Be Your Best Client: How To Do Your Own Workout

Roll Like a Ball

Hello!

Thanks so much for joining me today as you continue your journey on the Pilates Path.

If you're a new subscriber, welcome 🙂

Today I'm gonna treat myself just like my very favorite client(s). I love to be mercenary with my exercises.

It's the best way to squeeze all the juice out of the Pilates Method.

My Life at Vintage Pilates, Los Angeles

UPDATE: Pilates Home Practice Project: Fran, 60

Every Monday, all those years ago, I worked alongside my amazing colleagues at Vintage Pilates.

It was at Vintage that I took my very first self-guided group workout. All participants were doing their own workouts under the watchful eyes of their favorite instructor.

Working independently puts the emphasis on moving.

That's the magic.

Moving briskly requires control and as you well know, control quite literally IS the name of the game. You're putting in your time repeating your exercises, stimulating your body and mind as you move through your workout.

You'll enjoy a correction or two, a push or pull, or a hearty word of encouragement from your teacher.

It's really the moving that jazzes us up, right?

As you experience your Pilates exercises, your body takes over, your breathing deepens as the demand of the exercises increases. I love that moment in class when banter falls away only to be replaced by the sound of springs, apparatus, and deep, full breathing.

That's the moment when you're IN IT.

“This is for you.”

The Silver Lining of Injury: Frog+Leg Circles Edition

In your self-guided group workout, you'll spend the bulk of your time moving and getting warm.

Maybe you'll visit some of your most challenging exercises since you have the luxury of supervision.

Or maybe you'll stay with your meat and potatoes exercises (the land of intermediate in Pilates speak) as you refine old habits and encourage new ones.

The latter part of the class is really the best part. Now that you're warm and invested, you'll choose a few exercises that showcase a key ingredient you need in all your exercises.

“This is for you” takes one thing and exploits it into about 10 minutes of exercises that probably aren't your favorites, but that your body will thank you for later.

Cap it all off with your favorite ending sequence and you'll be sailing out of the studio on a cloud of your own making. You've moved and sweated for an hour or so and, D-A-M-N, where did all this energy come from?

And that post-Pilates glow? It's the best high 🙂

How will I know what to do?

Pilates Projects: 5 Exercises to Perfect your Open Leg Rocker

If you're a Pilates teacher, you're already making all these wonderful choices for your clients.

Treat yourself like your very favorite client:

  • You want them to get a great workout.
  • They'll do exercises they love, as well as ones they need to do that maybe they don't like so much.
  • Sometimes they need tough love too.

You'll treat yourself the same way:

  • You'll move through your workout and notice how your body feels in the exercises today.
  • You'll add some exercises to help with your specific body needs
  • You'll find an invigorating and fun way to end your workout.

You have the power!

If you're a Pilates enthusiast, learning to plan your own workout makes the most of your investment. You've spent time, sweat, and money on Pilates classes and now you're ready to up your game.

The more you apply yourself to your exercises and your learning, the more the Pilates exercises will benefit you and teach you even more about your body, the apparatus, and your exercises.

Not able to make it to class? No worries at all.

You have all the power, the practice, and the knowledge to do your own workout whenever you want.

Congratulations! You put the ‘control' in Contrology.

My Plan for Today's Workout

Today, as I plan my workout, I'll take you along.

You'll be privy to my thought process, the exercises I do, the ones I really need and the fun ending that pleases me. Join me for one day in the life of a long-term Pilates practitioner, imbalances and all.

1.Consider your apparatus.

Neck Pull on the Mat

One of the first considerations is which apparatus will start off my workout.

Today is Monday. On Saturday I did a full hour-long Reformer workout. As much as I would love to do it all again, there are so many apparatus to visit.

Later today I'll be filming the Side Bend on the Mat for my website. And since I'm not the poster child for any side bending exercises, I'm gonna need all my Mat exercises to get ready.

My first apparatus will be the Mat.

All the exercises in Return to Life should take me about 25-30 minutes to complete.

2. Where do I go from there?

Exercise Expose: How to Lower your Legs in the Hundred

Hmmm…the Barrels are a natural progression from the Mat exercises, so I'll add the Spine Corrector exercises next.

The last few days I haven't visited my Foot Corrector and 2×4, so I will put them in there too.

3. This is for YOU?

Teaser on the Cadillac

In editing this post, I forgot this section entirely and was super focused on the fun ending I want to do.

Frownie Face…

Lately I'm working to hold my center together as you roll up and down on the apparatus.

I know, that's like all the exercises…

There are a few exercises on the Cadillac I don't look forward to but I need.

There's another one on the Wunda Chair I find to be helpful.

