The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 2

The Pilates System: Rowing on the Reformer, Part 2

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

If you missed last week's post – the first installation of this series – you can view it here.

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

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

Rowing 3: From the Chest

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 2

I find this Rowing exercise – From the Chest – to be a choice nugget of Pilates goodness.

It's just so perfect.

The support you receive from the straps helps to lift your tall back up and forward. And next there's a brilliant moment where the support of the straps goes away and yet you must maintain your lift!

Twice. Twice this moment happens!

Our first moments of (albeit supported) Reach!

Let's unpack it:

  • Sit tall.
  • Reach arms straight out to eye level. Imagine the lower back lifts and follows the trajectory of your fingertips.
  • Keep the lift and reach into the handles toward the carriage, forward and down.
  • Lift the lower back and reach forward continuing arms all the way up overhead.
  • Pause.
  • Lift your chest and gaze. Lift your whole-self. This is the raison d'être of this exercise!
  • Keep the lift of the back and reach fingertips side to side in your periphery with control.
  • Repeat 3x.

Rowing 4: From the Hip

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 2

Rowing 3+4 just may be my favorites of the Rowing Series. Keep a long lifted body as you reach first toward your heels and then forward and all the way up to the same finish as Rowing 3.

Challenge yourself further by holding the carriage still on your journey to the upright position.

Enjoy!

  • Sit tall with hands on the mat beside you.
  • Lift and round over the lower body as you reach your fingertips along the mat and forward.
  • Reach below your heels if possible.
  • And now for a wonderful moment of foreshadowing. Use your reach a là Swan on the Barrel and bring the entire torso upright with arms overhead.
  • Pause. Keep the lift and S-L-O-W-L-Y reach fingertips side-to-side in your periphery. Don't rush this moment!
  • Repeat 3x.

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

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

How to LOVE the Pilates Exercises you HATE

How to LOVE the Pilates Exercises you HATE

What you don't like,

                 you do twice!

  • Romana Kryzanowska quoting Joe Pilates

Tackling the exercises we hate to do can be a tough challenge.

Thanks Lesley Logan, for suggesting this topic. Grrr…

How to LOVE the Pilates Exercises you HATE

My Los Angeles colleague Lesley and I are currently collaborating on a YouTube series. Lesley is the owner of Profitable Pilates.

So far we've covered topics ranging from how to care for yourself during your busy workday, to a tutorial on everyone's favorite exercise (?) the Hundred.

Check out Lesley's videos on her channel.

Here's the latest collab on my channel – you guessed it! – all about how to love the exercises you currently HATE.

Oh for sure, there's lots of reasons to be a hater:

  • The Hundred
  • The Teaser
  • Mountain Climb on the Wunda Chair (Ew…)

Just to name a few of our usual suspects…

What's to be done?

I've included a handful of strategies which I've found to be helpful on our Pilates path.

If you've got sure-fire methods of your own to tackle our particularly horrible little exercises, I hope you'll leave me a comment below and share with us here.

You won't be surprised by my first suggestion I'm sure.

1. Do all of your OTHER exercises. 

How to LOVE the Pilates Exercises you HATE

Every exercise currently in your workout will make even the most HATED exercises much much better. When one exercise gets better they all get better.

How nice.

Keep consistent with your own workouts, and take weekly lessons. First of all make sure you have fun doing the exercises you enjoy!

2. My self-imposed 30-Day challenges

How to LOVE the Pilates Exercises you HATE

Finding new and creative ways to visit forgotten exercises/apparatus has been amazingly beneficial to my workout and my teaching.

Here on the blog you may remember my 30-Day challenges. The first one was my Small Barrel Project in which I imposed a posture intervention on myself.

The Small Barrel exercises were never amongst my HATED exercises, but clearly I had underestimated their power and place in the method for years…

A Wunda Chair Challenge was my next 30-Day task… sadly even I failed to complete this challenge. Soon I must give it another go…

I did find a few exercises to HATE on the Wunda Chair.

