The Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Up Stretch

The Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Up StretchThe Universal Reformer: A Brief Tutorial on the Up Stretch

For Jayne

Hello and welcome to a brief tutorial on my new nemesis exercise: the Up Stretch.

With all Pilates exercises, the more our body changes so does our experience of the exercises. Now with newfound control we can tackle deeper nuances of an exercise and peel away at the artichoke.

Recently, in a tutorial on the Backstroke, we looked at moving beyond the choreography of the exercise to examine how the exercise will best benefit our bodies.

Let's take a look at this same theme, now in the Up Stretch.

What makes a successful Long Stretch Series?

The exercises of the Long Stretch Series encourage us to cultivate the lower body:

The Down Stretch exemplifies most clearly the “push-pull” aspect of the 2-way stretch. I find it to be a great help with all the other exercises in the series.

The Up Stretch is one of the more complex exercises in this series. Consequently the drive of the lower body feels much more tangible. It's almost an upside down Long Back Stretch.

Um…because it is…

Remember, the starting/ending positions of the Up Stretch are certainly helped by the Elephant.

Find an exercise in this series that speaks to you. Use it to perfect the others and see how you do.

And what about our old friend the Order of the Reformer Exercises? Help from Joe Pilates is always appreciated…

Be mercenary

To the casual observer, the choreography of the Up Stretch includes a moment when the carriage moves out and the hips lower toward the carriage.

Sometimes I wish I didn't have this idea in my head. Choreography has a way of hijacking the exercise, lessening its benefits.

What's really going on here?

Moreover, let's ask ourselves “What is this exercise doing for our body?”

Corrective exercise should serve our bodies well in LIFE – not just in the Up Stretch.

Enjoy this short video tutorial. 

Thanks so much for watching!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person?

Join me in December!

Upcoming Workshops

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3, 2016 Excel Pilates, Washington, DC

Join me for my post popular posts Live! and in person: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises (4 PMA CECs) and On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises (2 PMA CECs). I’ll be teaching my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and Progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs) as well as a Mat class, private and semi-private lessons. Register today

Saturday December 17, 2016 LauraBPilates Studio, Raleigh, NC

In Raleigh we’ll have a full day of Pilates Continuing Education: private lessons and my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs)Register today

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  1. HEY!!! I am very excited this is the blog post because man, this is a tough one. “Push the carriage out EXTENDING from the hip” HUGE tip that encourages one to push through the FEET. You demo’d all the no-no options (that I find myself doing) so well! and…if you keep that bum pointing down that really does help to prevent the lower back “dump” my body is so anxious to do! THANKS SO MUCH! #PilatesRocks

    • Hey there 🙂

      I agree – Up Stretch is a challenge…full of pitfalls LOL… I always think that my downfall is the whole ‘extending the hip’ thing as opening up that area (which means opening up the low back as well) is a particular challenge of mine. But admitting you have a problem is the first step right? LOL… And yes I keep trying to highlight that the bottom goes down and out – just cause that’s the part that usually wants to stick up into the air… oh dear. Let’s both work steadily on this one and all our Pilates circus tricks shall await us! xox #pilatesiscool

      • Yes, admitting we have a problem. I can think of worst things to obsess about 😉 I have to show you these two things I saw with Semi Circ and Tendon Str…I was like…wha????? the?????? Hope your holiday is going well! xo

  2. Aha!! Great tutorial as always! I’m renaming Up Stretch to Stretched Out Elephant!! It’s like an extended version of elephant! Great cue ‘ribs up , bottom down’ which gives a great back stretch..yay!! Really useful for that round back shape in all those related exercises in different orientations…. Roll up, push down, teaser, even the series of five, to get that l-o-n-g lifted back lying down -tricky! ????
    I also now find it useful to kind of think about lengthening OUT (from strong centre) rather than go up or down….as choreography often indicates , as you say!!
    Agree ???? #pilatesiscool ???????? #pilatesrocks #pilatesaddict ????????????????????????

    • Alessandra you are so spot on – the Up Stretch really depends on a good strong Elephant. And yes, there’s no exercise that cannot benefit from our old faithful friend the Elephant. I always like to say it is the upside down version of the Double Straight Leg Stretch exercise in the Series of 5. We just can’t go wrong when we lift or lengthen… and if you can do both of them well Huzzah!!!! Thanks so much for being awesome and for sharing your thoughts and observations here… stay tuned for the 2017 Martini party ha ha…

  3. PS totally agree with Cor about using your feet!! I’m beginning to see how important the feet connection is! ????????????????????????????

    • Grrrrl, if I could just find and activate my feet (butt) in most of these exercises, it’d be a whole new ball game; and I have rather large feet that continue to remain anonymous during most Pilates moves! You know what they say about girls with big feet…er, um… 🙂

    • I too realize more each day how much the feet are connected into our center…I mean, duh, of course they are, but it is exciting to find control over those parts that are sooooo far away ha ha

      • Yes….I find myself looking more often at client’s feet!! yikes!
        #pilatesfootfetish? ???????? #itsallconnected ????????????

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