Fix your Feet, Fix your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2×4 Exercises

Fix your Feet, Fix your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2x4 ExercisesFix your Feet, Fix your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2x4 Exercises

I dearly love my weekly lessons with Karen Frischmann.

I learn so much about the method, I find balance in my own body and I understand more deeply how Pilates as a system all hangs together.

About once a year I have a little check-up lesson with Jay Grimes.

I have questions for him of course. And I will have had plenty of time until my next lesson with him to work on corrections or comments he made.

While doing the Footwork in my most recent lesson with Jay he asked me a question.

“Have you been doing the 2×4 exercises?”

For a nanosecond I thought he was giving me a compliment. I soon came to my senses and realized he was politely pointing out that I should do exercises for my feet.

Well… no.

Too fixated on the Reformer to venture elsewhere in the studio, I vowed I would work on the 2×4 exercises after every workout.

It would take more than half a year to follow up on his advice.

#procrastinationheals

About 7 months later I dusted off my 2×4 and got to work.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Jay suggested it would be helpful to work on the 2×4 exercises in front of a mirror.

Great, I'll be my own Pilates teacher.

Fix your Feet, Fix your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2x4 Exercises

I focused initially on 2 of the standard exercises:

  • Tendon Stretch – the vertical version of the 4th Footwork exercise
  • A classic 2×4 exercise I learned under the name ‘Standing Foot Exercises‘ – a combination of Tendon Stretch-esque movements: bend the knees, lift the heels, straighten the legs, lower the heels, and its reverse.

Looking in the mirror proved to be invaluable.

I have a disobedient foot/leg/side. Perhaps you do as well?

Now I could see my naughty foot and fix it.

That's when the fireworks went off in my center. One small adjustment in my foot/leg turned on all kinds of connections on that side of my powerhouse.

Aha!

Could this be Jay's intention all along?

Who doesn't want to fix their powerhouse?

With any Pilates exercise or variation that I deem ‘good for what ails me', I like to get feedback from Karen in my Monday lessons.

Karen is great at taking what I bring into my lessons and shooting it into the stratosphere of connection. We mined a ton out of the 2×4 exercises and they began to seep into all of my workout.

What's to be done when you cannot connect your lower body into your center because you are upside-down in the Jackknife?

Add a little 2×4 to the mix!

The repetition of the 2×4 exercises in my body can be called upon in exercises where my feet are not in contact with any apparatus.

Perfect for all those upside-down Mat exercises!

Put the ‘Full' in ‘Full Body Workout.'

What's good upside-down HAS to be good for standing up. Good standing posture is no easy feat (oh where would I be without the foot puns).

It's a challenge to fully utilize the lower body in standing exercises and ignite the powerhouse.

#2x4totherescue

I love to use the 2×4 as a teaching tool for the Standing Arm Springs series on the Cadillac.

Remember the Standing Arm Springs are not just arm exercises!

You must rely on all the muscles that make a strong standing position to find success in the Standing Arm Springs.

Let's take a few examples:

Fix your Feet, Fix your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2x4 ExercisesFix your Feet, Fix your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2x4 ExercisesFix your Feet, Fix your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2x4 Exercises

It's easy to get caught up in the upper body action of these exercises. But what's the standing body doing?

Just the simple act of balancing on the 2×4 for the Tendon Stretch exercise will connect the lower extremities into the center.

The 2×4 exercises communicate so much more than I ever could with my words.

A Scrubbing Bubbles moment

Who doesn't want an exercise that does all your work for you?

The 2×4 is a game changer.

It's a great tool to enliven the lower body and prepare you for the Standing Arm Springs.

OMG where can I get one???

The 2×4 – sometimes called the ‘upholstered foot exerciser' is available from most Pilates equipment manufacturers.

Here's a link to one made by Gratz Pilates:

http://www.pilates-gratz.com/collections/accessories/products/upholstered-foot-exerciser-bar

Alternatively, check out this post on pilatesology.com and make your own 2×4 in minutes!

https://pilatesology.com/2015/04/diy-how-to-make-your-own-pilates-2×4/

Enjoy!

How do you make the lower body come alive?

Share your Pilates Secrets in a comment below.

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 5!

Welcome to the 5th installation of Transitions! Transitions!

