Be Your Best Client: How To Do Your Own Workout

Roll Like a Ball

Hello!

Thanks so much for joining me today as you continue your journey on the Pilates Path.

If you're a new subscriber, welcome 🙂

Today I'm gonna treat myself just like my very favorite client(s). I love to be mercenary with my exercises.

It's the best way to squeeze all the juice out of the Pilates Method.

My Life at Vintage Pilates, Los Angeles

UPDATE: Pilates Home Practice Project: Fran, 60

Every Monday, all those years ago, I worked alongside my amazing colleagues at Vintage Pilates.

It was at Vintage that I took my very first self-guided group workout. All participants were doing their own workouts under the watchful eyes of their favorite instructor.

Working independently puts the emphasis on moving.

That's the magic.

Moving briskly requires control and as you well know, control quite literally IS the name of the game. You're putting in your time repeating your exercises, stimulating your body and mind as you move through your workout.

You'll enjoy a correction or two, a push or pull, or a hearty word of encouragement from your teacher.

It's really the moving that jazzes us up, right?

As you experience your Pilates exercises, your body takes over, your breathing deepens as the demand of the exercises increases. I love that moment in class when banter falls away only to be replaced by the sound of springs, apparatus, and deep, full breathing.

That's the moment when you're IN IT.

“This is for you.”

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog+Leg Circles Edition

In your self-guided group workout, you'll spend the bulk of your time moving and getting warm.

Maybe you'll visit some of your most challenging exercises since you have the luxury of supervision.

Or maybe you'll stay with your meat and potatoes exercises (the land of intermediate in Pilates speak) as you refine old habits and encourage new ones.

The latter part of the class is really the best part. Now that you're warm and invested, you'll choose a few exercises that showcase a key ingredient you need in all your exercises.

“This is for you” takes one thing and exploits it into about 10 minutes of exercises that probably aren't your favorites, but that your body will thank you for later.

Cap it all off with your favorite ending sequence and you'll be sailing out of the studio on a cloud of your own making. You've moved and sweated for an hour or so and, D-A-M-N, where did all this energy come from?

And that post-Pilates glow? It's the best high 🙂

How will I know what to do?

Pilates Projects: 5 Exercises to Perfect your Open Leg Rocker

If you're a Pilates teacher, you're already making all these wonderful choices for your clients.

Treat yourself like your very favorite client:

  • You want them to get a great workout.
  • They'll do exercises they love, as well as ones they need to do that maybe they don't like so much.
  • Sometimes they need tough love too.

You'll treat yourself the same way:

  • You'll move through your workout and notice how your body feels in the exercises today.
  • You'll add some exercises to help with your specific body needs
  • You'll find an invigorating and fun way to end your workout.

You have the power!

If you're a Pilates enthusiast, learning to plan your own workout makes the most of your investment. You've spent time, sweat, and money on Pilates classes and now you're ready to up your game.

The more you apply yourself to your exercises and your learning, the more the Pilates exercises will benefit you and teach you even more about your body, the apparatus, and your exercises.

Not able to make it to class? No worries at all.

You have all the power, the practice, and the knowledge to do your own workout whenever you want.

Congratulations! You put the ‘control' in Contrology.

My Plan for Today's Workout

Today, as I plan my workout, I'll take you along.

You'll be privy to my thought process, the exercises I do, the ones I really need and the fun ending that pleases me. Join me for one day in the life of a long-term Pilates practitioner, imbalances and all.

1.Consider your apparatus.

Neck Pull on the Mat

One of the first considerations is which apparatus will start off my workout.

Today is Monday. On Saturday I did a full hour-long Reformer workout. As much as I would love to do it all again, there are so many apparatus to visit.

Later today I'll be filming the Side Bend on the Mat for my website. And since I'm not the poster child for any side bending exercises, I'm gonna need all my Mat exercises to get ready.

My first apparatus will be the Mat.

All the exercises in Return to Life should take me about 25-30 minutes to complete.

2. Where do I go from there?

Exercise Expose: How to Lower your Legs in the Hundred

Hmmm…the Barrels are a natural progression from the Mat exercises, so I'll add the Spine Corrector exercises next.

The last few days I haven't visited my Foot Corrector and 2×4, so I will put them in there too.

3. This is for YOU?

Teaser on the Cadillac

In editing this post, I forgot this section entirely and was super focused on the fun ending I want to do.

Frownie Face…

Lately I'm working to hold my center together as you roll up and down on the apparatus.