Okay 3 exercises for me.

4. Finally a Finish!

The Pilates System: A Day in the Life

For my ending, I'm torn between a little Pilates Project I've been working on the Cadillac, and the Ped-o-Pul.

But I did briefly use the Ped-o-Pul yesterday. Ok, Pilates Project it is.

Often I pick the first apparatus and begin my workout. The subsequent apparatus, exercises, ending, etc… happen organically. But sometimes I plan like today.

One of the best things to happen in a group class is that your plan goes out the window.

Oh, dear… Someone else has claimed the apparatus you want.

*Gasp!*

Now you have to use an apparatus you didn't choose…

When that happens, it's choosing YOU!

Andrea's Monday Workout

March MATness Day 13: The One Leg Kick

Foot Corrector/2×4:

Ball, Heel, Massage, Arch, Tendon Stretch, Tendon Stretch One Leg, Combo

Mat (full list here)

Spine Corrector:

Arm Circles, Up/Down, Hug, Breathing

Leg Circles, Walks, Beats, Scissors, Bicycle, Shoulder Bridge, Helicopter, Leg Circles onto the Head

High Bridge, Swan Dive

This is for you:

Wunda Chair:

The Table

Cadillac:

Teaser, Shoulder Roll Down (Sari), Standing one-leg springs

My Thrilling Ending Exercise:

Cadillac:

Hanging Leg Circles

Wish Me Luck!

Okay, writing this post psyched me up for this workout.

Join me if you like and lemme know how it goes 🙂

Curious about joining a group workout?

Read more in this post or grab your spot today.

Upside Down Exercises can be a Pain in the Neck: Here’s How to Fix It.

Control Balance on the Reformer

Hello there!

A big thank you to Fernando Albernaz and Natanael Arruda for inviting me to participate in their Return to Contrologia project yesterday.

It was a pleasure to speak with you! Extra thanks to Pilates bestie, Daniela Escobar, for translating.

I really like pretending I understand Portuguese tho…

Check out the recording on their IG.

2-way Stretch: It's a Thing.

And Now it's Upside-Down.

Overhead on the Reformer

Earlier this year I wrote a post on how to work on the exercises that are upside-down.

Working on the skills that lift you overhead leads to more control in your upside-down exercises.

But how do you control where you end up? Where's the point of balance?

Once you succeed in getting upside-down, you are often confronted with new “Pilates problems.”

The most common Pilates problem in upside-down exercises is rolling over too far and landing on your neck. And while this may not be a painful place to perch at the moment, over time you'll want to refine your skills and find more control.

Who's in charge here anyway, you or the exercise?

Overhead exercises don't have to be a pain in the neck!

In the above photo, I'm not entirely on my neck, but there's another spot in the middle of my back that given time, will prove to be a better landing spot.

Perhaps you too have noticed:

  • inflexibility in the middle of your back that's easy to bypass for a more “stable” spot that's nearly your neck
  • a challenge in connecting all the back of you into one long line

What Luck!

There's a brilliant little fundamental exercise that you'll use to help you stay off your neck.

Can you guess?

Roll Like a Ball

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the humble Roll Like a Ball.

(and the crowd goes wild)

Use your rolling exercises to equalize your oppositional forces every time you practice. Part of the skill, and charm of your rolling exercises is your coordination of the 2-way stretch in motion.

You could easily rename the rolling exercises. They could all be called Control Balance right?

Equalizing your forces is a requirement of all the Pilates rolling exercises.

Lose your lower body and you'll not make it over.

Lose your lift and you'll never return.

What happens to your lift when you're upside-down? In the Control Balance, for example.

It's still there right? Or have you collapsed onto yourself never to return?

What would happen if you turned your Control Balance into a scissor-y rolling exercise for a moment?

Hang on, that sounds like my kind of fun…

(gets on floor, rolls around)

Yup. It was fun. Give it a try!

Hang onto your lift when you're upright and you'll never drop yourself onto your neck.

Can Roll Like a Ball work even more magic?

You bet!

Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

How will that carriage ever come back?

And what does this have to do with being upside down on your neck?

Look familiar?

Upside Down Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

Now your “rolling exercise” is rolling on the ceiling.

Imagine.

This one won't land you on your neck, but your lower body reach could take that carriage out there, never to return. Add an equal dose of lift to balance you out and you'll have better luck closing the spring.

I could drop my head down a bit… but keep your lift upside-down and lift your carriage home.

Try my hack and see how you do.

What other #PilatesProblems can you fix with Roll Like a Ball?

Share your success in a comment below.

The Self-Guided Group Class: It’s a Movement!