Giving yourself a time frame for consistency as well as a finite number of exercises can reward you tenfold.

Spending quality time on unfamiliar exercises – or exercises you never do – can transform your body and your experience of the exercises. You'll view them through new eyes and understand them even more deeply in your body.

3. The Power of the Private Lesson

How to LOVE the Pilates Exercises you HATE

I dearly love my weekly lessons with Karen Frischmann. However I'm such a creature of habit I love to work on the Reformer in every lesson. I LOVE the Reformer, it's no secret.

I love the Mat too and sometimes we'll do the Mat in my lessons.

But surely I should visit some of the apparatus which are not my go-to or my favorite.

So lately I've changed it up a bit. I have been working on the Cadillac exercises.

#gasp

And the High Chair.

And I've found some new ways to be a hater!

Here's my list of 5 exercises now on top of the HATE list:

  • One Arm Swan on the Wunda Chair
  • Leg Springs in the Air on the Cadillac
  • Side Sit Ups anywhere in the studio
  • Standing One Leg Springs on the Cadillac
  • Seated Mermaid on the Cadillac

Hmmm… I see a little theme here… one-sided exercises and back extension exercises reign supreme atop my HATE list at the moment.

And that's the beautiful thing: Once-hated exercises become our most beloved.

These things take time.

4. Thank You for Being a Friend

How to LOVE the Pilates Exercises you HATE

Years before I took my first Pilates class I longed for a workout buddy to stay accountable. Sadly, working out was not a big priority amongst my friends at the time.

No takers. Frownie Face…

Now it's easy to find friends all over the world who speak the same language.

#ThePilatesMethod

Grab a Pilates friend and get on the Reformer! Your colleagues surely won't HATE the same exercises you do so you won't be able to skip them.

Brilliant!

If you must do an exercise that everyone HATES I hear misery loves company…

Get your HATE on!

How do you work on the exercises you HATE?

Share with us in a comment below. Thanks for reading!

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.

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Hello dear readers! Gosh it's been a looooooong time.

If you're a new subscriber, Welcome! Thanks for exploring my archive of posts and signing on for the long haul. I hope to share even more of my experience of the Pilates Method in my own body as we finish out the year.

It's been a wild ride lately.

A big thank you to those who expressed concern at the lack of new posts in their inbox each week. Your sweet messages warmed my heart.

As for my disappearance, the short answer is I have been traveling and guest teaching since September.

How the Bicycle On the Small Barrel Fixed my Back

Cake-filled Vienna was lovely. Thanks to Andrea Seipel at Pilates Modling for a fantastic event!

I landed after at my usual haunt, Everybody Pilates in Portsmouth UK with the lovely Amy Kellow (where evidently I was all workity-workity and took no photos…boo…).

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Seoul fused the ultra-modern with beautiful tradition. Thanks so so much to Nan Young  and your lovely teachers at The Control.

Oh and so delicious as well… too many food photos to show here but indulge me a bit…

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

And if Los Angeles and the French Riviera had a baby it would be Busan.

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Where of course there was more food (and Pilates at Studio Define – Thank you Kyung Hye!).

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

The longer, more-involved and truthful answer for my absence is twofold:

  1. I indulged in a very satisfying closet/wardrobe renovation. Organizing and nesting pleases me greatly and I did nerd out HARD in this process.
  2. I discovered a little Pilates mystery going on in my body that I wasn't quite able to figure out. Honestly it was making me lose a bit of my Pilates mojo. I was cranky and Pilates wasn't helping.

#wtf?

Oh Small Barrel, are you my only friend?

Let's Recap

Lately I've been sharing my personal workout with you. I'm sure you all remember my Small Barrel Project – woo hoo – I had a big successful run on this 30-day challenge.

I couldn't get enough of it – I was invincible!!

Yeah! Bring on another one – how about a 30-day Wunda Chair Challenge!

