The Pilates System: Russian Splits on the Reformer

The Pilates System: Russian Splits on the Reformer

Hey there all you awesome Pilates people,

I hope you've had a good week of dynamic opposition in your workouts. Thank you so much for the emails, comments and good cheer you've been sending my way. It's lovely to hear from you!

London and Portsmouth I will be comin' atcha very shortly. Private and semi-private lessons are filling up – please send me a message if you'd like to snag one for yourself.

I would so enjoy meeting you.

Can't get to see me in person?

Check out my YouTube channel for workouts, exercise tutorials and Pilates inspiration.

Schedule an Internet Lesson and have a full-on private lesson with me wherever you are in the world.

All Hail the Russian Splits

The Russian Splits in our order of the Reformer exercises is potentially the very last exercise of your Advanced Reformer workout.

Now we'll work into the full split for which our Front Split exercise has deftly prepared us.

Like our Side Splits and Front Splits, the Russian Split is 3-exercises-in-1.

For security in this exercise, place a pad on the headpiece of the Reformer and also, if necessary, on the footbar for your back foot.

  • Facing the back of the Reformer, stand on the carriage with both hands on the shoulder blocks.
  • Place your back leg into position on the footbar first.
  • Support yourself with your hands on the shoulder blocks and step your front foot into position halfway onto the headpiece.
  • Keep the back leg straight. Bend your front leg into a deep lunge position.
  • Holding onto the shoulder blocks, extend your front leg forward 3x. Be careful not to lock out your knees.
  • Now repeat the same thing but with no hands: arms cross in front or place hands behind the head.
  • Bring your hands back to the shoulder blocks, straighten both legs and close the carriage.
  • Now for that split: without locking the knees, power the exercise with the back leg and center, reaching the carriage out for a full split 3x.
  • Despite the seductive split, work to close the springs with control. Find your Elephant for efficient carriage-closing goodness!
  • To exit the exercise, bring the front foot onto the carriage first and then bring the back leg down.
  • Repeat on the other side.

What could go wrong?

For years I struggled to keep my back leg even remotely straight.

Tight hips and a sluggish butt make this split exercise a challenge. The next day you may wonder “Why does my butt hurt so much? What have I done? Oh yes… the Russian Split…”

Giving your heel a firm placement on the footbar will assist you as you reach through the back leg.

I like to imagine I am working my back leg (although it remains stationary) in tandem with the movement of the front leg.

I smell 2-way stretch!

Work to find your center to power the action of your front leg. Pull your leg into center more than pushing out the carriage.

Finding your seat will help to marginalize the thighs and hips which may try to take over…

Balancing in this deep squat position can be a challenge. Work this exercise well with your hands on the shoulder blocks before you take your hands away.

30 Day Wunda Chair Challenge: UPDATE!

Today is Day 6 for me.

Even with only a few days into the challenge I feel a new strength in my standing positions. And I mean in life – standing at work all day long and feeling my center instead of in my hips and legs.


Day 1 got my hopes up for the Star. I felt very strong and successful in the exercise.

Alas, on Day 2, my Star skills were nowhere to be found. Oh well, 28 more days to go.

To soothe my ego after the Star debacle, I added the Twist for myself as a yummy stretch and a feel-good ending.

Find more information on the Twist here.

Lest we forget our trusty companion the Small Barrel…

For the record, I continue to work my Small Barrel exercises before hopping onto the Wunda.

We need our skills of Frog and Scissors wherever we go in the Pilates studio.

On the Wunda Chair we have a wham-bam series of 3 exercises at the end: Going Up Front, Mountain Climb and Star. The Small Barrel skills remind us the center is king!

I am amazed at the ease one can find in the strength of the center. We must resist! the tendency to make the Mountain Climb a max-out-your-legs exercise.

Thanks to the Small Barrel – and of course Karen Frischmann – I was surprised and delighted to have greater stamina, balance and control despite being perched high on top of Mt. Wunda.

Although some #pilatesproblemsolving will be necessary for the Star… stay tuned!

Enjoy this short tutorial.

Stay tuned for more tutorials on the Wunda Chair exercises. Leave your requests in a comment below.

And here's where to find me in 2017!

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Up Stretch COMBO!

The Universal Reformer: A Tutorial on the Up Stretch COMBO!

For Andrea, Rachel and Corrie

A recent post included a video tutorial on my current nemesis the Up Stretch.

