Side Bending in Pilates: When will I learn?

Side Bending in Pilates: When will I learn?

Alycea Ungaro recently weighed in with her move of the month: Pilates Side Bends.

Really? I thought we were friends.

I get it.

Friends make friends do Pilates exercises they don't like.

Awesome friends insist they do it twice!

Not just me, I bet

Everyone can benefit from more of these when-do-we-move-like-this-in-life side-bending exercises. We want lots of strength and lift in both sides of our waist – and Joe Pilates has given us specific exercises just for this purpose.

So get used to that Short Box, 'cause it's not going anywhere.

Find a good friend to give you a delicious stretch in the Mermaid.

And dust off your Mat.

Do what you have to do. 

Get Ready to feel fabulous!

The Shape is Key

Side Bending in Pilates: When will I learn?

Any imbalance will show up like gangbusters in these side bend exercises. Revel in the side that is possible. And become obsessed with the gimpy-er side – it needs some tough love. Remember it doesn't have to be pretty to feel good afterwards.

Pilates is not a spectator sport…generally.

1. The Shape of All Things Pilates: Side Bend

A Killer Short Box Can't Hurt

Side Bending in Pilates: When will I learn?

Short Box Series is one of the unsung heroes of the Reformer repertoire. Loathed by countless Pilates teachers and practitioners, the Short Box continues unrelentingly to shower us with benefits. If only we appreciated all that these exercises contribute to our wellbeing. Especially the really gruesome ones… well, they're all heinous depending on who you are. Why pick just one?

The Short Box, likely the first place you'll bend to the side, deprives you of springs and occasionally, of your dignity.

Best make use of all you've got at your disposal: your stomach (scoop, lift, center, powerhouse, etc…) and the straps on your feet.

P.S. Short Spine Massage is coming…

2. The Use of the Straps in the Short Box

Mermaid: The Darling of the Pilates Exercises

Side Bending in Pilates: When will I learn?

Pilates with a friend, what could be better?

Indulge in the Mermaid and stretch like a cat all around the Pilates system. There's an apparatus for everyone. My current favorite (as you can see) is the Mermaid on the Reformer but the Wunda Chair is a close second.

Smiley McSmilerson!

3. Pilates Side-Bending: The Mermaid Obsession?

Side Bend on the Mat.

It has been a long time in coming, but I am here to scream it loud and clear:

This is a lower body exercise!

We must stop taxing our poor little arms and shoulders and stand into the lower body to hoist ourselves off the ground.



And then lift again to sit down with control.

Now let's breathe.

  • Take a deep breath in and lengthen up into the position.
  • Exhale and stretch that top side to the sky.
  • Push into your feet and see how high you can lift the hips. Be the animal that you are.
  • Now sit straight down with control and get some stretch of the lower side on the way down.

Yes, lift on the way down too.

There is no collapsing in Pilates. #collapsology?

Thank you Alycea Ungaro for this month's focus on Side-Bending.

4. Get Strong with Pilates Side Bends


Contrology was conceived to limber and stretch muscles and ligaments so that your body will be as supple as that of a cat…

Joe Pilates

C'mon, be a cat. You cannot do it right or wrong. You're either a cat or you're NOT. No two cats are the same, so you're not learning a movement, YOU'RE A CAT.

Kathy Grant

#nowyouareananimal #meow

The Pilates Lunges: The Arm Springs Edition

The Pilates Lunges: The Arm Springs EditionAlycea Ungaro weighed in with her move of the month for August: The Pilates Lunges.


She certainly hit the mark with an exercise that I had completely forgotten and alas, that I had relegated to the world of fitness.

I was confused. Confounded. And yes, a bit late to the party.

No delicious Reformer exercise or one of the 34 awesome moves on the Mat?

Just last week I realized I had been teaching Pilates lunges to my clients ALL ALONG…

Imagine my surprise. Say it with me:

We only have one exercise!


The Standing Arm Springs

Often these are reserved for our male clients, but I have a few exceptional ladies that love a good Standing Arm Spring ending.

Regardless, these exercises are bursting with Pilates power poses; we all feel strong and powerful doing them. And with many variations to choose from, they can be appropriate for all levels of Pilates peeps.

One prerequisite: You must have a powerhouse!

Jus' sayin'.

A few Pilates pointers you'll use to work on the exercises:

  • This is a Back exercise. The arms are an extension of your back. Connect your back into your arms and into the springs.
  • Opposition Help #1: Use opposition to your advantage. Press firmly into the floor with your feet and really anchor the back heel. Reach your hands into the handles and create a diagonal line from the back heel all the way up to your fingertips.
  • Opposition Help #2: Scoop your stomach in away from your reach into the handles. Pretend you are doing a strange Teaser and pull the waistline in more that you think necessary…you're probably in no danger of overdoing it…
  • Balance: Lunge with the Right leg forward and then the Left. Lookie there! It's great for those that might have a weaker side, or a less coordinated one.
  • OMG coordination!
  • Breathe deeply and be vigorous!

Can you say full body workout?


Save the date!

Saturday September 20, 2104 is Pilates Gives Back day at a studio near you.

Interested in participating? Learn more here or visit the APU Pilates Gives Back Charity Fundraiser page.

Swan Redux: 7 Handy Posts to make it your Secret Weapon

Swan Redux:7 Handy Posts to make it your Secret Weapon1. Alycea Ungaro started us off with a recent post:

Get Pilates Strong: The Swan

“Your move of the month is the Swan.”

Yes, ma'am.

The Pilates exercises are exaggerated versions of our everyday movements. What?

The length and lifted support you'll gain from even the simplest of the Swan exercises will train you to sit up taller during your day.

The Swan can be your secret weapon for life!

Our mothers were right.

It's good to sit up tall.

Swan Redux: 7 Handy Posts to make it your Secret Weapon

2. Strengthen your back with your first Swan.

The Swan: “It's not a pushup!”

The extension of the back you'll perfect with this simple version of the Swan will assure you many more years of lifted upright posture.

3. Alisa Wyatt helps you find the perfect Swan for you and work your way toward the big kahuna: Swan Dive!

Swan Redux: 7 Handy Posts to make it your Secret Weapon

4. Even more ways to challenge yourself on your quest for ultimate control in the Swan Dive

The Swan Dive and a Few Surprises (#3 is my favorite)

Swan Redux: 7 Handy Posts to make it your Secret Weapon

5. Already feeling plenty challenged by this particular back shape? Find some assistance from Pilatesology.

The Shape of All Things Pilates: The Arched Back

Swan Redux: 7 Handy Posts to make it your Secret Weapon

6+7. Yet another way to make the Swan your secret weapon…for crazy Pilates exercises!

Pilates Projects: 5 Exercises for a Better Control Balance Off – video

Pilates Projects: 5 Exercises for a Better Control Balance Off – post

Thank you so much for reading. You are awesome and I appreciate every single Swan-diving one of you!

Now go workout. You know you want to.


This just in!

8. Take your Swan Dive to another level entirely…but you might have to get wet…

(But you're a Swan, so it's probably okay.)


A big thank you to Simon Trangmar of Adelaide Pilates, a fellow Pilates nerd (and tech nerd!) for your beautiful swan contribution.

Anyone else wanna play?

Have a special swan tip to share? Swan success stories?

Honk your horn in a comment below.

(Totally couldn't resist that one.)

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