The 7th Principle of Pilates: MOVE!

Jumping on the Stomach on the Ladder BarrelThis week's post is an oldie but its topic has even more resonance today than when it appeared on pilatesology.com in 2012. Read Pilatesology's original post even if you're not a member. Wanna join? Use my code Andrea30 and extend their free trial to 30 days.

My Pilates Confession for this week…

Remember your least favorite Pilates exercises we used for our little Repetition test?

Are you bored or are you better?

My few Ladder Barrel exercises have added a 4th friend: The Standing Stretches – also known to Romana's Pilates peeps as the Ballet Stretches.

And I am proud to admit I'm a bit better at them… and what about my 3 other exercises?

I'm sure I am a bit better…but it's too early to tell for sure… more repetition for me!

How did you do?

What are the ‘Principles of Pilates'?

Most all Pilates training programs – mine included – spend the first hour of the first training weekend imparting some basic information about Joe Pilates and his method.

On my first page of notes: Pilates is… (in 3 words) Stretch with Strength and Control.

Okay, cool.

Next my notes tell me what most if not all Pilates instructors also learn very early on:

The 6 Principles of Pilates:

Concentration

Control

Centering

Precision

Flowing movement

Breathing

True, these 6 principles do accurately describe what differentiates Pilates from other forms of exercise.

They do not, however, come from Joe Pilates.

Whaaaaaaaht???

It's true.

Jay weighs in…

Jay Grimes points out that Joe Pilates did not come down from the mountain one day with stone tablets proclaiming the 6 Principles of Pilates.

I always laugh when he says this because I think of Mel Brooks as Moses in History of the World Part 1. Moses comes down from the mountain to announce his 15 Commandments, accidentally drops one stone tablet and quickly changes the number to “…10…! 10 Commandments!”

But Joe Pilates would have had the stone tablets, the tiny white shorts, and a cigar I think, yes?

I know, getting a little off-topic.

So if not from Joe, from whom do we get these 6 lovely principles?

Enter Romana…

The 6 Principles first appeared in The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning by Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, two students of Romana Kryzanowska.

Originally published in 1980 (more than a decade after Joe Pilates died, yo.).  It “was the first book of its kind – bringing Pilates out of the elite studios and into the lives of millions of Americans.”

The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning

Jogging and running had exploded in the late 1970s. By 1980 a fitness craze was sweeping the country and an obsession with health, beauty, and youthfulness was having profound effects on American culture.

Students Gail and Philip met with Romana seeking specific ways to differentiate the Pilates Method from other forms of exercise.

What made Pilates special?

Certainly, the 6 principles they created are inherent in the Pilates system.

But another more important principle is missing.

Let’s call it the 7th Principle of Pilates: Move!

Who knows, maybe if Joe dropped his stone tablet other precious gems were lost as well:

“Thou Shalt Not Bang the Carriage.”

“Quiet the Clips.”

“What you don’t like, you do twice.”

Try it for yourself.

Let's follow the 7th Principle of Pilates. Move!

All those other 6 principles will happen automatically when you commit to simply move.

Concentration: You'll remember the exercises and focus on what you are doing. As you continue to move you'll have to think faster from one exercise to the next. Moving requires engagement.

Control: You'll move in a safe and effective fashion. The continual movement will challenge your control.

Centering: You’ll be toast without your stomach.

Precision: You'll maintain your form. The continual movement will challenge your precision.

Breathing: You'll most certainly have to breathe… The movement will require you to breathe more deeply and fully. I love it when this happens!

Flowing movement: OMG yes! You are moving!

All this involves TRUST of course.

Trust yourself AND the Work

Trust in Joe's work.

Trust that it is getting the job done without you micromanaging and getting all up in its grill.

Trust to let the body lead you without your mind working overtime, or over-indulging in the breathing.

Perhaps…you know who you are…

Trust.

Let go.

Let go and Let Joe…awww… #pilatespunsarethebest

What's your experience when you commit to move in your workout?

I'd love to know. Share your successes in a comment below.

