Pilates in the Year 2020 and Beyond… what I’ll be up to in 2021

The Path to Mastery 2020

Hey there!

Who else can't believe it's October?

It's good news, somewhat. It's my favorite month! It's got my birthday right smack in the middle of it on The Ides of October and it's got Halloween. So that's a plus.

On the other hand, 2020 pretty much feels like the year that will never end.

At least there's oodles of time to commit to your Pilates practice.

Who else is really excited about things you can control?

I've been thinking about you and your Pilates workout.

Maybe you've come across this book?

Amazon.com: Caged Lion: Joseph Pilates and His Legacy eBook: Steel, John Howard: Kindle Store

In Caged Lion: Joseph Pilates and His Legacy, author John Howard Steel shares his experience and friendship with Joe and Clara Pilates. He also gives us youngsters a window into what it was like to work out in the Pilates' gym.

Yes, gym.

Everyone was responsible for his/her own workout: working, moving, sweating, and getting in “the zone.” This is the laser focus of the Pilates workout. This is ownership of your workout. Your hour of learning about YOU.

Moving. Focusing. Letting the exercises do their magic. Over time. Even if you don't think you're particularly good at them. Trust. They are working.

Movement heals.

Movement heals if you actually MOVE.

You make moving it along a priority.

Steady as she goes…

You know me, I'm a reformed slow-poke (ha ha pun not intended!). I'd like nothing better than to micromanage my body and get it all to work together perfectly.

Maybe you wish you could do that too.

Wishing doesn't make it so.

Think for a moment what that movement gives to your mind as well as your body.

Pilates is positive. It's up and forward. It is the internal housekeeping of your body. You are massaging your very guts for an hour. It's the gift you give yourself so you can run, walk, play and indulge in your life, your life's work, your pleasures.

A Pilates workout by yourself or with an instructor should leave you feeling empowered, emboldened and ready to take on the world. Maybe sometimes you'll be amazed by what you do!

That's my favorite part.

That moment when you accomplish even one moment that surprises you.

I remember the last one of those very vividly: 5 brisk Teasers on the Guillotine. At the end of my lesson. Of the Mat. Yeah, totally didn't see that coming…

Meanwhile…

A big thank you to everyone who participated in my September workshop, The Wunda Chair Project. It's been a fantastic month of learning and examining the lion's share of our Wunda Chair exercises. The Wunda is truly inexhaustible. It's amazing what can be accomplished and addressed on this petite but mighty apparatus.

As you might have guessed, I'm a big fan of the Pilates Project.

There's a ton of Pilates Projects on the blog. Read a few more of them here, here and here.

(Pilatesology subscribers, check out this Pilates Project on the Control Balance Step Off on the Reformer.)

The Pilates Method is ripe for this kind of exploration. As one workshop participant put it so perfectly, “My whole life is a Pilates Project!”

I feel you.

That moment when you've got one wobbly side of the Mountain Climb and it suddenly dons on you:

This is not the Pilates Olympics. The goal is not a flawless Mountain Climb. The goal is to walk tall and with confidence as you go about your day being your very best self.

That feeling – that confidence – is priceless.

Good news:

A Pilates Project for the Cadillac!

The Cadillac

The Cadillac is where the magic happens, right?

It serves everyone you could possibly conjure up: from the frailest individual to the circus performer to everyone in between.

From Leg Springs and Arm Springs to the Standing Arm Spring Series and the Flying Squirrel, there's an opportunity to improve all our Pilates exercises in the studio.

I had a reluctance I could never place with regard to working on the Cadillac.

Oh, I'm always on board for hanging upside down, but historically I'd rather shoot myself than do the Leg Springs series. And why do so many people LOVE those lying down Arm Springs? They are ridiculous!!

But the first step is admitting you have a problem.

What luck! I've got several 😏

Having recently “conquered” the Wild Wild Wunda, I hope to build a more proficient relationship with the Cadillac… with some hanging upside down fun included at the end for my reward, of course.

Remember everyone's favorite Pilates problem, imbalance side-to-side?

