Siler which included a shot of my Reformer Poster. Brooke is a celebrated Pilates teacher/practitioner and the author of the very first Pilates book I owned, The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening and Toning Your Body- Without Machines.

Oh it's a goody.

I saw this post immediately following my lesson with the lovely Karen Frischmann.

Having scaled my own workout back for the moment I looked at “the big picture” on my Reformer poster with new eyes.

I got excited to return to the more complex exercises – Headstands, Backbend, High Frog, Star – with my new skills – with my new body!

My thoughts on doing the same exercises over and over instantly had a new clarity of purpose:

  • The exercises don't change.
  • Over time the body changes…
  • The exercises become at once familiar, new, exciting and challenging.

Those same old exercises are going to be such a new experience – some will be even more awesome and others will be a wild ride.

YouTube Collaboration with Lesley Logan

Back to the Basics: Everything Old is New Again

Join me this week for my 2nd YouTube collaboration with my Los Angeles colleague Lesley Logan. Lesley is the owner of Profitable Pilates and she's a gem.

This week we will begin at the beginning with an exercise tutorial on the Hundred.

Back to the Basics: Everything Old is New Again

Check out my video. If you'd like to see us collaborate on other exercises, leave a comment below and we will add it to the list!

Check out Lesley's video on the Hundred here.

If you're a YouTuber with a Pilates channel and want to join our collaboration please email me at andrea@pilatesandrea.com and I will give you all the deets.

And here's where you can find me in 2018.

Teacher Classes, Blog Awards and the Swan – Oh My!

Teacher Classes, Blog Awards and the Swan - Oh My!
Hello there!

Let me express a HUGE thank you to all my lovely subscribers. Thank you for all your support, kind words and Pilates success stories over the past 5 years. It's an inspiration to have all of you with me on my Pilates path.

I'd like to thank my Reformer… and my Small Barrel…

The Top 75 Pilates Blogs by feedspot.com has included my blog amongst some of the big kahunas in the Pilates industry including Pilatesology (5), Balanced Body (3), Blogilates (2) and Pilates Anytime (1).

Wowza! I am truly honored.

Even more amazingly I cracked the top 10, settling in at NUMBER 9 on this list.

View the full list here.

OMG and welcome NEW subscribers!

Take a look around and stay tuned for more exercise tutorials, workouts and classes to come.

Be sure to check out my most-viewed post On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

If you've got a topic, concept or exercise you'd like to see featured in a post or video, leave me a comment, I'd love to hear about it.

NEW! Classes for Teachers

I'm offering a new class in my Solana Beach, CA studio.

It's a 2-hour workout/workshop I'm calling The Teacher Lab. In the 1st hour you'll workout independently in the studio. We'll decide on a discussion/workshop topic to explore in Hour 2. The cost for The Teacher Lab is $100.

I'm currently offering 1 each month for the remainder of 2017. If they fill up fast I'll add some more. You'll find a class on September 15, October 20, November 10 and December 8.

Classes are limited to 6 students. Non-Teacher Nerdy Enthusiasts are also welcome.

Pick a class and jump in it! Purchase your classes here.

New Tutorial!

Teacher Classes, Blog Awards and the Swan - Oh My!

Today's video is on one of our most angst-producing exercises, the Swan. That's the bad news. The good news is we're looking at 2 versions of Swan done on the Cadillac.

Swan on the Cadillac is a wonderful companion for the Teaser on the Cadillac. View my recent exercise tutorial below.

Tummy Time

The Mat behind us is our teacher too.

Learning to control the Push Thru Bar (PTB) for Teaser will require all the muscles of our trunk and back. The Mat provides feedback and support for our entire body while we perfect this skill.

Now let's get ready for the next challenge: repeating the very same task while lying on our bellies.

What fun!

Enjoy this short tutorial. Thank you for watching!

Access my YouTube library of workouts, exercise tutorials and the occasional Pilates shopping haul here. Thanks to you I have surpassed 1200 subscribers!

Save the Date San Diego!

My lovely colleague Lesley Logan, author and owner of Profitable Pilates will be heading to San Diego for her signature Pilatini® Night.

Save the date for Friday November 10, 2017.

We'll be gathering at Pacifica in Del Mar around 5pm in time for a bit of Happy Hour.

Pilatini® NIghts include Pilates instructors, laughter, networking and a chance to connect outside the Pilates studio. Lesley Logan's Pilatini® Nights are all about Pilates Instructors ditching their Pilates pants for their favorite outfit and hanging out with other Pilates professionals. Grab your Pilates instructor friends, shed the luon and join us for a date night for Pilates Pros only!

And here's where to find me for the rest of 2017

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.

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.

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