Be Your Best Client: How To Do Your Own Workout

Roll Like a Ball


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.


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


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

My Thrilling Ending Exercise:


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.

The Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Backstroke

The Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Backstroke

Welcome new subscribers!

Today's post features a true workhorse exercise on the Reformer: the Backstroke.

Thank you for all your positive feedback on my recent video tutorials. Requests for exercises you'd like to see dissected in future tutorials have been rolling in…

Extra love to Jacqueline in Vancouver for suggesting Snake/Twist (my former nemesis) and to Jayne in London who requested the Up Stretch (current nemesis).

Duly noted and keep 'em coming!

Color me excited and scared…

1 Stellar Reason to Make Students Autonomous

To learn your workout is to move beyond “where do my legs go?” and dig deeply into the exercises to correct our bodies.

Watch out!

It's easy to be seduced by the choreography of an exercise without fully utilizing the exercise to serve our specific needs.

I like to ask myself:

“What has [insert exercise here] done for me lately?”

We learn the purpose of the Backstroke: to strengthen and prepare for Teaser, the subsequent exercise in our order of the Reformer exercises.

But how exactly does this happen?

The Backstroke proves to be an excellent exercise to find length in the back. Coincidentally (or is it?), lengthening the back is one of the things I seek in my own workouts.

Who couldn't use more of that?

Lately I've noticed a shift of focus in the way I approach my Pilates exercises. I have new control over my body which enables me to transcend the choreography of the exercises.

I know what to do, right? But what's it doing for me?

Moving beyond choreography, let's seize the exercise as our own. What can I do to make this exercise serve ME?

Right now in the Backstroke?

Where do I sit?

You'll place yourself at the very edge of the box. In this position you'll keep the straps taut and create a pressure on the handles. Sustain this pressing into the handles to work from the back and upper stomach.

Don't forget to wail on it during the moment of pause in this exercise. This pause is for a reason.

Make something happen. Get a little bit more lift and length in your back.

The Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the BackstrokeThe Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Backstroke

Now make it move.

When we first learn the Backstroke it's helpful to use a marked, deliberate pace.

  • Pull your stomach in. Keep your head up. Look into your stomach.
  • Arms and legs reach straight up. Straps are taut and the carriage is still.
  • Open the arms and legs no wider than the Reformer.
  • Arms and legs pull forward and the legs come together.
  • Pause to deepen the center into the box as you reach fingers to toes.
  • Pull in the arms and legs while keeping the straps taut.
  • Repeat.

So that's all in place. Excellent.

Now remember one version of the name of this exercise is Backstroke Swimming. You'll make the first part of the exercise like a moving swimming stroke followed by a moment of “gliding through the water.”

OMG remember the Rowing Series? It seems just a moment ago we were there…


Now let's make it move:

  • Assume the starting position.
  • Reach up and forward with arms and legs. Move through your positions smoothly (this is the swimming stroke).
  • Hold and reach toward the toes (now glide through the water).
  • Return and go again.

Finding the Length

Sandwiched between Pulling Straps/T Straps (um, length please!) and the Teaser (open, low back, open…) the Backstroke looks like a great place to long the back.

From a choreography POV, the legs will circle and reach out to a lower position.

Note the location of the legs is not arbitrary. The lower body should be connected into and serving the center.

Hook the lower body into the center and you'll find more work in the stomach and more length in the back.

And it might get hot.

Enjoy this short video tutorial.

Stay tuned for more exercises that face a similar choreographic fate…

And thanks for watching!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person? Join me this fall!

Upcoming Fall Workshops

Sunday November 27, 2016 Studio B Pilates+Barre, Tyler TX

You’ll love this jam-packed day of Pilates Continuing Education: I’ll be offering private lessons, a Mat class plus 2 workshops: A Cadillac Refresher – the Unsung Heroes(3 PMA CECs) and Strategies and Exercises on the Wunda Chair (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3, 2016 Excel Pilates, Washington, DC

Join me for my post popular posts Live! and in person: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises (4 PMA CECs) and On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises (2 PMA CECs). I’ll be teaching my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and Progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs) as well as a Mat class, private and semi-private lessons. Register today

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

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