The Pilates System: The Cadillac Environment

Shoulder Roll Down on the Cadillac

Hello all you Pilates cats and kittens!

Welcome to one of my very favorite weeks of the year, that mellow, holiday-between-holidays, last. week. of the year.

2021, I've got my eyes (and hopes) on you.

Post-feasting is when I need my Pilates exercises the most. They are just the best twisty-turny things to work out the gut. Even foods that can mightily tax your digestive system are no match for a Reformer workout.

Meanwhile, Back at the Cadillac…

Continuing from last week's post I've been taking a good hard look at Joe Pilates' Cadillac apparatus.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Joe Pilates giveth and Joe Pilates taketh away.

One Solid Bar vs 2 Wambly Springs

On the Cadillac apparatus, we've got lots of Joe's goodies to work with: there are individual springs, a wooden pole attached with 2 short springs, a solid wooden push-thru bar, the firm surface of the mat, a hanging trapeze with stout springs, 2 fuzzy loops, and the steel poles of the canopy.

Some places to work are very solid and supportive:

  • a solid wooden push-thru bar
  • the firm surface of the mat
  • the steel poles of the canopy

Other places to work may literally leave you hanging in the breeze:

  • individual springs
  • a hanging trapeze with stout springs
  • 2 fuzzy loops

Lots of choices to be made.

Scroll up for another look at the image of the Shoulder Roll Down.

Now take a look at another exercise where you are in the same position in an entirely different scenario:

Leg Springs in the Air on the Cadillac

Here in the Leg Springs in the Air, there's not as much to stand on, right?

You'll find all kinds of Joe Pilates' tricks like this throughout the Cadillac repertoire. Probably not a coincidence…

The Spring Remains the Same…or does it?

The Cadillac apparatus is equipped with 4 different sets of interchangeable springs.

Sure they have specific names: arm springs, leg springs, roll back bar springs and push thru springs.

But depending on who you are, what you are looking for, and your proficiency, you may decide on a specific spring to assist you on your Pilates Path.

For example, on my Gratz Cadillac I find more success using the lighter arm springs for the Leg Spring Series.

Joe's original name for his method was Contrology, or the study of control.

That's really what we're after, right?

Control.

Whichever spring elicits the help you need to be in control is the one you want.

And then there's also the option of no spring at all.

More on that in January…

Only 3 spots remaining in The Cadillac Project.

Got questions? Leave a comment below and I'm happy to help.

Reserve your spot today.

The Cadillac of Apparatus

Swan on the Cadillac

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for joining me on the wonderful journey that is the Pilates Method of Exercise.

The reinvigorating of my personal Pilates workout – fewer distractions and more time for daily workouts – has been a true silver lining of this year at home.

And my new plant friends.

The green healing color, as well as learning about their care and feeding, has helped me to stay calm and roll on…while I Roll Up and Roll Over.

Our current stay-at-home orders in California also give me plenty of time to commune with my Cadillac.

And it's just a couple of weeks before the start of my January workshop: The Cadillac Project!!

There are just a couple of spots left (Don't worry you can still snag your spot here).

And if you thought The Wunda Chair Project was fun…

Oh, the places we'll go!

I've been sprucing up my outline and reviewing the myriad of exercises Joe created for one of his most impressive apparatus, the Cadillac.

What a sh** ton of exercises!!

Also lots of moments when I think hmmm… that is interesting. It's made me look at the apparatus itself with new eyes.

Over the next 2-ish weeks I'll be sharing a few tidbits to tide you over until January.

Exercise Relationships

By now you've surely heard someone (or me) say “Pilates is a system” or even “Trust the Work.”

And your quest, should you choose to accept it, is to apply the Pilates System – the body of work that is the Pilates Method – to yourself and/or the body in front of you.

No prob.

It's so easy to say, right?

For this reason, it's helpful to notice and seek out the relationships between exercises.

We've only got one exercise and countless variations. Often you find yourself in a familiar place or position only to “suddenly” discover that you've been here before…

Pilates Confession #296

Shoulder Roll Down on the Cadillac

For the last few years, I've been working diligently to rid myself of a bad movement habit.

My habit really shows up in a particular group of exercises that requires the same skill despite having a different level of support, a different relationship to gravity, and/or a different apparatus.

Here's my exercise relationship du jour:

  • Reformer: Long Back Stretch, Short Spine Massage, Semi Circle, High Frog
  • Mat: High Scissors and High Bicycle
  • Cadillac: Airplane, Leg Springs in the Air, Tower, Shoulder Roll Down (Sari)

And I'll probably find a whole lot more of them.

Lifting up the entire back of the body with integrity is one label we could use for this skill.

I also think sometimes it's hard as humans to imagine that the lower body begins somewhere higher up than our hips and legs…

What other similarities do you see in my list?

Pop a comment down below and add to my list, I'd love to know.

Up on the YouTube!

Thank you so much for your kind words and great feedback on my YouTube channel.

I've just surpassed 6K subscribers and I can't thank you enough for watching!