Congratulations! Now having mastered the Up Stretch I hope you'll join me for a look at its fraternal twin, the Up Stretch Combo

The Up Stretch and the Up Stretch Combo bear a striking resemblance to each other but look close and you'll see they have traits decidedly of their own.

Essentially a variation on the Up Stretch, the Up Stretch Combo is a staple part of the Long Stretch Series. Combining elements of all the exercises which precede it – Long Stretch, Down Stretch and Up Stretch – the Up Stretch Combo also foreshadows many of our super advanced exercises, notably Snake/Twist.

Enjoy this short video and see how you do.

Thanks for watching!

Wanna see the blog come to life?

Join me this Saturday in NC!

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

The Pilates System: Beyond Basic, Intermediate and Advanced

The Pilates System: Beyond Basic, Intermediate and Advanced

For Nan-Young

At Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles, passionate Pilates students convene from all around the world.

We Pilates teachers seek intimate acquaintance with the source of our beloved Pilates method: Joe.

How did Joe Pilates look at the body in front of him?

One student in particular, Nan-Young, inspired this post. Originally from South Korea, Nan-Young is a delightful fixture at Vintage Pilates. It's a pleasure to witness the amazing work and progress she puts in every day.

Make no mistake, she's a Pilates bad ass.

I hope you find this post to be of help, it was a fun one to create.

Exercises for the Body in Front of You

Jay Grimes tells us “Joe Pilates would take one look at you and know your whole life story.”

Joe Pilates knew what your body needed and would give you a vigorous workout plus some exercises ‘just for you.

In Joe Pilates' studio there were simply “Men's exercises” and “Women's exercises.” Along with Joe's order of exercises on the Reformer and Mat, teachers would consider the body in front of them and select appropriate exercises.

Circa late 80s-early 90s

With the advent of formalized teacher training programs, exercises came to be classified as ‘beginner,' ‘intermediate' and ‘advanced.' The labels were added in an effort to codify the broad range of material and teach it precisely and efficiently.

I have now come to understand these labels as guidelines or as a stepping-off point. As you continually observe your students, keep asking yourself questions about what you see (or don't see) in the body and what exercise you might choose to address this.

Basic Pilates Exercises

The Pilates System: Beyond Basic, Intermediate and Advanced

In Pilates there are no black-and-white hard facts.

We learn rules and guidelines in our training programs, but real-life clients rarely fit into neat and tidy categories like ‘basic,' ‘intermediate' and ‘advanced.'

Everything exists in a gray area. As a new teacher, this can be a scary prospect.


Within the murkiness you'll find liberation. Many options exist and our expertise helps us to choose the most effective exercises for any given individual.

That said, let's first consider the basic exercises done on the Reformer and the Mat.

Basic Reformer Exercises

  1. Footwork
  2. Hundred
  3. Frog/Leg Circles
  4. Stomach Massage Series
  5. Short Box Series
  6. Elephant
  7. Knee Stretches
  8. Running
  9. Pelvic Lift

Basic Mat Exercises

  1. Hundred
  2. Roll Up
  3. Single Leg Circles
  4. Roll Like a Ball
  5. Single Leg Pull
  6. Double Leg Pull
  7. Spine Stretch

What makes an exercise “basic?”

When working with new clients – even those with prior Pilates experience – we often begin at the beginning. Sure they've taken Pilates classes for years somewhere, but in that first lesson we're checking them out to see just what Pilates skills they've got in place.

A basic exercise offers support for the body. Looking at the list above, 5 out of 9 Reformer exercises are done lying down. 5 out of 7 Mat exercises are also lying down. Lying down on either the Reformer or the Mat you are fully supported by the apparatus.

On the Reformer even your head is supported.

How nice.

At the basic level only 1 Reformer exercise has us touching the apparatus with hands and feet only: the Elephant.

Basic Exercises offer straightforward and simple movement patterns. Only 1 of our Reformer Basics works on 1 side at a time: the Tree on the Short Box. There are 2 one-sided Mat Basics: Single Leg Circles and Single Leg Pull, although here you've still got that lying down aspect goin' for ya.

In a basic exercise the body shape is consistent throughout. Nearly every basic exercise on our list keeps the body in the same shape for the entire exercise.

A basic exercise puts the body in pedestrian positions. Lying down, sitting up, standing and kneeling are the only demands of our basic exercises. Most people will be able to do them. We're accustomed to these positions of the body regardless if we've done Pilates or not.

