Written by Andrea Maida
When I began my lessons at Excel Pilates, one of the studio offerings was “Solo Pilates sessions.”
This option was inexpensive. My budget was slim.
One had to be approved to go solo, of course. There was a teacher in the room, but you were essentially on your own.
With this newfound independence came responsibility, for yourself and for the apparatus. You needed to know the exercises, how many to do, springs, straps, safety concerns, etc… Quite a lofty aspiration having had only a few sessions on the Reformer at that point.
Eventually I had enough experience to gain approval and I scheduled my first solo session.
I received a sheet of paper containing the rules – sorry, guidelines – I was to follow.
Top of the list?
“They’re on to me,” I thought.
Years ago, Jay Grimes would quote an iconic Prego spaghetti sauce commercial to tout the extensiveness of the Pilates Method.
“It’s in there.”
Whatever you are seeking in an exercise system, whatever your body issue, whatever the plane of movement that challenges you, the Pilates System has an exercise – perhaps even an entire apparatus – for just that.
From the rank beginner to the elite teacher-of-teachers Pilates Informationista, the Pilates System has something for everyone.
Before High Bridge you’ve got the Arm Circles over the Small Barrel.
Before Snake/Twist you’ve got the Elephant – which will keep you busy for a good long while.
What’s to be done with Mr. Xtreme-Cyclist who cannot sit up straight for Spine Stretch on the Mat without his hips grabbing and his legs bent?
Or the 60-something former ballerina with the tight-ass back? How will she reap the benefits of the Roll Over if she cannot lift her hips off the Mat?
“Oh, we have ways,” says the Pilates System.
Investing care and thought into our examination of the major pieces of apparatus can be a blueprint to mining the most out of the Pilates System. The Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises and the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises provide us with the scope of movement opportunities possible and necessary to our well-being.
Now how best to deliver all these goodies to the masses?
“Via the Pilates System!” I hear you roar.
Tight-ass-back Ballerina is lifting her hips off the Mat currently in Rolling Like a Ball and in assisted exercises on the apparatus: Short Spine Massage, Tower, Rolling Stomach Massage.
These exercises must infiltrate first. They are gatekeepers of the Roll Over on the Mat.
As for Mr. X, he needs lift and length to find success in Spine Stretch on the Mat.
Aaargh, don’t we all?
Lucky for us, we’ve got oodles of places to do just that.
Thanks Joe. All roads lead to lift!
Let’s have Mr. X leave the Mat for refining exercises on the Cadillac, Wunda Chair and Barrels. In time, he’ll return to the Mat better than ever!
Patience, my darlings. Don’t think you have to solve the world’s problems in an hour. Just pick one thing to focus on today.
Time + Repetition + Consistency = a better Spine Stretch Forward for Mr. X.
Don’t sweat it. Whose workout is this anyway?
So what’s the harm – really – in leaving out a detested exercise?
1. It will never get better.
2. You miss the gift of information you would have received had you done said detested exercise.
Oh yeah, there’s that.
3. When you remove parts of the system, the system as a whole suffers.
Pilates is the original “muscle confusion” exercise. Remember we’ve got a strong center and a 2-way stretch in every exercise. Now do all that upside-down, on one leg, with a backbend or a twist…etc…etc…
Can you do it?
Andrea is a graduate of Vintage Pilates’ inaugural classes of The Work and Teaching the Work, two years of intense study under Jay Grimes, 1st Generation Master Teacher and former student of Joseph Pilates. Andrea has received comprehensive training through Excel Pilates (Washington, DC) and Romana’s Pilates.
She is the owner of a private Pilates studio in Solana Beach, CA and also teaches in Los Angeles at Vintage Pilates.
Andrea is an instructor and blogger for pilatesology.com which is dedicated to recording, preserving and spreading Joseph Pilates’ original work worldwide.