Breaking News: Doing your Pilates Mat Workout is Good for You!

Open Leg Rocker on the Mat

How ridiculous, right?

Yet every March since 2011 I've made the same “shocking” discovery.

Hey, these exercises are really good for me…

I've got boundless energy, my body feels great and it took me about 30 minutes to do them. Now I'm off to live my life with zest and pleasure!

When will I learn?

Maybe you've been feeling good about your Pilates Mat exercises too.

Thanks for joining me here on the Pilates Path.

Spine Stretch Forward into Open Leg Rocker

At the time of this writing, it's March 8 – my mother's 94th birthday, International Women's Day and, here in MarchMATness-land, The Spine Stretch Day.

Tomorrow on the 9th you'll hit one of my favorite Pilates Mat exercises – perhaps my VERY favorite. Apologies in advance… but I can't get enough of the Rocker with Open Legs (Open Leg Rocker to her friends).

And since I'm currently immersed in the world of Pilates transitions and why we should care, I'd love to visit these 2 exercises as a team – a dynamic duo on the Mat.

Spine Stretch

The Spine Stretch clearly has two juicy moments.

See if you can spot everyone's favorite…

Spine Stretch on the Mat

Most of you relate to this reachy, feel-good moment and all the time you can take to get out there… but what about the start and the finish?

You know, that easy part where you just sit up tall… LOL

Spine Stretch on the Mat

This tall position is the money note.

Cultivate the lift that keeps right on giving into your next exercise, the Rocker with Open Legs.

You'll try and preserve all the lift of the trunk of your body to then take it airborne!

Play a fun game with yourself and try to arrive in your Rocker with Open Legs with as much lift in your balance position as you had sitting safely on your bottom in the Spine Stretch.

Make these two exercises feel as identical to each other as possible. It's a trip 🙂

For those about to rock…

  • The Power of Incremental Change: Open Leg Rocker Edition – It's hard to feel like you're making progress in challenging exercises. This post takes a look at my journey over 11 years of the Open Leg Rocker. Full disclosure, I've never hated this exercise, but that doesn't mean I did it well. I promise a post on the Side Kicks Kneeling, but you may have to wait 11 more years…

The Benefits of a Daily Pilates Mat Workout

What are the Benefits of a Daily Pilates Mat Workout?

It can be a challenge to commit to a daily Pilates Mat workout. I feel you. Especially as a Pilates teacher, you may think you've done your exercises for the day only to remember that you only made someone else do them.

Yeah, it doesn't work that way…

The most challenging moment is arriving at the Mat to begin.

Once I lie down and begin my exercises I remember: Oh yeah, I love Pilates. Why don't I do this every day?

The Value of the 5 Basic Pilates Exercises

The Value of 5 Basic Pilates Mat Exercises  – Start your daily Mat exercises with just 5 gems. You'll complete them in less than 5 minutes. You'll feel fantastic and virtuous all day long! This post maps out 2 more exercises to increase your workout habit when you're ready.

Thanks for the New Exercises to Love/Hate

Corkscrew on the Mat

In the Pilates System, you'll repeat all of your exercises over and over again. The exercises work together to replace inefficient movements with sustainable new habits. As your body changes it's nice to have old familiar exercises to test your new skills.

It's a magical process where an old favorite becomes a new challenge, and sometimes – sometimes – a horrible exercise transforms into deliciousness.

Don't get too excited.

The Neck Pull still insists on being a hot mess. It refuses to go the way of the Roll Up and Teaser and play nice… It's still the ‘oh shit' exercise. Bunched up and ready to go!

You'll be the first to know when I love this one. #mm2028??

The Side Bend, however… is suddenly (19 years later) really nice. Yup, never thought I'd be this person.

Jay Grimes calls the Side Bend ‘a treat.'

I don't know if I'd go that far, but I'm definitely in the building…

And I almost like the Push Up Series on One Leg as much as I like the Tendon Stretch on the Reformer. Well, it's not that exciting, but I don't fall over anymore.

Enjoy your workout. You know you want to.

Got a favorite exercise in your Mat workout?

I'd love to know. Especially if it's a nasty one 🙂

Welcome to March MATness 2021!

Swimming on the MatWelcome to March MATness 2021!

If you're a new subscriber, thanks so much for reading and for joining us on the endless journey that is the Pilates Method.

Thank you March MATness 2020

Pilates Corkscrew exerciseThis month brings the one-year anniversary of the pandemic and COVID-19. Just one year ago we all got intimately acquainted with our homes when the world went on lockdown.

Last year, inspired by my colleagues, I decided to do a full Mat workout every single day of the month. So I dusted off my exercises like no big deal. Each day, for the month of March, I'll do my Mat exercises. Great.

