The Pilates System: A Day in the Life (Now with bonus videos!)

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

Welcome all you amazing Pilates people! Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to join me for here for a bit of Pilates Nerdery (a bit?!).

A special welcome to new subscribers – thank you for signing up for the long haul as we traipse along our Pilates Path.

My Morning Go-To Exercises

Today I am fresh off my personal “This is for you” exercises and feeling tall. Funny how our list of exercises we need on a daily basis grows ever longer. Hmmm?

The more you know…

Here's how my list started:

Small Barrel

  • Arm Circles
  • One arm Up/One Arm Down
  • Hug
  • Breathing
  • Leg Circles
  • Scissors
  • Bicycle
  • Shoulder Bridge (when I can remember to do it… weird…)
  • Rolling/Rest

This was my list at the start of my Small Barrel Project 30-Day challenge.

Here's my list today:

Foot Corrector

  • Ball of foot
  • Heel
  • The Massage (oh SUCH a goodie…)
  • Arches
  • Ball on Top with Heel Lifted

Small Barrel

  • Arm Circles
  • One arm Up/One Arm Down
  • Hug
  • Breathing
  • Swan Dive (balanced on top of barrel)
  • Swimming (yeah, same place)
  • Single Leg Pull (low back balanced on top of barrel)
  • Double Leg Pull (same place – if you've not tried these I recommend it…)
  • Leg Circles
  • Walks
  • Beats
  • Scissors
  • Bicycle
  • Shoulder Bridge (ridiculously I still “forget” to do this one if I am not super focused. Weird…)
  • Jay's Exercise (it doesn't really have a name and I learned it from him)
  • Helicopter
  • Hip Twist
  • Teaser (roll up to balance on top of barrel)

High Chair

  • Pumping (if I am not pressed for time or if I feel particularly gimpy…)
  • Going Up Front
  • Going Up Side

Cadillac

  • Standing One Leg Spring (recently added and nearly impossible…)

Whew!

Looks like a ton of exercises, but it only takes about 20 minutes or so to do. Perfectly manageable even on a busy day.

Random Acts of Pilates

The longer one studies and practices the Pilates Method, the more immersed one becomes in its tenets. One's awareness can heighten to the point where every daily mechanical action of living is filtered through our Pilates mind.

I love waiting in line during my day and lifting up my waist to open and stretch my hips. A little bit of secret Pilates on the inside. Perhaps I have said too much…

Conversely, I am more than willing to entertain a Pilates thought when it is delightfully unexpected.

Read my other Random Acts of Pilates posts here and here.

And now for a Random Act of Pilates from the magical Seth Godin:

Beginning is underrated

Merely beginning.

With inadequate preparation, because you will never be fully prepared.

With imperfect odds of success, because the odds are never perfect.

Begin. With the humility of someone who's not sure, and the excitement of someone who knows that it's possible.

Thank you Seth Godin for knowing exactly what I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it.

Beginning.

Beginning each workout.

Just start.

It's everything!

Its a leap to your future self even if you are unsure of who she will be.

The last sentence from Seth is my favorite. Beginning requires humility. So. Does. Pilates.

Beginning is exciting and empowering. Pilates. Every. Time.

Think of the beginning student who lifts the pedal in the Pull Up for the very first time. Perhaps beforehand they even told you it was an impossible request.

But they did it.

Boom.

30 Day challenge anyone?

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

One of the exercises recently added to my morning (and evening) go-to workout is one with which you may not be familiar: Standing One Leg Springs on the (near the) Cadillac.

These exercises (shown in the photo to the back, but also done to the front (across the body) and to the side, were not part of original training programs. They were part of The Work, part of my study with Vintage Pilates and Jay Grimes.

And boy are they a doozy for a little crooked person like myself. Perhaps twisted is a better descriptor for me ha ha…

Bottom line is I cannot be trusted to complete these few exercises daily as I am not a huge fan of them… yet!

Although if you'll remember one of our Pilates mantras…

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

Well yes, this is a favorite – but the one I need right now is another oldie but goodie…

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

Or in my case, What I don't like I will do twice 30 times!

Sounds about right.

