Breaking News: Doing your Pilates Mat Workout is Good for You!

Open Leg Rocker on the Mat

How ridiculous, right?

Yet every March since 2011 I've made the same “shocking” discovery.

Hey, these exercises are really good for me…

I've got boundless energy, my body feels great and it took me about 30 minutes to do them. Now I'm off to live my life with zest and pleasure!

When will I learn?

Maybe you've been feeling good about your Pilates Mat exercises too.

Thanks for joining me here on the Pilates Path.

Spine Stretch Forward into Open Leg Rocker

At the time of this writing, it's March 8 – my mother's 94th birthday, International Women's Day and, here in MarchMATness-land, The Spine Stretch Day.

Tomorrow on the 9th you'll hit one of my favorite Pilates Mat exercises – perhaps my VERY favorite. Apologies in advance… but I can't get enough of the Rocker with Open Legs (Open Leg Rocker to her friends).

And since I'm currently immersed in the world of Pilates transitions and why we should care, I'd love to visit these 2 exercises as a team – a dynamic duo on the Mat.

Spine Stretch

The Spine Stretch clearly has two juicy moments.

See if you can spot everyone's favorite…

Spine Stretch on the Mat

Most of you relate to this reachy, feel-good moment and all the time you can take to get out there… but what about the start and the finish?

You know, that easy part where you just sit up tall… LOL

Spine Stretch on the Mat

This tall position is the money note.

Cultivate the lift that keeps right on giving into your next exercise, the Rocker with Open Legs.

You'll try and preserve all the lift of the trunk of your body to then take it airborne!

Play a fun game with yourself and try to arrive in your Rocker with Open Legs with as much lift in your balance position as you had sitting safely on your bottom in the Spine Stretch.

Make these two exercises feel as identical to each other as possible. It's a trip 🙂

For those about to rock…

  • The Power of Incremental Change: Open Leg Rocker Edition – It's hard to feel like you're making progress in challenging exercises. This post takes a look at my journey over 11 years of the Open Leg Rocker. Full disclosure, I've never hated this exercise, but that doesn't mean I did it well. I promise a post on the Side Kicks Kneeling, but you may have to wait 11 more years…

The Benefits of a Daily Pilates Mat Workout

What are the Benefits of a Daily Pilates Mat Workout?

It can be a challenge to commit to a daily Pilates Mat workout. I feel you. Especially as a Pilates teacher, you may think you've done your exercises for the day only to remember that you only made someone else do them.

Yeah, it doesn't work that way…

The most challenging moment is arriving at the Mat to begin.

Once I lie down and begin my exercises I remember: Oh yeah, I love Pilates. Why don't I do this every day?

The Value of the 5 Basic Pilates Exercises

The Value of 5 Basic Pilates Mat Exercises  – Start your daily Mat exercises with just 5 gems. You'll complete them in less than 5 minutes. You'll feel fantastic and virtuous all day long! This post maps out 2 more exercises to increase your workout habit when you're ready.

Thanks for the New Exercises to Love/Hate

Corkscrew on the Mat

In the Pilates System, you'll repeat all of your exercises over and over again. The exercises work together to replace inefficient movements with sustainable new habits. As your body changes it's nice to have old familiar exercises to test your new skills.

It's a magical process where an old favorite becomes a new challenge, and sometimes – sometimes – a horrible exercise transforms into deliciousness.

Don't get too excited.

The Neck Pull still insists on being a hot mess. It refuses to go the way of the Roll Up and Teaser and play nice… It's still the ‘oh shit' exercise. Bunched up and ready to go!

You'll be the first to know when I love this one. #mm2028??

The Side Bend, however… is suddenly (19 years later) really nice. Yup, never thought I'd be this person.

Jay Grimes calls the Side Bend ‘a treat.'

I don't know if I'd go that far, but I'm definitely in the building…

And I almost like the Push Up Series on One Leg as much as I like the Tendon Stretch on the Reformer. Well, it's not that exciting, but I don't fall over anymore.

Enjoy your workout. You know you want to.

Got a favorite exercise in your Mat workout?

I'd love to know. Especially if it's a nasty one 🙂

The Power of Incremental Change: Open Leg Rocker Edition

Open Leg Rocker 2010: Christmas Edition

Open Leg Rocker 2010

Hey there!

Happy 136th Birthday Joe Pilates! I think of you (mostly fondly) every single day.

Welcome to my new series: The Power of Incremental Change.

As the new year approaches, 'tis the season for Pilates resolutions. What are your workout goals?

Maybe you already know which exercises you'd like to wrangle in 2020?

Will it be a year of the Snake?

What are my 2020 Pilates Goals?

I am just starting to find more lift in my center and bottom and it is exciting. You're always rolling up and down from somewhere, right? It happens in ALL of the exercises.

