Revisiting the Basics: Frog

Frog on the Reformer

Hi there!

I have great affection for all things Frog. I just love it. I talk about it all the time.

It's SO damn useful.

And prolific.

You can't take 2 steps away from the Reformer without tripping over 500+ versions of the Frog all around the Pilates studio.

Am I right?

Take a look at more Frogs here and here.

Frog on the Reformer

I'll bet you first visited the Frog on the Reformer when you were a very new student.

Maybe even in your first lesson.

Wambly wambly Frog with those long-ass straps can be quite the shocker. Later with your strong center you'll whip through your Frog and Circles without thinking about it.

Footwork 2.0

Frog on the Reformer echoes the Footwork series which precedes it.

It's the less-supported sibling of our trusty first Footwork exercise.

Footwork on the Reformer (Divana)

It's taken me years to warm up to Footwork, but I've always loved Frog.

It feels like a plan.

A plan to reach and support the lower body as it travels far away from the center of your body.

It's such a good plan it shows up in many other complex exercises like Teaser on the Cadillac:

Teaser on the Cadillac

Frog presents a challenge in the midst of your favorite upside-down piece of workout candy, Short Spine Massage.

High Frog anyone?

High Frog on the Reformer

Frog's got some love for everyone.

Disappearing Act

If you've completed a classical Pilates training program maybe you've moved from “Intermediate” into the “Advanced” work on the Reformer and your Frog disappeared when you added in the Long Spine Massage.

I hate when that happens.

You owe it to yourself and your commitment to your Pilates Path to visit your Frog(s) regularly even as an “advanced practitioner.”

You can achieve the Frog without being proficient – but I urge you to apply your proficiency to all of your fundamental exercises, including your Frog friend.

So after your Long Spine Massage, visit your Frog and Circles as a ‘be nice to your back' moment before you lose those long straps.

Double Leg Stretch

Meanwhile on the Mat, the Frog is the best part of the Double Leg Pull – aka Double Leg Stretch.

Double Leg Pull on the Mat

In the past I've described Double Leg Pull as ‘wind-relieving.'

Which is true.

But that's not why I'm smiling…

Joe Pilates wasn't concerned with giving you abs of steel; he created a total health system for your body.

If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.

The strength and suppleness of your back are all over Joe's manifesto, Return to Life through Contrology.

And they're all over his method.

I consider the Double Leg Pull, my favorite example of the 2-way stretch, to be the best back stretch ever created.

A Squat Lying on its Side

As a human, you're always conscious of what happens in the front of the body. You can see it.

Your legs, shoulders, arms, and stomach are in your field of vision and like to run the show.

I often find it helpful to imagine the exercise happening on the back of me. I work to create an opening and elongation of the back instead of the distracting folding-up Frog in front of me.

If you can find an opening in the back and preserve the openness of the hips despite the folded-up-frog choreography there's cause for celebration.

It sounds crazy, doesn't it?

It's the best Frog plan of all!

It feels amazing, although I also find it to be super hard to do.

On the Mat.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pilates studio, you've been doing it all along:

Leg Springs on the Cadillac

Springs+Repetition+Memory

I love Romana Kyzanowska's definition of how you use your mind in your Pilates workout:

Pilates is INTELLIGENCE guided by the WILL using MEMORY and IMAGINATION assisted by INTUITION.

Memory makes you remember choreography and where your arms and legs go, right?

Yes.

But using springs creates a memory in our muscles as well.

Also damn useful.

Think about the first moments of your Reformer order:

  • FootworkFrog is inherent
  • Hundred – You can use your Frog to reach into the position. No springs here, just a memory of them.
  • Frog + Circles – The springs must be resisted so your legs don't flop back into your chest.
  • Coordination – same Frog action, plus a little extra, and now the memory of the springs will keep the back of the body enlivened without the springs' help. They are good teachers.

Coordination and Double Leg Pull share the same spring memory which liberates your Frog skill and takes it all over the studio and into life.

Yup. It's AH-maze-ing.

Frog goes Vertical

Pumping on the High Chair

But maybe that lying down Frog is not sending you the message…

I find taking the Frog vertical can make a huge difference.

As luck would have it, you've got many options for exploring your Frog straight up.

I love what the Pumping on the High Chair (above) can teach you about your bottom and your back.

Other places you'll experience vertical Frog are in the Stomach Massage Series – the recap of your Footwork exercises in the middle of your Reformer workout.

Stomach Massage Reach on the Reformer

Need a solid Frog ending?

Check out the Skiing exercise on the Wall:

Skiing on the Wall

Crazy Like a Frog

See how many Frogs you can find in your next workout.

Think about it all happening on the back of you and see what you think.

Lemme know how you do in a comment below 🙂

Enjoy this small Frog gift from my YouTube channel

The Pilates Apparatuses: What’s in a Name?

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

Lately I've been spending considerable time with my Foot Corrector.

Although there are countless exercises one can do with this lovely device, I've been focusing on the basics: the foot positions we also use for Footwork on the Reformer.

