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

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

For Isabel

photo courtesy of Jack Coble and Pilatesology

Hello and welcome to this week's Pilates Project!

I'm in love with all-things-hanging-upside-down on the Cadillac.

So I can't believe I haven't already featured this exercise, the Hanging Pull Ups, in a previous post. Nor have I mentioned the iconic finishing sequence in which it appears – the Traditional Ending.

The Traditional Ending on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Working steadily on your Cadillac exercises, over time you will learn a challenging little series of exercises as a finish for your workout.

The Traditional Ending is comprised of 5 exercises:

  • Breathing
  • Spread Eagle (above in photo)
  • Pull Ups
  • Hanging Pull Ups
  • Half Hang/Full Hang

You also have the option for an embellishment in the midst of your Hanging Pull Ups, the Twist Pull Ups. Of course! More on this thrilling variation in the video at the end of this post.

The Traditional Ending is a wonderful opportunity to play, cavort and challenge ourselves within the spacious canopy of the apparatus.

While we're having fun we'll also perfect a fundamental skill in the Pilates system: the connection of the arms and upper body into the larger muscles of the back.

Connecting the Upper Body into the Back

If you're ready to tackle the Hanging Pull Ups and the Traditional Ending you're no stranger to using your back muscles to support and power the movement of the upper body.

By now you've used this skill successfully in exercises like the Hundred, Arm Springs Lying Down and Chest Expansion on the Cadillac and Arm Circles and the Rowing series done on the Arm Chair to name just a few.

The major difference between the above exercises I mention and the Hanging Pull Ups is now you must support your entire body hanging in space.

Which means (1) this is not merely an arm exercise, and (2) oh gosh, we must use our lower body too.

Hello full body exercise!

What's to be done?

Step 1: The Order of the Universe

Work on all your other exercises… of course.

Step 2: I Pilates Projects

Let's look at some helper exercises for our Hanging Pull Ups. Later we'll examine the entire Traditional Ending series for more challenge assistance.

I've chosen 5 exercises which speak to me. Give them a try and see what you think.

If you find additional exercises which serve you – great! Please share your successes here in a comment and let me know what exercises work their magic.

1. Arm Springs Lying Down

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

This exercise is the very first ‘arm springs' exercise we learn.

Our entire body is supported and we can feel our back muscles on the mat behind us. The spring is sufficient to coax our entire body into doing the exercise.

This is not your ordinary arm exercise.

Using the position shown in the photo above, press the feet into the mat to enliven the lower body. It's usually the part of the body that is just lying there which must do all the heavy work.

Consider the Arm Springs Lying Down from a different POV:

When we push on a spring in Pilates we must lift our center in the opposite direction. Consider this exercise to be more of a back exercise than an arm/shoulder exercise.

If you were standing up, the Arm Springs Lying Down would become Chest Expansion.

2. Teaser (part 1) on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

The very first moments of this exercise are chock full of connective goodness!

Again you have the feedback of the mat behind you. Plus you now have the unwieldy Push Thru bar which must be controlled.

A-ha! The plot thickens…

Learning to move and control the Push Thru bar here will reward you majorly in all your other exercises.

  • Use the heel of the hand to connect and resist the bar as it comes toward you.
  • Control the bar as it begins to change direction.
  • When the arms reach upward connect to the back muscles to move the bar with the center instead of the shoulders.
  • Repeat up to 3x. And then of course, Teaser!

Now you're ready to connect your upper body into the back without being on the mat.

Brilliant!

3. The Rowing Series on the Arm Chair

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Here on the Arm Chair you'll have the exact same feedback from the apparatus, this time sitting up instead of lying down. See how you do.

If you've not experienced the four Rowing exercises here you're in for a real treat.

Rowing exercises on the Arm Chair:

  • Rowing 3 – From the Chest
  • Rowing 4 – From the Hip (above in photo)
  • Rowing 5 – Shave
  • Rowing 6 – Hug

The Arm Chair provides valuable information to take with you for your Reformer Rowing series. You'll find the connection and feedback from the chair to reinforce your tall back position wherever you are tall and away from the support of the apparatus.

4. Rolling Back (with eyes on the prize…)

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Occasionally there's an exercise with mass appeal.

I find Rolling Back on the Cadillac to be just such an exercise. No matter what the quality of the students' rolling up skills, everyone benefits from and enjoys this exercise.

It's often a nice segue from outside the studio into the workout.

Here we can begin to work on the lower body component of our Hanging Pull Ups.

  • Reach your lower body and heels against the upright poles of the Cadillac. Use your willpower. Really make it happen.
  • With all of your body supported by the apparatus, hone your focus to find your back, stomach and seat.

Think of this support as a help to our next lower body exercise, the Short Box Series.

5. The Short Box Series

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Practicing this meat-and-potatoes exercise can have a focus which will support our Pilates Project.

Forget about all the beautiful choreography happening in the upper body.

Just for a moment.

  • Commit to finding the lower body in this series to root the body and power your amazing Short Box skills.
  • Work the strap reaching the heels underneath and keeping it oppressively tight around the ankles.

You no longer have the luxury of pressing your heels into the apparatus.

Remember our other helper exercise, Rolling Back. Imagine the support and information you received and focus today on the lower body work in our Short Box Series.