Well here's what I've come up with on the Cadillac for exactly that:

  • The Hundred (however you like it. Just get it done. Springs or no springs)
  • The One Leg Spring (crossover style or spring on the same side as the leg, pick your poison)
  • The Leg Spring Series (light – arm – springs for me)
  • Arm Springs Lying Down (Just go to your happy place on the Ped-o-Pul)
  • Rolling Back (everyone's favorite Roll Up)
  • Rolling Back One-Arm Side Stretch (Good Times)
  • Side Leg Springs (front/back and circles for now)
  • Airplane (Using the Airplane Board for now)
  • Flying Eagle (I have high hopes for this one)
  • Push Through Bar Series Tower, Monkey, Teaser, Reverse Push Thru, Mermaid, Swan, Shoulder Roll Down, Push Thru Front (actually enjoying this series more lately)
  • Rolling Back Bar Series – Chest Expansion, Thigh Stretch, Rolling In + Out, Rolling Stomach Massage, Long Back Arms (still a challenge, this series, but some nice rolling to sneak in)
  • Traditional Ending – Breathing, Spread Eagle, Pull Ups, Hanging Pull Ups + Twist, Hang! (Bonus video on this one!)
  • Standing Arm Springs – Butterfly, Squats, One Leg Squats (of course)
  • (Another video with more Cadillac “favorites.” I filmed this a while ago, so I may be lying) 😂

2021 Monthly Online Workshops

Study up on your Cadillac exercises and join me in 2021 to nerd out again, Pilates Project Style!

January: The Cadillac Project

In a total of 8 workshop hours, we'll look at the fundamental forces from our Wunda Chair exploration and take them to the Cadillac. It's a win-win for sure, by the sheer size and support of our Cadillac apparatus.

The Cadillac Project will meet 4 Thursdays in January: January 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2021.

Class time will be 9am – 11am PST

There will be homework!

Maximum 10 participants.

Prerequisites for this workshop include:

  1. A Cadillac or Tower Unit
  2. Pilates experience

Use this link to snag your spot:

Yes! I love the Cadillac!

 

February: The Complex Reformer Project

Thanks so much for this request, Laurel.

Build a strong Pilates foundation and the complex Reformer Exercises will come.

You probably know them by name or reputation: Overhead, Snake/Twist, Star, Backbend, Balance Control Off, Headstands, High Frog and Russian Splits.

These exercises are some of the most challenging exercises in the traditional Reformer repertoire.

If you do these exercises already or you're looking for the skills (for yourself or your clients) to work toward these bad boys in the future, this workshop is for you.

Using our Pilates Project POV, you'll find skills in the fundamental Reformer exercises to combine and transform into your very “favorite” complex exercises. In a total of 8 workshop hours you'll look deep within the traditional Pilates exercises.

  • Where do we begin to build our Snake/Twist skill set?
  • How and where do we find the components for a successful Star on the Reformer?
  • How can I start to learn the High Bridge?
  • Do I push the Reformer out with my head?
  • What exactly is closing the carriage??

The answers to these questions lie in the exercises you learn in your very first Pilates lessons.

The Complex Reformer Project will meet 4 Thursdays in February: February 4, 11, 18, and 25.

Class time will be 9am – 11am PST

There will be homework!

Maximum 10 participants.

Prerequisites for this workshop include:

  1. A Reformer, classical apparatus preferred
  2. Pilates experience

Use this link to snag your spot:

Yes! I love Complex Reformer Exercises!

 

March: Transitions on the Reformer

Hot off the heels of wrangling your complex Reformer exercises, you'll tackle all those elusive moments-in-between.

Proficiency in the traditional Pilates System creates one continuous chain of movement. This is your ultimate goal on the Reformer and on the Mat.

Often the transition from one exercise to the next is more challenging than the two exercises you're connecting. It's true.

Transitions. The moments in-between. This is where the stuff of life happens!

Picking up a bag of groceries. Reaching behind you. Getting in and out of the car.

Transitions are a part of everyday life. And that's when you really need your Pilates workout.

For the unexpected.

In a total of 8 workshop hours, you'll examine getting in and out of all your standard Reformer exercises. You'll set yourself up for success!

Transitions on the Reformer will meet 4 Thursdays in March: March 4, 11, 18, and 25.

Class time will be 9am – 11am PST

There will be homework!

Maximum 10 participants.

Prerequisites for this workshop include:

  1. A Reformer, classical apparatus preferred
  2. Pilates experience

Use this link to snag your spot:

Yes! I love Transitions on the Reformer!

 

Thanks for your consideration. And for your willingness to jump into Pilates Playtime.

Until we meet again I hope you'll work out with me on the Reformer:

 

Protected: Welcome to the The Wunda Chair Project 2020

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The Wunda Chair Project: A New Online Workshop

Wunda Chair Pilates Project

Hey there!

Lately, I've ventured away from the Reformer and gravitated toward the piece of apparatus that often gathers dust in my studio. Sad, but true…

Maybe this sounds familiar?

It's the Wunda Chair I've been consistently spending more time with and, oh boy, is it making me smile and use my powerhouse!

Joe Pilates and the Home Workout

Well before Covid-19, Joe Pilates knew you needed a piece of apparatus perfectly designed to use at home, even in the smallest of New York City apartments.

Enter the Wunda Chair.