Self Guided Online Group Pilates Class

Hello there and welcome to another awesome week on the Pilates Path!

Thanks for reading and sharing your time with me today.

Foot Corrector February

It's nearly the end of February and the finish line of my 28-Day Foot Corrector Challenge is within sight.

If this challenge is news to you and your feet are crying out for some love, get all the deets in this post. This challenge in tandem with MarchMATness would be a boon to your Pilates Mat exercises.

Another bonus: You'll have 31 Days!

More about the unexpected treasures found in daily foot exercises comin' atcha in just 6 days!

The Self Guided Group Class

Illustration of Pilates Teacher and Laptop

Do you know I offer online group classes?

It's true.

My home studio is fully virtual and I've created the Zoom equivalent of Joe Pilates' gym: students working out, sweating, and having fun all together in the same room.

Remember that?

I love witnessing a new a-Ha! moment, a glimmer of new understanding, or a funny Pilates anecdote. I'll take all the humanity I can get right now.

All of my classes are self-guided.

Yes, you read that correctly.

You'll do your own workout on whatever pieces of Pilates apparatus you have on hand.

If you've got a whole studio to use, that's fantastic!

If you're an enthusiast or at home with only a Mat, that's perfect as well.

You'll work out at your own pace, doing exercises appropriate for you with the supervision of an instructor.

Me!

As you move through your workout, I'll offer suggestions, a correction or two, and perhaps a round of polite golf applause for a job well done.

If you're working on learning the order of your exercises on the Mat or Reformer, keep your list of exercises nearby while you build your program.

In the virtual world, you're literally on your own. You must take ownership of your workout and therefore of your health and well-being.

All that being said, if you're used to a group class with a teacher telling you what to do from start to finish, you may feel unsure of how to proceed. Or even wonder why you might want to…

No worries, I'm happy to help.

Autonomy in your Pilates Workout: Practice what you Teach

The Private Lesson and Instructor-Led Group Class models are modern inventions.

They're not bad models by any means.

But they lack a key ingredient to harnessing the full power of the Pilates Method: the voyage of discovery.

No journey on the Pilates path is complete without this vital component.

Joe's Original 8th Avenue Studio

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

All accounts of life in Joe Pilates studio describe it as a gym: everyone working out – moving – together in the studio on one or more pieces of apparatus.

From Caged Lion: Joseph Pilates and His Legacy by John Steel:

Eventually I got the message it was necessary to be able to do the routine by yourself. While that may seem difficult, it really isn't. The routine teaches itself to you.

This is not a speedy process.

The Pilates method takes devotion. It's literally a practice.

Self-practice outside of the studio setting increases your proficiency.

YouTube videos have their place as well.

But the benefits of nurturing your workout under the watchful eyes of a teacher are unparalleled.

My ability to do the exercise routine slowly but continuously improved from session to session. I was getting stronger, I was moving better, and my posture was improving.

I was enjoying the feeling of well being.

I had only to show up at the gym, get down on the Reformer, and clear my mind so I could direct every bit of my attention to moving the right part of my body in the right way at the right time using the right muscles.

True progress is made over time.

You're developing skills in your body as you would learn any sport or physical discipline, by repeating the same exercises many, many times.

Your body and mind are learning together.

Joe was trying to help you learn and acquire exercise, his particular exercise routine, as a habit to improve your life…

You were there to learn, not to work out.

An Experience is Worth 1000 Words

You Can't Teach Pilates Quote

Ideally, teacher and student work together as a team.

And without true ownership of your Pilates workout, there cannot be real change. As you learn your exercises and become more independent, the exercises and the apparatus become your teachers as well.

They're often better teachers because they give you an experience.

The experience may lead you to discover a skill or a moment that I've been telling you about for years.

Talking is easy to tune out. And talking isn't teaching.

An experience, however, you'll remember. You'll feel special.

Like you've got a secret (weapon) no one else knows about.

One that's well worth the price of admission.

Ultimately, it's not about me, the teacher.

It's about you.

Who knows you better than you?

How to Do your Own Workout

Pilates Teacher Gives Thumbs Up for Job Well Done!

Wanna get started?

Use this link to book into one of my self-guided, supervised classes and join me!

But wait…

There's more!

The Pilates System is Alive and Well and Living All Around the World

It's not just me.

It's a movement.

Continue your journey on the Pilates Path with a trusted guide.

Self-Guided Online Classes Worldwide

Depending on location, some self-guided classes may be in-person as well as online. Contact the studios for more information on their specific protocols.

“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.”

“We are what we repeatedly do…”

Joe Pilates Quote

“We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

If you're a new subscriber to the blog – welcome! Thanks for joining me on this wonderful roller coaster of a ride called The Pilates Method.

