Like most every Pilates Trainer who has taught the work for decades, I find my gratitude within the method for all it has given to me and how it has served me throughout the years. While I respect and learn from those teachers who choose to expand upon and borrow from the original work to fit their creative desires, I have personally witnessed my own creativity grow by challenging myself to STAY within the method, as designed, and with purpose. More importantly, I have witnessed clients/students achieve undeniable life-changing results within this discipline.
I believe the work has some critically important goals that ought to be achieved by all, even when an exercise is 1) appropriately modified or 2) progressed with variations.
Those goals are to achieve specificity while performing the following:
3 exercise in the sagittal plane: the Hundred, Spine Stretch and Swan
1 exercise in the lateral plane: Mermaid
1 exercise in the transverse plane: Spine Twist
Everyone can perform some version of all the above, whether it be at a fundamental level of pre-Pilates, all the way to the other end of the spectrum of Super Advanced. Just like the never ending journey of studying Yoga, so ought too be the journey of studying Pilates. I believe while advancing within each step of the Pilates Classical Method, one of the 5 exercises above will be the basis for what is being advanced.
THE HUNDRED – stabilization of the Pilates Box: the rib cage, the pelvis, and the scapula. Developing breathe control.
SPINE STRETCH – flexion of all vertebrae evenly throughout while maintaining pelvic and scapula stabilization.
SWAN – extension of all vertebrae evenly throughout while maintaining pelvic and scapula stabilization.
MERMAID – pelvic stabilization couple with unilateral scapula stabilization and oppositional scapula upward rotation.
SPINE TWIST – While the full expression of the exercise is not traditionally taught at the beginning level, some pre-Pilates version of it ought to be taught from day 1. Pelvic stabilization coupled with ribcage mobility: this strengthens the obliques and while stretching the erector spinae.
No matter how de-conditioned or super advanced each client may be, I ask myself everyday how I can get them to perform some version of these 5 exercises and I call them by name to provide perspective and purpose each time. Not shying away from discussing why we are doing it, helps them see the creativity of it, regardless of their level. Rather than re-inventing a wheel that’s already been created, I find love in making the wheel smoother for everyone, one step at a time and I have to be creative to make it happen.
I struggled whether or not to include BRIDGE in this group, but ultimately I concluded that the fundamental, basic bridge is really just a version of the Hundred, stabilization of the pelvis and the rib cage, while the full expression is really just a version of Swan, extension of all vertebrae evenly throughout while maintaining pelvic and scapula stabilization. The articulation of the spine from the tailbone upward does prepare us for the expressions of Semi-circle on Reformer or Rolling In and Out/Ferris Wheel on the Cadillac.
Let me know your thoughts. Should it be included a one that continues to progress in other ways?
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