Body Shapes in the Pilates System: Basic to Advanced

Body Shapes in the Pilates System: Basic to Advanced

For Nan-Young

Recently on the blog we've examined the value of categorizing the exercises in the Pilates Method.

We took a look at the labels “basic”, “intermediate” and “advanced” and how they apply to the body in front of us.

The Shape of Things

In 2012 I completed The Work, the phenomenal program of study at Vintage Pilates‘ in Los Angeles.

Through my study at Vintage (and beyond!) we learn to look at the Pilates repertoire through the lens of Body Shapes.

In the Pilates method we have 5 archetypal shapes of the body (the back):

I find using the body shapes to be a wonderful teaching tool.

We can convey complex exercises to clients by reminding them of skills they've achieved in simpler exercises that share the same shape.

With this POV and the body in front of us, let's ask ourselves some questions based on the evidence of the exercises.

Here are our “basic” exercises:

Basic Reformer Exercises

  1. Footwork
  2. Hundred
  3. Frog/Leg Circles
  4. Stomach Massage Series
  5. Short Box Series
  6. Elephant
  7. Knee Stretches
  8. Running
  9. Pelvic Lift

Basic Mat Exercises

  1. Hundred
  2. Roll Up
  3. Single Leg Circles
  4. Roll Like a Ball
  5. Single Leg Pull
  6. Double Leg Pull
  7. Spine Stretch

1. What body shapes are most prevalent in the “basic” exercises?

I spy mostly the Round and Tall shapes, with a few moments of the Arched Back in our Stomach Massage Series and Knee Stretch Series.

The Short Box gives us one moment of Side Bend and we have a couple Twists in Stomach Massage Series and the Short Box.

2. Why is this?

Pilates begins in the very center of the body.

We'll concentrate on the scoop only for a while. Only when the center is strong can you build up other solid strong things on top of it.

We'll get to the fingertips but it's gonna take a while.

3. What does this say about the organization of the order of our Pilates method?

The order of the exercises is our teacher – make no mistake.

Moving through our “basic” Reformer exercises, our scoop in the Round and Tall positions will strengthen the center the most.

I think about the Round and Tall shapes as familiar, pedestrian movements. Yes, we must learn to find lift in our center, but these 2 shapes promote a deepening in the center.

We are required to pull in and up, but our body parts are not reaching away from center yet in these 2 basic shapes.

Later we begin to reach away from the center more deliberately with Arched, Side Bend and Twist positions.

Our Tall shape is also the foundation on which we'll build our Side Bend and Twist. If our Tall back is not strong and solid, it's only gonna fall apart when we try to Side Bend or Twist, both of which take us away from center.

The Order of the Universe

Joe Pilates trains our bodies over the full repertoire and also within each of his exercise series in the same manner.

Within each series we also find our theme of Round/Tall positions first – strengthening and solidifying the center – before adding Arched, Side Bend or Twist positions which reach away from the center.

Our series in the basics:

Footwork: only in the last of the 4 Footwork exercises, Tendon Stretch, do we reach away from the center. After we've built in the skill of Footwork over 30 repetitions.

Stomach Massage Series: Within this series we reach a bit more away from center as we move from Round to Hands Back, which takes us more upright in the upper body.

From Hands Back we move to the Reach, a position identical to the Teaser exercise.

Finally we'll move the farthest away from center when we add the Twist.

Short Box Series: The exercises in this series progress us systematically from Round to Tall, and later into Side Bend and Twist.

Eventually our Twist will progress to Around the World, perhaps the ultimate in reaching away from center with the upper body.

The Tree is our first exercise done one side at a time and reaching away from center, and over time it will take the position of our first High Bridge.

Knee Stretch Series: Our Round position must stay intact when we change to the lift of the Arched Back.

In these 2 first exercises our range is modest. Finally the Knees Off takes our solid scoop and reaches long and away from center and back again.

4. Why so much Round?

In our foundational exercises, we are quite scoop-heavy. The body is learning and building strength. Yes, there is a predominance of Round shapes and support from the apparatus in our Tall shape.

