Thanks Order of the Pilates Exercises: Transitions! 5!

Welcome to the 5th installation of Transitions! Transitions!

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

In and Out of the Stomach Massage Series

The Stomach Massage Series presents us with yet another opportunity for efficient pace and tempo within an exercise series.

You'll strive to connect the exercises as though they were one continuous movement.

The body positions are slightly shifting and you are nearly in the same place on the apparatus.

But you've got some tasks to attend to (removing a spring) as you keep your steady pace.

Let's Move!

Stomach Massage Series #1: Round

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

First off you'll neatly sit into your first position. This one is ripe for futzing and fidgeting as you get into the “perfect” spot on the carriage.

No need to hang your butt off the edge of the carriage.

Sit where you'll find the most success to lift up out of your low back. I recommend a pad to sit on.

  • Sit with control and assume the position…
  • Notice the rhythm you'll create as you do your repetitions. You'll strive to keep pace with the rhythm you set up here as you remove the spring between exercises.
  • On the last repetition, get ready. You know which spring to remove and where you'll go to position yourself for the next exercise. This is part of your control. Know what you'll do and where you're going.
  • As you return the carriage, just as it closes remove 1 middle spring.
  • Keep your rhythm and begin #2: Hands Back as the carriage moves out again.
  • Relax, it's easy to get panicky, but you will calm yourself over time.

Stomach Massage Series #2: Hands Back

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

  • Keep your initial rhythm in place throughout the repetitions.
  • As the carriage returns on the last repetition, reach down and remove a second middle spring (you are now left with 2)
  • Move to #3: Reach as you move the carriage out.
  • Enjoy yourself!

Stomach Massage Series #3: Reach

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

  • Keep your initial rhythm in place throughout the repetitions.

Stomach Massage Series #4: Twist

Thanks Order of the Exercises: Transitions! 5!

  • Use your exhale to set the rhythm for this twisting exercise, which may slow your tempo a bit.
  • Finish the exercise and come up to standing.

A word about removing the springs

For the Stomach Massage Series, you'll begin with 3 or 4 springs.

Let's use the example of 4 springs.

After #1, use your right hand, reach through your legs to remove the middle-right spring (If you started with 3 springs, you'll get a pass on removing a spring at this point and continue on 3 springs for #2.).

After #2, use your left hand, reach through your legs to remove the middle-left spring.


I'm being very specific here and if my clients are working hard and sweating and moving along I probably wouldn't mention it.


For many people it's quite a stretch to reach all the way down to remove the springs from these compact seated positions.

Remember your arm is connected to your back. You can get a little extra back stretch – and practice reaching for things in your daily life even!! – on each side as you remove the 2 springs in the Stomach Massage Series.

I never miss an opportunity for a juicy back stretch…

Thanks, Joe.

Tendon Stretch Recap

Post Stomach Massage Series and into the Tendon Stretch

  • Slide the pad from Stomach Massage Series to the end of the carriage and hang it off the end a bit for security. I like to turn my pad longways at this point.

Otherwise, your Reformer is all set up for the Tendon Stretch – 2 springs and footbar up.

I know I could use a bit more practice on my transitioning into, during and out of the countless variations of the Tendon Stretch.

The Reformer is ready. Let's hope you are too.

Who's with me?

In and out of the Tendon Stretch 

  • I recommend a pad on the edge of the carriage.
  • Step up into position one hand, one foot, other hand, other foot.
  • Step off after the exercise one foot and then the other foot.

In and out of the Tendon Stretch one-leg variations

Here's a recent vlog on learning how to begin working on the Tendon Stretch one leg variations.

This week I have another clarification to add that I've found to be helpful.

  • We all have a tendency to be really heavy on our hands in the Tendon Stretch (and in many exercises where we get to hold onto that footbar).
  • In order to remove a hand while taking a leg to the side you cannot have all your weight on your arms.
  • Transfer your weight into the lower body.
  • With the carriage all the way in, work to really stand on your feet. 

Questions? Please leave them in a comment below.

Thanks 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.

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  1. Ah, I just love Mondays!

    I’m so a futzer and fidgeter! Although becoming less since you guided to NOT round the back like an Armadillidiidae (and collapse) but lift and just simply gaze down at the gut. It suddenly became a much different exercise. Thanks for the tips, will try to dial it in! (I try to envision Murat Berkin doing the SM at the convention. oh my 😉

    Few questions on TS.
    1- Can one mount from behind the footbar (of course you can but should you)? Because I have a tendency to sit, collapse, bend and flop whenever possible I found it advantageous but only because it forced me to keep my legs straight right away and keep my bum away from the footbar!
    2- do heels press or are feet parallel? are feet touching if parallel?
    3- eye gaze at feet? head always stays in the same downward position right? like, don’t look up after you push the carriage out, etc.
    4- how far out should the carriage ideally go? Until you feel the tendon actually stretch?

    I’ll ask you about the one leg version in like, three years 🙂

    THANKS! Have a lovely day! x

    • Hi Corrie and Happy Monday 🙂

      I once filmed a workout in which I thought I was very precise and simple in my entry into the Stomach Massage position…only to watch the replay and see a TON of futzing going on…aaargh…
      And yes, for you, let’s not think about Round at all. Good job.

      As for the Tendon Stretch questions, here are my answers:

      1. Yes, one CAN mount from behind the footbar, but it is really not a proper way into the exercise. Try to get into position without sitting on the footbar, so you’re standing on your feet and really lifting into the Elephant shape to keep the carriage in.

      2. You can be in parallel, but I find small narrow V is often helpful for the heel and seat connection. Either position is correct.

      3. Yes, look into your stomach. It is easy to want to lift your head up to look at your feet and/or the carriage, but try to keep the head dropped. Just be careful with balance of course as you do this. Yes, no need to look up after you push out the carriage.

      4.Think about the rhythm and range of motion you have in the Elephant. It’s not a big move. The Tendon Stretch is similar. Your objective is to close the carriage with control, so you’ll just press out a little and then return. This way you can set up a rhythm that will keep your stomach working throughout the exercise. Think of pushing down on the carriage (down with the heels) to go out, this should help with that stretch part.

      And yes, more on the one leg versions later 🙂
      Thank you so much for reading and watching and sharing your observations and learning here – keep up the good work!

  2. 🙂 Somehow I think your futzing would be hard to detect! 🙂

    Dude, total game changer when doing TS looking at the stomach. For one, there suddenly is no desire (or ability) to push the carriage out far anymore as the weight is instantly transferred forward over the toes; the tendon is stretching without even moving the carriage! Ah ha!

    When gazing at the feet, my tendency was to push out faaarrrr away to try and stretch the tendon. In testing it, the weight does indeed shift “back” in the bum and arms when gaze is at feet. no boino.

    Fascinating. I love this stuff. You are so right, this movement is small but feelings are large.


    • Good job Corrie! I always think that I am using my stomach/powerhouse/center to do the exercise and the nature of the position is giving me the “tendon stretch” even though that stretch may not be the most significant sensation I have in the exercise. Usually I’m like “Yay! My butt’s working!” Even a small Pilates victory is worth noting I find 🙂 Thank YOU!

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