Enter March 13 and 60+ hours of flying back to the US: event canceled, trip aborted and country about to close. That being said, Kuwait is a fantastic place to have lunch. Highly recommend.

Although I didn't do any exercises on the plane, I wouldn't realize how precious 34 Mat exercises could be until I returned to them on March 14.

And every other day in March.

I closed my studio to in-person instruction, taught the few online clients I already had, and threw myself at the Mat. Anything to stem the tide of anxiety ready to wash me away.

Those Mat exercises, for 30 minutes a day, were a gift.

A thoughtful respite to my day…

30 minutes of inward focus to return me to life.

A new kind of life, where I now more than ever desperately needed the Pilates Method.

Though this be MATness, yet there is method in't

I'm not alone in having had copious amounts of time to devote to my workout. My work schedule nearly cut in half gave me lots of time to visit my apparatus, who now stared at me blankly wondering why they'd gathered dust.

I remembered all over again why I love this Pilates stuff in the first place. I remembered why I love teaching this method and sharing tools that make our bodies feel so good.

‘Invincible' is the word that comes most easily to mind.

Let's add ‘resilient' and ‘powerful' to the mix.

Man, did I need it.

Today is Day 2 of the MATness: The Roll Up

The Roll Up on the MatIf you're reading this on the day it publishes, March 2, 2021, welcome to Roll Up day!

It's a favorite of mine but it sure didn't start out that way.

I've written many blog posts over the years to help me.

I hope they help you too.

What's New for the Roll Up in 2021?

As the month of March sprawls out in from of me, there's serious Roll Up practice time ahead.

I've been looking at our old friend the Roll Up with new eyes. In the big picture, the Roll Up presents you with the opportunity to better your skills of bending forward.

The Roll Up reminds you the lower body does not begin at your hips and legs. It requires an integration of all of the back of you, committing to the standing body ever more deeply as we lift ourselves up and over in opposition.

Work your Hundred well, friend, and you shall be rewarded.

Thinking of the body in pieces and parts can distract you here. The Roll Up takes teamwork.

To the humble Push Down on the Wunda Chair I go.

Foot Corrector February Follow-Up

Pilates Foot CorrectorIf you joined me last month for daily foot exercises I hope you had a revealing month with the Foot Corrector and 2×4.

It's fascinating what change you can foster in 28 days.

Although I did notice more proficiencies in my foot exercises, they really paid off when I visited the Reformer and the Mat.

In about 10 days, I could connect my center (think upper stomach center of gravity) to the balls of my feet and lift up out of my hips and legs. This is a big skill I need.

It took all month long to do the Tendon Stretch one side at a time without falling over or swaying in the wind all over the place. I didn't try it in the combo yet. That calls for stellar balance and I have merely “balance” at the moment.

Keeping lift on one side at a time was a skill I thought I had, but evidently not so much…

What happened in my Reformer workout?

Stomach Massage on the ReformerBasically SO much happened – was alive – than before Foot Corrector February.

Some notable specifics:

  • Everything was better. Thank you, Jay Grimes.
  • I could literally stand on my feet in all those exercises where your feet fly around in the breeze.
  • I was a master of Running. It was that good. It felt amazing. Don’t take that little guy for granted.
  • OMG Swan on the Box: much less awkward! I could float up off that box.
  • I played with a bunch of crazy stuff in the Horseback (since my foot exercises have made me superhuman). This one's not always in my wheelhouse…
  • I was hoping something magical would happen to my Breaststroke but alas, still meh…
  • All the actual standing stuff – Long Stretch Series, Stomach Massage – felt better, still challenging but better.
  • I noticed where my feet still haven’t found proper purchase on the footbar – Semicircle, Control Push-Ups, Headstands
  • The left side of my Front Split needs some work tho – oh that left leg! It wants to conquer the world!
  • The moment of rising up to the ball of the foot in Control Balance Stepping Off. Hey, I’ve been here before! Look what I can do…

I need to do these exercises every day for forever (that old chestnut).

They make me so strong.

Enjoy the MATness

Roll Like a Ball on the MatI encourage you to visit as many of Joe Pilates' Mat exercises as you are able.

For lots of free learning, I recommend doing them every day. It doesn't take long. All of the exercises in Return to Life only will take you only 25 minutes if you keep your transitions snappy.

Use this video blast from the past to get you started.

New MATness Merch!

Women's white T-shirt with imageFor March MATness 2015 I created whimsical images, especially for my least favorite exercises.

At that time, one of my most feared/hated exercises was Swimming.

Kill me now, was all that came to mind.

Hence the featured image for this post.

Fast Forward to 2021 and although I dare not say it's a favorite. I have a new appreciation for it. It's diagonal stretching feels so good in my body.

Enter the Tiny Shark Shirt do do do do do. Check it out.

I made one for myself and I love it so much I want to share it with you all. It's available in a white and black women's crop tee and unisex sizing.

