Exercise Relationships to Build Proficiency: Reformer Edition

Control Push Ups on the Reformer

Hey there!

I've been thinking about you. Thanks for sharing your time with me and for becoming a subscriber.

Did you get a chance to read my bonus blog post How to Fall in Love with Exercises you HATE?

I hope so.

Click here to subscribe if you missed out on this little gem…

The more you know…

Tree on the Short Box

Speaking of exercises you hate… it's time for another footnote to last week's post.

Oh the Pilates Method… so many opportunities for learning.

Lost in a sea of traditional order options it's easy to get muddled.

And that's what Pilates friends are for! A big shout out to Samantha Walley of Vital Balance Pilates for remembering all the things from our time with Jay Grimes that I have forgotten.

Last week I considered relocating the Short Box Series to later in the order when adding the 2nd Long Box.

Well that, friends, is one option I learned from Romana.

It is Romana that allowed for just keeping the box with you after the 1st or 2nd Long Box, then turning it to be the Short Box. I make a case for this option in an older post that you've all showered with love: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

Done in this manner you are saved one trip to get the box: You'll go get it for 1st Long Box (1), and get it again for the 2nd Long Box (2), finally keeping it for the subsequent Short Box Series.

Jay Grimes, however, doesn't care how many trips you make to get that box. You'll fetch it thrice (1st Long box, 2nd Long Box, Short Box), enjoying a welcome passeggiata each time you need it.

You've got all these options available to you within the structure of the order of exercises.

There is no wrong, only better and better choices to be made depending on any given scenario. And your Pilates education and experience will help you to choose wisely.

And in any event, there's always another Reformer workout on the horizon for you to begin. Again.

Exercise Relationships

Joe Pilates never leaves us unprepared.

How many times can I tell you why I love the Pilates Method?

Reason #196 is that your path is well-thought-out. Follow the path with “patience and persistence” and you'll always arrive at a complex exercise with confidence.

Joe Pilates is a master of taking a familiar skill and turning it (literally) on its head.

To progress your workout, it's helpful to revisit the basics to see where the seeds of a complex Reformer exercise first begin to germinate.

Oh boy, the plant metaphors… just one peril of being a plant parent!

Headstand 2

Headstands 2 on the Reformer

I've been working on The Headstands on the Reformer for probably decades. They are not great, but you don't get better at exercises by leaving them out. For the past few years, I've been toiling in the fundamentals building my proficiency and whittling away at a bad movement habit.

So now they're back. They're already better than they've ever been.

“When one exercise gets better, they all get better.”

The Pilates fundamentals do their magic. But how do you arrive ready and (sort of) willing to do the Headstand 2?

Ladies and Gentlemen… the Tendon Stretch!

Ever notice we have many exercises all called the Tendon Stretch?

And a bunch more exercises that include an element reminiscent of the Tendon Stretch?

Coincidenza??

Tendon Stretch: Footwork Edition

Tendon Stretch in the Footwork Series

Yes. It all begins with the Footwork. Never thought I would be that person.

The lift you cultivate here, all “comfy” and supported from head to toes will serve you well once you've upended yourself into the Headstand 2.

Stomach Massage Series

Stomach Massage Series on the Reformer

Essentially the sitting-up-now version of Footwork, the Stomach Massage Series sets you well on your way to the Headstand 2. This series, like Footwork, also goes on for a long while, building (beating) the skill into you.

Just sayin'. Again probably not an accident.

Full-On Tendon Stretch

Tendon Stretch on the Reformer

Looks can be deceiving but this iteration of the Tendon Stretch has all the components of its lying down Footwork relative: you must stand on your feet and use your crazy lift to survive the exercise instead of riding the carriage like you're at Disneyland.

SemiCircles

SemiCircles on the Reformer

Finally back in the ballpark of the Headstand 2, the SemiCircles force you to keep your lift or forever be squashed into the gaping maw of the Reformer.

And now upside-down and backward, you arrive at Headstand 2.

Now it's all making sense, right? Your Pilates teacher has been harping at you to lift since the workout began and boy, do you need it now.

Gravity's a bitch. But it's also very communicative.

The Complex Reformer Project

Control Push Ups on the Reformer

Tracing the roots of the Headstand 2 back to nearly the very beginning of your Reformer workout is just one example of Exercise Relationships.

If this sounds like your kind of fun, join me in the month of February for a new online workshop, The Complex Reformer Project.

In a total of 8 workshop hours, you'll tweak the Pilates Project POV to look for skill sets in the fundamentals for all those fancy exercises just like the Headstand 2.

Overhead I hear you cry?

Snake/Twist and High Bridge?

Star even?

Oh yes.

Space is limited. Reserve your spot today.

And stay tuned for my March workshop where you'll link it all together with transitions!

Inside the Pilates Studio: Cynthia Lochard

OMG Inside the Pilates Studio: Vblog Edition

with your host, Alisa Wyatt!

Cynthia Lochard is one of the topmost Teacher Trainers for Romana's Pilates. She continues to travel for months at a time to conduct their Continuing Professional Education seminars around the globe.