Revisiting the Basics: Footwork on the Reformer

Revisiting the Basics: Footwork on the Reformer

About last week…

In last week's post, I challenged you to visit a few of your nastiest exercises. Did you get bored with them? Or did you get better at them? How did it go?

I'd love to know.

TBH, I decided on my 3 exercises quickly but only managed to visit them a few times… sign me up for another week.

So far I am neither bored nor better.

My 3 exercises to continue to wrangle:

Ladder Barrel exercisesLadder Barrel exercisesLadder Barrel exercises

Side Sit Ups, Side Stretch, and the Backbend.

Clearly I need to hear Joe Pilates' words again:

“Practice your exercises diligently with the fixed and unalterable determination that you will permit nothing else to sway you in keeping faith with yourself.

So I'll keep the faith at full speed for another week at least. How'd you do with your exercises?

Meanwhile…

Jump into a new series with me this week!

Nearly 2 decades into this amazing method, I'm finally (mostly) ready to tackle the-most-basic of all basics: Footwork on the Reformer.

Let's. Go.

Footwork at a Glance

In the traditional Pilates system 4 exercises begin our Reformer workout:

  1. Toes – the official name, but dare I say, Balls
  2. Arches
  3. Heels
  4. Tendon Stretch

For the record, I've never been a fan.

Kerry DeVivo of Excel Pilates Annapolis, one of my first teachers, used Footwork as her go-to workout on busy days. Not all the exercises on the Reformer, there was no time. 

JUST the Footwork.

She loved it.

Ugh.

Why subject yourself to such torture?

Even my most horrible Mat exercises would be more fun than Footwork on the Reformer all by itself.

#FootworkProbs

At first, I found the Footwork exercises to be frustrating. So much focus on the minutiae of my misbehaving foot, arch and ankle was such a drag. Not to mention I had the quads of 10 men… *sigh*

Can't we just move on to the Hundred and all the fun stuff?

What's really going on here?

I need an attitude adjustment…

Let's Zoom Out

Jay Grimes and Vintage Pilates (and time) have liberated my Footwork series.

I'm more than just a pretty pair of feet…

Joe Pilates was often asked, “What is this exercise for?”

“The BODY.”

Good answer! Thanks, Joe.

Footwork is your first big warmup of the lower body.

Footwork on the Reformer

The Hundred continues this theme of warming up, now for the upper body.

100 on the Reformer

What a pair!

#fullbodyworkout

Mobilizing and lengthening the back is more vital than perfect legs, feet, and ankles – at the moment. 

These things take time.

Most importantly MOVING through this series plucks you out of your busy mind and into laser focus: controlling your body. You may even sort yourself out on your way to the Tendon Stretch.

Joe Pilates has your back on this one.

Literally.

Can you be long, tall and straight like the Reformer behind you? Nope, but it's the trying that counts.

The Footwork series is a great place to take full advantage of your most supportive friend, your partner in crime, the Reformer.

Ready? Set? Footwork!

A whole Pilates studio of apparatus lies in wait to exploit your Footwork skills. Surely all of our 500+ exercises in the Pilates Method will benefit.

Footwork on the Reformer is the very first skill to haunt you (perhaps even taunt you) on every apparatus you visit.

Footwork on the Reformer

It's your very first squat!

Joe Pilates takes it easy on you at first. You are horizontal, fully supported by the apparatus and free from pesky gravity.

Check out these Pilates morsels! See if you can find their inner Footwork

Frog on the Reformer

Frog, in many iterations and on multiple apparatuses, is the ultimate Footwork clone.

Pumping on the High Chair

Pumping on the High Chair puts our Footwork (and our Frog) upright. I find changing the relationship to gravity can be a huge help in honing our Footwork skills.

Centering on the Ped-o-Pull

Focusing on your inner Footwork can make even grueling exercises on the Ped-o-Pul possible. In the photo, I am using a bit of Footwork to help with my Centering exercise.

Wow! The scope of the Footwork exercises makes it a whole lot more fun.

Now for something completely different (NOT)

Our Footwork series also provides a strong foundation in formidable exercises:

Greg Swan on Barrel

Swan done on the Ladder Barrel puts the strength of your Footwork to the test.