We've been working our way through the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

In and Out of the Stomach Massage Series

The Stomach Massage Series presents us with yet another opportunity for efficient pace and tempo within an exercise series.

You'll strive to connect the exercises as though they were one continuous movement.

The body positions are slightly shifting and you are nearly in the same place on the apparatus.

But you've got some tasks to attend to (removing a spring) as you keep your steady pace.

Let's Move!

Stomach Massage Series #1: Round

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

First off you'll neatly sit into your first position. This one is ripe for futzing and fidgeting as you get into the “perfect” spot on the carriage.

No need to hang your butt off the edge of the carriage.

Sit where you'll find the most success to lift up out of your low back. I recommend a pad to sit on.

  • Sit with control and assume the position…
  • Notice the rhythm you'll create as you do your repetitions. You'll strive to keep pace with the rhythm you set up here as you remove the spring between exercises.
  • On the last repetition, get ready. You know which spring to remove and where you'll go to position yourself for the next exercise. This is part of your control. Know what you'll do and where you're going.
  • As you return the carriage, just as it closes remove 1 middle spring.
  • Keep your rhythm and begin #2: Hands Back as the carriage moves out again.
  • Relax, it's easy to get panicky, but you will calm yourself over time.

Stomach Massage Series #2: Hands Back

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

  • Keep your initial rhythm in place throughout the repetitions.
  • As the carriage returns on the last repetition, reach down and remove a second middle spring (you are now left with 2)
  • Move to #3: Reach as you move the carriage out.
  • Enjoy yourself!

Stomach Massage Series #3: Reach

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

  • Keep your initial rhythm in place throughout the repetitions.

Stomach Massage Series #4: Twist

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

  • Use your exhale to set the rhythm for this twisting exercise, which may slow your tempo a bit.
  • Finish the exercise and come up to standing.

A word about removing the springs

For the Stomach Massage Series, you'll begin with 3 or 4 springs.

Let's use the example of 4 springs.

After #1, use your right hand, reach through your legs to remove the middle-right spring (If you started with 3 springs, you'll get a pass on removing a spring at this point and continue on 3 springs for #2.).

After #2, use your left hand, reach through your legs to remove the middle-left spring.

Why?

I'm being very specific here and if my clients are working hard and sweating and moving along I probably wouldn't mention it.

However

For many people it's quite a stretch to reach all the way down to remove the springs from these compact seated positions.

Remember your arm is connected to your back. You can get a little extra back stretch – and practice reaching for things in your daily life even!! – on each side as you remove the 2 springs in the Stomach Massage Series.

I never miss an opportunity for a juicy back stretch…

Thanks, Joe.

Tendon Stretch Recap

Post Stomach Massage Series and into the Tendon Stretch

  • Slide the pad from Stomach Massage Series to the end of the carriage and hang it off the end a bit for security. I like to turn my pad longways at this point.

Otherwise, your Reformer is all set up for the Tendon Stretch – 2 springs and footbar up.

I know I could use a bit more practice on my transitioning into, during and out of the countless variations of the Tendon Stretch.

The Reformer is ready. Let's hope you are too.

Who's with me?

In and out of the Tendon Stretch 

  • I recommend a pad on the edge of the carriage.
  • Step up into position one hand, one foot, other hand, other foot.
  • Step off after the exercise one foot and then the other foot.

In and out of the Tendon Stretch one-leg variations

Here's a recent vlog on learning how to begin working on the Tendon Stretch one leg variations.

This week I have another clarification to add that I've found to be helpful.

  • We all have a tendency to be really heavy on our hands in the Tendon Stretch (and in many exercises where we get to hold onto that footbar).
  • In order to remove a hand while taking a leg to the side you cannot have all your weight on your arms.
  • Transfer your weight into the lower body.
  • With the carriage all the way in, work to really stand on your feet. 

Questions? Please leave them in a comment below.

Thanks so so much for watching!

In case you’ve missed one…

  • Check out the first Transitions! post to learn the purpose of an efficient Pilates transition.
  • Catch up on the 2nd post as well and move smoothly through the Rowing Series.
  • The 3rd installment will enhance your scoop and take you successfully into the Backstroke.
  • We hashed out the Big Transition into the Long Stretch Series into shape in post 4.

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

Get ready to get your lift on!

Just when you thought it was safe to venture back onto the Reformer…

I am quite fixated on the Long Stretch Series. So much good stuff to be squeezed out of these 5 standard issue – yet elegantly insistent – exercises.

