The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

Last year I weighed in on a few crucial skills we learn in our very first Pilates lesson.

Turns out our first lesson is jam-packed with key intel to serve us on our Pilates journey.

As I progress toward Day 30 of my Small Barrel Project (today is Day 28!) I can add 2 more fundamental exercises to our skill set.

Pilates is straightforward and simple in many respects. Even in our first few lessons Joe Pilates introduces us to all the tools we'll need as an advanced practitioner.

The first of today's fundamental exercises is one I've had to refine and relearn repeatedly in my workout. Perhaps I've finally got it this time…

1. Frog

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

With a lazy bum and overworking legs the Frog is a continual challenge for me.

We learn Frog early on in our Pilates life. It's the first and foremost way we extend our lower body away from our center for a while.

Beginning the Hundred, the Leg Circles and Double Leg Pull would be impossible for some without Frog.

I dare you to go through your Reformer or your Mat workout to see just how many times you find yourself needing some Frog skills.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

Why here's our very first Footwork position.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

Coordination follows shortly after our Frogs and Circles. What you have learned to do with straps and support, now you must repeat without them.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

In the Stomach Massage Series you'll take what you've learned to do lying down and now do it sitting up.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

All the gloriousness of Short Spine Massage begins with our simple Frog.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

And for those that like a challenge we've got a nice High Frog up in the air upside down! Yes, Frog has some thrills in store for us as well.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

OMG Double Leg Pull!

2. Scissors

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

Scissors – which granted you may not learn in your first Pilates lesson – repeats itself in countless exercises where we are multitasking: one side and then the other.

Our first incarnation of the Scissors is probably not on a barrel, but oh that's a good one.

We'll probably encounter it first on the Mat. You may know this exercise by another name: Single Straight Leg Stretch.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

How do we keep the center in control as our limbs alternate?

Better learn quickly because Joe Pilates is just getting started.

Do these Scissors look familiar?

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson
Yes, the Tree. We've talked about this Scissors extravaganza before.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

Here we go again in the Tendon Stretch.

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

Here's a little nicer one in the One Leg Elephant.

Now for a couple more doozies…

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

Sure, I'll see your High Frog and raise you a High Scissors. Why not?

The Pilates System: 2 More Mad Skills from your First Lesson

And perhaps the ultimate upside down scissor, Control Balance.

Small Barrel Project Recap

All of which brings me to my Small Barrel Project update:

Today is day 28 on my 30-day Posture Intervention on the Small Barrel.

Wow. Only 2 days to go!

I now know I can never stop doing these 10-15 minutes of exercises.

My Small Barrel has become one of my teachers.

What I find with ease to be possible on the Small Barrel enhances and primes me for my Reformer or Mat workout.

Brilliant!

Thanks Joe, it's all in there.

What's going on here anyhow?

The Frog and Scissors are game changing exercises in the Pilates Method, the foundation of so many of our other exercises and well worth exploring.

What are these exercises teaching us?  

Frog and Scissors are some of our first examples of the lower body reaching away from the center. In Pilates we begin by strengthening the center and gradually we increase the challenge by reaching further away from our strong center.

Frog refines our engagement of the seat to elongate the low back and support the lower body in the air.

Scissors increases the difficulty and we reach our lower body away from the center one side at a time.

The center must remain steadfast! We do this many times in the Pilates Method ALL. AROUND. THE STUDIO.

It's not too late to join my Small Barrel Project.

Check out the exercises. Use a Small Barrel, a Spine Corrector or even just your Mat. Play along in just 10 minutes each day and see what magic happens…

Been working on your exercises? Leave me a comment and let me know how you're doing!

And here's where you can find me in 2017.

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Comments

  1. So good. New phrases to articulate what we are feeling when we do these. And Pilates IS simple! And yet, so very, very, complicated….(sigh) which is why we never get bored ????

    • Thanks so much Steph… simple yes but tons of repetition to make it all possible. Plenty of learning to keep us all busy 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts here!

  2. Wow! It’s day 30 for me in the #30daychallenge and I’m never stopping these fabulous exercises on the barrel-of-love????! I can now confirm-
    More flexible open spine
    Shoulders much more open
    Lower back lengthened
    Longer hamstrings
    Hips more open
    Better connection to my centre
    More connection to my breath
    Leg alignment much improved with arches more lifted, indeed I think my plumbline has altered giving me the feeling of ‘hovering’ over my arches (noted when walking round an art gallery recently ????) So yay for the barrel-of-love!! And thanks Andrea for a brilliant challenge ????????????
    Interestingly, I’ve just started reading ‘ the vital psoas muscle’ by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones..#pilatesgeek????
    Grab a copy (if you haven’t already!) and enjoy!! It beautifully helps to explain why the barrel exercises are just so magical????
    #rockon Andrea and other pilates peeps???????????? #weallrock????????????????????????????????

    • Alessandra,

      This is all such amazing news – I am on Day 29 myself and I have decided to continue forever just as you describe. My back feels amazing and OMG I may have finally found my butt for keeps #bff !
      And I love the foot/leg alignment – have you too felt that unfamiliar – OMG is that an arch I feel under my foot – feeling? Gotcha there…I will look into the book you mention – I am due to read one of those nerdy books right now.
      So excited for you 🙂 #rockonbarrelladies

      • Eeek! You’re right, it’s only day 28!! I can’t count????…. Yes it’s that ‘is that an arch I feel under my foot’ feeling!! Yay!! Who knew? Love that The Method never ceases to amaze!! Also love the way all the skills we learn are building blocks for everyday movement.
        Now let me just reach up for the coffee….????????
        #rockonjoepilates????
        See you soon Andrea! xoxo

        • Oh, fellow Pilates gal geeks, I adore hearing your Pilates talk 🙂 Same goes here, def. more “flexible’ back in general, no more tweeks doing Tree or Ladder Barrel stuff. All things Swan-y are easier. Way more adhered to the Mat in all things with a stronger reach through the pins! The thing I am most conscious of in every daily activities is moving more FROM the center. Like getting off the couch (lol) or putting on muther-lickin’ SNOW boots or any of those daily ‘functions” we do so often. I don’t know a ton about the psoas except I want to read that book 🙂 and every time I used to get lower back pain my massage guru gal would say, “yup, that psoas is tight again and pulling your lower back forward and to the left.” I notice this imbalance lessening now in almost every “one legged” Pilates exercise. I will note that since starting Pilates with ANDREA (!!!) this has become a much less frequent event and since the 24/7 barrel-of-love fest, I haven’t even had an smidge of twinge. Bonus!! Let’s keep it up and see where it take us. (insert Pilates hearts and flowers). xoxo

          • Corrie – Thank you of course for all your kind words – and I have to say that my one sided exercises have improved with the Barrel work in my body as it has helped me tremendously to figure out more about the imbalance-y twist in my body. And as I worked on the images for Mat exercises I noticed that my Swan looks so different. So that must be the Barrel too! yay! I have continued pst 30 days and still do the exercises at least 1 time per day. Yesterday I did them late in the evening before bed. I had been stretching giving myself a pedicure, so then I did my exercises afterwards to put myself back together again LOL. Thanks again for undertaking this Pilates journey with me! And now for some March MATness – woot woot!! xox

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