Read more info on these Round exercises and discover what they teach us about training the body.

But I want it all!

An example of how internal strength and the eventual reaching away from center work in tandem is found in one of the most iconic exercises in the Pilates method:

Body Shapes in the Pilates System: Basic to Advanced

The Teaser requires a deep scoop in the center making this a Round exercise.

However, as you become more and more proficient your strength of center will support the upright lift of the chest and upper back to challenge the position further.

Body Shapes in the Pilates System: Basic to Advanced

But this lift away from the deep center in the Teaser will not happen on day one.

This is the challenge.

Ideally you want both a lift up in the upper body and a deep scoop of the lower body, but the strength of center must take precedence and be cultivated first.

Out in the Field

See what you think in your next workout.

Notice when you find yourself in a Round position and see where you go from there. You'll begin to notice larger sequences of exercises that start out pretty tame and soon blossom into an extravaganza of Body Shapes.

Here's a sneak peak into one of my favorite sections on the Reformer. It's a long one but such a lovely progression of skills and shapes.

In the middle of the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises we have:

Thanks so much for reading. Have a great workout.

If you'd like to see this final list of exercises in a post of its own or in a video tutorial, leave a comment below and let me know!

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in Your First Lesson

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

The Pilates Method is systematic and cumulative.

The skills you'll learn in your very first lesson will lay the foundation toward greater and refined proficiency. Collectively, these skills will serve you well as you progress to the more difficult exercises.

Early on in your Pilates lessons you will learn Footwork and Elephant in your order of the Reformer exercises.

In your order of the Mat exercises you will learn Roll Like a Ball.

Footwork, Elephant and Roll Like a Ball are on our list of “basic” exercises.

Remember: depending on who you are, the Footwork, the Elephant and Roll Like a Ball may be not so “basic.” Tight folks may roll like a brick for a while…the carriage may bang on the Elephant or it may not close at all.

Even these fundamental exercises provide years of challenge for most of us.

But what are we learning in these 3 exercises?

1. Footwork

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

We could discuss the purpose of the Footwork for years. There's a lot going on in these first 4 Reformer exercises.

For our purposes the Footwork serves to warm up the lower body.

Using the lower body as a whole is a skill we'll repeat in every other exercise.

Let's follow our Footwork skill through a Reformer workout.

Think of the integrated lower body movement in the following exercises…

The Hundred

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Frog and Circles

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Overhead

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Coordination

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Swan

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Teaser

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Stomach Massage Series

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

and so SO many more… it's no wonder we start off with the Footwork!

The lower body is learning how to move as a unit.

What about exercises in which the lower body is not the moving part of the body?

Guess what? The lower body must work fiercely in these exercises as well.

Rowing

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Short Box Series

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Chest Expansion

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

The lower body is working as a solid unit to allow freedom of movement elsewhere.

And it all begins with Footwork.

2. Elephant

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

The skill of closing the carriage in the Elephant will repeat over and over again throughout our workout.

Pretty much every time you are facing the carriage and closing it with your whole body you are using the skill of the Elephant.

Let's follow our Elephant skill through a Reformer workout.

Here's a just a few examples of where your mad Elephant skills will come in handy…

Up Stretch

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Up Stretch Combo

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Tendon Stretch

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Headstand 1

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Snake/Twist

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Russian Splits

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

And the beat goes on…

La-di-da-di-DEE…

La-di-da-di-DAH…

3. Roll Like a Ball

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Roll Like a Ball is the first place you will learn to lift your bottom off the mat without assistance.

It's more than likely you'll learn it in your first lesson.

This is a crucial skill you must collect to perform the difficult “advanced” exercises.

Let's follow the skill of lifting your bottom through a Pilates Mat workout. 

Here's just a few times you'll need to lift your popo.

Roll Over

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Open Leg Rocker

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

High Scissors/Bicycle

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Crab

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Control Balance

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

And so many MANY more…

You got skills, Baby!

Footwork, Elephant and Roll Like a Ball represent just 3 skills you'll encounter throughout your Pilates workout.