Glad to have you with me on this journey.

Check out last week's post to continue your Long Stretch Series geek-fest.

Repetitio est mater studiorum

One of the things I most enjoy about the Order of the Reformer Exercises is the ability to mark your progress.

The use of repetition is a key element to long term changes in our bodies.

Our bodies they are a-changin'

Many years of practicing Pilates can result in amazing changes in our bodies. As our bodies continue to change, so does our experience of the exercises.

Often we arrive at an old familiar series with newfound awareness.

Now we can demand more of ourselves than just yesterday's choreography and connection. Nuances may appear.

We may discover new muscles now under our control.

Imagine.

MORE control.

However, a perfectly innocent series may also become a new bugaboo.

In the spirit of it's-gonna-get-worse-before-it-gets-better I feel compelled to write this post about my new love/hate of the Long Stretch Series.

But first let me say this:

OMG the Long Stretch Series helps everything else!

Not a surprise.

When one exercise gets better, they all get better. Because you've found some extra muscles, no doubt.

At the risk of repeating myself, I have once again learned the value of lift.

The Long Stretch Series

Let's take the name at face value.

We'll use the 5 exercises in this series to find a length in the body that will ultimately give us a full-body stretch.

That sounds lovely.

What's moving?

The lower body – what I like to call the lion's share of the body – will be attached to the moving carriage in every exercise.

This gives us information: these are lower body exercises.

The upper body is attached to the stationary footbar and functions as a point of departure, let's say. It is not the mover in this series.

Closing the Springs

The Long Stretch Series is a perfect example of the muscular action required to close the springs on the classical Reformer.

It's lift!

Everytime. In every exercise.

If you've got to work to return the carriage completely the Reformer is compelling you to create lift in the body.

It's instant Pilates Method with this series.

Thanks, Universal Reformer!

We only have one exercise.

Joe Pilates is so tricky. Putting us in a horizontal position for the Long Stretch and expecting us to find lift.

Oh right, Down Stretch.

Thanks Joe, I get it.

The Demands of the Exercises

Long Stretch

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

“One piece of steel from your head to your heel!”

Back to the name again.

What are the demands of a long body position? A long back and long strong legs.

Let's go back to that long back part…

A long back (or tall back, in lift-speak) demands a long neck and open chest, a lift in the waist, ribs that are in and up to lengthen the mid-back, a working seat to help open the front of the hip (yup it's gotta be long as well) and easy reaching legs.

Oooh, so demanding…

I can do this more easily standing upright, but along comes the Long Stretch and I am stymied.

It's hard to find this long body position in mid-air.

No feedback from an apparatus in sight.

I have heard it said that Long Stretch and Down Stretch are really the same exercise, except you are kneeling in the latter one.

This is absolutely true. Let's use the lift in the Down Stretch to sort this out.

The lift in Down Stretch is impossible quite clear.

Down Stretch

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

I find Down Stretch to be supremely challenging.

The body position is precariously close to where my body just wants to let it all hang out and fall into the low back.

It's Lift! to the rescue!

Mine the opposing forces in your body: make the lower body push the carriage out even as you bring the carriage in.

Your lower body wants to stay out there, yet your lift is insistent to close the springs.

I. Smell. Two. Way. Stretch.

Up Stretch

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

Up Stretch is a gold mine that's jam-packed with skills to prepare you for crazy advanced exercises to come.

Put in diligent practice here and reap the benefits you'll use for Snake Twist, the Headstands and even the infamous Flying Squirrel.

Yes.

Get. Busy.

Elephant

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

Oh Elephant, is there anything you can't do?

Elephant is another skill-builder extraordinaire. You'll need lots of mad Elephant skills to find success in exercise favorites like the Pull Up on the Wunda Chair and Snake/Twist on the Reformer.

A teacher client of mine has decided that in Pilates one learns the “basic” or “foundational” exercises first because they are all so bloody hard it will take a lifetime to do them properly.

A fair point. The Hundred or the Elephant done well is no easy task.

Again my Reformer is my teacher. Without working the lower body properly, my carriage is very reluctant to close completely.

“I'm sorry,” says the Reformer. “Nope, this is not a leg exercise, try again.”