  • Toes
  • Arch
  • Heel
  • Tendon Stretch – Which on the Foot Corrector I call The Massage. How nice.

For more details about these 4 exercises check out this recent post.

It's working!

I am amazed at the power of this little device to correct my feet.

I've known for years that my left foot has a fallen arch and poor alignment with the joints of my leg. In my training program I was encouraged to lift up the arches of my feet when standing.

Well you know, these things take time.

To coerce the arch of my foot to lift (or move at all) or what muscles would even be in charge of said action was a big ol' mystery.

Enter the Foot Corrector.

Repeated use of this humble device is teaching me how to pull up my arch into my center. Oh yes, it's all connected…

Literally correcting my foot.

Did you just hear that sound?

It was my mind. Blown.

I love when that happens.

So get out those Foot Correctors and experience the magic.

I have been working just the 4 exercises I mention at least once every day. If I have a long day of standing, I might do them a few times throughout the day.

See what you think 🙂

Wait! We have other Correctors…

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

If you've been reading here for a while you'll remember my love for Joe's other device, the Spine Corrector.

I have a great respect for Joe's apparatuses which happen to include the word ‘corrector' in the title.

Clearly he wasn't kidding.

Joe Pilates' brilliant Spine Corrector is an anti-gravity machine worthy of a daily habit.

Check it out in these related posts:

The Toes Knows

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

Oh the cute tiny apparatus. Pocket-size, travel ready and with a spring!

Also called the Toe Tensometer, Joe's Toe Corrector lives up to its name: both of them.

Tensometer

(from Wikipedia)

It is usually a universal testing machine loaded with a sample between two grips that are either adjusted manually or automatically to apply force to the specimen.

3 exercises I enjoy on the Toe Corrector:

(oh dear, the whole name thing…)

  • Single Toe Pull
  • The Bunion Eradicator – a classic.
  • Seated Single Leg Pullcan you long the back?!

Single Toe Pull

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

  • Sit up tall with legs long out in front of you.
  • Hold one side of the TC with an index finger. Put the other end over each toe one at a time. I like to start with my left pinky toe and work left to right until all toes have had their turn.
  • Pull each toe forward 5x with the goal that only the working toe moves and the others are still. This probably will not be what you see happening.
  • Persevere.
  • Work to locate the muscles of the center that move each of the toes. This should keep you busy for some time.

The Bunion Eradicator

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

Classic Toe Corrector magic, this one.

It can be done as above, legs long out in front of you. I enjoy the seated version.

  • Sit tall on the edge of a chair or Reformer with feet planted firmly on the floor.
  • Press all the toes firmly into the floor.
  • Place the TC on your big toes either above or below the joint. I like above.
  • Keep all toes on the floor and pull the big toes evenly away from each other 5x.
  • Hold one bog toe in place and move the other away from center 5x.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Seated Single Leg Pull?

The Pilates Apparatuses: What's in a Name?

I love a daily dose of Pilates déjà vu…hmmm haven't we been here before?

  • Keep the TC in the same place as for the previous exercise.
  • Hold one toe down on the floor and bring the other knee up toward your chest.
  • (Your big toe will pull upward on the TC)
  • Hey look Single Leg Pull!
  • Lift your waist up out of the hips and work to find length in the back in this exercise. Not easy…

See what you think 🙂

Enjoy this short video tutorial on a related subject: Footwork on the Reformer!

Stay tuned for further tutorials on the  Footwork series.

Got a question you want covered in the discussion?

Lay it on me in a comment below.

Hey Southern California…

Saturday January 21, 2017 California Pilates Center, Oceanside, CA

Join me for a day of guest teaching in Michele Tandy's beautiful studio. Just a couple spots available for private lessons, contact Michele to book. Register for the 10am Mat class here.

Wanna experience the blog live and in person?

Here’s a bit of what’s cooking for 2017:

Thursday – Sunday May 11-14, 2017 Equinox, London UK

Contact Jayne O’Brien for more info and to register.

Friday – Sunday September 22-24, 2017 Pilates Mödling, Mödling Austria 

Join me in Mödling, Austria just 20 minutes from the capital city of Vienna. This is an event not to be missed! I’ll be offering lessons, mat classes and workshops. Workshops include: The Teaser: The Truth will PrevailOn the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises and 3 Chairs + 3 Barrels = 2-way Stretch and more.

Contact Andrea Seipel for more info and to register.

Saturday + Sunday October 7-8 2017 Everybody Pilates, Portsmouth UK

Contact Amy Kellow for more information.

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

For Jacqueline

Hello and welcome to a short video tutorial on my former nemesis exercise: Snake/Twist.

Snake/Twist is truly a Pilates love story complete with drama, false steps, misunderstandings and hot makeup sex.

Three years ago I visited the Snake/Twist as a Pilates Project in one of my most popular posts. Clearly there are many of us who struggle with this bear of an exercise.

So if there's an exercise you just can't stomach right now, persevere!

What's going on here anyhow?