I know, that's like all the exercises…

There are a few exercises on the Cadillac I don't look forward to but I need.

There's another one on the Wunda Chair I find to be helpful.

Okay 3 exercises for me.

4. Finally a Finish!

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

For my ending, I'm torn between a little Pilates Project I've been working on the Cadillac, and the Ped-o-Pul.

But I did briefly use the Ped-o-Pul yesterday. Ok, Pilates Project it is.

Often I pick the first apparatus and begin my workout. The subsequent apparatus, exercises, ending, etc… happen organically. But sometimes I plan like today.

One of the best things to happen in a group class is that your plan goes out the window.

Oh, dear… Someone else has claimed the apparatus you want.

*Gasp!*

Now you have to use an apparatus you didn't choose…

When that happens, it's choosing YOU!

Andrea's Monday Workout

March MATness Day 13: The One Leg Kick

Foot Corrector/2×4:

Ball, Heel, Massage, Arch, Tendon Stretch, Tendon Stretch One Leg, Combo

Mat (full list here)

Spine Corrector:

Arm Circles, Up/Down, Hug, Breathing

Leg Circles, Walks, Beats, Scissors, Bicycle, Shoulder Bridge, Helicopter, Leg Circles onto the Head

High Bridge, Swan Dive

This is for you:

Wunda Chair:

The Table

Cadillac:

Teaser, Shoulder Roll Down (Sari), Standing one-leg springs

My Thrilling Ending Exercise:

Cadillac:

Hanging Leg Circles

Wish Me Luck!

Okay, writing this post psyched me up for this workout.

Join me if you like and lemme know how it goes 🙂

Curious about joining a group workout?

Read more in this post or grab your spot today.

The Pilates System: The Push Down and the Push Up

Push Down on the Wunda Chair

Life is full of moments of up and down.

Ever notice how often you have to bend over and pick something up?

You may not notice until it's not possible for some reason.

The Pilates exercises are exaggerated versions of everyday movements. Your Pilates practice allows you to repeat and refine your exercises and encourage them to infiltrate into your daily life.

You have many exercises that teach you how to properly bend forward.

But I bet they're not your favorites.

The Roll Up

All roads lead back to the Roll Up, don't they?

The Roll Up is a foundational exercise that teaches us how to bend forward and how to sit up from a lying-down position. That doesn't mean it's easy to do. Luckily, the Pilates method gives us an entire system of Roll-Ups-in-disguise to work on the skills of bending over and sitting up.

Today I've chosen 5 exercises:

  • Push Down on the Wunda Chair
  • Push Ups on the Mat
  • Push Up #3 on the Wunda Chair
  • Rolling Back on the Cadillac
  • Reverse Push Through on the Cadillac

In my Pilates practice, I find it helpful to work on the bending over skill to better my sitting up skill. They are a great help to one another. The vertical position helps me find the lift necessary for a successful Roll Up experience all around the Pilates Studio.

Enjoy this short workout. Afterward, return to your Roll Up on the Mat and watch the magic happen!

How'd you do?

Share your successes in a comment below.

Upside Down Exercises can be a Pain in the Neck: Here’s How to Fix It.

Control Balance on the Reformer

Hello there!

A big thank you to Fernando Albernaz and Natanael Arruda for inviting me to participate in their Return to Contrologia project yesterday.

It was a pleasure to speak with you! Extra thanks to Pilates bestie, Daniela Escobar, for translating.

I really like pretending I understand Portuguese tho…

Check out the recording on their IG.

2-way Stretch: It's a Thing.

And Now it's Upside-Down.

Overhead on the Reformer

Earlier this year I wrote a post on how to work on the exercises that are upside-down.

Working on the skills that lift you overhead leads to more control in your upside-down exercises.

But how do you control where you end up? Where's the point of balance?

Once you succeed in getting upside-down, you are often confronted with new “Pilates problems.”

The most common Pilates problem in upside-down exercises is rolling over too far and landing on your neck. And while this may not be a painful place to perch at the moment, over time you'll want to refine your skills and find more control.

Who's in charge here anyway, you or the exercise?

Overhead exercises don't have to be a pain in the neck!

In the above photo, I'm not entirely on my neck, but there's another spot in the middle of my back that given time, will prove to be a better landing spot.

Perhaps you too have noticed:

  • inflexibility in the middle of your back that's easy to bypass for a more “stable” spot that's nearly your neck
  • a challenge in connecting all the back of you into one long line

What Luck!

