Revisiting my Pilates Past

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Do you ever wish you could travel back in time to visit your former Pilates self?

What was it like to learn your Pilates exercises for the first time? What were your struggles back in the day?

It's easy to get out of touch with what it's like to be a new student. However, I find with regular workouts, you can strengthen your empathy and get a good dose of Pilates karma.

(Who else gets busted in your own lessons for stuff you tell people all day long?)

Your clients imagine you're a Pilates superhero: you can do ALL the exercises, ALL the time, perfectly and without breaking a sweat.

I won't tell if you won't…

A Blast from the Past

I took my first Pilates mat class in the fall of 2000. My local studio was Excel Pilates. Anyone in the Washington, DC area, please check them out! They are an amazing group of women who will kick your butt and empower your soul in just under an hour.

#truepilatesrockstars

In mid-2001, I was browsing through my local bookstore (remember those?) and came across a little book from Mari Winsor, The Pilates Workout Journal: An Exercise Diary And Conditioning Guide.

Although I documented my lessons and classes for only a brief shining moment, my notes reveal early insights that make me smile.

My observations range from the obvious –

 

The Teaser: position and strength continue to challenge.

 

–  to the ridiculous –

 

I'm really starting to love the Swan Dive. 

 

Awww…how sweet. Who knew I ever loved that thing?

In a recent post, I shared my #1 Pilates mantra: Learn. To do. The Roll Up.

In my first Pilates classes, I could not Roll Up without my legs flying up in the air and heaving myself forward. The Roll Up is an exercise I dearly love now and thanks to my former Pilates self I had a good plan in place –

 

I just need to do the Roll Up all the time. Any spare moment… just relentlessly practicing it.

 

Repetition anyone?

OMG – Love for exercises I don't like??

Excel Pilates' brand image is an illustration of the Sidebend exercise:

I thought it was a just cool abstract drawing…

Then one day it showed up as an exercise in my Mat class.

Clearly I felt empowered to achieve the exercise that inspired their logo –

 

We learned Sidebend: this is a beautiful and fabulous exercise! It felt great to finally do the Excel logo pose.

 

– albeit my cringe-worthy use of the word ‘pose' for a Pilates exercise.

#rookiemistake

And I'm gonna bet Swimming inspired this comment –

 

Still a bit flaily… but getting better.

 

My early notes also reveal compelling evidence of the Pilates Method as the skill-based movement discipline it is.

The value of the exercises in your very first lesson continues to deliver. And even early on I realize what all this strap and springs business is really about:

 

I need to imagine the resistance of the straps and mentally use this image. This is very powerful to correctly do the exercises.

 

What luck! There's even a blog post on this exact topic many years later.

And perhaps the most heart-warming of all comments I didn't anticipate at all:

I really like all the people I have met doing Pilates.

Awww… I couldn't have said it better myself!

Thanks so much for hanging out with me this week!

What gems from your Pilates past do you remember?

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

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

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

Order! Order!

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

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

Repetition is truly the mother of all learning.

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

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

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

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

Won't I get bored?

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

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

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

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

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

Do your chosen exercises Every. Day.

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

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

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

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

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

My 3 horrible exercises on the Ladder Barrel:

Side Sit Ups – aaaargh kill me now…

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

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

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

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

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

But it's no fun to be a hater…

Won't my clients get bored ??

Serendipity led me to find this image on IG:

Variety social share

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

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

Just do it.

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

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

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

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

You become a team!

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

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

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

Thank you for reading!

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

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

Thanks so much!

The Pilates System: What’s in a Workout?

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

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for joining me here for all things Pilates.

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

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

What's in a Workout?

The Pilates System: What's in a Workout?

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

Today, alas, this is not possible…

What's to be done?

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

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

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

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

Let's start with a favorite of mine:

The Private Lesson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me likey!

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

You need a friend.

Do you have concerns about injuries or other body issues?

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

The Continuing Education Workshop

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

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

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

Oh I love a good Continuing Education Workshop!

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

The Pilates Method is experiential.

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

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

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

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

The Pilates Mat Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter The Pilates Class (Small Group Apparatus).

The Pilates Class (Small Group Apparatus)

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your workout!

The Independent Workout

The Pilates System: What's in a Workout?

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

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

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

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

Pilates Playtime

The Pilates System: What's in a Workout?

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

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

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

Of course. Use my stomach…

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

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

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

Come workout with me!

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

It's called Move Now. Talk Later.

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

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

The class will meet on Wednesdays at 9am PST.

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

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

Here's the link to schedule:

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

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

And here's where to find me in 2018.

Hey that thing really works! A Foot Corrector Love Story

Hey that thing really works! A Foot Corrector Love Story

Hello Pilates friends!

