The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Front Splits

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Front Splits

For Corrie

Wowza, it's been an amazing month of March MATness. I hope you enjoyed all the MAT-tastic images and videos abounding over social media this March.

What a Like-fest!

Thanks again Benjamin Degenhardt for infusing and enhancing our Pilates lives with the 5th annual!! month-long homage to all things Return to Life.

You. Da. Bomb.

Meanwhile, back on the Reformer

If you've been lolling about on your Mat of late, let's dig into our series of 4 splits with gusto!

Side Splits on the Reformer was our first installment of the series of 4 splits that come at the very end of our order of the Reformer exercises.

Today's post and tutorial features the 2nd split in our series, Front Splits.

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Front Splits

Full disclosure:

The series of splits come literally at the end of 80 or so exercises done on the Reformer. They are also after the “closure sequence” of the Reformer which I've come to refer to as ‘the beginning of the end.'

The beginning of the end = Knee Stretches, Running and Pelvic Lift.

I often finish my Reformer – due to time constraints or exhaustion constraints – at Pelvic Lift and then I do a bit of rolling on the Mat – without visiting our Control Push Up Series or our series of Splits.

Today I vow to change my (quasi) cheating ways.

Especially for my body – and I suspect for many of you out there – one-sided exercises are crucial to strengthen my one-sided body. Sure they are fun (?) stretchy splits, but more importantly the split series works each side individually.

Just what I need to be skipping doing.

Front Splits on the Reformer

Welcome to Front Splits, all the fun of Single Leg Pull and Going Up Front combined!

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Front Splits

See the upside down Front Split?

(Scroll down for a shot of Going Up Front)

The Front Splits on the Reformer is a wonderful opening of the hips in preparation for the full-on splits of the 2 subsequent exercises Russian Splits and Big Splits.

Moments in this exercise are reminiscent of the Down Stretch, but done one leg at a time.

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Front Splits

The Front Splits series has about 4 parts to it which are taught in 2 different orders.

Originally you may have worked the Front Splits thusly:

  • Standing up with one foot on the footbar, front leg bent
  • Standing up hands behind head
  • Kneeling on the carriage one foot on footbar
  • Finishing kneeling balance

You'll see both this order as well as the one I prefer to use now, which is exactly the same parts just reorganized:

  • Kneeling on the carriage with one foot up on the footbar
  • Kneeling balance
  • Standing up with one foot on the footbar, front leg bent
  • Standing up hands behind head

I enjoy the preparation of what is essentially a kneeling thigh stretch – your one-legged Down Stretch! – and the standing strength move as the final moment of each side.

Check out both versions of the Front Splits in the video at the end of this post.

See what you think.

Front Splits Deconstructed

Here you are in a similar position to our oh-so-favorite series The Long Stretch Series.

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Front Splits

Oh boy.

Dare I say you may face the same plight of overworking with the arms and upper body in the Front Splits? Remember what's attached to the carriage: the lower body.

The Front Splits – all the splits to be precise – are lower body exercises.

I love the standing moment in the Front Splits as it is Going Up Front on the Chairs all over again.

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Front Splits

What good news!

Work to keep this much lower body action especially when you've got your hands on the footbar.

Enjoy this short tutorial.

Stay tuned for our next installment, Russian Splits.

And here's where to find me in 2017.

‘Pre-Pilates’ Exercises: What are they and who does them?

"Pre-Pilates" Exercises: What are they and who does them?

For Lali

When one is new to the Pilates Method it is customary to begin at the beginning.

Often we can assume that our new student is unfamiliar in every way with exercises and concepts. Thusly, we begin to lay in the foundation.

As an apprentice, I asked one of my first teachers, Kerry DeVivo of Excel Pilates Annapolis, to show me the pre-Pilates exercises. I had heard of them but I wasn't sure if I had ever done them myself.

What I really wanted was the cold, hard facts: a list of pre-Pilates exercises.

Silly, Andrea…

Kerry provided her sound advice per usual:

Pre-Pilates exercises are designed to help a client gain the tools needed to properly perform the exercises, not in terms of choreography, but rather in terms of reaching the purpose of each exercise.

She urged me to think about the skills necessary to achieve any given exercise.

What needs to be in place to find success in the Hundred, the Teaser, Short Box, the Roll Up?

The Roll Up is a good example. One of the most concrete examples of what I consider to be pre-Pilates is the Half Roll Down, which some students must master before moving to the full Roll Up on the Mat.