There's a brilliant little fundamental exercise that you'll use to help you stay off your neck.

Can you guess?

Roll Like a Ball

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the humble Roll Like a Ball.

(and the crowd goes wild)

Use your rolling exercises to equalize your oppositional forces every time you practice. Part of the skill, and charm of your rolling exercises is your coordination of the 2-way stretch in motion.

You could easily rename the rolling exercises. They could all be called Control Balance right?

Equalizing your forces is a requirement of all the Pilates rolling exercises.

Lose your lower body and you'll not make it over.

Lose your lift and you'll never return.

What happens to your lift when you're upside-down? In the Control Balance, for example.

It's still there right? Or have you collapsed onto yourself never to return?

What would happen if you turned your Control Balance into a scissor-y rolling exercise for a moment?

Hang on, that sounds like my kind of fun…

(gets on floor, rolls around)

Yup. It was fun. Give it a try!

Hang onto your lift when you're upright and you'll never drop yourself onto your neck.

Can Roll Like a Ball work even more magic?

You bet!

Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

How will that carriage ever come back?

And what does this have to do with being upside down on your neck?

Look familiar?

Upside Down Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

Now your “rolling exercise” is rolling on the ceiling.

Imagine.

This one won't land you on your neck, but your lower body reach could take that carriage out there, never to return. Add an equal dose of lift to balance you out and you'll have better luck closing the spring.

I could drop my head down a bit… but keep your lift upside-down and lift your carriage home.

Try my hack and see how you do.

What other #PilatesProblems can you fix with Roll Like a Ball?

Share your success in a comment below.

Pumping in the Pilates Method: Don’t be a Victim of Choreography!

Jay Grimes Quote

Welcome to this week's blog post.

Thanks so much for becoming a subscriber and for joining me on the Pilates Path.

I'm about to teach a new workshop. The Pilates nerd-o-meter may climb to new heights with this topic.

More information about where and how to book at the end of this post.

All of your Pilates exercises are full-body exercises.

It's what makes Pilates Pilates, right?

There are no arm exercises or leg exercises, your goal is balanced musculature: everything working as a team toward the larger goal of body control.

Controlling the movements of the exercises (the choreography) takes you one step closer to everything working together like a well-honed machine.

And it's not just pumping exercises, right? Pumping is one of our most basic moves, but soon you'll be asked to do more challenging movements as well.

Common choreographic elements in Pilates exercises:

  • Pumping: Hundred, Footwork, Frog, Push Down on the Wunda Chair, Pumping on the High Chair
  • Beats: Beats, Coordination, Boomerang, Seal
  • Scissors: Scissors, High Scissors, Tree, Control Balance
  • Circles: Leg Circles, Arm Circles, Roll Over, Corkscrew, Bicycle, Helicopter

Think of the choreography elements on a continuum.

As you learn your Pilates exercises you start with basic iterations (pumping and beats) and proceed to more complicated movements (circles and bicycles) with greater proficiency.

You'll use your Pilates choreography to:

  • connect your extremities into the center
  • strengthen your oppositional forces, your 2-way stretch
  • challenge yourself with progressively more complex movement patterns
  • create length, enhance and decompress the trunk of the body – your center

The movements in any given exercise will always serve the same goal when you use your 2-way stretch.

Use the choreography of the extremities to increase the strength and suppleness in your center.

My favorite “rule” in the Pilates method (and I use the word ‘rule' loosely) is that the part of the body that is lying/sitting there doing nothing is doing all the work.

The Pumping on the High Chair is a perfect example:

Strategies for a Tight Low Back: Getting to the Bottom of It

You'll control the spring as it opens and closes to connect the lower body into the center.

Your lift is tangible as you sit tall against the supportive yet unforgiving wooden back of the chair.

You'll sustain your lift throughout the movements of the exercise.

In your first Pilates lessons, the movements are simple without many changes of position. You'll hone your skills here and in other “simple” pumping exercises like our old favorite…the Hundred.

100 on the Reformer

The position of lying down is both a help and a challenge but you've got that moving carriage underneath you to assist you with elongating your back on the mat.

Summon your (Oppositional) Forces!

I like to define the oppositional forces as simply as possible for now, to help reframe the choreography into a useful tool to wrangle your 2-way stretch.

1. Lifting up!

Illustration of the lift in the Pilates method

Everything that sits on top of the Short Box must LIFT!