Headstand 2 on the Reformer

OMG it's a moment of Tendon Stretch from our Footwork series smack dab in the middle of the Headstand! An old familiar friend despite the challenging position…

Tower on the Cadillac

And you can clearly see some Footwork skills in my personal nemesis, Tower on the Cadillac. Thanks, Joe Pilates, someday I will learn!

Lights! Camera! Footwork?!

Joe Pilates starts you off right away with the fundamental skill of the Footwork series.

Visit your Footwork and all your fundamental Reformer exercises in these videos:

Use the first one for a detailed deliberate pace and the one below for the same group of exercises done at a brisk pace:

Need help finding your bottom and actually using it in your Footwork series?

Check out this video as well:

Have an amazing Pilates week. You got this.

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better
It's no secret I spend considerable time thinking about our beloved Pilates Method.

My favorite aspect of our system is, well, that whole ‘system' thing… I truly enjoy that we have a specific framework in which to workout.

Order! Order!

Our classical system has a specific order of exercises on the Reformer and on the Mat.

Combined with ‘We only have one exercise‘ Joe Pilates has literally built crucial skill-building into his method.

Repetition is truly the mother of all learning.

Pilates as a skill-based exercise regime is more akin to a martial art than it is to traditional fitness.

Like martial arts, Classical Pilates is “deeply rooted in philosophy… and tradition.” But “it [also] teaches discipline, focus, and respect.”

Often the Pilates method is promoted as fitness but it's different.

It is a practice, so you've gotta practice, am I right?

Won't I get bored?

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better
In last week's post I shared one of 2 exercises I'm working on in my current Pilates Proficiency Project: Rolling Back on the Cadillac. Working this exercise each day is bettering my Roll Up skills and creating more proficiency system-wide.

Repeatedly visiting the exercises allows the apparatuses to be our teachers too.

Plus, the Pilates Method is experiential so I invite you to consider starting your own Pilates experiment to find out for yourself:

  1. Choose a small group of exercises
  2. Choose a time frame – 2 weeks, 30 days, etc… (at least 2 weeks tho)

Limit the number of exercises you choose so you can complete them in just a few minutes.

Do your chosen exercises Every. Day.

I've done this experiment here before with my Small Barrel Project and also with my Foot Corrector and 2×4 exercises. If you've got a couple of exercises you really hate but know are good for you – those are the ones to choose!!!

You can decide for yourself if you're bored or if you get better day-by-day at your chosen exercises.

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

You know what? I'm gonna jump in right now.

I've got a trifecta of Ladder Barrel exercises which aren't my favorites and are ripe for just this kind of ‘noble experiment.'

My 3 horrible exercises on the Ladder Barrel:

Side Sit Ups – aaaargh kill me now…

Side Stretch – maybe you know this one as Fish??

Backbend Hanging – probably this one has a bunch of other names as well… it used to be a fave but not sure anymore…

Stay tuned here for next week's post to find out how it's going.

Also If you're not a blog subscriber, click here. You'll receive a new post every Monday and you'll also receive a bonus blog post all about How to Fall in Love with the Exercises you Hate.

You'll see how many exercises I don't like and maybe you even hate them too.

But it's no fun to be a hater…

Won't my clients get bored ??

Serendipity led me to find this image on IG:

Variety social share

Consistency yields big dividends. It's a great feature of our beloved Pilates Method.

If you are consistent, it works. You don't even have to be that great at the exercises.

Just do it.

Joe Pilates takes care of that whole ‘variety' part for us. It's in there.

Joe presents us with the same demands in multiple scenarios all around the studio.

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

Creating consistency in your clients' workout will better their skills, change their bodies and empower their minds.

You become a team!

And while this is not a guarantee that every new client will jump on board with you… you will find your people. There are plenty of clients who are perfect for YOU.

Remember: The exercises stay the same and familiar as your body goes through monumental change.

Check out this recent video collaboration I did with the amazing Lesley Logan.

Thank you for reading!

Check out @Pilatay on IG and cast your vote for Best of Pilates 2019.

If you like what you read here use this link to vote for me as Best Pilates Blog 2019.

