Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 7!

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 7!

Welcome to the 7th installation of Transitions! Transitions!

We’ve been working our way through the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises.

Post Short Box and into the Short Spine Massage

Perhaps my very favorite transition!

Just as you were efficient in your set up into the Short Box, try to work with the same economy of movement to return the box, pole and pad to their respective spots.

  • Step off.
  • Place the pad where it lives.
  • Take box and pole back to their spot.
  • Done!

Remember way back to our Long Box transitions?

(Check out this video for a quick recap of how to be your own Pilates minion!)

If you've been following along, your straps will be already set up for the Short Spine Massage. All you need do is pick them up.

  • Place your straps in one hand.
  • Walk as much as you can to sit on the Reformer and lie back.
  • Lift your feet into the straps and enjoy!

A word about getting into the straps for Short Spine Massage

Notice I use the word ‘lift' to get your feet into the straps. I know, not a surprise…

In the spirit of a-little-exercise-before-the-exercise, work to lift yourself and therefore your feet to the straps without moving the carriage. 

Do not pull on the straps to move the carriage and straps to your feet. Remember you are about to do the Short Spine Massage. You should be able to lift yourself into position for this exercise.

Think of it as good Pilates etiquette.

Post Short Spine Massage and into the SemiCircle

You've got 2 options for extricating yourself from the straps post Short Spine Massage. I use them both depending on how much Reformer I will be doing in my workout.

1. The Fun Way

This one's a bit of “Look what I can do!” and is of course another exercise-after-the-exercise kind of transition.

  • Begin another repetition and pause when your hips are over your shoulders.
  • Use control and lower your legs to be approximately parallel to the floor.
  • Flex your feet to allow the straps to fall off your feet and into the well of the Reformer.
  • Roll down onto the carriage with control and continue to SemiCircle.

The Fun Way is the right transition to pick if you will be working more at an intermediate level and finishing up your Reformer with just a handful of additional exercises. The straps can be deposited into the well because you will not need them for the rest of your workout.

If you plan to proceed to Chest Expansion and beyond, I would choose option #2.

2. The Make-your-future-self-happy Way

You know you will need the straps (handles) again for Chest Expansion and beyond so you will place them exactly where you will need them next: where they live behind the shoulder rests.

  • Finish your Short Spine Massage.
  • Remove the straps/handles from your feet.
  • Undo them so the handles are free.
  • Replace the handles onto the pegs behind the shoulder blocks. Later you'll find them all set up for Chest Expansion.

With the straps all sorted out, you're ready to slide down the carriage to position yourself for the Semi Circle.

Enjoy this short video tutorial. 

Questions? Please leave them in a comment below.

Thank you so so much for watching!

In case you’ve missed one…

  • Check out the first Transitions! post to learn the purpose of an efficient Pilates transition.
  • Catch up on the 2nd post as well and move smoothly through the Rowing Series.
  • The 3rd installment will enhance your scoop and take you successfully into the Backstroke.
  • We hashed out the Big Transition into the Long Stretch Series into shape in post 4.
  • Transitions! 5! took us deep into the rhythm of the Stomach Massage Series.
  • My favorite, the Short Box Series gets the royal treatment in post 6.

Pilates Reformer Exercise # 39: The Semicircle

Pilates Reformer Exercise #39: The SemicircleHow did he know?

Joe Pilates' creation, the Semicircle on the Reformer, is a marvel. How did he decide to descend into the depths of the springs? Certainly he knew it would feel delicious.

A Semicircle by any other name would still smell as sweet

A client long ago christened the Semicircle The Prison Cot.

Two other Rock Star clients have adopted this quirky nickname and truncated it further.

Simply The Cot.

So it holds a special place in my heart…and in my back.

Currently I am more in love with it than ever. I luxuriate in the similarities Semicircle shares with the exercise that often precedes it, the Short Spine Massage: 2 different shapes that demand the same kind of articulation.


What makes a lower body exercise?

In the Semicircle we find the same kind of articulation as in the Up Stretch, another lower body exercise (despite how much we all want to push with our arms on that footbar).

However, in the Up Stretch you can clearly feel the upper stomach/seat-connected-to-the-legs all the way down to the feet secured into the carriage.

I find the undulation in the Up Stretch to be more tangible.

Meanwhile back at the Semicircle, your feet have the footbar to anchor into…and you're facing up.

Yes, I agree. In some ways it's a whole different kettle of fish.

Except that it's not.

The Up Stretch speaks to me in this exercise – and I can call upon the verticality of the Thigh Stretch on the Mat to find the length of the thigh stretch inherent in the Semicircle.

I personally find it challenging to not overuse the legs. Use your stomach and your butt and you may have a prayer of stretching the hips and thighs.

The lower body: not just another pretty pair of legs.

Okay so that's 2 helper exercises so far:

  1. Up Stretch
  2. Thigh Stretch on the Mat

OMG we're halfway to a Pilates Project!


What was that about the Short Spine Massage?

I'm glad you asked.

Last week's post examined the lift necessary for the exercises that are upside down. Well here we are again…

In the rolling exercises and exercises like Short Spine Massage and Semicircle we are seeking greater articulation for our backs.

But not just any old way, kids. We're after the control necessary to roll that thang all the way down from the top in sequence.

I know it's not easy, but a gal's gotta dream…

Joe Pilates has made the scenario a bit more difficult now that we're in the Semicircle…but the quest remains the same!

Take it vertical

Finding the articulation in the Semicircle can really sort out the old hip and thigh areas. I know I have a habit of just jamming my hips upward with utter disregard for all that I preach about lift and length.

Don't be seduced by the hips going up and down!

Sometimes in “thigh stretch-esque” kinds of exercises, it's easy to get pushy with the hips. Old habits die hard, my friends…

What do we want?


When do we want it?


Oh God, now I'm shouting.

So give it a go.

Within your super-articulate Semicircle in your next workout, pretend you are vertical as you work to stretch the hip and thigh and close the carriage: low belly lifting up and out of the hips and the tailbone reaching long and down the back of the leg toward your heels.

Find this gem here in the Semicircle and you are golden going forward: Headstands, Chest Expansion, Thigh Stretch, Backbends, Snake/Twist… do you catch my drift?

Thanks, order of the exercises!

Can't get enough of the Reformer?

Check out my most popular post On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises. Thank you, lovely readers, for your unabashed devotion to all things Reformer. BIG thanks to all of you that have purchased a poster! xo

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