The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 3

The Pilates System: Rowing on the Reformer, Part 3

Thanks again to the lovely Lesley Logan for collaborating with me on this YouTube video series.

We've taken a closer look at the 6 exercises which make up the Rowing Series on the Reformer.

If you've missed the previous 2 posts in this series, you can view them here and here.

The 6 Rowing Series exercises as they appear in the order of the Pilates Reformer exercises are:

  • Rowing 1: Into the Sternum
  • Rowing 2: 90° 
  • Rowing 3: From the Chest
  • Rowing 4: From the Hip
  • Rowing 5: Shave
  • Rowing 6: Hug

So for this week's video collab we'll look at the first 2 exercises in our Rowing Series.

Woo hoo! #finalinstallment

Rowing 1: Into the Sternum

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 3

As a Pilates practitioner, I find once you learn the 6 Rowing exercises you never want to leave them out. They are not easy by any means, but nevertheless, beloved.

Often we get sidetracked in these two exercises when it comes to the last moment of returning the carriage. Check yourself the next time you workout:

Does the carriage bang home as you finish each repetition?

At any point?

If so, report to your stomach immediately.

So many different moments in these 1st two Rowing exercises. Aren't you glad we learn them last?

Here's the breakdown:

  • Sit up tall just like when you sit on the Short Box. The carriage is closed. The straps are tight when arms are in the starting position.
  • Lift and scoop in to arrive at a Round position.
  • Hold your shape as you reach arms out to the sides.
  • Scoop more to reach the head toward the knees and the hands behind you at the TAILBONE!
  • I cannot say it enough. take the arms straight and low to the TAILBONE.
  • Lift your back and arms and close the carriage as you reach toward your toes.
  • Sit up tall again at the finish.
  • Repeat 3x

Wow. That's a sh*t ton of bullet points…

And here's a hot tip:

If your Reformer has wooden handles, you can use them to your advantage.

Moi ha ha haaaa… (evil laughter)

Connect the heel of your hand to press into the wooden handles at all times during the exercise. It will help to use the center more and the arms and shoulders less.

You may notice moments of connection. Also notice moments of disconnection (when your hand does not easily connect into the handle).

Just notice…

Rowing 2: 90 Degrees

The Pilates System: Rowing Series on the Reformer, Part 3

For our second Rowing exercise you can forget all the set up rules for our first exercise Into the Sternum

You'll need to find your back position and the upper body 90° position first. Most likely the carriage will not be completely closed at the start of the exercise.

And that's just fine.

Here we go:

  • Lift up your back and push upward on the handle (Forget that the exercise choreography dictates you go backward and down – on the inside lift up and forward.
  • Lift yourself to tip back as much as you can return.
  • Reach up on a high diagonal as the carriage closes. Scoop like mad to not bang the carriage.
  • Flip handles and reach down along the frame of the Reformer with straight arms.
  • I cannot say it enough. take the arms straight and low to the TAILBONE.
  • Lift your back and arms and close the carriage as you reach toward your toes.
  • Sit up tall again at the finish.
  • Repeat 3x

Enjoy this short tutorial collaboration.

Thanks for watching!

Got a favorite Rowing exercise? Or one that vexes you?

Lemme hear it in a comment below!

And here's where to find me in 2018

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  1. Stephanie Weibel says

    Life has been a bit busy lately and I have not watched your videos for a while, but thank you for this one, it was a good reminder of why it’s worth taking the time to watch. I love the combination of how you respect the work, but yet don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s refreshing. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks so much for your kind words – and for watching! Yes I am super serious about the Pilates method, but we teach exercise and it’s hard to change old habits we’ve been carrying around for years, so it is helpful to be able to have fun and humor mixed into all that 🙂 Thanks again for joining us here to share your thoughts – and stay tuned for more Pilates videos from me for sure. Cheers to you!

  2. Alessandra Niccolai says

    You make those two exercises look so easy???????????????? ! I love rowing 1, although I’m still getting used to my Gratz springs ????.. rowing 2 has never been a favourite although I’m starting to like it more … so much choreography indeed – I like that word, it sounds graceful to me! The big challenge though for me is not to hike my shoulders (everywhere!) and in rowing 2, not to use my arms.. as you’ve witnessed ???? your cue to lift up and not ‘lean back’ really helps…trying to really connect my back into the handles ????????.. as for my stomach, well, it often leaves the building ???????????? that’s a great expression! Although I’m trying to train it to remain very much IN the building at all times!
    Oh and if I could only clasp my hands for that shoulder stretch I need so badly… hopefully one day! I’ll add it to my goal for 2018 together with snake/twist ????
    This has been a very useful set of posts..thanks to both you and Lesley ????

    • Loving the Rowing series tips too! I had a major a-ha moment today in Rowing 4 with the heel/backline and how it enables the whole body connection…finally felt it and I now get the importance of the different feet positions! I’m beginning to think this whole Pilates thing is about Feet and Hands, Hmmmm (i have no emojis available to me for accentuating my thoughts!). #2 and #3…man, the clasp is available (and soon you will be clasping too Alessandra!) but I swear my straps don’t work right cuz they get stuck on my butt the way up 😉 Lately I’ve been trying to keep the shoulder blades tightly tucked down on the back and only finding the range of motion available while they STAY there. . .not sure that is correct but it’s sorta changing things ALOT. Missing our #muskateerpilatesmoments…xo

      • Alessandra Niccolai says

        #musketeerpilatesrule???????? I like your aha moment ????I had the exact same feeling of the foot and the back line aka the lower body reach whilst using my foot corrector yesterday… what was that you said about being all about the feet????… ?? #neerdon my friend ????
        Sharing the #pilateslove❤️❤️❤️

        • Oh the voyage of self-discovery is a wild ride ladies! Love all these connections you are discovering – makes me so happy on this Valentine’s day ! xox

      • The straps may graze the body with the hands together behind you – I assure you there is nothing wrong with your butt 🙂 More #pilatesmoments later this week I promise. xox Keep up the good work!

    • Wow that is high praise. The Rowing exercises are not easy for me, but I do enjoy them… perhaps except Shave LOL but I find it to be the perfect storm for my body to wrangle, so it does make it interesting… but there is a lot going on I agree. They seem so accessible as you are just sitting – so looks like no problem, but oh, to do them properly takes time… keep persevering on that stretch to get the hands to the tailbone – I assure you it will be well worth it 🙂 xox Rock on #londonnerd

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