Based in Sydney, Australia and with just a hint of an Aussie accent – I love to wait for it on certain words – Cynthia's teaching is steadfast, pragmatic and masterful.

She encourages teachers to to be confident, independent thinkers and to trust in ourselves as well as our beloved Pilates Method. She has a calm and commanding presence that you want to  must soak up and inject into your own teaching.

There is a lovely quote from Cynthia in one of my most-viewed posts (7 Spot-On Pilates Quotes to Keep you Honest). She was speaking on the proliferance of clients who stop and chat during their workouts and how to combat that in a nice way. Welcome to California!

“Today let's focus on NOT stopping.”

In this manner you give your clients the gift of stamina and endurance that maybe they thought they didn't have. A perfect lesson. How very Clara-esque to lead your student to the brink of discovery without giving it all away. Look what they can do!

Thank you so much Cynthia for your participation in my blog series. It is a true pleasure to have you and this awesome vblog courtesy of Pilatesology.

Enjoy the show!

The transcript of Cynthia's interview:

Alisa Wyatt: So these are the 10 questions that Andrea asks of every instructor that she interviews for this [Inside the Pilates Studio] and for Cynthia Lochard the first question is:

1. What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?

Cynthia Lochard: The ones I could do well (smiles, laughs). Because I looked good doing it (laughter).

AW: Is there any one?

CL: The arabesques of course…

AW: Oh, lovely! The arabesques, I love it.

CL: They come after the Elephant.

2. What exercise is your least favorite? Pick only one.

CL: Oh, but you see, now I was trying to think about that, and I can't… It changes.

AW: Mmm…I like that. Okay, that's a great answer.

3. What turns you on creatively, mentally or physically about the Pilates method?

CL: The movement. The simplicity and his genius in how – you know, we're all over-complicating it – and it's just so simple. And every time you realize how simple it is…that really turns me on.

AW: I love it.

4. What is your idea of earthly happiness?

CL: A king-size bed with fabulous sheets and those fluffy things over the mattress and lots of feathered pillows and that: a great bed.

AW: You must have the time to spend in it as well. I love that idea.

5. What to your mind would be the greatest misfortune?

CL: Oh, gosh. What's happening – our insensitivity to the planet and what we're doing to it. What's happening, what you can see happening to everything around us.

AW: Yeah, it is a great, great misfortune.

Inside the Pilates Studio: Cynthia Lochard

Romana's Pilates CPE 2013 with Cynthia Lochard

6. What is your favorite Pilates word?

CL: Reach.

7. What is your least favorite Pilates word?

CL: (with rapid-fire delivery) Wrap.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

CL: Singing. I always wanted to be a singer.

AW: Are you a good singer?

CL: No. I thought I was when I was younger, I think, maybe…

AW: In the car?

CL: Yeah, the car's a good one… (laughs)

9. If Heaven exists, and by some chance when you arrive at the pearly gates Joseph Pilates is also there, what would you like to hear him say to you?

CL: “Let's go.”

AW: Nice!

CL: “Get on the Reformer.” (laughs)

10. What did you learn today?

CL: I learned, what I was saying before, that what a great medium this [pilatesology] is for really shedding some light on the Pilates Method and sort of hoping to inspire people to come to it and to really have the experience for real.

AW: Thank you, that's wonderful to hear. Thanks everyone!

Learn more about Cynthia here.

Related interviews:

Video Blog: The Teaser “My legs are too long!”

Video Blog: The Teaser "My legs are too long!"

The familiar complaints – dare I call them excuses? – about any given Pilates exercise:

“My arms are too short!”

“My legs are too long!”

Or my favorite:

“There must be something wrong with the Reformer!”

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Quick Teaser Facts

  • The Teaser requires the back to be in a Round shape. Your shape must be solid. This is crucial to the wrangling of said long legs.
  • You must actively be doing a lot of work to create and sustain your Teaser during the entire exercise. Not just balance, but hard sweaty work is required for Teaser success. Willpower, friends!
  • Think like an animal and master the 2-way stretch.

The Internal Tug-of-War

Really just another name for the 2-way stretch, I like to think about the unrelenting oppositional forces you must employ to execute the Teaser with proper control. The work of the strong scoop/lift of the center is in a constant battle with the long reach outward and upward of all the limbs.

Working in this manner will give your Teaser control, strength and balance. Awesome.

One Fine Teaser

Join my client Greg and I for this week's video blog. We aim to demystify the how-the-hell-can-I-do-the-Teaser-and-straighten-my-super-long-legs conundrum.

Never complain about your long legs again when you see what this guy can do.

A Few Nerdy Factoids

  • Greg is 6'8″ and he's working on an 86″ Gratz Reformer in 2nd gear.
  • When Greg first began Pilates lessons years ago, one of his goals was to be able to do the Teaser with his legs straight. Check!
  • I speak about “3 little stretches” similar to the ones you can do in the Roll Up and the Spine Stretch on the Mat: 3 little stretches = the constant battle of the 2-way stretch!

I appreciate you and hope you have a great workout today! Thank you for watching 🙂

The Pilates exercises are perfect for every body. 

Share your own Teaser successes in a comment below.

Read my full Pilates confession about the Teaser in a related post on Pilatesology.

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