See what you think in your next workout.

Of course you'll find other skills that repeat and increase in difficulty as you proceed through your exercises as well.

It wouldn't be Pilates if you didn't!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person? Join me this fall!

Upcoming Fall Workshops

Saturday November 27 Studio B Pilates+Barre, Tyler TX

You'll love this jam-packed day of Pilates Continuing Education: I'll be offering private lessons, a Mat class plus 2 workshops: A Cadillac Refresher – the Unsung Heroes (3 PMA CECs) and Strategies and Exercises on the Wunda Chair (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3 Excel Pilates, Washington, DC

Join me for my post popular posts Live! and in person: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises (4 PMA CECs) and On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises (2 PMA CECs). I'll be teaching my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and Progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs) as well as a Mat class, private and semi-private lessons. Register today

Saturday December 17 LauraBPilates Studio, Raleigh, NC

In Raleigh we'll have a full day of Pilates Continuing Education: private lessons and my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Don’t Blame the Exercise: The Roll Up Edition

Don't Blame the Exercise: The Roll Up Edition

I continually aspire to contribute valuable and accurate Pilates content to the information superhighway.

For this reason – fasten your seat belts – this post may be a bit of a rant.

But it's a rant of LOVE ♥

The Gift that is the Pilates Method

The Pilates Exercises are wonderfully therapeutic, but Pilates is not Physical Therapy.

Pilates keeps you in tip-top physical condition, but forget everything you thought you knew about fitness.

Pilates is different.

The Pilates Method can be successfully applied to each and every individual.

And while Pilates is ultimately wonderful for the body, there may be exercises/positions that are not suitable for a particular individual right now or ever.

Although I never say never…

Sadly, what is necessarily altered for one person is often blanketed over an entire population.

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

I've noticed various words used to describe movement and the position of the body.

Some words can be controversial in the Pilates industry as I mentioned in my recent post on the Short Box.

The Reach is a name of an exercise and no one seems to mind. Call it ‘Flat Back' and whoa mama you've jumped into a swirling maelstrom of dissension.

What's a gal to do?

The Fear of Flexion

For the record, ‘flexion' is not a Pilates word. Can you imagine Joe Pilates saying it?

However I do believe he said “Long the Back!”

Hmmm… our old friend Length again…

flex·ion

ˈflekSHən
noun
  1. the action of bending or the condition of being bent, especially the bending of a limb or joint.
    Origin
    early 17th century: from Latin flexio(n-), from flectere ‘to bend.’

I often hear the word ‘flexion' used to describe the effect of the body bending forward.

In Pilates, although we have many exercises that have a round shape, we are not simply allowing our bodies to bend forward willy nilly. There is no Pilates inherent in the pedestrian act of flexing the spine.

We are not teaching people – or even allowing them – to slump.

True, we do spend considerable time as humans reaching and bending forward.

Let's learn a few skills to do it properly.

The Lift that Keeps on Lifting

Remember we're defying gravity and to do this we must lift LIFT LIFT like there's no tomorrow.

That's why it works!

Pilates is decompressive to the spine and joints.

Which brings me to the much maligned Pilates Mat exercise: the Roll Up.

Poor Roll Up… I never liked you very much at the beginning, but now you're one of my besties! Sad for you to be saddled with society's slouchiness.

The Roll Up is not flexion – it is the lifting up of the entire trunk of the body and moving it forward.

The Roll Up is a movement governed by the informed mind, the alerted intelligence to create an action of lift and guide the body through this specific maneuver.

flexion = the gross movement of the body bending forward

lift = the mind and body working together

The Essence of the Roll Up

What's really going on here?

The Pilates exercises are exaggerated versions of our everyday movements.

In the Roll Up we learn the valuable skill of sitting up from a lying down position using our muscles.

#lookmanohands

We use this skill each and every morning when we sit up to get out of bed.

To learn this skill we must maximize the lift in the waistline which is the essence of the Roll Up.