This week on the blog I'm sharing some Foot Corrector love from across the globe.

Thank you so much for your lovely emails and comments telling me how much you are loving and reaping the benefits of the sweet, sweet Foot Corrector.

Special Subscriber Announcement: My apologies if you received emails containing decidedly off-topic posts which appeared to be from my blog. I believe it was a WordPress glitch of misdirected, but not malicious content. I have since remedied the problem. Please be assured you will only receive Nerd-tastic Pilates content from me. Boo, WordPress…

Welcome new subscribers!

If you're new to the blog, check out an earlier video on my morning workout including the Foot Corrector here. And thanks for signing on for the long haul/love affair that is our beloved Pilates Method.

A Rose by any other Name would Smell as Sweet?

Hey that thing really works! A Foot Corrector Love Story

We mustn't underestimate the specific names of the apparatus. First and foremost Joe gives us our principle piece of Pilates apparatus to reform our movement.

You guessed it – the Reformer.

What a name, right? Kinda says it all.

Two of Joe Pilates' smaller apparatus include the word ‘corrector' in the name:

  • Spine Corrector
  • Foot Corrector

We must take Joe at his word. He was not kidding!

These apparatus – used with frequency – will change our backs and our feet, respectively.

Need an arch in your foot?

Step up regularly to the Corrector and watch the magic happen.

Fix your Feet and Save your Shoes

Hey that thing really works! A Foot Corrector Love Story

Recently I wore a pair of shoes which had been languishing in my closet for years. I had convinced myself I either found them to be unattractive or uncomfortable (or both) and there they were in a tumble on the floor.

Upon further investigation I discovered they were 1) cute and 2) only uncomfortable on my left foot. The right shoe felt fine.

Hmmm…

A little secret about my left foot: it has a saggy arch and only the big toe half of it likes to work…awww… frownie face…

The moment I applied a bit of the Foot Corrector magic I've been steadily infiltrating into my workout body the left foot felt amazingly better in my shoe.

Can't blame the shoe when half your foot doesn't work I always say…

Dizzy, high marks on the Nerd-o-meter I know. Thanks for playing 🙂

Foot Corrector Basics

In this week's video tutorial, we look at a few basic exercises. These will well serve you (and your feet) with regular practice.

These 5 exercises follow the same foot positions as our trusty Footwork series done on the Reformer.

Woo hoo!

#itsgoodtohaveasystem

  • Ball of Foot on Pedal
  • Heel on Pedal
  • The Massage…
  • Arches
  • On top of Pedal with Heel Lifted

Repeat each of your 5 Foot Corrector exercises 3-5 times.

Familiarity is key with the Foot Corrector. Regular practice will illuminate how you'll control the spring here just like you control all the other springs in the studio.

The Foot Corrector gives great feedback on working both sides of the foot evenly. Maybe the big toe side does all the work?

My main interest currently is how the Foot Corrector teaches us to connect the lower body into our center, our powerhouse. This is one of my favorite bits of Pilates Magic.

My Foot Corrector is made by Gratz. The spring is strong by design. Those new to the Gratz apparatus in general will agree the spring tension on the Reformer and Cadillac, for example, is considerable.

The spring tension offers sufficient support and assistance help us to defy gravity. Quite a noble endeavor and so hard to do on our own.

And by ‘on our own' I mean the Mat.

GASP!

It's nearly my favorite time of the year (no not my birthday).

The 1st of March my fancy turns to thoughts of Joe Pilates 34 original Mat exercises!

March MATness is coming.

Tangent over. I know it's still f**king Foot Corrector February.

Foot Corrector Praise from Around the Globe

Hey that thing really works! A Foot Corrector Love Story

From London

My right and left sides of my body are totally different!

When I place my foot on the bar my right low back immediately tightens and I really have to scoop up my waistline and l-e-n-g-t-h-e-n my tailbone down to decompress my back. For someone with a tight low back this really feels gooood! This gives a massive clue as to what I should be feeling in exercises like footwork and frogs and circles…hmmm

from South Africa

I cannot believe how effective the Foot Corrector is. I used it as a “warm up” today before my Footwork. It is very effective in connecting the “feet to the seat and the centre.” I have a weakness on my right lateral chain. It felt so much better after I did my right foot.

From Montana

The part I struggle with, is keeping the hips square and level and totally stable and THEN pushing down. I will cheat so bad on this, hike one hip up or roll back in the hip, etc…and then not get the work out of it….but only because my glutes are WEAK.  Doing it in a mirror helps a lot!

You always tell me, the distance the Spring moves does not matter 🙂

 

My 30-Day Challenge So Far…

In last week's post I threw down the gauntlet for myself and whoever would like to join me.

Today brings me to Day 9 of my 30-Day Standing-One-Leg-Spring-at-the-Cadillac challenge.

