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Why is Pilates a System?

We are all different shapes and sizes. Our bodies move in different ways with different muscles firing to achieve the movement. Some of us have our glutes permanently soft so we rely on our hips and others may tense their shoulders keeping their chest tight.

All of this is fine but at some point your body will cry ouch.

In my training we were taught that Pilates is a system and whilst I could understand that if a person couldn't do an exercise we have other pieces of apparatus that makes it easier for the client to feel exactly what muscles should be firing. However what I failed to understand was how and what exactly makes this a system?

I think the easiest way to explain the system is to think of building blocks.

In a studio, the system is built up through the beginner syllabus of mat and reformer. This develops the client's trunk & pelvic stability. With 2 or three additional exercises on the other studio equipment to help find a muscle connection or build strength, length, articulation or extension. Whatever the teacher sees the client needs that session.It is important to note that the purpose of any workout is to have moved the body in all directions and performing the mat and reformer you do just that.

On the mat we develop that trunk stability supine with the last exercise Spine Stretch Forward being seated, On the reformer, the exercises develop trunk stability seated, standing with knees bent and heels lifted, knees bent toes lifted, knees straight and toes lifted. Our body moves in space naturally with these exercises and once the exercise are taught it is the art of coordinating the breath, muscles and movement that makes Once we know them and your instructor doesn't have to cue the exercise he or she can really help you to move your body.

Teachers should take lessons themselves. We are always learning and indeed our bodies respond differently to our ever changing daily activities just as yours does. I was flummoxed in one of my lessons with a teacher who had me do a roll down on the Cadillac at least 50 times - I knew what she wanted but try as I might my lumber spine would not roll. Now here is the picky part -the instructor could see I wasn't moving properly BUT hadn't set the exercise up correctly. Instead of setting me up for Rolling Back, this instructor had set me up for a Teaser. Thus as a beginning exercise with the body not warmed up I was doomed to fail because I had no way of connecting my posterior chain.

With my own clients especially since we have been in lockdown I have had to think outside of the box to help them find ways of executing the repertoire and using the furniture to hand. I have one group of students who have come twice a week since March and they all know the exercises of the beginner and intermediate mat. Now we can build on that and help them find a deeper connection. If you have a client who cannot roll down through their lumber spine- USE THE SYSTEM, For a beginner we start with the half roll back. Seated with the soles of the feet against a wall perform a half roll back and continue rolling down vertebrae. If they reach a point and then collapse in a heap on the floor it is fine. It simply shows you that the stomach muscles need developing and the rest of the exercises in the system help in building that powerhouse. It is the Intermediate syllabus that builds the obliques & more articulation. With the advanced building extension.

Once you have learnt the exercises your strength will naturally develop with workouts three times a week you would be surprised at how your body can change so quickly.

I know that mine does.

I am planning a 10 day Pilates challenge for you in September when the children are back in school( fingers crossed Covid levels don't rise!) This will require you to attend Monday to Friday 9-10am.You will need a mat, a wall, weights, Magic Circle, a towel or theraband and yourselves. Fear not if you cannot make the commitment to the challenge as I also have it listed as a daily class.

Should you be interested please check the website and book in:

Happy Summer.

A shot of the Single leg Circle using the Magic Circle.


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