This image makes me laugh and reminds me that “these things take time” (thank you Jay) and that even the most horrible exercise can improve over time.

Thanks so much for reading!

Have a great workout. You know you want to.

Protected: Welcome to my Transitions on the Reformer Workshop 2021

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The Self-Guided Group Class: It’s a Movement!

Self Guided Online Group Pilates Class

Hello there and welcome to another awesome week on the Pilates Path!

Thanks for reading and sharing your time with me today.

Foot Corrector February

It's nearly the end of February and the finish line of my 28-Day Foot Corrector Challenge is within sight.

If this challenge is news to you and your feet are crying out for some love, get all the deets in this post. This challenge in tandem with MarchMATness would be a boon to your Pilates Mat exercises.

Another bonus: You'll have 31 Days!

More about the unexpected treasures found in daily foot exercises comin' atcha in just 6 days!

The Self Guided Group Class

Illustration of Pilates Teacher and Laptop

Do you know I offer online group classes?

It's true.

My home studio is fully virtual and I've created the Zoom equivalent of Joe Pilates' gym: students working out, sweating, and having fun all together in the same room.

Remember that?

I love witnessing a new a-Ha! moment, a glimmer of new understanding, or a funny Pilates anecdote. I'll take all the humanity I can get right now.

All of my classes are self-guided.

Yes, you read that correctly.

You'll do your own workout on whatever pieces of Pilates apparatus you have on hand.

If you've got a whole studio to use, that's fantastic!

If you're an enthusiast or at home with only a Mat, that's perfect as well.

You'll work out at your own pace, doing exercises appropriate for you with the supervision of an instructor.

Me!

As you move through your workout, I'll offer suggestions, a correction or two, and perhaps a round of polite golf applause for a job well done.

If you're working on learning the order of your exercises on the Mat or Reformer, keep your list of exercises nearby while you build your program.

In the virtual world, you're literally on your own. You must take ownership of your workout and therefore of your health and well-being.

All that being said, if you're used to a group class with a teacher telling you what to do from start to finish, you may feel unsure of how to proceed. Or even wonder why you might want to…

No worries, I'm happy to help.

Autonomy in your Pilates Workout: Practice what you Teach

The Private Lesson and Instructor-Led Group Class models are modern inventions.

They're not bad models by any means.

But they lack a key ingredient to harnessing the full power of the Pilates Method: the voyage of discovery.

No journey on the Pilates path is complete without this vital component.

Joe's Original 8th Avenue Studio

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

All accounts of life in Joe Pilates studio describe it as a gym: everyone working out – moving – together in the studio on one or more pieces of apparatus.

From Caged Lion: Joseph Pilates and His Legacy by John Steel:

Eventually I got the message it was necessary to be able to do the routine by yourself. While that may seem difficult, it really isn't. The routine teaches itself to you.

This is not a speedy process.

The Pilates method takes devotion. It's literally a practice.

Self-practice outside of the studio setting increases your proficiency.

YouTube videos have their place as well.

But the benefits of nurturing your workout under the watchful eyes of a teacher are unparalleled.

My ability to do the exercise routine slowly but continuously improved from session to session. I was getting stronger, I was moving better, and my posture was improving.

I was enjoying the feeling of well being.

I had only to show up at the gym, get down on the Reformer, and clear my mind so I could direct every bit of my attention to moving the right part of my body in the right way at the right time using the right muscles.

True progress is made over time.

You're developing skills in your body as you would learn any sport or physical discipline, by repeating the same exercises many, many times.

Your body and mind are learning together.

Joe was trying to help you learn and acquire exercise, his particular exercise routine, as a habit to improve your life…

You were there to learn, not to work out.

An Experience is Worth 1000 Words

You Can't Teach Pilates Quote

Ideally, teacher and student work together as a team.

And without true ownership of your Pilates workout, there cannot be real change. As you learn your exercises and become more independent, the exercises and the apparatus become your teachers as well.

They're often better teachers because they give you an experience.

The experience may lead you to discover a skill or a moment that I've been telling you about for years.

Talking is easy to tune out. And talking isn't teaching.

An experience, however, you'll remember. You'll feel special.

Like you've got a secret (weapon) no one else knows about.

One that's well worth the price of admission.

Ultimately, it's not about me, the teacher.

It's about you.

Who knows you better than you?

How to Do your Own Workout

Pilates Teacher Gives Thumbs Up for Job Well Done!

Wanna get started?

Use this link to book into one of my self-guided, supervised classes and join me!

But wait…

There's more!

The Pilates System is Alive and Well and Living All Around the World

It's not just me.

It's a movement.

Continue your journey on the Pilates Path with a trusted guide.

Self-Guided Online Classes Worldwide

Depending on location, some self-guided classes may be in-person as well as online. Contact the studios for more information on their specific protocols.