Thanks so much!

Learn. To do. The Roll Up. and other Pilates Mantras…

Joe doing the Roll Up on the Mat

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for joining me on this amazing journey that is our beloved Pilates Method.

I've been thinking about you and as always, I've got the Pilates exercises at the forefront of my mind.

Where'd you go, Bernadette?!

Thank you so much for all of your sweet emails and comments expressing your love for the blog and your concern that you've not been receiving my once-weekly emails.

There's nothing wrong with your subscription or your inbox.

The short answer is that my surf lessons have absorbed the time in which I would write my weekly posts…

But that's not the whole truth… and as of yet, I've not become a surfing expert…

The real story is I've been experiencing a huge learning curve in my workout and therefore in my teaching as well. I dearly wanted to share this with you but I wasn't sure how best to go about it.

To be frank, my body used to LOVE the Pilates exercises. Every last one of them was a total. Feel. GOOD. Experience.

Since my most recent post in May '18, I've found that my body has grown intolerant of my movement patterns and pointed me with a neon red sign toward my imbalances and compensations.

“So what are you going to do about THAT??!” my body cries.

Don't blame the exercise!

This is an important point at this juncture: there's nothing wrong with the Pilates exercises or my body. After careful thought, movement and consideration, my body is pointing me in the direction of my weakest points and demanding I address them.

And you know how change is not comfortable? I felt reluctant to testify about Pilates with you. The blogposts got started but alas, were never completed…

So thank you, dear readers, for your patience, support, and love. I'm back – I hope a little bit wiser – and completely humbled by our magnificent Method.

Meanwhile…back at the Roll Up

Jay Grimes is straightforward in his direction.

Here's one of my favorites:

Learn.

To do.

The Roll Up.

Pretty simple right?

This. Means.

YOU.

It was a big day in my mat class when I did my first successful Roll Up.

In my first class, I could NOT roll up.

Nope.

I should have stopped right there as my One Leg Circle was not much better…

Fast Forward 18 Years (not a typo)

Now I've done the Roll Up for decades so I am golden. I'm all ready to move beyond the humble Roll Up and onto more exciting stuff…

…like the Neck Pull

Good times.

This is where the journey gets uncomfortable interesting…

With more proficiency comes greater responsibility, my friends!

Don't just get it done… was that a heave-ho in there?

It's called the Roll Up

not the Throw Up.

(also Jay Grimes)

What would it take to REALLY do the Roll Up?

These things take time…

In my very first Pilates Mat class all those years ago at Excel Pilates, I could NOT roll up.

Today the Roll Up is one of my favorites. Now it's time to peel more delicious leaves off the artichoke.

Hard-won exercises can take us to the next level of proficiency over time.

Lately, I've been working hard to perfect a couple of the Roll Up‘s kissing cousins on the Cadillac.

Can you guess?

I know, we're always rolling up or down from somewhere, right?

Rolling Back on the Cadillac

Andrea doing Rolling Back on the Cadillac

Early on in my physical life, I found it “helpful” to compensate for my swayback posture by essentially tucking my pelvis all the time… you can kind of see it in the above photo from January 2018.

And boy do old habits die hard…

Now I know my tucked pelvis was a quick fix for not using my stomach effectively in my Pilates workout.

Rolling Back has helped me to keep lifting everything that sits up on top of the Short Box while my deep scooped belly starts the rolling back part. Rolling Back is even an exercise I like!

I don't have to tell you my Roll Up has gotten so much better (insert mindblown sound effect here)!

Which brings me to my second fantastic exercise on the Cadillac: Push Thru Front. 

Andrea doing Push Thru Front on the Cadillac

This one I have never liked…

I've spent many years not practicing the exercises I don't like. But now at least there's LIFT!

The photo above was taken last month (October 2019).

Here the Cadillac apparatus gives my body parameters which increase the difficulty. Push Thru Front is even more truth serum for my body.

The deep scoop of my belly must take me into that sharp turn of the exercise (right in my weakest spot!) and continue as I push the bar forward. Remember there's no crying in Pilates!

So how's that Roll Up going?