Foot Department of Corrections

Last week I threw down the gauntlet – to myself as well – to visit the Foot Corrector and the 2×4 every day in the month of February.

“Why do I do this to myself?” wafts through my brain as I struggle to make foot exercises a habit one day at a time.

I almost failed my own challenge on Day 3.

By Day 6 I had an epiphany. I think my stomach actually connected to my feet when I used the 2×4.

I usually do the Foot Corrector exercises first, followed by the 2×4.

On Day 7 I “accidentally” did the 2×4 first. What a difference it made for my connection to my feet! I'm gonna use this order for a while to see if it teaches me further.

How's it going for you? Hit me up in the comments if you're playing along. Go nuts and give yourself a pedicure!

Jay Grimes Strikes Again

Recently I read this blog post by Nathalie Gonthier-Thomas, a teacher at Westwood Pilates in Los Angeles. The owner of the studio, my friend Daniela Escobar, shared the post via Instagram.

I urge you to give it a read.

In a nutshell, the author shares a story of her experience in class with Jay Grimes. As she works a particular exercise, she feels that one body part really wants to take over. When she comments about feeling the exercise in this way she is expecting to be guided by Jay to work more correctly.

To her surprise, Jay turns the tables on her asking “What are you going to do about it?”

I witnessed another version of this comment as well.

Years ago at a Pilates conference produced by the lovely Amy Kellow of Everybody Pilates, one of the workshops included Jay teaching a first-time student.

Jay taught a young, coordinated, reasonably fit woman. She really caught on to how he asked her to work the exercises. He could see she was smart. She soon realized that what Jay was looking for on the various apparatus she visited – Reformer and the Mat – was similar in many ways.

When she got to the High Chair for the Pumping exercise toward the end of the lesson she told Jay that when she pushed the pedal down her back came away from the back of the Chair.

“Well, who's fault is that?” he asked with a smile.

The next time the pedal went down her back stayed against the Chair.

Jay has a way of sending a clear message that only you can create true change in your body. He is merely a guide.

The Virtual Pilates Studio

One of my favorite things about our current era of online teaching is that it helps me curb my people-pleasing ways.

I'm often too happy to help. Or I hover when I don't need to. I have also been known to enable…

Now, with clients in their own space, the ball is literally in their court. I can suggest and guide, but you're truly on your own in your designated Pilates space.

I like how this situation quietly sends the message of ownership.

Jay is right. Unless you know your workout and claim it as your own, there cannot be real change.

The Open Leg Rocker in your Workout

I've got a few super motivated and nerdy clients. Frankly, they're all awesome.

One, in particular, is extremely diligent. Janet practices her Mat exercises daily.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Daily.

This dedication –  this devotion – to Pilates and to her well-being has sky-rocketed her understanding to nerd cult status. You know, no correction too esoteric, no exercise too insurmountable. On the Mat.

Recently, we've been working on perfecting her Open Leg Rocker.

We are just beginning to do the exercise without the assist of foot straps on her feet.

Open Leg Rocker with Strap Assist

In the Pilates studio, you can use the foot straps from the leg springs for this assist. At home, lots of everyday items can serve you: a folded-up towel around each foot or a longer stretching (or stretchy) strap work just as well.

For a while, used regularly (every time you practice), this simple assist can open up the entire back of you.

In Janet's most recent lesson, I suddenly realized she was not using the straps to assist and her hands were nearly all the way at her ankles.

It's steadily getting better over time, over many months.

In addition to the Open Leg Rocker, we've been talking about the lift in the trunk of her body since Day 1.

Open Leg Rocker in your Life

I nearly swooned last week when Janet told me a story about noticing a new skill in her body.

I love when that happens.

We've often bonded over being similarly sized humans.

We're short. About 5'3″ but, you know, sorta…

Post showering, evidently many people hang their towel over the shower curtain rod to dry. I do this too.

Historically Janet could never reach up to the top of the curtain rod to stretch out the towel if it gets a wrinkle in it. Vexing, I agree. How will it dry like that?!

Turns out now she is able to reach up there with no problem.

I know you know all this, but this is why we do the Pilates exercises. To hang up our fricking towels in high places like it's no big woop.

Sure! Open Leg Rocker is a great ice-breaker at parties – and the next party I get to attend I'll be sure to bust one out – but if you can reach and bend to get stuff, that is where the money is folkx.

Rant. Over.

Meanwhile, how's it going with your feet?

Use this video to give your toes some love this Valentine's Day.

Foot Department of Corrections: 28-Day Challenge!

Heels on the Foot Corrector

Jay Grimes is a treasure.