Each August, Joe closed his studio to escape the oppressive heat in the city. In my understanding, Joe would encourage/badger/force his clients to purchase his Wunda Chair to exercise at home while the studio was closed.

Joe selected a handful of exercises appropriate to the client to help them maintain their workout until September when they could return to the studio.

It's this story about Joe (plus a new amazing book on the Wunda Chair) that was the inspiration for my current Wunda workout (book review coming soon!).

I Smell a Pilates Project…

If you've been reading and following me for a while you know that I am quite the crooked sister.

No one is perfectly symmetrical and imbalances provide a challenge: do the exercise on one side and then on the other side. This gives you a ton of information about your body, right?

In daily life, I find I don't stand evenly on my feet. Instead, I shift my weight mostly onto my right side when sitting or standing. Especially standing.

It's amazing how much I don't stand on my left side (insert eye-roll emoji here)…

But wait.

I could create a Wunda Chair workout to address this issue!

Excellent…

I LOVE a good Pilates Project! Read about a few of my previous PPs here, here and here.

My Wunda Chair Pilates Project includes about 20 minutes of exercises done standing with one or both feet on the pedal. As a warmup, I've added the Hundred and Footwork, and since feet are on the pedal in the Footwork series I've also included Footwork 1 leg.

Wait this sounds familiar…

As a teacher and/or practitioner of the Pilates System, you learn over time which exercises you do well and which exercises present the most challenge to your body.

Maybe you've also learned these challenges to the body are traditionally addressed in the latter part of a Pilates session in a part I like to call ‘This is for you.'

Think of the ‘this is for you' exercises in your own workout.

It's these exercises that are your personal responsibility; these are the exercises that may not make you feel proficient in your workout, that point directly to your weaknesses, and that you love to forget about and do all the other “fun” exercises instead.

But wouldn't more proficiency in your worst exercises make the “fun” ones better too?

Yes, YES and YES!!

So suck it up and join me for some ugly Pilates!

Using the Wunda Chair exercises below, I've created a new Pilates Project, for my precise ‘this is for you' situation.

The Exercises

  • Hundred
  • Footwork
  • Pull Up
  • Pull Up 1 leg
  • Side Pull Up
  • Table
  • Table 1 leg
  • Tendon Stretch
  • Tendon Stretch – 1 leg
  • Frog Facing Away from Chair
  • Frog Facing Away from Chair – 1 leg
  • Frog Facing Chair
  • Frog Facing Chair – 1 leg
  • Standing Pumping Front
  • Standing Pumping Side
  • Standing Pumping Crossover
  • Going Up Front
  • Going Up Side/Side Mountain Climb
  • Achilles Stretch
  • Mountain Climb
  • Down the Mountain
  • Star

Watch the video at the bottom of this post to see the first version of my Wunda Chair Project.

You can do it too!

In September, I host an annual Pilates Party in my home studio, just north of San Diego. The week-long party includes lessons, open studio group classes, and a new workshop. There's also a lot of eating, drinking, and socializing after long days in the studio.

This year, it's unclear what September will bring, and gathering a bunch of people together in person doesn't seem like the best idea.

But, let's party on anyway, virtual style!

This September I hope you'll join me each week on Thursdays for a 90-minute exploration of the most challenging exercises you need, the greater Pilates System and the Wunda Chair.

Join me this September

The Wunda Chair Project will meet 4 Thursdays in September 2020: September 3, 10, 17, and 24.

Class will meet 9am-10:30am PST

There will be homework!

Maximum 10 participants.

Prerequisites for this workshop include:

  1. A Wunda Chair
  2. Pilates experience

Use this link to snag your spot:

Yes! I love the Wunda Chair!

Thank you.

I look forward to sharing this new workshop with you.

Revisiting the Basics: Side-to-Side on the Short Box

Side-to-Side on the Short Box

Hey there!

This week's post is a request from a subscriber, Joanne.

Thanks, Joanne, it's high time for another post about one of my not-so-favorites, Side-to-Side on the Short Box.

Side bending, in general, has never been a skill of mine. Over the years I have fought the good fight and have emerged (occasionally) victorious.

For further reading, check out my previous posts on this same subject here and here.

The Makings of a Great Side Bend

Side-to-Side on the Short Box is the very first side bend shape you'll learn.

While not as basic as the Footwork or the Roll Up, Side-to-Side on the Short Box is one of the more manageable side-bending exercises in the Pilates System.

And for those of you who desperately need this skill of side bending, it's one hell of an introduction.

Let's Start Tall

Looking at the order of the Reformer exercises, the Short Box Series gives you one of the best prerequisites for Side-to-Side: The Reach – which is your tallest back shape.