Broken down to the smallest atom of movement, a very first baby version of the Roll Up could look like this:

Don't Blame the Exercise: The Roll Up Edition

Do you see the beginnings of the Half Roll Down?

Next you would want to keep your lift in there, defy gravity and control your descent to the Mat.

Don't Blame the Exercise: The Roll Up Edition

To get back up, the same lift will pick you up from the Mat. Trying to bend will only weigh you down…but Pilates within that bending position will pick you up!

Take from sinky-low-back little ol' me…nothing feels more delicious than the Roll Up.

It's our first shot at lengthening the back and the first big lifting stretch of our Pilates Mat workout.

What if we named it the Lift-your-head-up-lift-yourself up?

Got Roll Up probs?

Leave me a comment and let's chat it up!

Related posts:

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

Thanks for joining me in the 4th and potentially last installment of this series exploring components and strategies for finding length in the low back.

Welcome new subscribers!

It’s lovely to have you.

In the first installment of this series we looked at 2 major skills which create a long, open and strong low back: the engagement of the ribs (a gateway to the opening of the middle back) and the crucial use of the seat.

The second post in this series examined the first of the oppositional forces: the skill of finding the ribs/upper stomach.

In the third post I answer a subscriber question about finding length in the low back in one of our most infamous Pilates exercises, the Teaser! Check it out.

This week we’ll look at the 2nd oppositional force – often an elusive one to find  – and discuss strategies for finding and engaging…

the bottom.

Our seat.

Popo (Romana's word).

Butt (Jay's word).

Derriere. Buttocks.

And away we go!

Full Disclosure

For me, the seat struggle is real.

I am happy to share with you some of the exercises and strategies that have helped me wrangle my popo in my Pilates workout.

It's just so easy to randomly squeeze the bottom, but remember we're after an oppositional force here…so the name of the game is a familiar one:

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

That being said, it's really just the lowest, underneath part of the bottom we're after.

It's my hope that you'll find each of the following exercises as helpful as I have found them.

Here's to a high bottom and a supple low back 🙂

Footwork/Pumping on the Chairs

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of ItStrategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

Let's begin at the beginning.

Lying onto the Reformer to begin the Footwork we will warm up the lower body. But how to use the center far more than the legs can be challenging.

On the Gratz Reformer you can use 2 springs only – or even drop down to just 1 spring – and find more of your stomach and seat without the legs leaping at the chance to fight some springs.

This is one option and a great place to start.

However, we need several strategies here to outsmart our bum.

Taking the Footwork vertical on the Chairs is an advantageous shake-up for the body. Control the pedal up with your seat and stomach and your bottom will soon be on fire!

Standing Pumping!

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of ItStrategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

Another of my favorite vertical options for finding the seat, the Standing Pumping gives you 2 more places to find the seat exercise that's perfect for you.

And some exercises may speak to you (and your seat…) more than others…

On the Wunda Chair you can start with a lighter spring – the same strategy we employed for our Footwork on the Reformer. I like to use 2 springs on the bottom, and then as you get stronger and find the seat more efficiently you can change to the heavier spring setting of 1 top + 1 bottom.

On the Wunda Chair you must balance on your own.

On the High Chair the spring is considerable, but you do have a nice place to hold onto and gather yourself (and your butt).

Try this exercise on both of these apparatuses and see what will work best for you.

When pressing the pedal down, hold it down for a moment and distribute your weight evenly on both legs. This will help you find the seat on both sides, the working leg and the standing leg.

We need a better distinction than ‘working leg' I think…I mean, what's not working?

#fullbodyworkout

Single Leg Spring on the Cadillac

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of itStrategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of it

Leg Springs on the Cadillac have been one of my most hated exercises. I know I have professed to love them now, but it has taken me nearly 16 years to feel like I do them even reasonably well.

It has been a combination of the Single Leg Springs on the Cadillac and the Spine Corrector that has made all the difference for me.

The Single Leg Springs are a great way to whittle away at overworking legs and hips in the Leg Spring Series. These are simple exercises that pack a big wallup connection-wise.