Working to initiate Rolling Back in my low low center has helped my Roll Up become much stronger.

And longer!

These 2 Cadilac exercises have helped me locate that deep-scooped-belly connection in so many of my other exercises. It's no joke how learning to properly roll up and down can strengthen our Pilates workouts.

Since I have been “learning to do the Roll Up” I've increased my proficiency in MANY other exercises:

I have built strength in my Roll Over, Rolling Like a Ball, Open Leg Rocker, Corkscrew, Jackknife, The Short Box, Tree, Short Spine Massage, Swan, Neck Pull, and the list goes on…

When one exercise gets better, they all get better: we only have one exercise!

Thanks so much for reading!

If you like what you read here, join my list below. If you've been a longtime subscriber and you're excited there's a new blog post, lay some love on me in the comments 🙂

Now let's workout! You know you want to…

The Pilates System: What’s in a Workout?

The Pilates System: What's the Best Workout for You?

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for joining me here for all things Pilates.

I've got a special announcement at the end of this post. It's another cool way to work with me even if you're on the other side of the world so be sure to check it out!

If you've missed some of my YouTube collaborations with Lesley Logan of Profitable Pilates, check out this playlist. There are also lots of workouts on my channel. Thanks for watching!

What's in a Workout?

The Pilates System: What's in a Workout?

The Pilates Method works best with consistent, concentrated and diligent practice. Joe Pilates famously tells us to be faithful to ourselves and our pursuit of Contrology, and in just 30 sessions we'll have a whole new body. Joe bases this claim on lessons 3x per week with HIM!

Today, alas, this is not possible…

What's to be done?

Every workout is valuable and serves to better our progress and execution of the exercises. But what's the benefit of my private lesson versus my independent workouts? And what about working in a class?

How can we best spend our workouts and our training dollars to deliver optimum results?

Not all workouts are the same. The combination of lessons, classes and solo workouts beautifully complement each other and ensure our steady progress.

This week I examine our workout options to illuminate how they best serve our Pilates needs.

Let's start with a favorite of mine:

The Private Lesson

The Pilates System: What's the Best Workout for You?

The Private Lesson pairs you with your very favorite Pilates instructor(s). Ideally you've been studying consistently with one or more teachers over a long period of time.

You know more about your skills and your body from working with this/these instructors. You may even hear his or her voice in your head when you workout solo (more on this a bit later on).

In the Private Lesson you are working to refine your skills and better your weak points. You may not do every exercise you currently do; you might work more slowly through your order of exercises with a focus on a particular nuance. You may investigate the same focus in each exercise in today's workout.

The Pilates System: What's the Best Workout for You?

The Private Lesson is a wonderful way to make yourself accountable to your workout. When I first began my Pilates lessons years ago, making my appointments kept me honest. I couldn't blow off my workout or there would be consequences… and a cancelation fee to pay.

Consider the Private Lesson as an hour chock full of ME time. I initially got hooked on Pilates via a Mat Class (more on this a bit later as well). Soon a couple friends from Mat Class joined me in Pilates Class (Small Group Apparatus). We were a great trio. One day I remember, both friends canceled and I had my very first Private Lesson.

I learned so much about my body in that very first Private Lesson.

Me likey!

The Private Lesson is also a great space in which to clarify new or unfamiliar exercises. It's a great place to begin scary crazy exercises like Headstands and Backbends.

You need a friend.

Do you have concerns about injuries or other body issues?

If so, the Private Lesson is the place to be.

The Continuing Education Workshop

The Pilates System: What's the Best Workout for You?

The Continuing Education Workshop tempts us from all around the globe.

In April I snuck off to Seattle with a few Pilates friends for a workshop weekend with Lori Coleman-Brown. Later I visited Jay Grimes in Los Angeles for a workshop on my favorite topic The Double Leg Pull. This summer I head to Kuopio, Finland to teach a bunch of my favorite workshops.

Oh I love a good Continuing Education Workshop!

My favorite workshops include a workout component as well. I find it hard to sit still in a Pilates workshop (all the while talking about glorious ways to MOVE!).

The Pilates Method is experiential.

My body must experience the exercises (over and over again) to better them.

Jay Grimes is famous for stating that one cannot learn the Pilates Method by taking notes.

I take notes, but as much as possible I also take action.

I encourage you to be mercenary. Don't be an apparatus hog, but if you're the only one who volunteers to do the exercises I say seize the day!

The Pilates Mat Class

The Pilates System: What's the Best Workout for You?

I took my first Pilates Mat Class in the Fall of 2000. It was the most inexpensive option at the Pilates studio. I had a job in retail and for my budget, the six-week Mat Class course was ideal.

The Pilates Mat Class can give you a taste for the wider method to come. However, you should know the Mat exercises are unforgiving and you'll be at the mercy of your own body.

The Mat Class enables us to experience a variety of instructors over time and perhaps discover a different spin on an old favorite exercise. Perhaps a teacher's language speaks to you in a new way. Or you've made a discovery about how an exercise early-on prepares you for what's to come later in the sequence.

The Pilates System: What's the Best Workout for You?

Let's say you've combined your Mat Class experience with the Private Lesson as well. Now your Mat Class gives you a chance at more of an Independent Workout. You know what you work on in your lessons and now's your chance to try it out in real time. Hopefully with some movement and flow.

The Mat Class can often be self-limiting. You will either accomplish the exercise or you won't. There's minimal help and no matter who you are, you're gonna need some.

Enter The Pilates Class (Small Group Apparatus).

The Pilates Class (Small Group Apparatus)

The Pilates System: What's the Best Workout for You?

The Pilates Class brings you and a few choice friends together with a fun teacher. You'll have fun just letting your instructor steer the ship for the hour. Maybe you'll use the Reformer for the majority of the hour. I bet there will be a trip the to Wunda Chairs and perhaps a Wham Bam! finishing sequence.

Like the Mat Class, you'll get to be more independent in your workout although you'll probably receive specific instructions as well like the Private Lesson unless the class is large.

Sharpen your listening skills and be ready for the journey. Sometimes it can be nice to allow yourself to simply follow directions and be a student again. Remember why you started this whole Pilates adventure in the first place?

Enjoy your workout!

The Independent Workout

The Pilates System: What's in a Workout?

For the devoted and consistent student you'll finally arrive at the Independent Workout! Years of hard work and dedication (and quite possibly a Teacher Training Program) have led you to this moment.

Working out solo often puts the voice of your favorite Private Lesson teachers right in your head to guide you. At some point your own voice may even replace that of your teachers. Enjoy this focused hour of mental and physical control.

In the Independent Workout I find it helpful to pick one element of your workout to focus on each time you will workout. As a way to streamline the mind and get moving perhaps your most-heard correction (from your Private Lesson!) may be a good starting point.

By yourself you have the luxury of an uninterrupted hour to devote to even the most challenging aspects of your Pilates workout.

Pilates Playtime

The Pilates System: What's in a Workout?

I use the term ‘Pilates Playtime‘ to cover any little mini-workouts which are often unplanned and sometimes just happen to us.

If one of my clients is late I will start my “workout” while I wait. I know I'll soon be interrupted. But I can seize the moment and maybe even do more exercises than I had anticipated.

Or maybe one exercise in your lesson becomes new or more valuable and you'd like to try it out again. What was the correction again? How did it feel?

Of course. Use my stomach…

Sometimes if I have a jam-packed week my only workouts will be Pilates Playtime!

But even little bits of Pilates done frequently is better than no Pilates at all.

PS. Make sure to schedule a lesson or a class!

Come workout with me!

In the spirit of committing to our own Pilates workouts I'm offering a new online class.

It's called Move Now. Talk Later.

In this 60-minute class we'll explore all the apparatus in the Pilates System. The class format will be 45-50 minutes of working out followed by a 10 minute discussion and questions.

Each week we'll pick a different apparatus to explore.

The class will meet on Wednesdays at 9am PST.

There will be a maximum of 6 people and the cost will be $50.

This week will be a Reformer workout. There are still a few spots open so snag them if you can!

Here's the link to schedule:

https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=12715947&appointmentType=6385798

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

And here's where to find me in 2018.

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