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.

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.

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

Joe Pilates had a keen eye.

Joe looked at the skeleton and noticed the specific way our feet hang on the skeleton.2-Way Stretch and the Anatomy of Pilates

In the natural position of the bones the feet have a slight splay to them.

For this reason we use the heels together-toes apart position in our beloved Pilates method.

You may have learned this position as Pilates Stance.

Jay Grimes maintains there is no such thing as Pilates Stance. It is a made-up word. Joe didn’t make it up or use it. Joe simply looked at the way the bones hang on the skeleton.

To V

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

I love the connection and organization of the lower body I get from using the heels together-toes apart position. It's great when standing and even better when I have my lower body reaching into the air.

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

For me – I've got a slight bow to my legs – I find it to be ideal.

However, the V is not the only option we've got for our Pilates exercises.

Parallel feet hip-width apart proliferates in the method as well: Neck Pull, Short Box, Long Back Stretch, Up Stretch, Elephant.

Joe Pilates wants us to have it all.

Or Not to V

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

Certainly there are individuals for whom the V position of the feet is not appropriate.

  • Structurally those with knock knees often need a parallel-feet-apart position to have room for their knees to not overlap.
  • An individual with a knee issue may need to omit the V position – among other things – for a while.
  • The ballet dancer who lives life in turnout could find a nice challenge in a parallel position.
  • Those with a weaker side – also me – benefit from using a parallel position so each side must work individually and cannot rely on the other.

But what about those who could kinda do either position?

In our Pilates method there are no hard-and-fast rules. In fact, if you learned certain rules in your training, what would happen if you considered them to be simply guidelines?

Maybe the V position looks okay, but upon closer inspection it doesn't seem to be… quite… right.

What's to be done?

Let connection be your guide.

Every lesson we teach – just like our own lesson – is a work in progress.

Diligently we work on connecting our various parts into center. We work to exert greater control over our muscles, our movements and our daily life.

There's no reason we can't weigh a few options for our foot position while we're at it.

We're learning too.

Our feet are far away from our center and cultivating the muscles of the back and seat with our foot placement is a noble quest worth exploring.

Let's look at a bit of Footwork on the Reformer as an example:

As you perfect your 1st Footwork exercise – Toes – and also the 4th Footwork exercise – Tendon Stretch – ask yourself some questions based upon what you're seeing in front of you:

(Eyes open, mouth shut preferred.)

  • Do the knees look crowded or overlapped?
  • Does it look like one side might be working more than the other?
  • Do one or both knees want to lock?
  • What does the hip look like compared to where the knees and feet are?
  • How's the alignment of hip, knee and ankle?

If you answered ‘yes' or ‘not great' to the above questions it might warrant a trip to the Parallel Universe…

Wait.

What's all that about connection?

In our Pilates workout we're always looking for more action in our center.

All our Pilates exercises for the feet are magical and wonderful for the health, flexibility and well-being of our feet. Agreed.

But wait, there's more.

Imagine if you will, our 4th Footwork exercise again – the Tendon Stretch:

To V or Not to V: Let Connection Be Your Guide

Using the strength of the center – stomach lifting and bottom working – we'll stay light on our feet.

The whole body works to lift up in the front and lengthen downward in the back culminating in the heels reaching under the bar.

Often students will want to drop their weight when the heels drop and the ankle must overwork to hoist them back up to the toes. Boo… unhappy ankles…

Constant controlled motion is required as you reach lower with the heels and rise up again.

Hey! This maneuver done standing up is also a great way to end a Mat class:

  • Can you rise up to your heels with the strength of your center and not just by leaning forward?
  • Can you lower your heels without getting any shorter?
  • Never underestimate the Pilates exercises done lying down… you will eventually be asked to do them standing up!

Embrace the Grey

Part of the excitement and the teeth-gnashing of our beloved Pilates Method is there is no one rule to apply to every body you'll meet.

On one hand, Yay! There are not really wrong answers only better and more informed choices to be made.

Conversely, our powers of observation require constant cultivation.