Well, at least repetition is my friend…

Long Back Stretch

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

This exercise has become a favorite of mine in recent months.

I find it to be the epitome of length in the lower body.

Yes.

Remember the moving carriage you are attached to?

This is not an arm exercise.

The Long Back Stretch is the juice behind every exercise in Pilates where we actively reach through the heels.

Think about it:

  • Short Box – the long reach of the heels to anchor the lower body on the box
  • Tower on the Cadillac – reaching through the heels in an effort to lengthen the entire back on the mat
  • Stomach Massage Series – the repetition of lowering the heels in the first 2 exercises in this series. Joe Pilates says “Do you get it?!”

Is it coincidence that the Stomach Massage follows the Long Back Stretch in the order?

Stomach Massage then followed by the Tendon Stretch?

This cannot be a happy accident…

Put the Long in Long Stretch, Baby

Persevere in your meat-and-potatoes exercise series like the Long Stretch Series.

Dig deep to discover the skills that will carry you all the way to High Bridge and beyond in your Reformer repertoire.

The Reformer: The Use of Lift in the Long Stretch Series

Use the one-leg version of the Elephant to work on one-sided exercises. It's bursting with information on how to better your Tendon Stretch with one leg.

Take some help when you can get it!

Got a series that's become a bugaboo?

Gimme the skinny in a comment below and we'll hash it out.

#pilatesproblemsolving

You’ve Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Thank you, lovely Pinterest followers for making the above image into my most popular pin.

Pinned 206 times as of this writing, it's the mantra I use to improve my teaching skills.

Every. Day.

Let's throw down the gauntlet and aspire to greatness.

Choose Wisely

When skill-building in the Pilates system we are faced with a never-ending series of choices.

It's a Pilates choose-your-own-adventure! The choices you'll make will lead you and your clients along the Pilates path in as direct a manner as possible.

OMG this is the Holy Grail for Pilates instructors.

It's a tall order, I know.

But time is on our side and they tell me Rome was not built in a day. We'll move toward our goal incrementally each day.

Success in the Pilates method is more marathon than sprint. Keep this in mind.

  • Day 1: you will plant the apple seed.
  • Day 2: you will not yet be enjoying a juicy apple!

Patience, grasshopper.

I choo-choo-choo- choose you

Joe Pilates has given us numerous opportunities to choose wisely.

Take a look around the studio.

In addition to our old standbys the Reformer and the Mat, we've got a trio of chairs and of barrels.

It's the collection of exercises on these 6 pieces of ofttimes peripheral apparatus that we can turn into one of our greatest assets. Within this grouping of chairs and barrels lies the perfect spot to work on a variety of connections for lots of different folks.

The Spring Remains the Same

At first blush, the work you'll do on the Chairs and Barrels may feel different from the Reformer and Mat exercises. But remember they are all part of a larger system.

All Systems Go

When viewed through the lens of the entire Pilates system the 3 Pilates Chairs and 3 Pilates Barrels become remarkably similar to our old friends the Reformer and the Mat:

For example, on the Chairs the springs are familiar.

  • They assist us.
  • They offer us support.
  • They remind us with a bang when we've gotten out of control.

We must use our lift and always aspire to close the spring with control.

This is the main objective of any apparatus with springs.

In Elephant on the Reformer you will close the spring.

Same for the Pull Up on the Wunda Chair.

I think I'm gonna like it here.

In comparison, the Barrels are bereft of springs and therefore more similar to the Mat. Like the Mat, they require you to fasten some of you into the apparatus while other parts of you reach long and away. The round shape of the barrel apparatuses allows gravity to work in our favor for a change.

The upper body reaches over the fastened in lower body in the Roll Up.

Arm Circles on the Spine Corrector again fasten you into a seated position while the upper body reaches back over the barrel.

We can get even more support here, and a template upon which to correct our upper backs, chest and shoulders.

Quite a nice little bonus.

Scrubbing Bubbles

I have found several exercises on the Chairs and Barrels that fall into the category of exercises I call “The Scrubbing Bubbles.”

What?

Yes, I'm always on the lookout for an exercise I can use to do my work for me.

Get ready for the Chairs and Barrels, friends…

We only have one exercise!

Arm yourself with the premise of the Pilates method and you are all set for a Chairs and Barrels choose-your-own-adventure!

Our mission:

To find the 2-way stretch at its most advantageous.