So in the spirit of ‘Make your apparatus your Teacher' I propose a 30-Day challenge on the Standing One Leg Spring exercises.

And with you, dear readers I know I will be held accountable.

As usual it's a challenge for myself and anyone else who'd like to join in the FUN, shall we say?

Don't worry.

Maybe these Standing One Leg Spring exercises are new to you or perhaps you've never even heard of them? I smell a long overdue video tutorial to help us on our challenge.

It's a date!

This week's COLLAB video with Lesley Logan

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

Lately I've been thoroughly enjoying my YouTube collab with my Los Angeles colleague, and owner of Profitable Pilates, Lesley Logan.

Do you subscribe to my YouTube channel? Become a subscriber today and never miss my weekly videos.

In this week's collab we look at the Mermaid exercises all around the studio.

Check it out and thanks for watching!

And find Lesley's video on the Mermaids here.

Lesley takes a look at the Mermaids done on the Wunda Chair.

View her tips on the exercises and then have a go at my new Wunda Chair workout. Be careful – this one's a wild ride… you won't want to miss the moment where I fall off the chair!

The struggle is REAL…

Also kudos to my sister, Fran, for making the blog this week! She's in the featured image for this post, above.

Nice looking Stomach Massage, yes?

Look at her all decked out in her nerd gear as well… #soproud

Coming Up on the Blog

Recently on Social Media there has been much discussion and interest in the concept of the 2-way stretch we use in the Pilates Method.

It's one of my favorite topics and can be such a boon to your teaching and practice.

Stay tuned for another in-depth post in which I'll dissect the opposing reaches of the body and illustrate how they can deepen our connection to the center, to our powerhouse.

If you've got questions about the origins and/or implementation of the 2-way stretch leave me comment below or contact me via email.

Hello Hong Kong!

I am super excited about my upcoming trip to Hong Kong. I'll be teaching many of my favorite workshops as well as lessons and classes. You know how much I adore the Reformer

I hope you'll join me at Flex Studio in March 9-12. Teachers and clients are all welcome!

Workshops will include a Reformer workshop based on my most-viewed posts On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises and Transitions! Transitions!, a Mat workshop based on the posts On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises and Transitions on the Mat plus 7 Spot-On Quotes to Keep you Honest and The 3 pilates Barrels.

Register here.

And here's a few more places you'll find me in 2018.

Love, Hearts and the Pilates Method

Love, Hearts and the Pilates Method

The original version of today's post was my very first blog post ever on Pilatesology, so I thought today I would shine it up a little and share some love, circulation and Pilates on this, our sweetest of all days.

February

  • Valentine's Day
  • Hearts!
  • Chocolates
  • The Hundred

Ah but I digress…

Pilates does wonderful things for your heart muscle.

There are also many individuals who express an extreme devotion and LOVE for the Pilates Method… including moi of course!

Love, Hearts and the Pilates Method

The heart is equated with:

COURAGE “You gotta have heart!”

ENTHUSIASM “Put your whole heart into it.”

A STRONG WILL

A SPIRIT TO SUCCEED

All of these are helpful in approaching your Pilates workout.

Deep in the heart of your Pilates workout:

See? Another one… the vital part or essence of something…

The Hundred

Love, Hearts and the Pilates Method

Whaaa?

Perhaps one of our most “memorable” Pilates exercises is the Hundred (100).

On of the first exercises one learns as a Pilates student, the Hundred is ever-present, lengthy and challenging to do well.

The Hundred uses vigorous pumping of the arms from your strong center and deep, full breathing to warm up the body. You'll get the blood circulating (heart!) and squeeze all the stale toxic air out of the lungs.

Bodily House Keeping with Blood Circulation

or What's not to love about quality house keeping?

Love, Hearts and the Pilates Method

I like to refer to my workouts as an ‘internal shower' followed by an external one:

This is the equivalent of an ‘internal shower.' Your blood will flow with renewed vigor as the direct result of your faithfully performing the Contrology [Pilates] exercises.

Translation: Just do it and trust the exercises are working. Remember that Rome was not built in a day…

These exercises induce the heart to pump strong and steadily.