The Half Roll Down is just one moment in the midst of the entire Roll Up exercise that one can tackle first. It is a skill inherent in the Roll Up that we can examine all by itself for a while.

Kerry further emphasized that pre-Pilates exercises are merely a teaching tool: a stepping stone on the Pilates path meant to empower the client and maintain the intention of the exercise.

That's on a need to know basis…

Back in the day – even back in my own day, it was a gift to receive a new exercise. You had worked hard for it and now you shall have your reward: Snake/Twist on the Reformer.

There. You. Go.

If you weren't a teacher, you may not have known this exercise even existed. There you were Arm-Circling your little heart out in perfect bliss…

I like to watch Chris Robinson each week when he has a lesson with Jay Grimes. He does a manly version of the Horseback that I have never done before. I don't need to know about that one just yet.

That's on a need to know basis…

Right now I've got my hands full just wrangling the standard version of the Horseback.

And that is just fine.

And Pre-Pilates?

I feel the same way about exercises that we often label ‘pre-Pilates.' If you don't need them, you may not have learned them in your workout. Teacher training programs will most likely include them, but I find pre-Pilates exercises to be in the realm of the Pilates grey area.

Oh yes, the Pilates grey area.

I know it well.

I am a very literal and direct person. I enjoy succinct and clear guidelines.

I adore order.

Pre-Pilates can be a murky, grey place in the Pilates Universe so I've got some examples of how to find your our way.

Know where to look

The need for pre-Pilates exercises generally arises when you're confronted with an individual's unique set of circumstances. Perhaps numerous pathologies all wrapped up together in one personality lead you to seek a basic preparatory exercise.

It is your fervent hope that the pre-Pilates will strengthen/enliven said individual and solve your Pilates problem du jour.

This line of thinking is based on “Mrs. X. should not do a, b, or c because she has this, that and the next thing.” And of course you must be aware of contraindications.

First, do no harm.

However, flip that around and ask yourself “What can this body in front of me do?” You may be surprised by the answers to this question.

Oh and by the way, there's a reason we call it the Magic circle… more on that in a bit.

Okay, so you've got the “why-you-may-need-pre-Pilates,” now let's talk about the “what-we're-gonna-do-about-it.”

“The Magic is in the System.”

Pilates is a systematic method of exercise: one exercise builds off another, much like laying bricks to build a chimney.

At times, foundational work needs to be done prior to “building the chimney.”

For these cases we use what is commonly referred to as pre-Pilates. Kerry DeVivo

Chances are there is a fantastic exercise already on your radar that will fill that pre-Pilates need.

Real World Scenario #1

You guessed it, we'll look at an old favorite: the Hundred.

"Pre-Pilates" Exercises: What are they and who does them?

Joe Pilates says you must do the Hundred with your feet 2″ from the floor.

This is true.

However, if you've got a 70-something loosey-goosey lady with multiple joint replacements, a delicate neck, back and shoulders, you may adopt a different approach.

What's to be done?

You could choose to leave out the Hundred entirely. That is one option.

And maybe you do that for now…while you plan your approach.

Or you could choose to work each component of the Hundred one by one. In this way you'll eventually build a version of the Hundred that is appropriate for a particular individual.

The process will not be speedy, but think of the skills you'll build along the way.

Back to 70-something loosey-goosey lady with multiple joint replacements, a delicate neck, back and shoulders…

  • One element of the Hundred that's just fine with this case study is the breathing part. She's certainly breathing or she wouldn't be having a Pilates lesson.
  • She can lie onto her back just fine as well.

Awesome.

Let's leave her head down for now. Still a great exercise without lifting your head.

How about that arm pumping?

Here's where we can work on our first component for a successful Hundred.

If shoulders are delicate, I'll bet that to pump the arms up and down, our Mrs. X may default to her shoulders and possibly aggravate them. Especially on the Reformer with straps and a moving carriage.

So on the Reformer you could lose the straps, that's one option.

Or, you've got that spacious and sturdy Cadillac you could use to build strength in her stomach and back with simple Arm Springs lying down.

"Pre-Pilates" Exercises: What are they and who does them?

Save pumping the arms until a little bit later on after she's built up some strength in the center so she doesn't bother her shoulders. If necessary you could use a lighter spring.

The Arm Chair may be a great option as well. A bit more challenging with the whole sitting up thing…

So in this scenario we are using the Arm Springs (lying down) on Cadillac and/or the Arm Chair exercises to build the strength and connection of the arms into the center.

This is just one skill you'll need for the Hundred.