Gradually my meat and potatoes exercises have expanded into more of my “normal workout.” I pulled myself back from the Headstands and Backbends and Flying Squirrels to get more of my powerhouse in order.

Yes, sometimes you need to use your stomach.

The powerhouse needs shoring up!

In 2020 I want to get back to all of the exercises I have on my Reformer poster.

Yeeesh.

2019 was really the first year I willingly subjected myself to all of my one-sided and side-bending exercises that I have hated hated hated and never would do.

Double yeesh. The ego is delicate…

2020 will be the year of all things Side Kick Series! A scissor is a scissor is a scissor I always say.

And in every Pilates workout, one of them is just an exercise away!

I'll be looking for you to hold me accountable here on the blog: Side Kick Series 2020: You heard it here first.

The Years in Review

Even before I wrote my first blog post in 2012, I had the chance to view a few photos of my Pilates workout. Back in the day, you didn't have a camera/video recorder with you 24/7.

Now you and I can document our workouts more prolifically than even Joe Pilates himself.

Joe Pilates would have loved Instagram!

Back in my performing days – BTW I'm more ‘actor-who-moves-well' than ‘professional dancer' – I would often see photos of myself from dance numbers.

Sometimes what I thought I was doing in my head would match the picture.

Sometimes…

More often what I thought I was doing and the image in the photo was not the same thing at. all.

And wouldn't you know it's the same in my Pilates workout?

In your lessons, if you ever doubt your instructor's eye there's nothing like a video of the Long Stretch Series to help you realize, “Oh…that's what they're talking about…”

You study with teachers whose knowledge and eyes you envy trust.

In your lesson recording, you can literally see what your instructor sees – perhaps for the very first time – and see if you were able to make the correction in your body.

This is vital to your longterm Pilates education.

I thought it'd be fun to check out photos of the same exercise from different years to see (hopefully) steady progress. Use your own photos and social media accounts and play along with me!

This first episode of the series will begin with my favorite Mat exercise, the Open Leg Rocker.

I thought I'd start with a fave and then work up to looking at photos and videos of exercises I hate.

Sound good?

You're always welcome to stampede straight to your nasty exercises…

Open Leg Rocker

I'll start with a few criteria for the exercise:

  1. Open Leg Rocker is a wonderful opening/stretch of the entire back.
  2. You are in the very same position as the Teaser with regard to both the balance point and the back shape which is round.
  3. Your scoop is deep and your arms reach all the way up to hold the ankles.

First up – the Naughty Auties:

2008

Open Leg Rocker on Rocks

What do you see?

I see the shape of my back that is not really round and almost has a wee archy spot – you guessed it – right in the rib/middle back area.

I also see a lack of spaciousness in the hip and thigh area – that leg is all bunched up in there and close to my stomach…

I could also unfurrow my brow, but perhaps it's sunny…

You must start somewhere. Maybe if I weren't perched high up on a rock in this photo my exercise would look a bit different… Maybe not cause check out the OLR from 2010 at the top of the post…

Fast forward:

2015

Open Leg Rocker 2015

Aha! This looks better after just (!) 7 years of the Open Leg Rocker

And all those OTHER Pilates exercises…

#babysteps

What do you see?

I spy a Round(er) shape for sure… still the vestiges of the short middle back/rib area but getting much better.

And look at all that space between my scooped stomach (who could tell in 2008?) and my thighs!

Now to be picky I could look at how my head is plopped onto my body… a bit forward which shortens up the back of my neck as I look up. Keep an eye on this…

Now to drop into the present day:

2019

Open Leg Rocker 2019

What do you see?

I finally see a more rounded and open space in the middle back/rib area! Now the continuous line of the back goes all the way up to the base of the neck.

There is more to be done to continue the length into the neck and head position. Duly noted.

Is that the final frontier in your Pilates practice? Figuring out where your head should sit on top of your body?

I also see even more spaciousness in the scoop of the belly. The upper leg is starting to look more developed on the backside (the bottom) than on the front quadricep side. The bottom has more presence in the exercise.

Oh goody!

My 3 photos from 2008, 2015 and 2019 respectively show that 11 years of Pilates practice have been incrementally perfecting my Open Leg Rocker.

And while it's not perfect, it's is better.

And that's awesome.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

One day at Vintage Pilates we were discussing the usual “clickbait” titles of Pilates videos and online content.

5 Minutes to Sexy Abs!

Long Lean Legs in 10 Minutes a Day!

Have Better Sex with 3 Simple Pilates Moves!

You've seen them.

Maybe you've even believed them.

A longtime client of Jay's – let's call him Adam – deftly weighed in with a zinger. Adam is in his 30s? 40s? and originally came to Jay with a back problem. Today he does an amazing advanced Reformer workout and you'd never suspect he'd had any back problems at all.

His Around-the-World on the Short Box is damn near swoon-worthy…

No one would click on the truth, Jay:

15 years to a Better Back!