I like the spring coming from the opposite side, but you can use the spring on the same side too.

I also enjoy using the lighter arm springs for a while because I know my strong leg muscles will want to fight the heavier spring.

Using the lighter springs will allow my legs to chill out and pretend we are on the Spine Corrector!

There are 4 parts that I find to be effective:

  • Frog-ish – the leg goes out and in – a la Frog – but the orientation of the leg is parallel, therefore Frog-ish
  • Straight Leg Lower Lift – the Walking and the Scissors build on this one
  • Bicycle – this one builds on the skills of the previous 2.
  • Single Leg Circle – yup. Just like on the mat. Great for peeps that don't use their stomach when they do it on the mat…

Thigh Stretch

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

Think of this one less like an exercise and more like a way of life.

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

The Thigh Stretch is a recipe for finding length in the front AND the back.

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

And we find this exercise ALL OVER THE STUDIO.

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

There's an appropriate Thigh Stretch for everyone.

Wow. Something for everyone?

What a system!

We also find ourselves in the position of Thigh Stretch in countless other exercises: Chest Expansion, Semi Circle, anything done kneeling really, anything on the stomach…you see where this is going…

The Thigh Stretch is a lesson in how to negotiate this body position.

It's the verticality of the Thigh Stretch that helps me to find length.

L-E-N-G-T-H!

It's truly a combination of my 2 favorite Pilates words: Lift and Length.

So for your next Thigh Stretch play with both of these: lift up in the waist and lengthen the tailbone down toward the apparatus.

The verticality + up in front + down in back = some sign of life from your bottom.

Seize the day!

Wait for it… the awareness will build over time and you will become master of your own popo.

And wouldn't you know I can't say enough about the Thigh Stretch?

The Spine Corrector

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of it

Thank you so SO much Joseph Pilates for your brilliant invention the Spine Corrector.

The Spine Corrector is one-stop-shopping for your body.

It also covers everything mentioned in this post!

Need a thigh stretch? We've got it here.

Trouble finding your bottom? Welcome…

Need to open up the low back?

Yup. This is the place.

Every time I use my Spine Corrector I think “My God, why do I not do this every day??”

Oh yeah, it's that good.

Always remember the purpose of the Spine Corrector apparatus.

It's nice to play on and do lots of things…but it's genius at what it does best: opening up the back (correcting the spine). Opening opening opening…the front and the back.

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of it

Big kisses to you JP.

Have some tips to share to get your butt in gear?

Leave me a comment and let's have a chat!

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body: Strength for Life!

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body: Strength for Life!

I require my clients to sit on the Reformer with control (without the use of their hands).

There shouldn't be a noise or a plop when they sit.

They are also required to descend to the Mat from a standing position.

Again, no hands, please.

The goal is to lower oneself to the floor with control. No noise.

As you might imagine, I often hear groans of exasperation from some.

And yes, it may be considerably hard to do at first.

But it's also essential for longevity and quality of life.

Boom.

Uhm, and it's actually a thing, peeps:

Look familiar?

Maybe I should start deducting 1 point per plop…

The Lion's Share

No matter who you are, your lower body is a considerable amount of your total body weight.

In the Pilates Method, when I refer to the ‘lower body' I am talking about everything from the upper stomach (mid back) all the way down to the toes.

The lower body is the lion's share of the body.

Often Pilates practitioners and teachers, myself included, can overwork the upper body in exercises that are in fact lower body exercises.

Years of study of the method have helped me to learn how to better use my lower body instead of muscling through and overusing my upper body.

The lion's share of the Pilates exercises are – in fact – lower body exercises!

Which makes sense – that's the largest part of the body – so it's bound to be helpful to use it effectively.

All this is ultimately in service of Pilates as a full body workout.

No lower body? No full body workout.

Oh it weighs heavily on my Pilates mind…

With a tight low back and tight hips/thighs, I spend considerable time thinking about the lower body and especially how to find length in the back. Sorting it all out into a long lower body requires consistent practice and repetition.