As a side effect – all the strengthening of the center will slowly facilitate the lift of the head without neck strain. Eventually.

Rome was not built in a day, yo.

3 Cheers for the TV exercises!

It is my understanding that the TV exercises come from Romana Kryzanowska.

Presumably one can easily do these exercises while sitting and watching TV.

I should really jump on this bandwagon…I have the most terrible TV-watching posture.

Take it away, DeVivo…!

"Pre-Pilates" Exercises: What are they and who does them?

Distilled to their essence the TV Exercises are all about lift.

What a surprise.

You are seated in a safe (non-moving) place on the Cadillac with the feet supported on a stable box – either the box from the Reformer, or a box like I have in the photos below, created just for these simple exercises.

It is here that we can find the building blocks for the Short Box Series on the Reformer.

And of course, everything else…

50 Shades of Tree

The goal of the TV exercises is to find the muscles that allow you to lift one foot off the box yet still remain in a lifted and tall seated position.

Not an easy feat for some.

At first some individuals may need to use both feet firmly planted on the box to find lift in the back and seat. Just lifting up and sitting tall may be challenging.

For a little while.

As your student becomes stronger you can begin to lift one leg.

Eventually the lifting of one leg can become more elaborate:

  • Lift one foot up from the box.
  • Stay tall and extend the leg forward until it straightens.
  • Lower it with control.

"Pre-Pilates" Exercises: What are they and who does them?

Try it, it's not easy. No slouching!

Real World Scenario #2

I have found great success in using the premise of the TV exercises to prepare for the Short Box Series on the Reformer. This series is fundamental to the Pilates method.

It is vital to the system!

What if your student is unable to experience this necessary series??!

Enter 50-something loosey-goosey lady with back and knee issues that has not exercised before. She wears heels regularly and is a devoted equestrienne.

Ah, the plot thickens…

The Short Box can be a precarious place for some. There you are, stranded on the box without any support for your back and you've got your feet in 2 unstable straps.

It's no fun to do Pilates when you are apprehensive about what you'll be doing. No one wants to feel badly after their lesson. They want to feel successful and empowered.

The location of the TV exercises – on the Cadillac – is a safe and supportive option.

"Pre-Pilates" Exercises: What are they and who does them?"Pre-Pilates" Exercises: What are they and who does them?

  • Firmly plant your feet on the box.
  • Here you can work on lifting the back without feeling you'll fall back into the abyss.
  • A tiny version of the Reach and the Side-to-Side done here will find and strengthen your lift.
  • You'll build confidence as you build skills, eventually progressing to full-on Short Box (on the Reformer).
  • Your lift in the Reach will help you find a Round position that is lifted and not crunchy/bone-gnashing to the back.

The Magic is in the Circle!

Oh yes, now it's magic time…

I include the Magic Circle here as it moves between both worlds: the full Pilates exercises and the pre-Pilates arena. It's wonderful for so many people.

And did I mention it's magic?

In the last several years I have had 2 clear occasions to declare the Magic Circle sheer and utter MAGIC.

Occasion #1: I even gasped out loud

Male client, extremely chatty and distracted. Physically coordinated and capable, but super focus-challenged.

Oh and he really only wanted to do the Mat.

And for a bit he wanted me to kill him in every lesson. For a bit.

Divine Intervention

I believe he was sent to me directly from Jay Grimes as a challenge for me to not talk so much. Whenever I said anything the client would take the ball and run with it and the Pilates exercises would get wild and unfocused.

And so I spent the entire hour willing myself to say nothing. When I did speak inevitably it would lead to a discussion. Not about the exercises…

I used to imagine this client cooped up in an office alone all day long with no one to talk to only to finally come to Pilates and let his light shine!

Uhm, no.

In desperation I turned to the Magic Circle. He liked a challenge and the Mat – and I thought the Circle might help to collect him a bit physically. If he had to focus physically maybe it would help his mental focus…?

OMFG he got so quiet and focused the moment that I gave him the Magic Circle. It was truly miraculous!

His focus honed in like a laser on the Circle as he wrangled his new experience of the Hundred. I was amazed.

Clearly there is magic in that there Circle.

Occasion #2: The Magic Circle is in the System!

The Magic Circle is conducive to the entire Pilates system. Imagine that.

It's not just there to kick your ass, people.

Back to 50-something loosey-goosey lady with back and knee issues that has not exercised before. Remember she wears heels regularly and is a devoted equestrienne.