You are moving and hopefully sweating. Remember it is a workout!

As a result, the bloodstream carries and discharges from your system more of the accumulated debris created by fatigue. [Pilates] exercises drive pure, fresh blood to every muscle fiber of our bodies, particularly to the very important capillaries which ordinarily are rarely ever fully stimulated once we reach adulthood.

Capillaries fully stimulated… check!

As a heavy rainstorm freshens the water of a sluggish or stagnant stream and whips it into immediate action, [Pilates] exercises purify the bloodstream and whip it into instant action.

Feelin' like a stagnant stream? Then let's see some action! Move, move, MOVE…

The result is that the organs of the body, including the important sweat glands, receive the benefit of clean fresh blood carried to them by this rejuvenated bloodstream.

This is like porn for vampires…

In addition…note that all the exercises are performed in a sitting or reclining position. This is done to relieve your heart from undue strain as well as to take advantage of the more normal, original position of the visceral organs of your body when in such positions.

Pilates is NOT a heartbreaker. 🙂

All quotes can be found in Joe Pilates' book Return to Life Through Contrology.

Contrology is Joe's original name for his method.

BONUS!! Check out this NYT article for a play-by-play at the cellular level! 

BONUS #2!!  more deets on our heart-friendly Hundred from one of my Pilates besties, Benjamin Degenhardt.

And here's where to find me in 2018.

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 3

The Pilates System: Rowing on the Reformer, Part 3

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

We've taken a closer look at the 6 exercises which make up the Rowing Series on the Reformer.

If you've missed the previous 2 posts in this series, you can view them here and here.

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

  • 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 first 2 exercises in our Rowing Series.

Woo hoo! #finalinstallment

Rowing 1: Into the Sternum

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 3

As a Pilates practitioner, I find once you learn the 6 Rowing exercises you never want to leave them out. They are not easy by any means, but nevertheless, beloved.

Often we get sidetracked in these two exercises when it comes to the last moment of returning the carriage. Check yourself the next time you workout:

Does the carriage bang home as you finish each repetition?

At any point?

If so, report to your stomach immediately.

So many different moments in these 1st two Rowing exercises. Aren't you glad we learn them last?

Here's the breakdown:

  • Sit up tall just like when you sit on the Short Box. The carriage is closed. The straps are tight when arms are in the starting position.
  • Lift and scoop in to arrive at a Round position.
  • Hold your shape as you reach arms out to the sides.
  • Scoop more to reach the head toward the knees and the hands behind you at the TAILBONE!
  • I cannot say it enough. take the arms straight and low to the TAILBONE.
  • Lift your back and arms and close the carriage as you reach toward your toes.
  • Sit up tall again at the finish.
  • Repeat 3x

Wow. That's a sh*t ton of bullet points…

And here's a hot tip:

If your Reformer has wooden handles, you can use them to your advantage.

Moi ha ha haaaa… (evil laughter)

Connect the heel of your hand to press into the wooden handles at all times during the exercise. It will help to use the center more and the arms and shoulders less.

You may notice moments of connection. Also notice moments of disconnection (when your hand does not easily connect into the handle).

Just notice…

Rowing 2: 90 Degrees

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 3

For our second Rowing exercise you can forget all the set up rules for our first exercise Into the Sternum

You'll need to find your back position and the upper body 90° position first. Most likely the carriage will not be completely closed at the start of the exercise.

And that's just fine.

Here we go:

  • Lift up your back and push upward on the handle (Forget that the exercise choreography dictates you go backward and down – on the inside lift up and forward.
  • Lift yourself to tip back as much as you can return.
  • Reach up on a high diagonal as the carriage closes. Scoop like mad to not bang the carriage.
  • Flip handles and reach down along the frame of the Reformer with straight arms.
  • I cannot say it enough. take the arms straight and low to the TAILBONE.
  • Lift your back and arms and close the carriage as you reach toward your toes.
  • Sit up tall again at the finish.
  • Repeat 3x

Enjoy this short tutorial collaboration.

Thanks for watching!

Got a favorite Rowing exercise? Or one that vexes you?

Lemme hear it in a comment below!

And here's where to find me in 2018

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