“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.”

Foot Department of Corrections: 28-Day Challenge!

Heels on the Foot Corrector

Jay Grimes is a treasure.

He’s given me numerous corrections over the years, which I often “understand” at the moment only to realize years later their full ramifications system-and-body-wide.

Like the ones about my feet.

I do use the Foot Corrector and the 2×4 regularly.

But not every-damn-day regularly.

And I always manage to slack off right about the time I show up in front of Jay.

“Have you been doing your foot exercises?” he says before hello.

Translation: “I see you’ve NOT been doing your foot exercises.”

Yup. Every time.

In my defense, I know they’re good for me. And I “know” what they do for the rest of my body.

Well, I thought I did.

Like everything in Pilates, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Until you do.

#footprobs

See, I don’t really have any arches. Well, I kinda have one, but it’s not much to write home about.

And that Foot Corrector is perfectly named. Use it regularly and you’ll suddenly stop mid-stride, shocked to feel an arch! Right there in your foot where there never was one! It's brilliant.

Oh yeah, it’s that good.

Turns out arches are supportive (insert shrug emoji).

While you're at it, next time you find yourself on the balls of your feet, check to see if you are actually on the balls of each of your toes (especially the tiny ones!) or just on that in-between nowheresville which is neither toe nor ball.

Also turns out you need balls to have arches.

No doubt.

Upon finally discovering my arches, imagine my surprise to feel a whole bunch of other shit I don’t have control of light up like a fucking Christmas tree.

Arches are powerful stuff, man.

Foot Fetish February

In the spirit of harnessing the power of what a pair of arches can do for your Pilates workout, I’m dedicating the month of February (and beyond hopefully) to a daily foot fetish ritual workout.

I hope you’ll join me.

It takes mere minutes to do the Foot Corrector basics and a couple of extra goodies on the 2×4.

If you don’t have a proper corrector you can substitute an appropriately sized firm ball like a tennis ball.

2×4 exercises can also be done on the floor.

No excuses.

The Plan

Foot corrector:

Ball

There are many standing positions for these exercises at the Foot Corrector. I prefer a lunge stance for this first one so I can stand evenly on both sides. I have tight calves so if I stand with my feet side by side as I do in most of these exercises I kinda fall over…

You’ve got a few options with regard to the standing position and what to do with your arms LOL

Ball on the Foot Corrector

Heel

I find this exercise to be super satisfying. The pedal spring is considerable and I love how it fosters so much lift in the whole body.

Heel on the Foot Corrector

The Massage

Enjoy! Keep trying to lift up and away from the pedal as you hold it steady during this serious massage of the whole foot. Hard to do, but well worth the effort. I add socks or a towel for The Massage for more slideability (I'm sure that's a word…).

The Massage on the Foot CorrectorThe Massage on the Foot CorrectorThe Massage on the Foot Corrector

Arches 🙂

Lift your arch up away from the pedal and see what else in your body comes alive.

Arches on the Foot Corrector

On Top

I find it super challenging to isolate the ball of the foot on top of the Corrector. When I do find it, the pedal often bangs around noisily. Coincidence?

On Top on the Foot Corrector

2×4

Tendon stretch

Keep your lift on the inside even as you descend in space. Try not to get shorter!

Tendon Stretch on the Pilates 2x4

(And for you overachievers, don't forget to do the One Foot Tendon Stretch)

Combo

I should do this one hands-free.  You can see my poor arm trying to do the whole exercise… well I've got a month to work on that.

See this one in action in this video.

Foot Exercises on the Pilates 2x4

If you’re one-foot-challenged like I am use a pole to help you balance so you don't fall to your death.

Throw in a few Toe Corrector exercises if you’re on a roll.

Further Foot Fine Points from YT and the Blog:

Read: 

Hey that thing really works! A Foot Corrector Love Story

Fix Your Feet, Fix Your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2×4 Exercises

Watch:

A Short Tutorial on the Pilates Foot Corrector.

Treat your Feet: A Pilates Toe Corrector and 2×4 Workout

Last Chance, Fancy Pants!

The Complex Reformer Project is set to begin in mere days.

If you've enjoyed working your Pilates Project POV in my most recent workshops, the Complex Reformer Project will land us smack dab in the middle of the Baby, You're a Star! kind of exploration.

How do your years of toiling in fundamental exercises on the Reformer all culminate in Joe Pilates' show-off exercises: Snake/Twist, Horseback, Control Balance Stepping Off, and (of course) the Star?

Reserve your spot today. The fun begins on February 4.

Added bonus: Jump on board for this Foot Corrector challenge and I bet you'll find out how much a supple and lifted pair of arches will help all your Reformer exercises.

I ❤️ Jay Grimes. That guy is always right.

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