More videos will be coming your way soon. Please let me know if you've got Pilates topics or Pilates exercise requests. I love them!

Recently, I thank you for bringing to my attention all the mid-roll ads you ran into while trying to work out with my videos. I've since taken care of the problem. You should no longer be pelted with ads in the middle of my videos – you will still see advertisements at the beginning and the end of the videos.

Thanks for your patience – and thanks for subscribing 🙂

Recent videos you may have missed:

  • If you're a twisted sister too, check out my “Scissors workouts” here, and here for a ton of 1-sided fun.
  • And here's a fun Wunda Workout where I try to never get off the Wunda Chair until the end!
  • Also check out this Cadillac workout for a preview of my January Workshop: The Cadillac Project.

Join me in January for The Cadillac Project.

Reserve your spot today.

Happy Holidays!

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

For Isabel

photo courtesy of Jack Coble and Pilatesology

Hello and welcome to this week's Pilates Project!

I'm in love with all-things-hanging-upside-down on the Cadillac.

So I can't believe I haven't already featured this exercise, the Hanging Pull Ups, in a previous post. Nor have I mentioned the iconic finishing sequence in which it appears – the Traditional Ending.

The Traditional Ending on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Working steadily on your Cadillac exercises, over time you will learn a challenging little series of exercises as a finish for your workout.

The Traditional Ending is comprised of 5 exercises:

  • Breathing
  • Spread Eagle (above in photo)
  • Pull Ups
  • Hanging Pull Ups
  • Half Hang/Full Hang

You also have the option for an embellishment in the midst of your Hanging Pull Ups, the Twist Pull Ups. Of course! More on this thrilling variation in the video at the end of this post.

The Traditional Ending is a wonderful opportunity to play, cavort and challenge ourselves within the spacious canopy of the apparatus.

While we're having fun we'll also perfect a fundamental skill in the Pilates system: the connection of the arms and upper body into the larger muscles of the back.

Connecting the Upper Body into the Back

If you're ready to tackle the Hanging Pull Ups and the Traditional Ending you're no stranger to using your back muscles to support and power the movement of the upper body.

By now you've used this skill successfully in exercises like the Hundred, Arm Springs Lying Down and Chest Expansion on the Cadillac and Arm Circles and the Rowing series done on the Arm Chair to name just a few.

The major difference between the above exercises I mention and the Hanging Pull Ups is now you must support your entire body hanging in space.

Which means (1) this is not merely an arm exercise, and (2) oh gosh, we must use our lower body too.

Hello full body exercise!

What's to be done?

Step 1: The Order of the Universe

Work on all your other exercises… of course.

Step 2: I ♥ Pilates Projects

Let's look at some helper exercises for our Hanging Pull Ups. Later we'll examine the entire Traditional Ending series for more challenge assistance.

I've chosen 5 exercises which speak to me. Give them a try and see what you think.

If you find additional exercises which serve you – great! Please share your successes here in a comment and let me know what exercises work their magic.

1. Arm Springs Lying Down

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

This exercise is the very first ‘arm springs' exercise we learn.

Our entire body is supported and we can feel our back muscles on the mat behind us. The spring is sufficient to coax our entire body into doing the exercise.

This is not your ordinary arm exercise.

Using the position shown in the photo above, press the feet into the mat to enliven the lower body. It's usually the part of the body that is just lying there which must do all the heavy work.

Consider the Arm Springs Lying Down from a different POV:

When we push on a spring in Pilates we must lift our center in the opposite direction. Consider this exercise to be more of a back exercise than an arm/shoulder exercise.

If you were standing up, the Arm Springs Lying Down would become Chest Expansion.

2. Teaser (part 1) on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

The very first moments of this exercise are chock full of connective goodness!

Again you have the feedback of the mat behind you. Plus you now have the unwieldy Push Thru bar which must be controlled.

A-ha! The plot thickens…

Learning to move and control the Push Thru bar here will reward you majorly in all your other exercises.

  • Use the heel of the hand to connect and resist the bar as it comes toward you.
  • Control the bar as it begins to change direction.
  • When the arms reach upward connect to the back muscles to move the bar with the center instead of the shoulders.
  • Repeat up to 3x. And then of course, Teaser!

Now you're ready to connect your upper body into the back without being on the mat.

Brilliant!

3. The Rowing Series on the Arm Chair

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Here on the Arm Chair you'll have the exact same feedback from the apparatus, this time sitting up instead of lying down. See how you do.

If you've not experienced the four Rowing exercises here you're in for a real treat.

Rowing exercises on the Arm Chair:

  • Rowing 3 – From the Chest
  • Rowing 4 – From the Hip (above in photo)
  • Rowing 5 – Shave
  • Rowing 6 – Hug

The Arm Chair provides valuable information to take with you for your Reformer Rowing series. You'll find the connection and feedback from the chair to reinforce your tall back position wherever you are tall and away from the support of the apparatus.

4. Rolling Back (with eyes on the prize…)

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Occasionally there's an exercise with mass appeal.