Whoever you are, it would serve you well to find length in the low back and low body.

Got a swayback?

Like me, you'll need to seek out more scoop and seat to gain length for your back.

What about a flexible, long and sinky back?

You too will need to find lift and length to elongate the back and cultivate the low body.

The majority of the back is also part of the lower body.

In our industry, many names and concepts surround the creation of a long, strong and supple back.

What exactly should be going on here? Labels include the word ‘imprint' and keeping the back and/or the pelvis in ‘neutral' (read more on this here).

I believe we are all after the same thing, whatever we choose to call it: decompression and health of the back.

Length in the Low Body

So how best to approach our search for the low body?

Mercifully, in the Pilates Method we have a brilliant arsenal of apparatus to be our helpers. And hey, when we are standing up, the floor willingly becomes another apparatus to support us.

Shazam!

In keeping with my modus operandi we'll look at the order of the exercises to offer lower body support we can rely on. A couple simple standing exercises will also challenge our strength to stand.

Wait a minute.

Regardless of our position in the exercises: lying down, sitting up, kneeling, lying on the stomach, up on one leg/arm, in a twist – the lower body must strive to be elongated??

Yup. That's why we need to practice so much.

It's a tall order (you were hoping for a pun, yes?).

The Order of the Universe

Using the order of the exercises is one way to find out where you can get help from the lower body before the exercises in which you still need it, but there's no help in sight.

In search of the lower body…one example:

In the Order of the Reformer exercises, the Swan exercise immediately precedes Pulling Straps and T Straps in the Long Box series.

Whether you like Swan on the Ladder Barrel or on the Long Box – you've got your feet firmly planted and poised to find help from the apparatus.

  • Press into the heels and see what jumps to life in your bottom and center.

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body : Strength for Life

  • Moments later when you lie onto the Long Box for Pulling Straps, remember what the support from the apparatus from the Swan created in your body.

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body : Strength for Life

  • Repeat at least 3x per week. 🙂

My Dreaded Long Stretch Series

Yes, eventually I have to adjust my attitude for this series.

Oh but it's become just so bloody hard…and vital…and essential for all the fun, crazy, tricky exercises I love to do.

The Long Stretch Series is where you begin to find your lower body and see what it can do for you.

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body : Strength for Life

To find the lower body and successfully execute this series: Long Stretch, Down Stretch, Up Stretch, Elephant and Long Back Stretch has become a pet project of mine.

Everyone has to have a hobby…

Stand on your feet, yo:

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body : Strength for Life

The Short Box and the Straps

It's true.

The Short Box is all about the back and posture.

However, let's look closer:

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body : Strength for Life

What is attached to the apparatus?

Remember the Lion's Share of the Body?

Well, now it's sitting on the box and attached to two straps.

The skill here is how to make the best use of the straps to hook into the lower body. Use the lower body well and create even more resistance from which to lift and soar ever higher in your posture.

Dig down deep to lift up, my friends!

The Strength of Standing

My father turned 90 this year. Mom's not far behind at 88.

After the Thanksgiving holiday we started decorating their house for Christmas. Mom planned to add ornaments to the tree a little at a time, but wanted help with the lights and the angel on top.

Standing up (without holding on to anything) and working with both arms on a task proved to be the most tiring activities. And not just for the nonagenarian set.

As we age, we desperately need the strength to stand and work at something with the upper body without tiring: cooking a holiday dinner, decorating a Christmas tree, unpacking groceries, you name it.

There's even an exercise (or 500) for that.

Can you say Bean Bag?

I forget how awesome this device can be.

Oh it will kick your ass, even if you use it without any weight in the bag at all.

Now let's see you stand up tall. For. Ever.

Bean bag down:

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body: Strength for Life!

And back up!

The Pilates Exercises and the Lower Body: Strength for Life!

Musculoskeletal fitness, it turns out, is very important. Prevention Magazine

Contest Deadline Extended!

It's not too late to dazzle me with your transitions on the Reformer.

Enter by January 15 to win a FREE Skype lesson. Check out the deets below: