Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Structure vs. Creativity

Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Structure vs. Creativity

The structure of the Pilates method resides in the Order of the Reformer Exercises and the Order of the Mat Exercises.

You have learned your exercises, the larger series of exercises, and the transitions that link each movement to the next.

You own it, Baby.

Now you are free to live in your body and focus on the current moment using Joe Pilates' structure to guide you.

No matter who you are, Joe knew his method better than you do.

There is much to be learned from these guidelines, from the order of the cohesive system he laid out for us.

Joe has given us a structure within which both teacher and practitioner can thrive.

For the teacher, the order of the exercises is your assessment of the body in front of you. As the student continues through their set of exercises, the body reveals itself.

The execution of the exercises uncovers the secret of where the body is today.

Boundaries are your BFF

The idea that discipline and creativity are at odds with one another is a new view, maybe 150 years old. Previously, art was seen to grow from discipline, dedication, skill, and mastery, cultivated in years of apprenticeship.

Repetitio est Mater Studiorum

Repetition is the mother of all learning.

It is through repeated experience of the Pilates exercises that the changes in the body are revealed.

Whadaya say, Joe?

Return to Life, Joe Pilates' Manifesto-Plus-Mat-Exercises, is chock full of quotes like this one:

Study carefully. Do not sacrifice knowledge to speed in building your solid exercise regime on the foundation of Contrology. Follow instructions exactly as indicated down to the very smallest detail. There IS a reason!



Thanks, Joe.

Now choose just one thing your body needs desperately.

I'll use the example of length in the low back. This is just one possibility – perhaps my personal favorite and therefore I mention it – but the possibilities are endless.

This is the part where you can get creative.

One variable task to focus on for today?


This is your creativity and freedom at work now!

Within your structure you are free to focus on and create length in the low back in every exercise. You know the movements of the exercises – that knowledge is committed to memory.

Now you can fully focus your mind on your body and find out where it is today.

Only within your structure can you be truly free.

The Art of Pilates

In any given piece of music from the greats, Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Joplin, Gershwin, the artist works within the structure of the music to build their art.

The notes do not change, nor does the time signature or the key. Yet every artist will add their own creativity to the music.

Creativity comes from limits, not freedom. Freedom, I think you don’t know what to do with yourself. Jon Stewart


Practice Scenarios to make you go ‘Hmmm…'

Here are some suggestions for ONE thing to focus on during the structure of your Pilates workout.

Decide what apparatus you will use for your workout.

It's nice to have at least a chunk of Reformer or Mat to use to really get moving, warm and fabulous. Use the order of exercises to focus your mind and really move.

Have a favorite focus?

Share your secrets in a comment below.

Let's workout. You know you want to.

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  1. It’s always reassuring to have Pilates put into perspective by you! Love those final bullet points! I found this really interesting comparison this weekend; since we are talking about musical greats! Blues geeeenious Robert Johnson played a 1928 Gibson L-1; very specific in it’s dimensions. I heard Keith Richards talking about it in an interview….he said something like “that guitar, man, it forces you to play like him.” Yet, they both would play it very differently. BUT it made me think of the original Reformer (and really all apparatus) and why those original dimensions are crucial to work within. Lots of room to be creative but the original will put you at the right starting point. So, I guess I’m saying Pilates is like Rock n Roll. 🙂 ha!

    • Corrie!

      I love how you are thinking!! Yes – we must embrace all parameters given to us. Good point. And yes…Pilates is like Rock and Roll. Ha ha that reminds me of the documentary It Might Get Loud in Here – I believe that is the title. It is a documentary on Jimmy Page, The Edge of U2 and Jack White. How their contributions changed rock music. There is a moment where Jack White is saying that to be a successful guitarist, yes skill is important, but you must commit to every moment. Our rock ‘n Pilates parallel just made me think of that moment. If you haven’t seen that doc I highly recommend it. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here!

  2. Brilliant once again: ‘Art grows from discipline’… love the quotes. Thanks Andrea 🙂

  3. Well…! Anytime “Pilates” and “rock & roll” appear together in one sentence, count me 100% onboard! ???? Thanks for another great post, Andrea, and I love your comment, Cor!

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