See what happens. You might even surprise yourself.

The Traditional Ending on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Let's take a look here at one of my favorite components of the Pilates Method: the Order of the Universe.

Even our order of exercises is a help for our Hanging Pull Ups!

Our first exercise is Breathing, also an effective helper exercise and a great start to support all of our body weight in space.

  • Keep everything in a strong line.
  • Reaching the lower body long toward your big toes.
  • Find your skills from your Arm Springs Lying Down: move the bar toward you and connect into the back.
  • Work this exercise well and enjoy this invigorating finishing sequence!

Thanks for watching!

What are your favorite exercises to work on the Hanging Pull Ups? 

Share your success 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.

Get a Fantastic Workout on your Busiest Day

Get a Fantastic Workout on your Busiest Day

I dearly love my Pilates workout. Last week I was on a family vacation and I got in an invigorating Pilates Mat workout each morning in the lovely hotel fitness center.

I've got ample time for my Pilates workout when I am away from my studio. Sure I miss the Reformer, but daily Pilates is luxurious.

How can I aspire to a daily workout at the top of a busy workday? This is my conundrum.

“I can't do anything in less than an hour!”

Yes. I can. And you can too.

My beef for years was how to get in the full-on hour workout – a big Reformer workout – during a super-packed busy day. My morale runs high in the morning, dips around lunch time and at the end of my day I've really got my sights on dinner and not the Hundred.

Boo…

My Go-To Pilates Workout for Busy Days

Today I'd like to share with you my new plan to workout little by little throughout your day.

And you'll still feel fabulous!

At the end of my day I'm also more inclined to want closure for the workout I started earlier. Usually it feels too daunting to begin my workout at 7pm.

And I'm hungry.

3 Cheers for the Small Apparatus!

In today's video I share the apparatus and exercises I use daily. I will change up the major apparatus, whether I'll be doing Mat, Reformer, Cadillac or Chair. But the small apparatus ritual at the top of my workout remains the same.

For now.

If I've got more time I will do all of my small apparatus exercises, and if I am running late in my morning it only takes about 5 minutes to do a pared down version.

A couple scenarios…

No time to workout? There's an exercise for that.

Busy Day #1

6:55am

Small Barrel: Arm Series (Circles, Up/Down, Hug, Breathing) and Leg Series (Circles, Walks, Beats, Scissors, Bicycle, Hip Twist).

You'll finish in about 4 minutes.

1:30pm

Foot Corrector: all the exercises included in the video

Mat: Hundred, Roll Up, Roll Over, One Leg Circle, Roll Like a Ball, Single Leg Pull, Double Leg Pull, Scissors, Lower Lift, Criss Cross, Spine Stretch, Open Leg Rocker, CorkScrew, Saw, Swan, Single Leg Kick, Double Leg Kick, Thigh Stretch, Neck Pull

In about 20 minutes you've done all your Foot Corrector and jumpstarted your Mat exercises.

7pm

Mat: High Scissors, High Bicycle, Shoulder Bridge, Spine Twist, JackKnife, Side Kick Series, Teaser, Seal

Yes, you could finish up all your Mat exercises at this point at the end of the day, but dinner is often a real concern…

Or maybe you'll workout on the Reformer:

Busy Day #2

7:30am

Foot Corrector – all the exercises included in the video

Small Barrel: Arm Series (Circles, Up/Down, Hug, Breathing) and Leg Series (Circles, Walks, Beats, Scissors, Bicycle, Hip Twist).

Reformer: Footwork, Hundred, Overhead, Coordination

In just 15 minutes you've visited 2 small apparatus. You've also gotten the ball rolling with your Reformer.

1:30pm

Reformer: Long Box (Pull Straps, T, Backstroke, Teaser), Long Stretch, Down Stretch, Up Stretch, Elephant, Long Back Stretch, Stomach Massage Series

In about 20 minutes post-lunch you can complete Long Box 1 Series, Long Stretch Series and the Stomach Massage Series. Maybe you can get it done in 15?

Not too shabby.

6pm

Reformer: Short Box Series, Short Spine Massage, SemiCircle, Knee Stretch Series, Running, Pelvic Lift, Side Splits, Front Splits

Mat: Roll Like a Ball, Open Leg Rocker, Seal

At the end of the day you'll finish off the major exercises in what you may know as an Intermediate Reformer workout followed by an invigorating rolling ending.

Well done!

Give it a try and see how you do. Share your tips and successes in a comment below 🙂

I hope you'll enjoy this workout as much as I do.

Thanks for watching! 

Oh and about this video…

My body generally avoids the Shoulder Bridge on the Small Barrel. It's always my intent to include this exercise after the Bicycle but alas, as I edit this post I realize my body has gotten the best of me AGAIN and I “forgot” to include Shoulder Bridge in the video.

Bad Pilates Teacher!

You should still do it (and so should I).

Let's help each other…

Classes, Private Lessons and Much Much MORE!

October 5-8, 2017 I'll be in Portsmouth UK at Everybody Pilates. Private lessons are filling up! Reserve your spot by using the link below:

Everybody Pilates Mind Body Online

I look forward to seeing you there.

And here's where to find me this Fall.