Posts tagged #Classical Pilates

The Pilates Bean Bag Roll-up Device

IMG_0053Joseph Pilates was undoubtedly an inventor and a genius! He was definitely at least 50 years ahead of his time as so many people say. How did he know to create a piece of equipment to alleviate stressed out wrists, fingers, elbows and the upper body from hand-held devices and everyday living? This simple piece of equipment is fantastic for targeting those issues from carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritic fingers, tennis elbow to frozen shoulder. Instructions on how to use the Bean Bag Roll-up Device

1. Stand in Pilates stance, heels pressed together, toes pointing slightly outward or parallel with big toe knuckles together, depending on the needs of your client.

2. Stand tall, lengthening through the spine, focusing on each body segment being lifted and correctly placed over the one below.

3. Roll up the bag so it hangs just below the dowel. Hold the dowel in both hands straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Do not lock your elbows. Relax through the shoulders having a sense of the arms originating from the mid back.

4. Open the fingers of one hand, and point them toward the ceiling, wrist flexed backward as far as you can. The opposite hand grasps the dowel, fingers wrapped around it, wrist fully extended with knuckles facing the floor.

5. Slowly unwind the bag toward the floor, alternating the hand grasp between (a) open fingers pointing upward with flexed wrist and (b) grasped hand reaching downward in full wrist extension. Maximize the full flexion and extension of each wrist, and maintain good whole-body form from head to toe. Don’t forget to breathe fully in and out.

6. Once your bag reaches the floor, reverse the process and rewind back to the start position. Maintain full wrist flexion and extension on each move, and also maintain the correct body stance.

Note: If the exercise is too difficult, reduce the starting weight, and/or limit the length of the cord, so you unwind and rewind over a smaller distance. Concentrate on perfect whole-body form.

To increase the challenge, stand on a stair or a stool so you have to unwind and rewind over a greater distance. Begin with one full repetition, and then gradually add more weight. Work up to three full repetitions over time.

Here is also a short video demonstrating its use.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S444tTQSzxo]

The JPilates Bean Bag Roll-up Devices are available to buy for £20 each (+postage). Please contact info@jpilates.co.uk for more details

Thoughts on a Workshop with Amy Taylor Alpers

Coach helping people with Pilates exercises.Last month I attended a workshop with Amy Taylor Alpers from The Pilates Center, Boulder, USA and I was absolutely blown away! The workshop was held at the beautiful Pepilates Studio near Clapham Common. On entering the studio, I braced myself for the usual greeting from many Pilates instructors of "So who did you train with?" and I was so pleasantly surprised to find that no one asked that question. In fact, throughout the whole workshop no one was judged or questioned about the authenticity or style of their training which I found so refreshing and respectful.

The day began with Amy giving a short bio about her own Pilates training and experience. From the outset the scale and depth of her training was apparent. She peppered the day with fantastic anecdotes of Joe Pilates that really helped to engage with his vision and the man himself. We were told to,

"Get your Joe on"

In other words to become Joe Pilates, to breathe like him, to be strong like him, to travel back in time where bodies were different due to a lack of sedentary living.

Although the title of the workshop suggested the day would be very anatomical and rather specific to one muscle, Accessing Your Psoas, the tagline, Creating True Integrated Movement, truely explained the content of the day. Looking back at the huge pile of notes I made I am astounded at all the material, exercises and concepts we covered.

I can honestly say that in the 6 hour workshop I learnt more than in any other workshop or course I have done. It was so inspiring and I highly recommend any Pilates instructor, when the opportunity comes again, to attend Amy's workshops. As I said I was blown away......!

Never Stop Learning!

At the beginning of any of our courses or workshops I tell instructors that we never stop learning, to question everything and to ask anything! This is the most crucial founding principal of JPilates training- to constantly learn and enhance our teaching skills and knowledge and to realise that we can not know everything. When a client asks a question or has an injury or condition that you are unfamiliar with or unsure of, it is much more professional to admit that you need to further research the subject and to promise to get back to them once you have sought further advice or knowledge. (You would then email or phone us if you wish!!) Guidelines and research constantly develop, evolve and sometimes contradict and so it is imperative that we keep up to date with changes and have a reliable source to refer to.

