The Cadillac: Simply the Best

The CadillacOne of my favorite elements of the Pilates System is that nothing is arbitrary.

“There IS a reason,” says Joe Pilates, for all of our protocols and exercises and apparatuses.

Each apparatus in the studio has a special purpose or it wouldn't be there, right?

All the apparatuses exist to assist and support your efforts. And of course, they mingle their help with challenge, like everything else in this brilliant method.

Joe Pilates' First Invention

What niche does the Cadillac fill in the Pilates studio?

Like so many things in the Pilates Method – the Teaser, the Hundred – the Cadillac has a reputation.

She's the favorite “feel-good” and “stretchy” workout your clients demand. Who cares about the oppressive Reformer, that unforgiving Mat or those impossible Chairs?

And it’s always the Cadillac who welcomes you when you “just want to wake the f*** up…”

The Best of its Kind

It's rumored that Joe Pilates called his invention the Cadillac after a mid-20th-century advertisement proclaiming General Motors' Cadillac automobile to be the best of its kind.

A couple of years ago I investigated this story.

And does anyone complain about having to use the Cadillac? I've only heard glowing reviews from clients – the Cadillac is decidedly more popular than the Reformer… or the Mat… or anything else in the studio really…

Cadillac as Laboratory

The repertoire of Cadillac exercises is vast.

And there's something for everyone.

On the Cadillac, you'll find…

  • …an easy place to lie down if you can't get down on the floor.
  • …a mat that offers full-body support and is a template for your tall standing position (lying down).
  • …a place to get assistance to learn how to roll your body up and down on the Mat.
  • …a boatload of exercises which can be straightforward places to learn not-so-straightforward exercises on the Reformer and Mat.
  • …a place to advance your standing exercises with assistance from a spring.
  • …a nice place to hold on while you balance on one leg.
  • …a great place to invert the lower body for beginners.
  • …a fun place to invert the entire body for advanced practitioners.

Oh gosh there's so much to do here! So many possibilities within the canopy of the Cadillac

Pilates Confession Time

I've never liked the Leg Spring Series on the Cadillac.

Nope. Not one bit.

It's not that I don't do them… I've been doing them for years. They're not great, but little by little they get better.

Curiously, I love love LOVE the Frog and Circles on the Reformer.

What makes the same exercises done on different apparatus so…different?

And by ‘different' I mean vexing.

See what you think:

 

The Cadillac version

Frog in Leg Springs on Cadillac

 

The Reformer version

Frog on the Reformer

Looks kinda the same, right?

But looks can be deceiving.

What's the same?

  • The position of most of the body is the same. In both exercises, you have each foot in its own strap.
  • The choreography is the same.
  • The support you receive from the apparatus is similar.

What's different?

  • The Cadillac is not a moving platform.
  • On the Cadillac, each foot is directly attached to the spring. The Reformer connects you to the spring system which resides underneath the carriage. On the Cadillac, this direct attachment to the spring makes control more difficult.
  • The position of the upper body and the arms is different. On the Cadillac, the arm position is advantageous to help lift and engage the entire trunk of the body. It's also the most solid support you get in the exercise here.
  • And look at the position of my ribcage. Never underestimate the power of the headpiece on the Reformer.

Think about the Footwork series we do (everywhere) on the Reformer.

It's very reminiscent of the Frog, yes?

That footbar is so solid and supportive. Yet fleeting.

Joseph Pilates giveth and Joseph Pilates taketh away…

Over time, you'll ween yourself from Footwork done with the stout footbar to the less supportive long black straps for the Frog to the foot-directly-connected-to-spring instability on the Cadillac for the Leg Spring Series.

“These things take time,” Jay Grimes tells me.

Where are we going?

Think of the Cadillac as a stepping stone from the compressive support of the Reformer and Wunda Chair on your way to going it alone on the Mat.

Some support you'll receive from the Cadillac will be considerable: All that stuff with the Push Through Bar. It's probably not an accident the push-thru springs are the heaviest springs in the studio.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Cadillac: the Roll Down Bar…I smell unstable support here!

The Cadillac Project

You know how much I love a good Pilates Project. In September my workshop focused on the Wunda Chair.

Join me in January 2021 for a deep dive into the vast repertoire of the Cadillac. On the Cadillac, there are so many ways to enhance and challenge our Pilates workout all around the studio.

Go full-on remedial to reinforce fundamentals, or channel your inner circus performer with gravity-defying exercises hanging from the canopy.

I love to work the system via the lens of a good ol' Pilates Project.