The Snake/Twist is a complex exercise. Joe Pilates threw a little bit of everything into this challenging exercise:

  • It's one-sided.
  • Your orientation on the Reformer is not straightforward. You'll need to find a diagonal line as you approach the carriage.
  • The basic iteration will move through 3 body shapes: Round, Arched and Twist. Later we'll add the one arm version and include a Side Bend as well. OMG, something for everyone.
  • Oh and it's a breathing exercise…

When Joe Pilates was making all the other exercises, he had a few things left over and thought, “Why not?”

In 10 Smart Tools to Master the Snake I mention the order of the Reformer exercises and how I use Corkscrew, the subsequent exercise, as a “Snake recovery system.”

I now realize in my execution of the Snake/Twist I couldn't really keep myself together. Body parts were falling out all over the place. Enter the Corkscrew to fix me all up again.

And that's fine.

I wasn't hurting myself. I just needed to put in my 10,000 hours of Snake/Twist.

Now 3+ years later I am learning how to keep myself together. And what do you know? I need the Snake/Twist so desperately.

Reunited at last!

I'm a bit twisted myself. No worries. Every Twist exercise I despise is just looking out for my best interests. Thanks, Joe.

What Smart Tools Do I Use Today?

Ultimately the best preparation for the Snake/Twist lies in all of your other exercises. Find what speaks to you that you do well and with confidence and you can't go wrong.

Remember your mantra:

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

My favorite Snake/Twist helper exercises:

Up Stretch Combo

The Universal Reformer

This one is a must. Perhaps the most similar to the Snake yet done in a straightforward manner.

Woo hoo!

Make sure to include this one in your workout if you're planning to add the Snake/Twist.

Elephant

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

If you want to return the carriage you'll need our trusty old friend to help. If you're adding the One-Leg Elephant as well, even better.

Swan

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

I find the Swan helpful as I move into the arched position of Snake. It's easy to forget about connecting your feet into the center as you move away from them, opening the carriage.

Sigh…

Swan helps me find length instead of dumping into the low back.

Scissors on the Small Barrel

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

This just in folks: you can open your body from the center instead of riding out too far with the carriage. What?? More on this skill in the video below.

Connection Prep

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

Take support from the apparatus to connect all the limbs into your center. Use all 4 springs to hold the carriage in. Now you'll have time to perfect the crucial starting and ending position.

This is great prep. It's safe and effective and could really supplement the exercise for a while.

Step 1

The Universal Reformer: Snake/Twist 2.0

Getting up into the starting position without moving the carriage is an exercise itself. Part Pull Up on the Wunda Chair and part Elephant, you'll need this skill before you begin the full exercise.

More Snake/Twist, please!

If you're a Pilatesology member, view my Pilates Project on the Snake/Twist here.

If you'd like to become a Pilatesology member I hope you'll use my affiliate link to join. Just click on the Pilatesology banner in the sidebar on the right. Full transparency: please know I do receive a small commission if you sign up via my link.

Check out a free preview of the post via YouTube.

Enjoy this short video tutorial.

Thanks for watching! 

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Join me this fall!

Upcoming Fall Workshops

Sunday November 27, 2016 Studio B Pilates+Barre, Tyler TX

You’ll love this jam-packed day of Pilates Continuing Education: I’ll be offering private lessons, a Mat class plus 2 workshops: A Cadillac Refresher – the Unsung Heroes(3 PMA CECs) and Strategies and Exercises on the Wunda Chair (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3, 2016 Excel Pilates, Washington, DC

Join me for my post popular posts Live! and in person: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises (4 PMA CECs) and On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises (2 PMA CECs). I’ll be teaching my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and Progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs) as well as a Mat class, private and semi-private lessons. Register today

Saturday December 17, 2016 LauraBPilates Studio, Raleigh, NC

In Raleigh we’ll have a full day of Pilates Continuing Education: private lessons and my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Beyond the Double Leg Pull: UK Edition

Beyond the Double Leg Pull: UK Edition

I've got a lovely British colleague, Amy Kellow. Amy is the owner of Everybody Pilates, a Classical Pilates franchise based in Portsmouth.

I am very fortunate to work with her via Skype. Amy is just as nerdy as yours truly and in her last lesson she delighted me with one of my favourite games.

You know it well.

It’s that a-ha moment when you realize that Exercise A (which you are currently in the midst of) is crazy helpful for Exercise B (which maybe you find more challenging or elusive).

“This exercise is just like [insert the name of any other Pilates exercise here].”

Beyond the Double Leg Pull: UK Edition

#makeyourowndoublelegpull

Today’s Key Players

Exercise A = Butterfly on the Cadillac

Exercise B = The Saw on the Mat

Hmmm, I'm not sure I am a fan of either of these exercises, maybe this will help me feel the love…

This week I've got a Special Guest to help me…

Try it yourself and be sure to tell me tell me all about it.

(Please note that the “exploratory” pace as I compare these two exercises is not ideal. Slower is not better, yo. OMG and so many chirping birds!)

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