Sadly, on the Chair I didn't fair as well. No matter how many times I mounted my Wunda I couldn't make the exercises feel as delicious as on the Small Barrel.

And as I like to say when confronted by a new Pilates mystery in my body:

Hmmmm…

Where's the juicy-feel-good-post-workout feeling I crave?

How/Why have I become so stiff? What gives?

Small Barrel 2.0

How the Bicycle On the Small Barrel Fixed my Back

Yes.

I must return to the scene of the crime to make my body feel like a real person again.

2-3x per day I practiced all of my Small Barrel exercises hoping for a miracle.

If you've been reading for a while you know I am very reluctant to blame the Pilates exercises for any discrepancies in how my body feels.

#dontblametheexercise

It's not you, it's me.

Perhaps the Small Barrel had more to teach me.

The plan:

I began each workout with my #usualsuspects: Foot Corrector and Small Barrel. After a couple days I added just a bit of meat and potatoes exercises on either the Reformer or the Mat.

As much as it pains me not to do every exercise I do on the Reformer (cause if you skip them they don't get better) I must revisit the basics for a new(ish) reason:

I am cultivating a new skill and I want to visit it in as many straightforward uncomplicated exercises as I can – because they'll be easier to wrangle than all the snakes and backbends right now.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Please imagine me talking sternly to myself about this.

At first my Reformer workout looked like this:

  • Footwork
  • 100
  • Frogs and circles
  • Overhead (because I just can't stop myself)
  • Coordination
  • Stomach Massage Series
  • Short Box Series
  • Elephant 
  • Knee Stretch Series
  • Running 
  • Pelvic Lift

At first.

After about a month I added in Long Box 1: Pull Straps, T and the Backstroke.

Now a few months in I have added in nearly all my Reformer exercises – nothing super duper yet- no Backbends, no Headstands – but everything else is coming along nicely.

I may even figure out how to keep length in my back during extension exercises – holy cow that would be awesome!

Baby steps.

Repetitio est Mater Studiorum

Using the gift – GIFT I tell you! – of repetition I diligently work through my Small Barrel exercises. Slowly the more straightforward ones – Circles, Walks and Beats – help me to find length in my back.

Long the Back! Right? OMG what's that amazing sensation of ease in my hips and legs?? Excellent…

Each day doing my exercises hones my Long the Back! skills into the Scissors and – eventually and miraculously – into the Bicycle.

It's truly an amazing progression in this Small Barrel series. Each exercise building on the next, each subsequent exercise just that much more complex to challenge my new skill. Or at this point should I say “skill?”

Armed with my willpower and my Pilates Mantra I forge ahead!

I work to make each subsequent exercise feel exactly like the easier ones which precede it. 

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

And one day it comes to pass that I have an epiphany in the Bicycle

A word about the Bicycle

The Bicycle – done anywhere in the studio really – falls into the category of exercises I find to be problematic. Lots of flashy leg moves right in front of your eyes which distract you from your main goal of length in the back and connection in the center.

Choreography be damned! Who cares if I know what a Bicycle is supposed to look like? ONLY. CARE. ABOUT. THE. CENTER.

My discovery is, on the surface, so lackluster. However, this move is a crucial component of nearly every exercise.

With the Bicycle I learned I could bring my leg closer to my body by opening up my back. Not by overusing my hip and leg, but by a forlorn and neglected region of my powerhouse.

And you know what that means?

Bicycle on the Small Barrel and How it Fixed my Back

Back to the Elephant.

AGAIN.

Time for some sad trombone

Cast your impatience aside for it does not serve you…

I now have a tiny window into just how much repetition it takes to create change.

A f*ck ton.

Every. Day.

The Elephant is our very first quintessential Pilates exercise meant to open the back of the body with every close of the carriage. So simple right?

Uhm, clearly chock full of Pilates goodness this one…

Have a basic exercise you return to time after time?

Share your Pilates strategy in a comment below.

And thanks for reading!

Stay tuned here for my workshop schedule for 2018…