Currently, I've got 2 projects in the works for my body – I'll bet you can guess LOL

My Cadillac Project #1: Building Symmetry

  • Leg Springs Series
  • Leg Springs Series – One Leg
  • Airplane (with the Airplane board)
  • Roll Back with One Arm
  • Tower
  • Tower – One Leg
  • Monkey
  • Monkey – One Leg
  • Shoulder Roll Down (the Sari)
  • Push Thru
  • Push Thru One Arm
  • Standing Stretches in the fuzzies
  • Standing Boxing
  • Standing Lunges
  • Squats
  • One Leg Squats

Wheee!

This one's a wild ride that takes me from lying down to the one leg squats.

All is possible on the magnificent Cadillac!

My Cadillac Project #2: Creating the Round Back Shape

What makes a round shape? It can be a struggle for me. Notice some exercises even make both of my projects!

  • Leg Springs – One Leg
  • Airplane
  • Roll Back
  • Tower
  • Push Through
  • Reverse Push Through
  • Seated Tower
  • Half Hang

What kind of Pilates Project will you create on the Cadillac?

In a total of 8 workshop hours, you'll explore the fundamental forces of 2-way stretch as you experieince as many of our meat-and-potatoes Cadillac exercises as time will allow.

You'll build a Pilates Project of your own along the way.

The Cadillac Project will meet 4 Thursdays in January: January 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2021.

Class time is 9am – 11am PST

There will be homework!

Maximum 10 participants.

Prerequisites for this workshop include:

  1. A Cadillac or Tower Unit
  2. Pilates experience

Just a few spots remaining.

Use this link to join in the fun:

Yes! I love the Cadillac!

Get a glimpse of The Cadillac Project in this week's video.

Thanks for watching!

The 7th Principle of Pilates: MOVE!

Jumping on the Stomach on the Ladder BarrelThis week's post is an oldie but its topic has even more resonance today than when it appeared on pilatesology.com in 2012. Read Pilatesology's original post even if you're not a member. Wanna join? Use my code Andrea30 and extend their free trial to 30 days.

My Pilates Confession for this week…

Remember your least favorite Pilates exercises we used for our little Repetition test?

Are you bored or are you better?

My few Ladder Barrel exercises have added a 4th friend: The Standing Stretches – also known to Romana's Pilates peeps as the Ballet Stretches.

And I am proud to admit I'm a bit better at them… and what about my 3 other exercises?

I'm sure I am a bit better…but it's too early to tell for sure… more repetition for me!

How did you do?

What are the ‘Principles of Pilates'?

Most all Pilates training programs – mine included – spend the first hour of the first training weekend imparting some basic information about Joe Pilates and his method.

On my first page of notes: Pilates is… (in 3 words) Stretch with Strength and Control.

Okay, cool.

Next my notes tell me what most if not all Pilates instructors also learn very early on:

The 6 Principles of Pilates:

Concentration

Control

Centering

Precision

Flowing movement

Breathing

True, these 6 principles do accurately describe what differentiates Pilates from other forms of exercise.

They do not, however, come from Joe Pilates.

Whaaaaaaaht???

It's true.

Jay weighs in…

Jay Grimes points out that Joe Pilates did not come down from the mountain one day with stone tablets proclaiming the 6 Principles of Pilates.

I always laugh when he says this because I think of Mel Brooks as Moses in History of the World Part 1. Moses comes down from the mountain to announce his 15 Commandments, accidentally drops one stone tablet and quickly changes the number to “…10…! 10 Commandments!”

But Joe Pilates would have had the stone tablets, the tiny white shorts, and a cigar I think, yes?

I know, getting a little off-topic.

So if not from Joe, from whom do we get these 6 lovely principles?

Enter Romana…

The 6 Principles first appeared in The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning by Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, two students of Romana Kryzanowska.

Originally published in 1980 (more than a decade after Joe Pilates died, yo.).  It “was the first book of its kind – bringing Pilates out of the elite studios and into the lives of millions of Americans.”

The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning

Jogging and running had exploded in the late 1970s. By 1980 a fitness craze was sweeping the country and an obsession with health, beauty, and youthfulness was having profound effects on American culture.

Students Gail and Philip met with Romana seeking specific ways to differentiate the Pilates Method from other forms of exercise.

What made Pilates special?

Certainly, the 6 principles they created are inherent in the Pilates system.

But another more important principle is missing.

Let’s call it the 7th Principle of Pilates: Move!

Who knows, maybe if Joe dropped his stone tablet other precious gems were lost as well:

“Thou Shalt Not Bang the Carriage.”

“Quiet the Clips.”

“What you don’t like, you do twice.”

Try it for yourself.

Let's follow the 7th Principle of Pilates. Move!

All those other 6 principles will happen automatically when you commit to simply move.