Real-World Basic: Now what?

Armed with your order of exercises and our basic exercises, look at the body in front of you. As the student begins to move through these first Pilates exercises you'll assess the body.

Some questions may arise:

  • Is it appropriate for their head to be up for the whole Hundred?
  • Is the individual in control enough to deal with their feet in unstable straps?
  • Are they stiff?
  • Can they sit up with their feet on the Footbar?
  • Do they feel unsafe sitting on the Short Box?
  • Are the first exercises done on the Short Box already so challenging that you'll leave Side-to-side and Twist out?
  • Should they stand on the Reformer?
  • Can they kneel?

Whew! That's a lot of Pilates problem solving.

Questions like these allow you to determine the appropriateness of even these basic exercises for an individual. Your questioning mind will serve you well as we examine our next tier of exercises: intermediate.

Intermediate Pilates Exercises

The Pilates System: Beyond Basic, Intermediate and Advanced

Many exercises are in the intermediate category. It's huge! I've included the full list with the basics in here too. Intermediate exercises are in orange.

Intermediate Reformer Exercises

  • Footwork
  • Hundred
  • Frog/Leg Circles
  • Coordination
  • Pull Straps and T Straps
  • Backstroke
  • Teaser
  • Long Stretch
  • Down Stretch
  • Up Stretch
  • Elephant
  • Stomach Massage
  • Short Box – Twist/Reach
  • Short Spine Massage
  • SemiCircle
  • Knee Stretches
  • Running
  • Pelvic Lift
  • Side Splits
  • Front Splits

Intermediate Mat Exercises

  • Hundred
  • Roll Up
  • Single Leg Circles
  • Roll Like a Ball
  • Single Leg Pull
  • Double Leg Pull
  • Single Straight Leg Stretch
  • Double Straight Leg Stretch
  • Criss Cross
  • Spine Stretch
  • Open Leg Rocker
  • Corkscrew
  • Saw
  • Swan
  • Single Leg Kicks
  • Double Leg Kicks
  • Thigh Stretch
  • Neck Pull
  • Side Kick Series
  • Teaser
  • Seal

What makes an exercise “intermediate?”

The Intermediate exercises are many and varied. Some are simpler and less complex than others.

An intermediate exercise will incorporate skills you achieve in the basic exercises. The Pilates method has a POV that's unique. With focus, repetition and consistency you'll accumulate skills to serve you as your workout progresses.

Intermediate exercises include potentially unfamiliar body positions. Now our exercises will include twisting and back extension. You must also lie on your side and be upside down. The rolling exercises are more elaborate than our basic rolling exercise, Roll like a Ball.

Intermediate exercises demand considerable coordination and balance. At the intermediate level our balance will be tested in several body positions and orientations to the apparatus. We'll be standing up on the Reformer for two exercises done kneeling and standing on 1 side. 

Real World Intermediate: Now what?

As you work your student through the manicured paths of the basic exercises you'll make some decisions about moving their workout into the prickly landscape of intermediate exercises.

Let's think of this a little differently. Collect all the skills your client possesses and see what you come up with.

  • Can he lift his hips?
  • Does he roll well?
  • Is he stiff or flexible?
  • What skill is missing that you want to see? What are some things you might use to address this?
  • What does your student do exceptionally well?
  • How about the mental component of the student? The more challenging the exercise, the more the willpower of the student must be present.

Now looking at our 2 groups of exercises, the basic and intermediate, you'll notice basic exercises that may serve as prerequisites for the more involved and challenging intermediate exercises.

This is the key to moving beyond the labels of ‘basic,' ‘intermediate' and ‘advanced.' What does the body need? What is the body capable of currently?

The progression of skills may fall along the lines of our basic, intermediate and advanced distinctions, but maybe not depending on the body in front of you. Assessing your student's skills will aid you in adding more complex exercises over time until they may be able to accomplish all of them and beyond.

Again, much of this depends on the student.

For example, if a student struggles with the Roll Up, you may choose to delay adding the Neck Pull until the Roll Up skill is secured. And why can't they Roll Up? Find some exercises for that.

Perhaps your student rolls very well but is stiff. Open Leg Rocker might build on his rolling skill and challenge/address his flexibility.

Keep thinking about the skills we'll build on as we move from basic to intermediate. Now get ready for taking those skills to the next level when things get crazy in the advanced exercises.

