Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 8!

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 8!

Welcome to the 8th installation of Transitions! Transitions!

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

Post SemiCircle and into the Chest Expansion

This was THE most important transition for my workout.

I had gotten into the habit of just hanging out for a bit after the SemiCircle. Perhaps it began as a blip in my memory about what comes next.

Or perhaps I'd never been a big fan of the exercises to come: Chest Expansion, Thigh Stretch, Arm Circles, Snake/Twist

All of which brings me to my first piece of advice to get into Chest Expansion:

Get off the Reformer!!

I was amazed at how much time I could shave off my workout just by *ahem* not stopping.

What a concept.

Know where you're going and get there

From the moment you approach the Reformer, know where you will place yourself for the exercises.

Chest Expansion

  • Pick up your handles from the pegs. (Option 2: The Make-Your-Future-Self-Happy way transition will ensure your handles are exactly where you need them to be).
  • With one handle in each hand, place yourself into your kneeling position for the exercise. No hands, please!
  • And go!

Thigh Stretch

  • Place your handles into one hand.
  • Reach back to add 1 spring (you will now have 3 springs total)
  • Take one handle into each hand and kneel up against the shoulder blocks.
  • Go!

Arm Circles

Here, efficiency is very important.

Though it may be tempting to stay on the carriage and turn around, you'll save time (and your knees) if you step off for just a moment so you'll be able to return again into the precise position.

  • After Thigh Stretch take your handles into one hand.
  • Step off to the same side as your hand with the handles.
  • Use your free hand to remove 2 springs (you now have just 1 spring remaining).
  • Take one handle into each hand behind your back (similar to getting on for Backstroke).
  • Place each foot and knee into its proper position.
  • Begin!


  • Post Arm Circles, take your handles into one hand and step off.
  • Place the straps and handles into the well of the Reformer.
  • Take your position for Snake/Twist: One foot, grab the carriage in your hands, other foot.
  • Go baby!

Post Snake Twist and into the Corkscrew

Before you lie down for the Corkscrew you'll prepare the straps if you plan to do the Long Spine Massage.

Set up the straps now while you are up, even though there are several exercises before you'll be needing them.

With the straps ready for you, you'll not interrupt the flow of the exercises by getting off the Reformer in the midst of the next few lying down exercises (Corkscrew, Tic Toc, Control Balance).

Setting up the straps for Long Spine Massage

Use the long black straps to extend the length of the leather straps (= Long Spine Massage) and you'll include the handle in the black straps as well so it will not drop down and hit you.

Take care not to twist the black straps when you clip them. Place the black straps onto the pegs, so they'll be ready and waiting for you.

Hey! Good for you!

Excellent, you've gotten the Chest Expansion mini-series all whipped into efficiency. I think it helps to move along and not think too much about it. I've spent many years trying to make these exercises perfect and I find it more helpful to do your best and move on.

Otherwise you'll never get to my very most favorite exercises in the next installment of Transitions! Transitions!

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.
  • The hits just keep on coming in post 7…yum, the Short Spine Massage!

On the 15th Day of March MATness Joe Pilates gave to me…

On the 15th Day of March MATness Joe Pilates gave to me...

The Neck Pull!






roll it up and stretch

lift the back and lift the neck

roll back smoothly down


what ever happened to our old friend Thigh Stretch?

On the 15th Day of March MATness Joe Pilates gave to me...




reach fingers from toes

lift the waist like in Short Box

be the perfect Z

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

Thank you so much Michele Tandy for an amazing group of Mat students at your beautiful studio California Pilates Center of Oceanside! Thank you to my clients Corrie and Leslie for attending 🙂

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: We Only Have One Exercise

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

“We only have one exercise” is a phrase I initially heard from Jay Grimes.

Joe Pilates said if you can do only one exercise a day, it should be the Double Leg Pull.

I have written about it before (oh at least once) and declared the ‘one exercise' as Jay does to be the Double Leg Pull (also called Double Leg Stretch).

However, while we're on this we-only-have-one-exercise theme, it logically follows that every exercise can have value as a ‘touchstone' exercise.

What do I mean by a ‘touchstone' exercise'?

touchstone: a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized.

touchstone exercise: (my definition)

  1. Any exercise where you find success in connecting to the center, potentially assisting you to understand a more challenging exercise where connection is elusive.
  2. An exercise that's reinvented itself for the better and proceeds to infiltrate your workouts. It introduces you to new moments in your old favorites – was that my butt? – and can often take you to a new more proficient plateau on your path.

Ok now that's exciting.

What exercise speaks to you in a new and exciting way? Maybe your hard-won exercise of yesterday is a crucial element of another exercise that continues to vex.

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

If an exercise speaks to you, use it!

Currently – because tomorrow it could all change! – my touchstone exercise is the Tower exercise done on the Guillotine – I try to hit it each time I am at Vintage Pilates on Mondays.

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

It's only the beginning of my exploration and potential love affair with the Tower exercise…

A guillotine! A guillotine! My kingdom for a guillotine!

For us crooked folk, we need the noisy journey of the bar to shake us up. “Something's not working so well” says the Guillotine… Which often sounds like a loud “WTF?!”

When we hear silence – well, it's flippin' magical. And quiet.

Guillotine: perfect feedback for working correctly and symmetrically…otherwise – ooh so noisy!

Thigh Stretch anyone?

The Tower exercise helps find my seat and length as I connect the lower body into the center. Very useful.

Another touchstone exercise I enjoy is the Thigh Stretch.

Pilates: We Only Have One Exercise

Thigh Stretch is an exercise, in my understanding, direct from Joe Pilates and fits neatly into the Pilates Mat sequence between Double Leg Kicks and the Neck Pull.

Despite its absence from Return to Life, Jay Grimes learned it from Joe.

The Reformer version is of course, also nice and equally good. But I quite like the Mat version as it's just you and the mat, babe.

Challenging exercises which also position you in the shape of the Thigh Stretch except in a horizontal orientation, (think Shoulder Bridge on the Mat and the Semi Circle on the Reformer) tempt me to get all pushy and clenchy with my hips and thighs.

That doesn't sound like length to me.

Awww…frownie face…

I take a little help from the Thigh Stretch on the Mat and use its vertical orientation to my advantage. Vertically I can find lift to carry over into those clench-y exercises, finding the low seat and *gasp* length!

Oh length, where have you been all my life?

Have an exercise that's become your secret weapon? Comment below and help a gal out 🙂

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