Each year I allocate time and finances to attend courses and workshops to further my own knowledge. This year I am looking forward to a workshop from the fabulous Amy Taylor Alpers and the Pilates On Tour Convention. I'll definitely share with you my thoughts on both events after.

Continual professional development needn't be expensive. It could be attending our monthly Instructor Only Classes or another instructor's class in your area and evaluate (to yourself of course!) aspects you enjoyed and areas which could be improved. Webinars are a great way of developing your knowledge of specific areas such as Scoliosis and we are always open to new topics for us to present.

For more information on all our qualificationscourses and workshops please visit www.jpilates.co.uk or contact info@jpilates.co.uk.

My Session with a First Generation Pilates Teacher

pilates-shortbox[1]On Friday 28th October I attended the Classical Pilates Convention for a Mat session with the first generation teacher Jay Grimes. What an amazing experience and I thought I would share some of the highlights and my thoughts.

"Mat was never taught but was given as homework "

Jay began by explaining that Mat was actually given to students as homework. Joe ( I was told never to call him Joseph!) never taught the Mat repertoire, irrespective of the famous footage of him teaching dancers at Jacob's Pillow. He would check you on your homework and would know if you had not done it!
Jay spoke of how in Joe's studio you did not have pre-booked sessions but rather you would just arrive and begin to exercise on whatever piece of equipment was free at the time. Jay explained that Joe never had music playing in the studio, that the external rhythm would interfere with your body's own rhythm as you performed the exercises.

" The order of the moves is of absolute importance, it is a lifetime's work of trial and error"

We began to work through the Mat repertoire with Jay teaching each move in detail and performing the exercises with strength and conviction I was told to "stop dusting my knees and PULL IN my heel to my butt" in Single Leg Pull ( Stretch). The next exercises were Single Leg Straight Stretch, Double Leg Straight Stretch and Criss Cross which took me completely by surprise. They were created by Romana Kryzanowska, another first generation teacher. Classical Pilates is defined clearly as "Joseph Pilates actual exercises executed in the order he created with his intentions" by Shari Berkowitz and after a few comments by Jay about "those who changed the exercises and equipment" , it seemed contradictory to add  exercises which were not created by Joe himself especially as later Jay said that Romana never taught her own creations in front of Joe.

" Let  people be bad....we're all bad when we start...it's part of the process"

As we performed the Mat repertoire there were hardly any teaching cues given except for "squeeze your butt" and "suck in your gut". When asked about this, Jay responded by asking "how can bodies change if they do not move? If instructors constantly adjust, correct and restrict movement how will the client ever learn?" I agree that clients need to move as holding fixed positions throughout the day is the main cause of many issues and so we need to encourage freedom of movement and address imbalances through movement wherever possible. Yet I also believe that cueing is fundamental to a deeper understanding of the correct movement patterns necessary to effectively perform the exercises.

There was minimal reference to breathing. Jay explained that breathing is only cued when it is important, for example on Double Leg Pull (Stretch) and that otherwise it is a normal breath as if you were walking down the street talking to a friend.

The only modifications taught were in Swan Dive and Corkscrew otherwise clients should attempt to perform each move until they eventually understand and "feel" the exercises. "Stop babying people" was a comment repeated. In a fully equipped studio you would use the machines to aid the Matwork movements- this is why Joe invented them.  For example, performing Teaser on the Cadillac with the push through bar would allow the client to build the strength and mobility to perform the Teaser on the Mat. But for many of us, Mat is all we teach and so modifications and adaptations are crucial to create a safe and effective pathway to the original repertoire.

"You can't teach Pilates. You can guide people to find it in their own body"

Jay spoke of how he did not receive his first correction from Joe until he had been training for three months. He stated that you should never correct a client during Footwork on the Reformer but rather use that time to observe the imbalances and plan the rest of your session.

It was a fantastic afternoon, deepening my understanding of the Classical Pilates but also strengthening my conviction in my own style of teaching. I strongly believe in adapting the moves to allow clients to build a balanced foundation of strength, stability and flexibility prior to teaching them the original form. Yet as Pilates instructors we should never lose sight of our final goal- to allow our clients the opportunity to fully experience and practice the 34 Mat moves.

In our workshop The Moves- we will be fully exploring, analysing and adapting the 34 moves. For more information please visit www.jpilates.co.uk or email info@jpilates.co.uk

Many thanks to Amy Kellows for a great Convention and I am looking forwards to attending next year.