One of the standing exercises she loves to do is basically Tendon Stretch (from Footwork) done on the 2×4. She says it helps her to ‘post up' on her horse and I love it because it connects her lower body into the center – into her stomach.

'Pre-Pilates' Exercises: What are they and who does them?

Win – Win!

She likes the Magic Circle for a similar reason: she needs strong inner thigh muscles to hold onto her horse.

'Pre-Pilates' Exercises: What are they and who does them?

The magic time came when these 2 exercises combined into a glorious lying down version of full connection to the lower body. Her stomach was shaking.

She could use this feeling with the circle to make the Arm Springs (lying down) a full body exercise and get ease in her upper body.

#itsakindofmagic

So keep thinking of skill-building when you are in need of a pre-Pilates exercise. 

Got one that works like a charm?

Share it in a comment below – we'd all love to know about it!

Thank you so much for reading!

You’ve Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Thank you, lovely Pinterest followers for making the above image into my most popular pin.

Pinned 206 times as of this writing, it's the mantra I use to improve my teaching skills.

Every. Day.

Let's throw down the gauntlet and aspire to greatness.

Choose Wisely

When skill-building in the Pilates system we are faced with a never-ending series of choices.

It's a Pilates choose-your-own-adventure! The choices you'll make will lead you and your clients along the Pilates path in as direct a manner as possible.

OMG this is the Holy Grail for Pilates instructors.

It's a tall order, I know.

But time is on our side and they tell me Rome was not built in a day. We'll move toward our goal incrementally each day.

Success in the Pilates method is more marathon than sprint. Keep this in mind.

  • Day 1: you will plant the apple seed.
  • Day 2: you will not yet be enjoying a juicy apple!

Patience, grasshopper.

I choo-choo-choo- choose you

Joe Pilates has given us numerous opportunities to choose wisely.

Take a look around the studio.

In addition to our old standbys the Reformer and the Mat, we've got a trio of chairs and of barrels.

It's the collection of exercises on these 6 pieces of ofttimes peripheral apparatus that we can turn into one of our greatest assets. Within this grouping of chairs and barrels lies the perfect spot to work on a variety of connections for lots of different folks.

The Spring Remains the Same

At first blush, the work you'll do on the Chairs and Barrels may feel different from the Reformer and Mat exercises. But remember they are all part of a larger system.

All Systems Go

When viewed through the lens of the entire Pilates system the 3 Pilates Chairs and 3 Pilates Barrels become remarkably similar to our old friends the Reformer and the Mat:

For example, on the Chairs the springs are familiar.

  • They assist us.
  • They offer us support.
  • They remind us with a bang when we've gotten out of control.

We must use our lift and always aspire to close the spring with control.

This is the main objective of any apparatus with springs.

In Elephant on the Reformer you will close the spring.

Same for the Pull Up on the Wunda Chair.

I think I'm gonna like it here.

In comparison, the Barrels are bereft of springs and therefore more similar to the Mat. Like the Mat, they require you to fasten some of you into the apparatus while other parts of you reach long and away. The round shape of the barrel apparatuses allows gravity to work in our favor for a change.

The upper body reaches over the fastened in lower body in the Roll Up.

Arm Circles on the Spine Corrector again fasten you into a seated position while the upper body reaches back over the barrel.

We can get even more support here, and a template upon which to correct our upper backs, chest and shoulders.

Quite a nice little bonus.

Scrubbing Bubbles

I have found several exercises on the Chairs and Barrels that fall into the category of exercises I call “The Scrubbing Bubbles.”

What?

Yes, I'm always on the lookout for an exercise I can use to do my work for me.

Get ready for the Chairs and Barrels, friends…

We only have one exercise!

Arm yourself with the premise of the Pilates method and you are all set for a Chairs and Barrels choose-your-own-adventure!

Our mission:

To find the 2-way stretch at its most advantageous.

The Arm Chair

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

One of my favorite go-to exercises on the Arm Chair is simply the Arm Circles.

Small or big circles, the Arm Chair with its light springs really teaches people how to use their back muscles instead of their arms and shoulders.

And make no mistake, it is the Chair that is teaching the exercise. I am merely a guide. At first, this apparatus will be unfamiliar to the student. With repeated practice and time, you'll watch these exercises greatly improve, magically, before your eyes.

The Rowing Series (#3,4,5,6) is a frickin' dream here. The back of the Arm Chair is supportive and communicative.

The Rowing exercises on the Reformer will reap the benefits of diligent Arm Chair practice.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Photo courtesy of Fredrik Prag of Pilates Scandinavia

The High Chair

Going Up Front is an amazingly valuable exercise and the High Chair is a safe and sturdy place to work it.

