Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

“We only have one exercise” is a phrase I initially heard from Jay Grimes.

Joe Pilates said if you can do only one exercise a day, it should be the Double Leg Pull.

I have written about it before (oh at least once) and declared the ‘one exercise' as Jay does to be the Double Leg Pull (also called Double Leg Stretch).

However, while we're on this we-only-have-one-exercise theme, it logically follows that every exercise can have value as a ‘touchstone' exercise.

What do I mean by a ‘touchstone' exercise'?

touchstone: a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized.

touchstone exercise: (my definition)

  1. Any exercise where you find success in connecting to the center, potentially assisting you to understand a more challenging exercise where connection is elusive.
  2. An exercise that's reinvented itself for the better and proceeds to infiltrate your workouts. It introduces you to new moments in your old favorites – was that my butt? – and can often take you to a new more proficient plateau on your path.

Ok now that's exciting.

What exercise speaks to you in a new and exciting way? Maybe your hard-won exercise of yesterday is a crucial element of another exercise that continues to vex.

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

If an exercise speaks to you, use it!

Currently – because tomorrow it could all change! – my touchstone exercise is the Tower exercise done on the Guillotine – I try to hit it each time I am at Vintage Pilates on Mondays.

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

It's only the beginning of my exploration and potential love affair with the Tower exercise…

A guillotine! A guillotine! My kingdom for a guillotine!

For us crooked folk, we need the noisy journey of the bar to shake us up. “Something's not working so well” says the Guillotine… Which often sounds like a loud “WTF?!”

When we hear silence – well, it's flippin' magical. And quiet.

Guillotine: perfect feedback for working correctly and symmetrically…otherwise – ooh so noisy!

Thigh Stretch anyone?

The Tower exercise helps find my seat and length as I connect the lower body into the center. Very useful.

Another touchstone exercise I enjoy is the Thigh Stretch.

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

Thigh Stretch is an exercise, in my understanding, direct from Joe Pilates and fits neatly into the Pilates Mat sequence between Double Leg Kicks and the Neck Pull.

Despite its absence from Return to Life, Jay Grimes learned it from Joe.

The Reformer version is of course, also nice and equally good. But I quite like the Mat version as it's just you and the mat, babe.

Challenging exercises which also position you in the shape of the Thigh Stretch except in a horizontal orientation, (think Shoulder Bridge on the Mat and the Semi Circle on the Reformer) tempt me to get all pushy and clenchy with my hips and thighs.

That doesn't sound like length to me.

Awww…frownie face…

I take a little help from the Thigh Stretch on the Mat and use its vertical orientation to my advantage. Vertically I can find lift to carry over into those clench-y exercises, finding the low seat and *gasp* length!

Oh length, where have you been all my life?

Have an exercise that's become your secret weapon? Comment below and help a gal out 🙂