Advanced Pilates Exercises

The Pilates System: Beyond Basic, Intermediate and Advanced

Some students may not do every exercise labeled ‘advanced.' Many of the advanced exercises depend on the strength, control and stamina that must be cultivated from the very beginning.

These exercises are not just going to happen. The student must be disciplined and will themselves to rise to the challenge.

It's not unusual to work for many years to accomplish these exercises. It's taken me considerable time to feel proficient at many of the advanced exercises. And by considerable I mean over a decade…

I've included the full list with the basic and intermediate exercises in here too. Advanced exercises are in orange.

Advanced Reformer Exercises

  • Footwork
  • Hundred
  • Overhead
  • Coordination
  • Rowing 1-6
  • Swan
  • Pull Straps and T Straps
  • Backstroke
  • Teaser
  • Breaststroke
  • Horseback
  • Long Stretch
  • Down Stretch
  • Up Stretch
  • Elephant
  • Long Back Stretch
  • Stomach Massage
  • Tendon Stretch
  • Short Box
  • Short Spine Massage
  • SemiCircle
  • Chest Expansion
  • Thigh Stretch
  • Arm Circles
  • Snake/Twist
  • Corkscrew/Tic Toc
  • Balance Control
  • Long Spine Massage
  • Frog/Leg Circles
  • Knee Stretches
  • Running
  • Pelvic Lift
  • Control Push Up Front
  • Control Push Up Back
  • Side Splits
  • Front Splits
  • Russian Splits

Advanced Mat Exercises

  • Hundred
  • Roll Up
  • Roll Over
  • Single Leg Circles
  • Roll Like a Ball
  • Single Leg Pull
  • Double Leg Pull
  • Single Straight Leg Stretch
  • Double Straight Leg Stretch
  • Criss Cross
  • Spine Stretch
  • Open Leg Rocker
  • Corkscrew
  • Saw
  • Swan Dive
  • Single Leg Kicks
  • Double Leg Kicks
  • Thigh Stretch
  • Neck Pull
  • High Scissors
  • High Bicycle
  • Shoulder Bridge
  • Spine Twist
  • Jackknife
  • Side Kick Series
  • Teaser(s)
  • Hip Circles
  • Swimming
  • Leg Pull
  • Leg Pull Front
  • Side Kicks Kneeling
  • Side Bend
  • Boomerang
  • Seal
  • Crab
  • Rocking
  • Control Balance
  • Push Ups

What makes an exercise “advanced?”

Within our beloved Pilates method you'll find exercises that speak to your strengths as well as those which challenge and exploit your shortcomings. Revel in your ability to do the former and doggedly practice the latter for years until you whip your body into compliance.

Adding these exercises into your students' workout is very individual. Some you may add quickly and others they may never see…although I never say never.

An advanced exercise is complex, usually including 2 or 3 body positions in the same exercise. Think of your Snake/Twist which requires the body to be round and then arched and then a combination of round and twist.

In an advanced exercise you will be minimally connected to the apparatus. The number of exercises done with just hands and feet connected to the apparatus increases significantly. The student must have a strong center to survive and support the weight of their body while performing the exercise.

Advanced exercises continually place the body in unfamiliar and challenging positions. You'll be upside down now for many exercises. You'll also be rolling off the Reformer and getting back on again.

In advanced exercises you must lift yourself off the apparatus without the assistance of straps. On the Mat we have the Roll Over and on the Reformer we have the Overhead. These are at the beginning of the workout and will continue throughout.

And perhaps most importantly…

An advanced exercise requires a complete focus on the exercise at hand. These exercises are no joke and if the mind is not focused to control the body they can be dangerous. If your student is mentally out to lunch, these exercises may not be for them.

Real World Advanced: Focus and Control

Just like some of the intermediate exercises, we've got several options around the studio to address the demands of these challenging advanced exercises.

Sure the student needs the skills of, for example, Chest Expansion, but maybe not on the Reformer just yet.

What a brilliant system!

Using all the apparatus to build the student's program will progress their workout slowly and steadily.

For example, the Arm Chair will teach 4 of the Rowing exercises brilliantly. The Cadillac can address Chest Expansion and Thigh Stretch (which they'll also be doing on the Mat).

The Spine Corrector will take care of the High Scissors and High Bicycle as well as train your body to be a mean rolling machine. It's just such a perfect apparatus!

The Breaststroke can be developed on the Cadillac as well and there's nothing Tower and Monkey cannot address. Remember lifting the body off the apparatus? Here's your training ground.