Concentration: You'll remember the exercises and focus on what you are doing. As you continue to move you'll have to think faster from one exercise to the next. Moving requires engagement.

Control: You'll move in a safe and effective fashion. The continual movement will challenge your control.

Centering: You’ll be toast without your stomach.

Precision: You'll maintain your form. The continual movement will challenge your precision.

Breathing: You'll most certainly have to breathe… The movement will require you to breathe more deeply and fully. I love it when this happens!

Flowing movement: OMG yes! You are moving!

All this involves TRUST of course.

Trust yourself AND the Work

Trust in Joe's work.

Trust that it is getting the job done without you micromanaging and getting all up in its grill.

Trust to let the body lead you without your mind working overtime, or over-indulging in the breathing.

Perhaps…you know who you are…

Trust.

Let go.

Let go and Let Joe…awww… #pilatespunsarethebest

What's your experience when you commit to move in your workout?

I'd love to know. Share your successes in a comment below.

Revisiting the Basics: Footwork on the Reformer

Revisiting the Basics: Footwork on the Reformer

About last week…

In last week's post, I challenged you to visit a few of your nastiest exercises. Did you get bored with them? Or did you get better at them? How did it go?

I'd love to know.

TBH, I decided on my 3 exercises quickly but only managed to visit them a few times… sign me up for another week.

So far I am neither bored nor better.

My 3 exercises to continue to wrangle:

Ladder Barrel exercisesLadder Barrel exercisesLadder Barrel exercises

Side Sit Ups, Side Stretch, and the Backbend.

Clearly I need to hear Joe Pilates' words again:

“Practice your exercises diligently with the fixed and unalterable determination that you will permit nothing else to sway you in keeping faith with yourself.

So I'll keep the faith at full speed for another week at least. How'd you do with your exercises?

Meanwhile…

Jump into a new series with me this week!

Nearly 2 decades into this amazing method, I'm finally (mostly) ready to tackle the-most-basic of all basics: Footwork on the Reformer.

Let's. Go.

Footwork at a Glance

In the traditional Pilates system 4 exercises begin our Reformer workout:

  1. Toes – the official name, but dare I say, Balls
  2. Arches
  3. Heels
  4. Tendon Stretch

For the record, I've never been a fan.

Kerry DeVivo of Excel Pilates Annapolis, one of my first teachers, used Footwork as her go-to workout on busy days. Not all the exercises on the Reformer, there was no time. 

JUST the Footwork.

She loved it.

Ugh.

Why subject yourself to such torture?

Even my most horrible Mat exercises would be more fun than Footwork on the Reformer all by itself.

#FootworkProbs

At first, I found the Footwork exercises to be frustrating. So much focus on the minutiae of my misbehaving foot, arch and ankle was such a drag. Not to mention I had the quads of 10 men… *sigh*

Can't we just move on to the Hundred and all the fun stuff?

What's really going on here?

I need an attitude adjustment…

Let's Zoom Out

Jay Grimes and Vintage Pilates (and time) have liberated my Footwork series.

I'm more than just a pretty pair of feet…

Joe Pilates was often asked, “What is this exercise for?”

“The BODY.”

Good answer! Thanks, Joe.

Footwork is your first big warmup of the lower body.

Footwork on the Reformer

The Hundred continues this theme of warming up, now for the upper body.

100 on the Reformer

What a pair!

#fullbodyworkout

Mobilizing and lengthening the back is more vital than perfect legs, feet, and ankles – at the moment. 

These things take time.

Most importantly MOVING through this series plucks you out of your busy mind and into laser focus: controlling your body. You may even sort yourself out on your way to the Tendon Stretch.

Joe Pilates has your back on this one.

Literally.

Can you be long, tall and straight like the Reformer behind you? Nope, but it's the trying that counts.

The Footwork series is a great place to take full advantage of your most supportive friend, your partner in crime, the Reformer.

Ready? Set? Footwork!

A whole Pilates studio of apparatus lies in wait to exploit your Footwork skills. Surely all of our 500+ exercises in the Pilates Method will benefit.

Footwork on the Reformer is the very first skill to haunt you (perhaps even taunt you) on every apparatus you visit.

Footwork on the Reformer

It's your very first squat!

Joe Pilates takes it easy on you at first. You are horizontal, fully supported by the apparatus and free from pesky gravity.

Check out these Pilates morsels! See if you can find their inner Footwork

Frog on the Reformer

Frog, in many iterations and on multiple apparatuses, is the ultimate Footwork clone.

Pumping on the High Chair

Pumping on the High Chair puts our Footwork (and our Frog) upright. I find changing the relationship to gravity can be a huge help in honing our Footwork skills.