Your signature move in the Pilates method has you defying gravity. What luck! You can work on it in every exercise. Extra points if the exercise isn't neat and tidy like our Pumping on the High Chair example.

Think of all your exercises done upside down or lying on your stomach.

2. Standing Down.

Superficial Back Line from Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers

Standing down enlivens the long line of the entire back of the body.

From Anatomy Trains by Thomas W. Myers: “The overall postural function of the Superficial Back Line (SBL) is to support the body in full extension, to prevent the tendency to curl over in flexion.”

“…the overall movement function of the SBL is to create extension and hyperextension.”

Yes, extension. You are literally standing yourself up in every exercise.

In the Pumping on the High Chair example, you've got the supportive pedal to stand on.

But remember all those OTHER exercises in which you are asked to stand in the air.

Teaser, anyone?

Teaser on the Mat

Does this sound like your jam?

I hope so.

I'm pretty stoked by this topic.

Join me on Saturday May 15, 2021 via The Pilates Firm, Las Vegas for my newest virtual workshop.

The workshop will meet 10am – 12pm PDT.

Register today.

PLUS! Juliet (the owner of the Pilates Firm) has extended an early discount of $10. (valid through Sunday April 11 at midnight) to you, my dear readers. Thanks, Juliet.

Questions? 

Hit me up in the comments below 🙂

Almost Returned to Life: Control Balance

Control Balance

Today is perhaps my most favorite March MATness day.

Control Balance is the exercise that started it ALL!

Let me explain.

Way back in the aughts I took my first Pilates Mat classes. Thanks, Excel Pilates DC.

My first Mat classes were the perfect introduction to the Pilates Method. I learned so much.

You probably know that one thing I learned was I could not do the Roll Up.

It seemed so simple.

Just. Roll. Up.

Right?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the studio, I saw an instructor doing an amazing somersault on and off the Reformer.

So cool!

It looked way more exciting than my Roll Up.

That day the Pilates Method and I struck a bargain: I agreed to work on my Roll Up and progress my proficiency until I was ready to learn this fantastic new mystery exercise: the Control Balance.

And yes, it took a while.

But I do love that thing.

It's Ripe for a Pilates Project, this one…

Control Balance on the Reformer

Looking at the Control Balance you can already see so many exercises within it.

Here's a small sample:

  • Roll like a Ball
  • Jackknife
  • Tree on the Short Box
  • Tendon Stretch One Leg
  • The Hundred
  • Monkey

You get the idea.

There's a lot of the Pilates method packed into this cumulative exercise.

Then you've got to manage the somersault part with control using your stomach.

Control Balance on the Reformer

(Funny how your stomach likes to leave you the moment you step onto the floor and off the Reformer)

You've got a whole method to help out any weak links in your Control Balance.

This brings me back to Roll Like a Ball

Where is my point of balance and how do I control it?

Roll Like a Ball

Roll Like a Ball is one of the very first exercises you learn.

Think of it as a speedy overhead exercise: here you'll spend a moment in the spot where later, in Control Balance, you'll spend an eternity. And the JackKnife and the Overhead.

What makes the ball roll smoothly?

A loaded question.

One answer is that your oppositional forces are in balance with each other: too much lift and you'll never rollover. Too much lower body going overhead and you'll land on your neck.

No bueno.

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions on the Mat 9

In the above photo, if I got more lift out the top of my head.

Lift? But I am upside down…

Just like sitting on top of the Short Box: the lift of my entire trunk would lower my point of balance away from my neck and onto the spot in the middle back that doesn't like to bend.

Just like a very sloooooooooow Roll Like a Ball. If I lift too much I'll end up on my back doing the Scissors.

There's another one in there. Scissors. Single Straight Leg Stretch, if you will.

In this way, over time, the control and point of balance can be sorted out.

More Control Balance 

Celebrate today with a smile on your face.

Further reading:

Why can’t I do overhead exercises? How can I work on this?

On my YouTube channel:

The Struggle is REAL: Control Balance on the Mat

Pilatesology:

5 Exercises for a Better Control Balance

Not on Pilatesology? Use my code Andrea30 and extend your free trial for 30 days. Woo hoo!

What did you learn today this month?

Romana Kryzanowska would tell us:

If you learn one new thing every day

you will be a genius.

March MATness brilliantly encourages you to celebrate your Pilates Mat exercises as a celebration of yourself.

What did you notice as you visited your exercises this month? I'd love to know.

What's one thing you learned from March MATness 2021?

Tell me all about it in a comment below.

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