  • We must truly show up and respond to the unique individual in front of us.
  • Maybe watch your student for a while saying nothing and plan your strategy.
  • Assign value to your own opinions about what you see as well as those of your mentors and from your training.

See what you think.

Questions?

Comment and join the conversation, we're a lively bunch!

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

For Andrea

A big thank you to Studio Flo Pilates for hosting me this past weekend.

It was a pleasure to be in your studio and get to know your teachers. I love connecting with fellow Pilates nerds! Thanks for stimulating such a wonderful conversation on the order of the Reformer exercises. I look forward to future collaborations with your bustling studio!

It was a fun 2 months of focus on the Reformer. Thanks also to Studio S Pilates for hosting my Transitions workshop in the month of March. You guys are always a good time 🙂

If you're like me, maybe you too can't get enough of the Reformer?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the studio…

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

Our beloved Pilates method: so many exercises, so little time…in our workout hour.

Many of you participated in my recent Small Barrel Project.

I was thrilled to learn you found the Barrel exercises to be as helpful jaw-droppingly informative as I did. The Spine Corrector packs quite the Pilates connection wallop.

Reformer? Check.

Small Barrel and Spine Corrector? Check, check.

Wunda Chair?

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

Anyone??

I find myself so wrapped up in my Reformer and Mat workouts, that the Wunda Chair in my studio literally gets dusty.

Oh dear.

The Mat exercises function as a barometer for “How's it going?” – are all our exercises on the Reformer and around the studio truly making our skills better and therefore our Mat exercises better?

Given this POV I propose the Wunda Chair exercises challenge our skill building in the same way. Now the playing field is tiny, mostly above ground level and fierce!

The exercises done on the Wunda Chair are sometimes familiar: Swan, Teaser, Horseback, Spine Stretch, Star. However our Mat surface here on the Chair is minimal.

No lying down and not much room to sit or kneel.

Our Wunda Chair exercises put a different spin on our fundamentals:

  • The Roll Up on the Mat and the Elephant on the Reformer become the Push Down.
  • The Knee Stretch Series on the Reformer morphs into the Mountain Climb.
  • The Wunda Chair closes up the parameters for our Spine Stretch.
  • The Frog shows up everywhere: Arm Frog, Frog Facing Away and Frog Facing Chair.
  • Swan Dive is similar minus the support for our prone body position.

With our beloved Pilates method we're always in familiar territory and yet NOT.

I plan to implement a Dust Off Your Wunda Chair Challenge for myself.

30 days.

13 Exercises:

  1. Footwork
  2. Pull Up
  3. Push Down
  4. Spine Stretch
  5. Teaser Stretch
  6. Swan/One-arm/Dive
  7. Teaser on the Chair (video tutorial at the bottom of  this post!)
  8. Mermaid Seated
  9. Flying Eagle
  10. SemiCircle
  11. Going Up Front
  12. Mountain Climb
  13. Star

Wanna play along?

Let me know in a comment below if there are exercises in my 13 that are unfamiliar to you.

I'll film a video of this full Wunda 13 Workout and also highlight unfamiliar exercises in a tutorial of their own.

Let me know what you'd like to see next!

A few of the exercises are daunting, and please know I feel the same way.

And if you've got a favorite to stick in there, feel free. There are sooooo many good ones.

13 exercises?!

Yes. My list began with 10 only to grow to 13 as I couldn't part with a few faves.

Teaser on the Chair

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Wunda Chair

Today's exercise will start us off with a bang. I find it particularly hair-raising, but with further exploration and connection I am gaining more control.

Sweet, sweet control.

In the video at the end of this post you'll find tips to refine your Teaser on the Chair:

  • Teaser on the Floor is a strengthener of our Round shape and of our Teasers all around the studio.
  • Teaser 1: legs remain in the air
  • Optional pumping the pedal: remember our priority of closing the pedal with control.
  • Teaser 2: legs lower and extend the hip.
  • Teaser 3: Everything down, everything up. Jay Grimes described this version to me as “just like rock-a-bye baby…” as I was sweating buckets of course.

Enjoy this short tutorial. 

Share your successes in a comment below.

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