The Arm Chair

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

One of my favorite go-to exercises on the Arm Chair is simply the Arm Circles.

Small or big circles, the Arm Chair with its light springs really teaches people how to use their back muscles instead of their arms and shoulders.

And make no mistake, it is the Chair that is teaching the exercise. I am merely a guide. At first, this apparatus will be unfamiliar to the student. With repeated practice and time, you'll watch these exercises greatly improve, magically, before your eyes.

The Rowing Series (#3,4,5,6) is a frickin' dream here. The back of the Arm Chair is supportive and communicative.

The Rowing exercises on the Reformer will reap the benefits of diligent Arm Chair practice.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Photo courtesy of Fredrik Prag of Pilates Scandinavia

The High Chair

Going Up Front is an amazingly valuable exercise and the High Chair is a safe and sturdy place to work it.

Talk about lift!

The vertical orientation of the Chair communicates the 2-way stretch clearly.

The springs provide strong support and assistance to lift the pedal.

What goes up…

Must come down…

WITH CONTROL.

In opposition of the lift upward, here students can discover their lower body.

Now with a new awareness of the lower body, the student can begin to find their seat and sort out their hips.

Weaker sides rejoice!

And for those of us who are a bit unbalanced, uh… who have imbalances… (like moi) Going Up Front will provide years of challenge and entertainment.

Give it a go. Use your 2-way stretch to pull yourself apart at the waistline.

Reach begets lift.

The Wunda Chair

On the Wunda Chair you'll find one of the most effective tools for perfecting Footwork on the Reformer.

Whoopee!

It's quite a Scrubbing Bubbles exercise for me.

Footwork on the Wunda Chair

A combination of being upright plus the action of closing the springs as much as possible – and it is possible – greatly improves the work of the seat and the entire lower body.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates ApparatusYou've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates ApparatusYou've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

And your Footwork on the Reformer will be the better for it.

Especially for the folks that overuse their legs in the Footwork on the Reformer and have a hard time finding length in the back (guilty), being vertical is amazingly helpful.

And you haven't really felt your scoop in Footwork on the Wunda until that pedal closes.

Oh, scoop…right…

Use your seat to get a smidge more lift upon pressing the pedal down and then really push that pedal away – resist it – as your stomach lifts in and up to close the spring.

Holy opposition!

I'm telling you, this exercise is golden.

The 3 Pilates Barrels

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Yes. There are many kinds of exercises that can be done on these round apparatus, but I take my cue from the name of one of them: Spine Corrector.

Why are we here?

The answer to this question is very important. The name ‘spine corrector' is the key to understanding the purpose of working on all the barrels. They are all about opening: opening the spine, the chest, the hips, the shoulders. Correcting imbalances in the back.

Get ready for gravity to be your best friend.

The Barrels, especially the Small Barrel and Spine Corrector, pair beautifully with the Mat, which is also bereft of springs. In Joe Pilates' studio the Mat and the Spine Corrector/Small Barrel were constant companions.

Jay Grimes refers to the Spine Corrector exercises as a kind of coda to the Mat exercises.

They go together,
Like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong
Remembered forever
As shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom
Chang chang changitty chang shoobop
That's the way it should be, wha ooohhh
yeah!

Just for the record, Jay did not sing this to me…

The Small Barrel

I simply adore this little guy.

Both the Small Barrel and the Spine Corrector (depending on the body) are my favorite exercises to use to alleviate tension in the arms and shoulders.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

The Arm Circles Series (including Breathing, pictured above) is a wonderful way to introduce students to their backs. They must have a powerhouse first of course, just look at that position.

How easy it would be to just lie back and let it all hang out, no bueno.

I love this series of exercises. It is simply brilliant at communicating (over time) that we should use our arms and shoulders less and find more lift and connection to the trunk of the body.

The waistline must lift as the arms reach – almost as though you could stretch yourself all the way over to the other side of the Barrel. Not just your arms, YOU. Lifted up. And over there.

The Arm Circles get my Scrubbing Bubbles vote!

The Spine Corrector

The series of 3 Mat exercises that are done on the Small Barrel and Spine Corrector are just wonderfully delicious.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Scissors, Bicycle and Shoulder Bridge are brilliant for teaching the long reach of the lower body. Men with tight thighs, hips and lower backs benefit so much from these 3 exercises.