Reach on the Short Box

The tall back shape encourages you to lift and continue to lengthen both sides of the trunk in a straightforward movement pattern. It's this lift you will preserve to take into Side-to-Side.

Consider The Reach to be your basic best friend (BBF) for the kinda-not-basic-depending-on-who-you-are Side-to-Side exercise.

With beginning or first-time students you may wish to delay adding Side-to-Side to their program depending on how well they do the Round and Reach exercises.

What's going on back there anyhow?

TBH, it was news to me that anything on the back of me would be useful to do Pilates.

Short Box exercises – decidedly one of the meat-and-potatoes series on the Reformer – can be challenging since you are essentially stranded up there on that box with no feedback and nary a spring in sight.

One of the best places I've found to illuminate the back of me as I side bend is on the Cadillac.

Roll Back One Arm on the Cadillac

The Roll Back done with one arm is a wonderful place to feel your back on the Mat as you make your Side-to-Side shape.

But what exactly am I doing? Where am I going?

If you're like me, maybe Side-to-Side has been mysterious for a while.

I remember so vividly each time I'd visit this exercise in my first year of Pilates group lessons on the Reformer. I'd have a plan in mind, but I soon came to associate this exercise with “Oh this is the one where Lesa comes to fix me.”

Years later I'd finally feel that one side really didn't know how to lift or move at all.

And over the many years that I've been practicing Pilates, I've been taught this exercise MANY different ways.

Ultimately, you're looking to find equal strength, lift and length on both sides of the body without compromising your tall back shape.

I believe the direction to lean forward, or add a twist to the front corner of the box to be just a few ideas to help the truly Side-challenged folk. It can be a good option for a while and with practice, ultimately lead to even better execution of the exercise.

The Pole: Your Apparatus of the Moment

Joe Pilates never leaves us unprepared.

Luckily he suggests using a pole for the Short Box Series.

Look at the pole and see a big truth-teller for Side-to-Side and Twist.

Does one end of the pole point downward when your student bends to the side?

Both sides of the trunk must work to lift up both ends of the pole. Sounds easy I know…

If you bend to the right side, it must continue to hold up the pole as the left side lifts up and over.

Which brings me to my other hot tip for Side-to-Side… Spine Stretch Forward?

Spine Stretch Sideward, Anyone?

Think about the Pilates Mat exercise Spine Stretch Forward.

Spine Stretch Forward on the Mat

This forward-bending exercise requires you to get a big LIFT! of your bottom and back up and over the bony landmark of your ribcage. To get more opening in the middle back just under the ribs, this is the spot you're after as you Spine Stretch.

Meanwhile back in your side-bending exercise, work to lift each side UP and over the rib cage without any shifting or crunching. Give it a try and see what you think.

Side to Side on the Short Box

New this week on my YouTube Channel

Check out today's video for more nerdy discussion on all things Side-to-Side.

Subscribe and never miss my newest videos which publish twice per week on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Enjoy!

Wanna join me in class?

Tuesdays thru Fridays I'm teaching small group open studio classes via Zoom. You'll do your own workout with supervision and “in the company” of others.

Use this link to book into my May class schedule for just $15./class:

Yes I'd love to join your class.

June classes coming soon!

Visit my YouTube Channel: New Workouts + A Special Offer!

Hi there –

First I want to welcome you if you are a new subscriber. Thank you so much!

For my OG subscribers – if you've been reading posts since way back in the day – thank you so much for your continued support, kind words and good humour.

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Do you know I have a YouTube channel?

Subscribe to my channel and receive 2 new videos each week. PLUS! As a subscriber, you'll be eligible for my very first Pilates Giveaway coming next month. And It's a nice one, I promise.

New Videos You Won't Want to Miss

Back in February – when people could still visit you at home, I filmed the first episode of my new series ‘Between 2 Arm Chairs.' This episode features my friend, colleague and longevity expert, Dr. Nicole Marcione.

In the video Dr. Nicole and I give a little preview of her recent workshop, Longevity, the Brain and Pilates which I had the privilege to attend in person last year.

Dr. Nicole has graciously extended a special promotion to my YouTube subscribers. In the description box you'll find my promo code for big savings on her amazing workshop!

Check it out:

More Wunda Chair, please!

So many of you enjoy working out on the Wunda Chair. Good for you!

It's one of my favourite apparatuses and I have started a new series of short (but brutal, trust me) videos on our lovely Wunda.

Here's the first in the series – a shorty at just 5 minutes.

And in just a few exercises, it will make you sweat I promise!

Stay well and make sure you get in your Pilates workout – no more excuses like “I don't have time to workout!”

Do you have any video requests?

Lay it on me in a comment below…

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