Life Beyond Labels

Keep the qualifications of the exercises foremost in your mind as you move past the “rules” and learn to look at the body deeply and effectively.

Keep the student safe and err on the conservative side.

Work to understand the thought behind the labels of ‘basic,' ‘intermediate' and ‘advanced.' With practice and getting the exercises in your own body, you'll begin to see how the exercises early in the workout progress and transform into exercises of great complexity.

Questions or comments about progressing your students? 

Leave me a question and I promise to answer in a followup post 🙂

Stay tuned!

The Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus Tricks

The Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus Tricks

Previously I spoke of my newfound respect for the Long Stretch Series on the Reformer.

For years I didn't fully consider the import of these 7 exercises: Long Stretch, Down Stretch, Up Stretch, Up Stretch Combo, Elephant, Elephant with One Leg and the Long Back Stretch.

They seemed fine really.

Not a walk in the park and not a one-arm Snake/Twist either. We had a great relationship.

The Song Remains the Same

The Long Stretch Series teaches you how to use your lower body effectively.

Remember that our lower body is most of our body, the lion's share, if you will.

Within this series you'll use your lower body:

  1. in a round shape
  2. in an an arch
  3. in an undulating combination of round and arch in two ways
  4. in a round shape one side at a time, and
  5. facing upward and upside-down

Joe Pilates had a love for all things emphatic, it seems.

“Do you get it yet??” he asks us all the time.

A Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus Tricks

One particular gem within the Long Stretch Series is the Up Stretch.

A bit of a wolf-in-sheep's clothing this one…

The Up Stretch is the foundation for all kinds of delicious Pilates tricks.

You know the ones: all the way from Semi Circle and Snake/Twist to the Flying Squirrel and everything in between.

The Up Stretch is the first time in our Reformer order where we have just 2 fixed points and a moving middle. The hands and feet are connected to the apparatus and a flip-ton of action goes on in the center.

Think of the undulation of Up Stretch and Semi Circle, for example.

The Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus Tricks

Semi Circle is a gift! You've got your head and shoulders supported by the carriage. Enjoy it while you can.

Soon that will all go away in the Headstands:

The Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus Tricks

Now just the head and 2 feet are connected to the apparatus with a moving shape in between.

Can you see the Up Stretch in this exercise? All turned around and with no hands?

My old favorite

I love to cultivate the Up Stretch when working on my former nemesis: Snake/Twist on the Reformer.

The feet are no longer on the moving part of the carriage, and now you're turned around a bit again just like the Headstands.

The Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus Tricks

Don't be distracted. Just use your mad Up Stretch skills – your lower body – and get the job done.

Let's take it vertical!

The working title for this Guillotine-cum-Cadillac exercise is Monkey on a Stick. It's really just Semi Circle (Up Stretch) now working in a vertical plane.

On the Guillotine the bar your feet are on is not completely fixed, it moves a bit.

Aha! A new wrinkle on our road to Pilates Circus stardom…

Plus guess who's favorite exercise it is? ♥


Listen for the spring noise that is challenging Murat Berkin's foot position. He makes it look easy of course and does a great job of controlling the bar.

1 fixed point + 1 moveable point = the plot thickens!

Another low body exercise done on the Cadillac is Rolling In and Out.

The Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus TricksThe Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus TricksThe Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus TricksThe Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus TricksThe Up Stretch: The Gateway Drug to Pilates Circus Tricks

Here the lower body is fixed and the upper body's point of contact is the Roll Back bar (which moves!).

The good news is you are kneeling. Now challenge yourself to make Rolling in and Out a lower body exercise and not an arm exercise.

Thank you Up Stretch!

The Ultimate Up Stretch

For those of you who signed on for Pilates circus tricks, now is your time to shine.

The Flying Squirrel, an exercise few practitioners do at all is what the humble Up Stretch can prepare you to do.

Your fixed points of contact – alas – are not fixed at all…

Gravity awaits you at every turn…ready to wrap you in its clutches and face plant you on the mat…

Strive to find your Up Stretch in mid-air.

It's a wild ride!

Enjoy Christina Gadar's excellent Flying Squirrel at 1 minute in.

Never underestimate the power of a meat-and-potatoes exercise in our beloved Pilates method. Cultivate your best Up Stretch and it will reward you tenfold.

Know that even if you never reach the Flying Squirrel your butt will look nice 🙂

So how's your Up Stretch?