I find Rolling Back on the Cadillac to be just such an exercise. No matter what the quality of the students' rolling up skills, everyone benefits from and enjoys this exercise.

It's often a nice segue from outside the studio into the workout.

Here we can begin to work on the lower body component of our Hanging Pull Ups.

  • Reach your lower body and heels against the upright poles of the Cadillac. Use your willpower. Really make it happen.
  • With all of your body supported by the apparatus, hone your focus to find your back, stomach and seat.

Think of this support as a help to our next lower body exercise, the Short Box Series.

5. The Short Box Series

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Practicing this meat-and-potatoes exercise can have a focus which will support our Pilates Project.

Forget about all the beautiful choreography happening in the upper body.

Just for a moment.

  • Commit to finding the lower body in this series to root the body and power your amazing Short Box skills.
  • Work the strap reaching the heels underneath and keeping it oppressively tight around the ankles.

You no longer have the luxury of pressing your heels into the apparatus.

Remember our other helper exercise, Rolling Back. Imagine the support and information you received and focus today on the lower body work in our Short Box Series.

See what happens. You might even surprise yourself.

The Traditional Ending on the Cadillac

Pilates Projects: Hanging Pull Ups on the Cadillac

Let's take a look here at one of my favorite components of the Pilates Method: the Order of the Universe.

Even our order of exercises is a help for our Hanging Pull Ups!

Our first exercise is Breathing, also an effective helper exercise and a great start to support all of our body weight in space.

  • Keep everything in a strong line.
  • Reaching the lower body long toward your big toes.
  • Find your skills from your Arm Springs Lying Down: move the bar toward you and connect into the back.
  • Work this exercise well and enjoy this invigorating finishing sequence!

Thanks for watching!

What are your favorite exercises to work on the Hanging Pull Ups? 

Share your success in a comment below.

And here's where to find me in 2018.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Hello there my lovelies!

Thanks for joining me for yet another post in my Teaser series.

Today we've got perhaps the Method's finest: Teaser on the Cadillac avec Push Thru Bar (PTB).

It's 2 Exercises in 1!

The Teaser on the Cadillac is brilliantly 2 exercises in 1.

Part 1: Upper Body Reach

From the lift in the waist all the way up to your fingertips, the upper body must learn to connect into the deeper back muscles.

What luck!

We've got a brilliant way to work on just that.

(Many, in fact.)

Begin lying down, arms overhead with hands firmly gripping the PTB. Note you also have the luxury of the mat behind you for feedback and support.

With hands on the apparatus – PTB – push into the bar as it starts to move toward you. In this way we can connect our fingertips into the deeper back muscles.

With our backs against the mat we can tangibly feel what's going on (or not going on) behind us.

Never let the spring push you around! This must be your Pilates mantra.

Part 1 is lovely for lots of folks whether they'll continue to the full-on Teaser or not.

To recap:

  • Set up your position under the PTB.
  • Pull in your stomach, exhale and drop your ribs: get as much of your back on the mat as you can.
  • With a firm grip on the bar resist! as it moves toward you bending your arms.
  • Do not let the spring push you.
  • Sustain this connection as the bar changes direction to move upward.
  • You should not lose control of the bar – it should not accelerate!

Part 2: Teaser options

Using the helpful lift of the PTB you've got several options for your Teaser, depending on who you are.

You can work just the upper body.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Or you can explore your full-on Teaser here.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

You can lift the lower body with the legs straight a la Teaser 3.

If necessary you can begin in the Frog and reach out to your angle as you roll up.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Okay you've made it up to your Teaser, so now what?

You've got a few options here as well. Traditionally you'll complete your Teaser 3x.

You've even got an optional “dismount.”

One Potential Sequence for Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Begin with Part 1 to arrive at your Teaser.
  • Roll up to your Teaser.
  • Lift your back and bend your arms 3x a la Shave on the Reformer. Your back should not sink when your arms bend.
  • Roll down.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Roll up to your Teaser a second time. Keep the arms straight and the back lifted.
  • Lower and lift your legs 3x a la Teaser 2.
  • Roll down.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

  • Return to your Teaser for a 3rd and final time. Here you've got some options:
  • Alternate – arms bend 1x, legs lower 1x. Repeat 3x.
  • Roll down.

OR

  • All together now! Bend arms and lower legs together and then lift everything up.
  • Repeat 3x.

What was that about a dismount??

Let's put it all to the test. You've completed 3 Teasers and you're ready to move on.

  • Use the lift of your back to reach up and return the PTB without a sound.

The Pilates System: Teaser on the Cadillac

Both arms reach to up to the sky and the toward the toes to finish on your own – unassisted – in your beautiful Teaser.

Voila!

Check out this short video tutorial for more info and tips for a perfect Boomerang ending.

Thanks for watching!

Related posts:

And here's where to find me in 2017.

Subscribe to receive a Special Bonus Blogpost
How to Fall in Love with the Exercises you Hate
We respect your privacy and never share your information.