He’s given me numerous corrections over the years, which I often “understand” at the moment only to realize years later their full ramifications system-and-body-wide.

Like the ones about my feet.

I do use the Foot Corrector and the 2×4 regularly.

But not every-damn-day regularly.

And I always manage to slack off right about the time I show up in front of Jay.

“Have you been doing your foot exercises?” he says before hello.

Translation: “I see you’ve NOT been doing your foot exercises.”

Yup. Every time.

In my defense, I know they’re good for me. And I “know” what they do for the rest of my body.

Well, I thought I did.

Like everything in Pilates, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Until you do.

#footprobs

See, I don’t really have any arches. Well, I kinda have one, but it’s not much to write home about.

And that Foot Corrector is perfectly named. Use it regularly and you’ll suddenly stop mid-stride, shocked to feel an arch! Right there in your foot where there never was one! It's brilliant.

Oh yeah, it’s that good.

Turns out arches are supportive (insert shrug emoji).

While you're at it, next time you find yourself on the balls of your feet, check to see if you are actually on the balls of each of your toes (especially the tiny ones!) or just on that in-between nowheresville which is neither toe nor ball.

Also turns out you need balls to have arches.

No doubt.

Upon finally discovering my arches, imagine my surprise to feel a whole bunch of other shit I don’t have control of light up like a fucking Christmas tree.

Arches are powerful stuff, man.

Foot Fetish February

In the spirit of harnessing the power of what a pair of arches can do for your Pilates workout, I’m dedicating the month of February (and beyond hopefully) to a daily foot fetish ritual workout.

I hope you’ll join me.

It takes mere minutes to do the Foot Corrector basics and a couple of extra goodies on the 2×4.

If you don’t have a proper corrector you can substitute an appropriately sized firm ball like a tennis ball.

2×4 exercises can also be done on the floor.

No excuses.

The Plan

Foot corrector:

Ball

There are many standing positions for these exercises at the Foot Corrector. I prefer a lunge stance for this first one so I can stand evenly on both sides. I have tight calves so if I stand with my feet side by side as I do in most of these exercises I kinda fall over…

You’ve got a few options with regard to the standing position and what to do with your arms LOL

Ball on the Foot Corrector

Heel

I find this exercise to be super satisfying. The pedal spring is considerable and I love how it fosters so much lift in the whole body.

Heel on the Foot Corrector

The Massage

Enjoy! Keep trying to lift up and away from the pedal as you hold it steady during this serious massage of the whole foot. Hard to do, but well worth the effort. I add socks or a towel for The Massage for more slideability (I'm sure that's a word…).

The Massage on the Foot CorrectorThe Massage on the Foot CorrectorThe Massage on the Foot Corrector

Arches 🙂

Lift your arch up away from the pedal and see what else in your body comes alive.

Arches on the Foot Corrector

On Top

I find it super challenging to isolate the ball of the foot on top of the Corrector. When I do find it, the pedal often bangs around noisily. Coincidence?

On Top on the Foot Corrector

2×4

Tendon stretch

Keep your lift on the inside even as you descend in space. Try not to get shorter!

Tendon Stretch on the Pilates 2x4

(And for you overachievers, don't forget to do the One Foot Tendon Stretch)

Combo

I should do this one hands-free.  You can see my poor arm trying to do the whole exercise… well I've got a month to work on that.

See this one in action in this video.

Foot Exercises on the Pilates 2x4

If you’re one-foot-challenged like I am use a pole to help you balance so you don't fall to your death.

Throw in a few Toe Corrector exercises if you’re on a roll.

Further Foot Fine Points from YT and the Blog:

Read: 

Hey that thing really works! A Foot Corrector Love Story

Fix Your Feet, Fix Your Powerhouse: The Pilates 2×4 Exercises

Watch:

A Short Tutorial on the Pilates Foot Corrector.

Treat your Feet: A Pilates Toe Corrector and 2×4 Workout

Last Chance, Fancy Pants!

The Complex Reformer Project is set to begin in mere days.

If you've enjoyed working your Pilates Project POV in my most recent workshops, the Complex Reformer Project will land us smack dab in the middle of the Baby, You're a Star! kind of exploration.

How do your years of toiling in fundamental exercises on the Reformer all culminate in Joe Pilates' show-off exercises: Snake/Twist, Horseback, Control Balance Stepping Off, and (of course) the Star?

Reserve your spot today. The fun begins on February 4.

Added bonus: Jump on board for this Foot Corrector challenge and I bet you'll find out how much a supple and lifted pair of arches will help all your Reformer exercises.

I ❤️ Jay Grimes. That guy is always right.

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