Talk about lift!

The vertical orientation of the Chair communicates the 2-way stretch clearly.

The springs provide strong support and assistance to lift the pedal.

What goes up…

Must come down…

WITH CONTROL.

In opposition of the lift upward, here students can discover their lower body.

Now with a new awareness of the lower body, the student can begin to find their seat and sort out their hips.

Weaker sides rejoice!

And for those of us who are a bit unbalanced, uh… who have imbalances… (like moi) Going Up Front will provide years of challenge and entertainment.

Give it a go. Use your 2-way stretch to pull yourself apart at the waistline.

Reach begets lift.

The Wunda Chair

On the Wunda Chair you'll find one of the most effective tools for perfecting Footwork on the Reformer.

Whoopee!

It's quite a Scrubbing Bubbles exercise for me.

Footwork on the Wunda Chair

A combination of being upright plus the action of closing the springs as much as possible – and it is possible – greatly improves the work of the seat and the entire lower body.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates ApparatusYou've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates ApparatusYou've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

And your Footwork on the Reformer will be the better for it.

Especially for the folks that overuse their legs in the Footwork on the Reformer and have a hard time finding length in the back (guilty), being vertical is amazingly helpful.

And you haven't really felt your scoop in Footwork on the Wunda until that pedal closes.

Oh, scoop…right…

Use your seat to get a smidge more lift upon pressing the pedal down and then really push that pedal away – resist it – as your stomach lifts in and up to close the spring.

Holy opposition!

I'm telling you, this exercise is golden.

The 3 Pilates Barrels

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Yes. There are many kinds of exercises that can be done on these round apparatus, but I take my cue from the name of one of them: Spine Corrector.

Why are we here?

The answer to this question is very important. The name ‘spine corrector' is the key to understanding the purpose of working on all the barrels. They are all about opening: opening the spine, the chest, the hips, the shoulders. Correcting imbalances in the back.

Get ready for gravity to be your best friend.

The Barrels, especially the Small Barrel and Spine Corrector, pair beautifully with the Mat, which is also bereft of springs. In Joe Pilates' studio the Mat and the Spine Corrector/Small Barrel were constant companions.

Jay Grimes refers to the Spine Corrector exercises as a kind of coda to the Mat exercises.

They go together,
Like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong
Remembered forever
As shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom
Chang chang changitty chang shoobop
That's the way it should be, wha ooohhh
yeah!

Just for the record, Jay did not sing this to me…

The Small Barrel

I simply adore this little guy.

Both the Small Barrel and the Spine Corrector (depending on the body) are my favorite exercises to use to alleviate tension in the arms and shoulders.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

The Arm Circles Series (including Breathing, pictured above) is a wonderful way to introduce students to their backs. They must have a powerhouse first of course, just look at that position.

How easy it would be to just lie back and let it all hang out, no bueno.

I love this series of exercises. It is simply brilliant at communicating (over time) that we should use our arms and shoulders less and find more lift and connection to the trunk of the body.

The waistline must lift as the arms reach – almost as though you could stretch yourself all the way over to the other side of the Barrel. Not just your arms, YOU. Lifted up. And over there.

The Arm Circles get my Scrubbing Bubbles vote!

The Spine Corrector

The series of 3 Mat exercises that are done on the Small Barrel and Spine Corrector are just wonderfully delicious.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates Apparatus

Scissors, Bicycle and Shoulder Bridge are brilliant for teaching the long reach of the lower body. Men with tight thighs, hips and lower backs benefit so much from these 3 exercises.

I love this series for whittling away at those who cannot sit up in Spine Stretch Forward without being all bunched up in the hip flexors. Gradually the Spine Corrector will do all of your work for you.

Plus you've got the Thigh Stretch on the Mat for those peeps and the Tree!

Sigh…what was life like before the Tree?

The Ladder Barrel

The Mack Daddy of the Barrels, the Ladder Barrel does all the Spine Correcting of the other 2 smaller barrels by upping the challenge and being part jungle gym as well.

Here's another place to do the Tree as well as a challenging Backbend series that takes your Roll Up to a whole new level.

You've Peaked my Pinterest! 6 Indispensable Pilates ApparatusConnection to the back? Check!

Lower Body Reach and your seat? You'd better get that together before approaching the Ladder Barrel.

The Ladder Barrel is truly the go-to place for success in the Swan. Gravity is your friend to find length in the back you never knew you had.