What have I learned so far?

On Day 2 I wrestled a spring from my Arm Chair to use the lightest spring in the studio. I had been using the springs from the Roll Down bar on the Cadillac, but it was overpowering the exercise and causing me to grip my standing leg fiercely.

I don't need any help in that department.

Oh, Control, where have you been all my life?

Slowly I am discovering new supportive muscles in my weaker leg that would rather lock its little knee and give up.

I've also found an excellent exercise pairing: using Going Up Front and Going Up Side on the High Chair as a prelude to the Standing One Leg Springs.

Especially Going Up Side for the standing leg support in the One Leg Springs.

It's such a new way of looking at the meat-and-potatoes High Chair exercises. They're my pre-Pilates. I love when everything old becomes new again.

Welcome to the Pilates Method!

This Week's COLLAB with Lesley Logan

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

Welcome to our Pilates version of Shark Week.

Sort of.

This week we begin our Swan Month.

See? Just as scary!

Today's video collab with the Lovely Lesley Logan of Profitable Pilates will be on one of our “nicest” Swans, done on the Mat.

No diving yet, just our basic (ish) Swan.

Stay tuned for all our Swans in the studio over the month of March.

Thanks for watching!

Hello Hong Kong!

Hong Kong, you are getting ever closer! Maybe I should pack…

I'll be teaching many of my favorite workshops as well as lessons and classes. You know how much I adore the Reformer

I hope you'll join me at Flex Studio in March 9-12. Teachers and clients are all welcome!

Workshops will include a Reformer workshop based on my most-viewed posts On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises and Transitions! Transitions!, a Mat workshop based on the posts On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises and Transitions on the Mat plus 7 Spot-On Quotes to Keep you Honest and The 3 pilates Barrels.

Register here.

And here's where else you can find me in 2018.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Hello there my lovelies!

Thanks for joining me for yet another post in my Teaser series.

Today we've got perhaps the Method's finest: Teaser on the Cadillac avec Push Thru Bar (PTB).

It's 2 Exercises in 1!

The Teaser on the Cadillac is brilliantly 2 exercises in 1.

Part 1: Upper Body Reach

From the lift in the waist all the way up to your fingertips, the upper body must learn to connect into the deeper back muscles.

What luck!

We've got a brilliant way to work on just that.

(Many, in fact.)

Begin lying down, arms overhead with hands firmly gripping the PTB. Note you also have the luxury of the mat behind you for feedback and support.

With hands on the apparatus – PTB – push into the bar as it starts to move toward you. In this way we can connect our fingertips into the deeper back muscles.

With our backs against the mat we can tangibly feel what's going on (or not going on) behind us.

Never let the spring push you around! This must be your Pilates mantra.

Part 1 is lovely for lots of folks whether they'll continue to the full-on Teaser or not.

To recap:

  • Set up your position under the PTB.
  • Pull in your stomach, exhale and drop your ribs: get as much of your back on the mat as you can.
  • With a firm grip on the bar resist! as it moves toward you bending your arms.
  • Do not let the spring push you.
  • Sustain this connection as the bar changes direction to move upward.
  • You should not lose control of the bar – it should not accelerate!

Part 2: Teaser options

Using the helpful lift of the PTB you've got several options for your Teaser, depending on who you are.

You can work just the upper body.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Or you can explore your full-on Teaser here.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

You can lift the lower body with the legs straight a la Teaser 3.

If necessary you can begin in the Frog and reach out to your angle as you roll up.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Okay you've made it up to your Teaser, so now what?

You've got a few options here as well. Traditionally you'll complete your Teaser 3x.

You've even got an optional “dismount.”

One Potential Sequence for Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Begin with Part 1 to arrive at your Teaser.
  • Roll up to your Teaser.
  • Lift your back and bend your arms 3x a la Shave on the Reformer. Your back should not sink when your arms bend.
  • Roll down.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Roll up to your Teaser a second time. Keep the arms straight and the back lifted.
  • Lower and lift your legs 3x a la Teaser 2.
  • Roll down.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Return to your Teaser for a 3rd and final time. Here you've got some options:
  • Alternate – arms bend 1x, legs lower 1x. Repeat 3x.
  • Roll down.

OR

  • All together now! Bend arms and lower legs together and then lift everything up.
  • Repeat 3x.

What was that about a dismount??

Let's put it all to the test. You've completed 3 Teasers and you're ready to move on.

  • Use the lift of your back to reach up and return the PTB without a sound.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Both arms reach to up to the sky and the toward the toes to finish on your own – unassisted – in your beautiful Teaser.

Voila!

Check out this short video tutorial for more info and tips for a perfect Boomerang ending.

Thanks for watching!

Related posts:

And here's where to find me in 2017.

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