I love this series for whittling away at those who cannot sit up in Spine Stretch Forward without being all bunched up in the hip flexors. Gradually the Spine Corrector will do all of your work for you.

Plus you've got the Thigh Stretch on the Mat for those peeps and the Tree!

Sigh…what was life like before the Tree?

The Ladder Barrel

The Mack Daddy of the Barrels, the Ladder Barrel does all the Spine Correcting of the other 2 smaller barrels by upping the challenge and being part jungle gym as well.

Here's another place to do the Tree as well as a challenging Backbend series that takes your Roll Up to a whole new level.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates ApparatusConnection to the back? Check!

Lower Body Reach and your seat? You'd better get that together before approaching the Ladder Barrel.

The Ladder Barrel is truly the go-to place for success in the Swan. Gravity is your friend to find length in the back you never knew you had.

This is not an easy exercise and often it's no one's favorite. However, love for Swan on the Ladder Barrel is often found in perhaps the unlikeliest of places.

You've Peaked my Pionterest! 6 Indispensable Apparatus

Male client. 6'8″. Gratz Ladder Barrel. His fingertips literally touch the ceiling and he spans every inch of the Barrel. And. He. Loves. It.

It lights him up. He's got a lot of back to lift and lengthen as well. And he does it beautifully. Check out his Teaser here.

His Swan photo forthcoming…

Want to learn more?

Join me October 1-4 at Everybody Pilates, Portsmouth, UK and – poof! – this post will turn into a workshop!

You'll enjoy 4 jam-packed days of Pilates with me and Karen Frischmann who'll be debuting her new Masterclass format – exciting!! And of course, Amy Kellow and her amazing staff.

#Pilatesbestiesunite

Register today.

The Short Box: A Vital Shot of LIFT!

The Short Box: A Vital Shot of LIFT!A warm welcome to new subscribers!

Thank you so much for reading and sharing your love for our beloved Pilates Method and your positive Pilates vibes.

Another big thank you goes out to you, dear readers for making On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises, my most-viewed and most popular post ever!

In this week's post I return to another dear Pilates friend on the Reformer. I am sure you can guess:

The Short Box

The Short Box: A Vital Shot of LIFT!I find the Short Box to be indispensable to finding the posture of lift that is so crucial for all of the Pilates exercises and for life itself.

I've found some tools along the way to help perfect the Short Box. You can find these goodies in the posts below.

But let's take a lay of the land for a moment:

You are essentially left on your own atop that box, bereft of springs and with only the straps to assist you. It is the lower body that connects to the apparatus by placing the feet in the straps.

This is significant.

We now have valuable information about the exercises to be done on the Short Box.

The apparatus' job is provide support and assistance. Check!

Sitting on the box supports the weight of the lower body and the only assistance – again – is from the straps.

In order for the straps to truly provide assistance, they must stay taut. Any slack in the straps and you'll hear noise from the clips and straps: a clear message to work a bit harder if you indeed long for the straps to assist you.

There's another bit of intel:  the support here is not terribly stable.

The straps are not a footbar. Nor are they a comfy carriage. Nope, you've gotta work hard for the money here.

Most significant: the strap is attached to the lower body.

This location tells us that in the Short Box exercises it is the lower body that will be doing the lion's share of the work. Yes, you need lift and length in the back, but you'll get more of that with your strong sturdy tree trunk of a lower body set on full-power!

Are the italics working yet?

Also, the carriage is not moving for really the 1st time in our sequence. So you're sitting there and working to keep anchored and still, while the upper body lifts and stretches away. Not an easy feat. Pun intended.

Still love the Short Box?

Use these 3 posts to whip your Short Box into shape. Oh, and keep a smile on your face!

Video Blog: A Brief Pilates Tutorial on the Roll Up:

Get some help from the Mat and Cadillac in this post on the Roll Up. Become a master of the Round shape and then take to the Short Box.

The Use of the Straps in the Short Box Series:

Master the assist of the straps. Work your connection to the lower body fiercely to keep those straps quiet. A nice little help from Joe Pilates: if you hear any noise from the straps, you could probably work a little harder.

The Entire Mat is in the Short Box:

Use the 5 exercises on the Short Box to perfect all of your Mat exercises! What could be more perfect?

Share your love for all things Short Box in a comment below