Learn. To do. The Roll Up. and other Pilates Mantras…

Joe doing the Roll Up on the Mat

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for joining me on this amazing journey that is our beloved Pilates Method.

I've been thinking about you and as always, I've got the Pilates exercises at the forefront of my mind.

Where'd you go, Bernadette?!

Thank you so much for all of your sweet emails and comments expressing your love for the blog and your concern that you've not been receiving my once-weekly emails.

There's nothing wrong with your subscription or your inbox.

The short answer is that my surf lessons have absorbed the time in which I would write my weekly posts…

But that's not the whole truth… and as of yet, I've not become a surfing expert…

The real story is I've been experiencing a huge learning curve in my workout and therefore in my teaching as well. I dearly wanted to share this with you but I wasn't sure how best to go about it.

To be frank, my body used to LOVE the Pilates exercises. Every last one of them was a total. Feel. GOOD. Experience.

Since my most recent post in May '18, I've found that my body has grown intolerant of my movement patterns and pointed me with a neon red sign toward my imbalances and compensations.

“So what are you going to do about THAT??!” my body cries.

Don't blame the exercise!

This is an important point at this juncture: there's nothing wrong with the Pilates exercises or my body. After careful thought, movement and consideration, my body is pointing me in the direction of my weakest points and demanding I address them.

And you know how change is not comfortable? I felt reluctant to testify about Pilates with you. The blogposts got started but alas, were never completed…

So thank you, dear readers, for your patience, support, and love. I'm back – I hope a little bit wiser – and completely humbled by our magnificent Method.

Meanwhile…back at the Roll Up

Jay Grimes is straightforward in his direction.

Here's one of my favorites:


To do.

The Roll Up.

Pretty simple right?

This. Means.


It was a big day in my mat class when I did my first successful Roll Up.

In my first class, I could NOT roll up.


I should have stopped right there as my One Leg Circle was not much better…

Fast Forward 18 Years (not a typo)

Now I've done the Roll Up for decades so I am golden. I'm all ready to move beyond the humble Roll Up and onto more exciting stuff…

…like the Neck Pull

Good times.

This is where the journey gets uncomfortable interesting…

With more proficiency comes greater responsibility, my friends!

Don't just get it done… was that a heave-ho in there?

It's called the Roll Up

not the Throw Up.

(also Jay Grimes)

What would it take to REALLY do the Roll Up?

These things take time…

In my very first Pilates Mat class all those years ago at Excel Pilates, I could NOT roll up.

Today the Roll Up is one of my favorites. Now it's time to peel more delicious leaves off the artichoke.

Hard-won exercises can take us to the next level of proficiency over time.

Lately, I've been working hard to perfect a couple of the Roll Up‘s kissing cousins on the Cadillac.

Can you guess?

I know, we're always rolling up or down from somewhere, right?

Rolling Back on the Cadillac

Andrea doing Rolling Back on the Cadillac

Early on in my physical life, I found it “helpful” to compensate for my swayback posture by essentially tucking my pelvis all the time… you can kind of see it in the above photo from January 2018.

And boy do old habits die hard…

Now I know my tucked pelvis was a quick fix for not using my stomach effectively in my Pilates workout.

Rolling Back has helped me to keep lifting everything that sits up on top of the Short Box while my deep scooped belly starts the rolling back part. Rolling Back is even an exercise I like!

I don't have to tell you my Roll Up has gotten so much better (insert mindblown sound effect here)!

Which brings me to my second fantastic exercise on the Cadillac: Push Thru Front.Β 

Andrea doing Push Thru Front on the Cadillac

This one I have never liked…

I've spent many years not practicing the exercises I don't like. But now at least there's LIFT!

The photo above was taken last month (October 2019).

Here the Cadillac apparatus gives my body parameters which increase the difficulty. Push Thru Front is even more truth serum for my body.

The deep scoop of my belly must take me into that sharp turn of the exercise (right in my weakest spot!) and continue as I push the bar forward. Remember there's no crying in Pilates!

So how's that Roll Up going?

Working to initiate Rolling Back in my low low center has helped my Roll Up become much stronger.

And longer!

These 2 Cadilac exercises have helped me locate that deep-scooped-belly connection in so many of my other exercises. It's no joke how learning to properly roll up and down can strengthen our Pilates workouts.

Since I have been “learning to do the Roll Up” I've increased my proficiency in MANY other exercises:

I have built strength in my Roll Over, Rolling Like a Ball, Open Leg Rocker, Corkscrew, Jackknife, The Short Box, Tree, Short Spine Massage, Swan, Neck Pull, and the list goes on…

When one exercise gets better, they all get better: we only have one exercise!

Thanks so much for reading!

If you like what you read here, join my list below. If you've been a longtime subscriber and you're excited there's a new blog post, lay some love on me in the comments πŸ™‚

Now let's workout! You know you want to…

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  1. Ginger Purkey says

    Love this email! And so needed for me today! Still can’t do a good roll up in mat class with no assistance.????????????????
    My question to you, I now have a tower wall unit in my house, is using the roll down bar, the best way to β€œteach” my inside body to do the work? Have never been able to do the rollover, have a very tight back. It’s strong, but tight.
    And I do enjoy Pilatesology! It helps me in my teaching..learn so much!
    Thank you!
    Sincerely, Ginger Purkey

    • Hi Ginger! So happy to be of assistance to you today – I love when serendipity happens πŸ˜‰ Yes the exercise Rolling Back on the Tower can help to get the insides – the low stomach probably – to work more properly. When you start the Rolling back pull in your stomach to make the spring open and keep pulling in deeper the more you want to open the spring. So nice you subscribe to Pilatesology – it is such a great site I agree. Thank you so much for reaching out to connect here with us – lovely to have you join the conversation! xox A

  2. Julie Winters says

    So great to hear from you and glad you’re back at it!
    My roll up is better that it used to be, but not consistently good! Thanks for the tips!