Share your thoughts and questions in a comment below.

Related post:

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

This Pilates Project has been a loooong time coming.

I believe the Star has been on my list since I began writing this blog over 3 years ago. And I've been working on the exercise itself for over a decade.

It's one of THOSE exercises. These things take time.

So, here we are.

I'm excited to unearth this project for a couple of reasons:

  • (1) it's a super challenging, one-sided exercise I'm just beginning to wrangle properly, and
  • (2) a colleague of mine, Kati Pylkkänen of Core Sport Pilates Studio, has made the Star on the Reformer one of her workout goals for the new year.

Thanks for enlisting my help, Kati. I shall do my best!

Before digging into our helper exercises, here's a few guidelines I use:

A Star is Born

To be a Star you must radiate outward in all directions.

No prob.

To extend your reach out from the center in all directions, let's think of a more fundamental exercise: the Twist in Stomach Massage Series:

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

All parts of the body are reaching in their respective directions.

Now, you must commit to this idea tenfold when working on the Star. Otherwise, since you are no longer seated, you will sink and fall down.

Awww…frownie face…

To be a Star you must become a master of each side of the body doing its respective workload.

Imbalances may make the Star quite a battle. Persevere, it's good for you!

Your standing leg must work fiercely despite that distracting leg waving around in the air. You must find the support the carriage can provide you and use it to your best advantage.

You must have boatloads of lift!

Remember it is your lift that brings the carriage home.

Especially for the leg-circling-flourish final moment of this exercise (just my fancy name) you must use your lift to keep the carriage closed and to get the most out of your reaching legs.

Relax, Joe Pilates has us well prepared.

Now that we've laid the groundwork, enjoy these helpful exercises.

Become proficient in all of these and your Star is on the rise!

1.  Long Stretch

Pilates Projects: The Star on the ReformerWell before learning the Star you've done the Long Stretch on the Reformer. The 2-sided version of the Star if you will.

Remember the Long Stretch and the Star are both Lower Body Exercises. They are not about your arms and shoulders. Stand on your feet firmly here and use your stomach, seat and reach to move the carriage.

2.  The Order of the Universe

Within the order of the Reformer exercises you already have a few exercises to strengthen and stretch the sides of the body and prepare you for the Star:

  • Side Bend on the Short Box which is our first taste of getting the sides to move and work.

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

  • Snake/Twist, a challenging mix of strength + stretch of the sides of the body and here you start to get used to just being on hands and a foot…

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

  • Mermaid is a key exercise to add when working on the Star. It gets everything up and moving in the sides – and perhaps more luxurious than the Star? Enjoy it while you can.

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

3+4.  Two Favorites

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

For me success in the Star is all about the Side Kicks Series on the Mat. And it's super fun cousin the Side Kicks Kneeling.

Pilates Projects: The Star on the Reformer

These 2 one-sided exercises present similar scenarios as the Star:

  • each side of the body working independently with one “standing” leg and one working leg
  • the skill of connecting the legs into the center to make this a full body exercise not a leg exercise
  • the movement patterns of front/back, up/down and circles

The challenge of the Side Kick Series is to keep the trunk working. Lying on your side, the back shape is long and lifted, just as though you were sitting upright.

I know, it's easy to fall in to the “loungey” trap in this side-lying position.

“No sexy on the beach!” Romana demanded as we lolled about on our sides.

You can cultivate the lift in the trunk by using your opposition (2-way stretch) away from your long reaching leg.

See, that leg's good for something after all.

You can use other upright exercises, Pumping on the High Chair is a good one with amazing feedback, to find the tall lifted back position with the seat working to elongate the low back.

Same shape, different exercise. I'm sure you've got some favorites of your own as well.

Whatever exercise speaks to you will serve you well. I just mention a few of my favorites.

Which brings me to that old chestnut, the Side Kicks Kneeling.

Joe's upped the ante now. See if all the connections you found in the Side Sicks can work now in your one-sided kneeling position.


Now we are less connected to the Mat.

Side Kicks Kneeling gives us more of what we'll find in the Star: up on one hand now kneeling, which is closer to our standing side-plank position.

Side Kicks Kneeling challenges our lift. It's easy to get stuck in the hip of the standing (kneeling) leg. Increase your lift in this exercise and it will prepare you for the required lift to close the carriage on the Reformer for Star.

Enjoy some Star inspo at :42.

Shine brightly, my friends! 

Share your successes in a comment below.

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