Peals of laughter in the Pilates studio.

Roll the tape!

You can harness the power of the technology literally at your fingertips to better your Pilates practice.

At first, it might be tough to watch yourself workout. So much to get over even before you can look at the exercises. Maybe you're not happy with your shape, your hair, or even you in general.

I feel you.

In 2008 I was a brunette. In 2019 I'm nearly an arctic blonde. Persevere. A lot of living goes on in 11 years.

But it's all okay. You're always you to everyone you know and hold dear. In 20 years you'll take a look back and be amazed at how cute you were all along!

And there's power in reviewing photos and videos of your own workouts. And self-love.

And learning for God's sake! You'll use your teacher's eye to better your own. I love a good scroll on IG to work on my skill of looking at the body. Maybe you do too?

There's always lots to see.

I eagerly await the email from my online lesson to review the recording. Grab a cup of coffee or if necessary, a glass of wine. Do what you need to do. What I hear from my teacher during my lessons has to get filtered through my concentration so I welcome the opportunity to hear it all again when I review the recording. I listen much better.

Try it out for yourself.

If you're not taking online lessons currently and you're curious, use this link to book in and give it a go.

You'll get a great workout plus a recording of your lesson. It's a whole extra hour of Pilates education!

Win – Win!

What exercises will you visit from your Pilates past?

What are your 2020 Pilates Goals?

I'd love to know.

On the 9th Day of March MATness Joe Pilates gave to me…

On the 9th Day of March MATness Joe Pilates gave to me...

The Rocker with Open Legs (Open leg Rocker)!

#MM2015

#rockerwithopenlegs

#globallengthoftheback

#Pilateshaiku

lengthen out the limbs

paragon of 2-way stretch

massage: a bonus

Use MM hashtags on Facebook, twitter and Instagram to find amazing Pilates Mat inspiration from around the world.

Thank you so much Dana Santi, Colleen Naughton Strong and Chris Robinson for an amazing Classical Pilates Conference in San Diego! 

On the 9th Day of March MATness Joe Pilates gave to me...

Where else would I be able to find beautiful and strong Pilates teachers ready to burst into action at the drop of a blogpost?!

Just joining us? 

Here’s some MATness you may have missed:

Pilates Mat Exercise #28: Swimming (Bonus Video Blog)

Thanks for all your hard work during the month of March MATness. Hope you caught our Daily Pilates Mat Workout in 30 minutes, the full mat repertoire, last week.

If not, why not enjoy it today?

It has been a pleasure to see all of your comments, contributions and enthusiasm toward moving well every day. Check the MarchMATness site during the next 11 months for inspiration and perspiration all year long.

Well Done!

Pilates Nerd in training

Joe and I have been faithfully doing our Pilates Mat exercises 3-4x/week minimum for over a year now…long enough to feel a bit ‘off' when we haven't done our exercises.

Joe has drunk nearly all the Pilates Kool-Aid I tell you, with only a few minor quibbles here and there.

So our workout time has become another nice way for us to hang out together and sometimes – not for the 5am workouts – we banter back and forth, trying our best not to descend into trash talk.

That's why there's so much hugging…

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As a practitioner of Pilates one becomes well aware of exercises in which we excel and those “other exercises” that offer a great, great challenge. Joe is currently vexed by the Open Leg Rocker. Poor dear.

Although I could elect several of the exercises to be my nemesis, the one that currently glares at me the most is Swimming.

Pilates Mat Exercise #28: Swimming (Bonus Video Blog)

Benjamin Degenhardt to the rescue! Thanks 🙂

Swimming.

Even the word looks sinister. Too symmetrical. The double nasal consonants a tad too confrontational.

My tight shoulders and hips often best me in this exercise, but I am hot on their trail at the moment.

Joe – of the loosey-goosey variety – gets a good laugh at my attempts. Literally.

“It's funny, how hard that is for you.”

Is it?

What am I, a clown to you?!

Well Hello Mr. Small Barrel

I got a last laugh recently when Joe lay over the Small Barrel and realized he had little capacity to bend backwards, despite his pretzel-status when bending forward, to the side or twisting.

Everybody's got something.

Dead in the Water

Joe's right though. The Swimming exercise just dusts me. No use in denying it. I have stamina for dozens of teasers for days, but a few paltry seconds of Swimming and I'm toast.

How many breaths? (desperation builds) How many seconds to swim?

Oh, fu*k it, I'm done.

Do you remember Nelson from the Simpsons?

I hear it loud and clear as I strive to perfect my Swimming.

Swimming 2014: Don't quit your day job…

2017 UPDATE!!

Swimming, now one of my most favorite feel-good exercises deserves a new post full of love!

Stay tuned…

What's your God-I-hate-it-maybe-someday-I'll-love-it exercise? And how's it going?

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