    • Thanks so much Julie! Thank you for reading and yay! for your Roll Up πŸ™‚ I feel like we can learn more and more from even just one eensy weensy little mat exercise ha ha… gotta love Pilates!

  3. Thanks for the honesty! I struggle similarly. You have inspired me to challenge myself. It is so easy to work where we are most comfortable….

    • So true… when the going gets uncomfortable it’s harder to want to get it done… So glad I could help. Remember we have a whole method full of helpful exercises – and even with annoying body stuff there is still value in what we learn by working through it and coming out on the other side stronger and more knowledgeable… probably sweaty as well ha ha πŸ™‚ Keep up the good work and please share your successes and struggles here with us anytime! xox

  4. Glad to hear from you, Andrea. I was just working with a client on this exact thing this morning. Thank you! Love your posts.

  5. LOVE this post and so glad you are back bloggin! πŸ™‚ “…I’ve found that my body has grown intolerant of my movement patterns and pointed me with a neon red sign toward my imbalances and compensations…” Feelin’ tingles anyone!!? :-0 Those are great comparison pics; because I’m feelin’ the Jayism “There’s Hope” !! A, you have taught me more than Pilates, you have taught me acceptance, intuition and patience! <3 (ps. the Cadi photos great that way πŸ™‚

    • There’s hope! Such a good Jayism…Thank you so much for your high praise – those are three biggies you mention – especially the other P word that goes so well with Pilates – Patience!!! aaaarghhhh… And yes I love the Cadillac like that for photos and my new fancy phone that can fit it all in the shot ha ha! Baby steps Corrie… xox

  6. Barbara Bitner says

    So happy to receive this! You are a favorite of mine, and I have learned so much from your videos. Glad you are back!!!

  7. Hi Andrea!

    It’s always cool to read our thoughts and honesty… and that honesty is soooo refreshing!

    I think that the beauty of Pilates (and especially if you’re a Pilates Detective) is that the more we learn the, more we realize there is to learn. After all, as we practise, our bodies are changing and if the mind is engaged, then we realize that we are ourselves are moving the goalposts!


    Miguel πŸ™‚

    • Miguel thank you so much for your lovely comment. It is so true – the more we learn the more we realize how much more there is to learn. I find often that another thing is also true: We don’t know what we don’t know – until it comes up and smacks us on the head LOL. But I love that when one exercise gets better they all get better… In this way there is hope for my Long Stretch Series ha ha.
      Keep up the good work Miguel and thank you so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts here with us. Cheers to you!

  8. Stephanie Weibel says

    That was great. I was hoping to say something more profound than that, but all the other commentors said it’s so much better than I could. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I’m going to totally steal the expression, β€œit’s a roll up, not a throw upβ€œ.

    • Thank you so much Stephanie – your comment is perfect in my book – and yes – when Jay said that years ago I laughed so hard. We must steal from the best! Maybe I will start saying it too ha ha πŸ™‚ Have an awesome week!xo

  9. Janet Kooba says

    I’m so thrilled you are blogging again! I love how you tie everything together and teach in a tangible, easy to understand way. Excited to work on my roll up ????

    • Hey Janet! Thank you so much for the warm welcome and for your kind words on my teaching πŸ™‚ I find the Roll Up to be super exciting! I hope we can see each other again soon. xox

  10. Jenny Lake says

    Thanks for sharing Andrea.
    So glad your back!

  11. Uou’re back!! That’s great!

    who could have thought you were practicing our roll up while surfing..

    lots of love


    • Hi Roberta πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for reading and for reaching out to connect here with us – I did actually try to do the Hundred and the Roll Up while sitting out on my surfboard waiting for the set to come in… it didn’t go well LOL Maybe I need to try Stand Up Paddleboarding with a bigger heavier board for my Ropp Up ha ha ha – have an awesome week! xo

  12. So good to have you back Andrea!

  13. Alessandra Niccolai says

    ????????‍♀️All I can say here is…. I’m still working on it????????????????????????‍♀️????

  14. Lisa Jones says

    Good to see you back, Andrea ????
    Thanks for the blog, always so good!
    xoLisa (PS, the struggle is real sometimes, no? ????)

  15. Joanne Chong Rodrigues says

    Hi Andrea, thank you this candid post. Love your honesty. As Pilates Teachers, it’s sometimes hard to be open about our nemesis. We ain’t saints, we are humans – with weaknesses and deviations. Thank you for creating such a safe space to be real.

    • Hi Joanne – thank you so much for reading and for sharing with us here. Oh yes, we’ve all got something going on in our bodies that we are forced to confront when doing our Pilates exercises. I am so glad you feel at home here and thank you for joining in on the conversation. That’s why the struggle is always REAL, right? All best to you ! xox

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