This is not an easy exercise and often it's no one's favorite. However, love for Swan on the Ladder Barrel is often found in perhaps the unlikeliest of places.

You've Peaked my Pionterest! 6 Indispensable Apparatus

Male client. 6'8″. Gratz Ladder Barrel. His fingertips literally touch the ceiling and he spans every inch of the Barrel. And. He. Loves. It.

It lights him up. He's got a lot of back to lift and lengthen as well. And he does it beautifully. Check out his Teaser here.

His Swan photo forthcoming…

Want to learn more?

Join me October 1-4 at Everybody Pilates, Portsmouth, UK and – poof! – this post will turn into a workshop!

You'll enjoy 4 jam-packed days of Pilates with me and Karen Frischmann who'll be debuting her new Masterclass format – exciting!! And of course, Amy Kellow and her amazing staff.

#Pilatesbestiesunite

Register today.

The Pilates System: It’s in there.

The Pilates System: It's in there.

When I began my lessons at Excel Pilates, one of the studio offerings was “Solo Pilates sessions.”

This option was inexpensive. My budget was slim.

One had to be approved to go solo, of course. There was a teacher in the room, but you were essentially on your own.

With this newfound independence came responsibility, for yourself and for the apparatus. You needed to know the exercises, how many to do, springs, straps, safety concerns, etc… Quite a lofty aspiration having had only a few sessions on the Reformer at that point.

Eventually I had enough experience to gain approval and I scheduled my first solo session.

I received a sheet of paper containing the rules  – sorry, guidelines – I was to follow.

Top of the list?

Do not eliminate exercises that you do not like.

Boom.

“They're on to me,” I thought.

“The magic's in the system.” (Thanks Paleolates!)

Years ago, Jay Grimes would quote an iconic Prego spaghetti sauce commercial to tout the extensiveness of the Pilates Method.

“It's in there.”

Whatever you are seeking in an exercise system, whatever your body issue, whatever the plane of movement that challenges you, the Pilates System has an exercise – perhaps even an entire apparatus – for just that.

From the rank beginner to the elite teacher-of-teachers Pilates Informationista, the Pilates System has something for everyone.

Before High Bridge you've got the Arm Circles over the Small Barrel.

Before Snake/Twist you've got the Elephant – which will keep you busy for a good long while.

What happens on the Mat must be duly noted!

What's to be done with Mr. Xtreme-Cyclist who cannot sit up straight for Spine Stretch on the Mat without his hips grabbing and his legs bent?

Or the 60-something former ballerina with the tight-ass back? How will she reap the benefits of the Roll Over if she cannot lift her hips off the Mat?

“Oh, we have ways,” says the Pilates System.

The Big Picture

Investing care and thought into our examination of the major pieces of apparatus can be a blueprint to mining the most out of the Pilates System. The Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises and the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises provide us with the scope of movement opportunities possible and necessary to our well-being.

Now how best to deliver all these goodies to the masses?

“Via the Pilates System!” I hear you roar.

Let's ask “What is possible?” 

Tight-ass-back Ballerina is lifting her hips off the Mat currently in Rolling Like a Ball and in assisted exercises on the apparatus: Short Spine Massage, Tower, Rolling Stomach Massage.

These exercises must infiltrate first. They are gatekeepers of the Roll Over on the Mat.

As for Mr. X, he needs lift and length to find success in Spine Stretch on the Mat.

Aaargh, don't we all?

Lucky for us, we've got oodles of places to do just that.

Thanks Joe. All roads lead to lift!

Let's have Mr. X leave the Mat for refining exercises on the Cadillac, Wunda Chair and Barrels. In time, he'll return to the Mat better than ever!

Patience, my darlings. Don't think you have to solve the world's problems in an hour. Just pick one thing to focus on today.

ONE thing.

Time + Repetition + Consistency = a better Spine Stretch Forward for Mr. X.

Don't sweat it. Whose workout is this anyway?

What you don't like you do twice

So what's the harm – really – in leaving out a detested exercise?

  1. It will never get better.
  2. You miss the gift of information you would have received had you done said detested exercise.

The Pilates System: It's in there.

Oh yeah, there's that.

3. When you remove parts of the system, the system as a whole suffers.

Pilates is the original “muscle confusion” exercise. Remember we've got a strong center and a 2-way stretch in every exercise. Now do all that upside-down, on one leg, with a backbend or a twist…etc…etc…

Can you do it?

Long Live the Pilates System.