Centering on the Ped-o-Pull

Focusing on your inner Footwork can make even grueling exercises on the Ped-o-Pul possible. In the photo, I am using a bit of Footwork to help with my Centering exercise.

Wow! The scope of the Footwork exercises makes it a whole lot more fun.

Now for something completely different (NOT)

Our Footwork series also provides a strong foundation in formidable exercises:

Greg Swan on Barrel

Swan done on the Ladder Barrel puts the strength of your Footwork to the test.

Headstand 2 on the Reformer

OMG it's a moment of Tendon Stretch from our Footwork series smack dab in the middle of the Headstand! An old familiar friend despite the challenging position…

Tower on the Cadillac

And you can clearly see some Footwork skills in my personal nemesis, Tower on the Cadillac. Thanks, Joe Pilates, someday I will learn!

Lights! Camera! Footwork?!

Joe Pilates starts you off right away with the fundamental skill of the Footwork series.

Visit your Footwork and all your fundamental Reformer exercises in these videos:

Use the first one for a detailed deliberate pace and the one below for the same group of exercises done at a brisk pace:

Need help finding your bottom and actually using it in your Footwork series?

Check out this video as well:

Have an amazing Pilates week. You got this.

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better
It's no secret I spend considerable time thinking about our beloved Pilates Method.

My favorite aspect of our system is, well, that whole ‘system' thing… I truly enjoy that we have a specific framework in which to workout.

Order! Order!

Our classical system has a specific order of exercises on the Reformer and on the Mat.

Combined with ‘We only have one exercise‘ Joe Pilates has literally built crucial skill-building into his method.

Repetition is truly the mother of all learning.

Pilates as a skill-based exercise regime is more akin to a martial art than it is to traditional fitness.

Like martial arts, Classical Pilates is “deeply rooted in philosophy… and tradition.” But “it [also] teaches discipline, focus, and respect.”

Often the Pilates method is promoted as fitness but it's different.

It is a practice, so you've gotta practice, am I right?

Won't I get bored?

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better
In last week's post I shared one of 2 exercises I'm working on in my current Pilates Proficiency Project: Rolling Back on the Cadillac. Working this exercise each day is bettering my Roll Up skills and creating more proficiency system-wide.

Repeatedly visiting the exercises allows the apparatuses to be our teachers too.

Plus, the Pilates Method is experiential so I invite you to consider starting your own Pilates experiment to find out for yourself:

  1. Choose a small group of exercises
  2. Choose a time frame – 2 weeks, 30 days, etc… (at least 2 weeks tho)

Limit the number of exercises you choose so you can complete them in just a few minutes.

Do your chosen exercises Every. Day.

I've done this experiment here before with my Small Barrel Project and also with my Foot Corrector and 2×4 exercises. If you've got a couple of exercises you really hate but know are good for you – those are the ones to choose!!!

You can decide for yourself if you're bored or if you get better day-by-day at your chosen exercises.

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

You know what? I'm gonna jump in right now.

I've got a trifecta of Ladder Barrel exercises which aren't my favorites and are ripe for just this kind of ‘noble experiment.'

My 3 horrible exercises on the Ladder Barrel:

Side Sit Ups – aaaargh kill me now…

Side Stretch – maybe you know this one as Fish??

Backbend Hanging – probably this one has a bunch of other names as well… it used to be a fave but not sure anymore…

Stay tuned here for next week's post to find out how it's going.

Also If you're not a blog subscriber, click here. You'll receive a new post every Monday and you'll also receive a bonus blog post all about How to Fall in Love with the Exercises you Hate.

You'll see how many exercises I don't like and maybe you even hate them too.

But it's no fun to be a hater…

Won't my clients get bored ??

Serendipity led me to find this image on IG:

Variety social share

Consistency yields big dividends. It's a great feature of our beloved Pilates Method.

If you are consistent, it works. You don't even have to be that great at the exercises.

Just do it.

Joe Pilates takes care of that whole ‘variety' part for us. It's in there.

Joe presents us with the same demands in multiple scenarios all around the studio.

Getting Bored vs. Getting Better

Creating consistency in your clients' workout will better their skills, change their bodies and empower their minds.

You become a team!

And while this is not a guarantee that every new client will jump on board with you… you will find your people. There are plenty of clients who are perfect for YOU.

Remember: The exercises stay the same and familiar as your body goes through monumental change.

Check out this recent video collaboration I did with the amazing Lesley Logan.

Thank you for reading!

Check out @Pilatay on IG and cast your vote for Best of Pilates 2019.

If you like what you read here use this link to vote for me as Best Pilates Blog 2019.

Thanks so much!

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:

Learn.

To do.

The Roll Up.

Pretty simple right?

This. Means.

YOU.

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.

Nope.

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. 

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!

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

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