Hi guys, I'm Courtney Miller. I have a really cool workshop for you. It could be used as a class too, but I've called it thinking outside the box using the Reformer Box. I think it's an underutilized prop. We all have one if we have a Reformer and there's so many cool ways that we can incorporate it to challenge our core stability and to amp up an exercise.
So you might recognize some of these movements that you've done traditionally on the mat or on the Reformer, but you'll feel something new when you do them on the box. What I want you to do is try this class all the way through and then you might find there's little segments that you want to do before, in the middle or at the end of some of your favorite PilatesAnytime classes. So I'm going to start with some cardio using the box. The first thing I'm gonna do is spinal articulation. I'm facing towards the box with my feet hip distance apart and parallel position.
Inhale, arms up. Exhale and lead with the chin, scoop the belly in, flex the spine, take my hands onto the box. Shoulders are right over wrists. Inhale into a flat back position. Feel free to bend the knees here to get a little more movement through that sacrum.
Exhale, press down to the box to scoop. Inhale, press into the box. Go for the length here, head away from sacrum. Exhale, scoop the belly. Let's make sure that we are mobilizing our middle spine here.
So keep those ribs connected, but do come to neutral and then lift up. Your spine is a mountain right now and the peak is your center spine. One more, inhale, find the length. (deeply inhales) And then exhale (deeply exhales). Scoop up.
With soft knees, rebuild. Shoulders right over hips. Head's the last thing to come up. Genie the arms. Shift the weight, take the metatarsal onto the box, heel lifted high.
Inhale, heel down. Exhale, heel up. Inhale, heel down. Exhale, heel up. It's the calm before the storm, enjoy it.
Lift and lower. As I lift my heel, I engage through pelvic floor. Shoulders are over hips. We do have that lordotic curve, so don't loose it. Standing leg is tall and present.
Last three, about 10 here. Work the lowering, so eccentric. Last one. All righty, place the foot onto the box. Rise up, reach the arms forward.
Find your center, find your balance. Step back off the box, reach. Take the tee. So I come up, forward reach. I go back, take the tee.
I feel the deep intrinsic muscles in my feet working to stabilize me. I feel my hips of course. Press, reach. Let's change the arms, a little more challenging here. Press up (exhales deeply).
Press back. Press up (exhales deeply). Press back (exhales deeply). Press up having the presence through our core as if we would if we were doing leg and foot work. One more, press up.
Press back (deeply exhales). Genie the arms. Shift the weight, opposite foot on, heel up. Heel down. Ah, now you know why we started with this, right?
We need those deep muscles in the feet to fire up all those level one stabilizers. So start here from the foot and ankle. It's the same reason we begin many of our classes with leg and foot work. That's our foundation. Last four.
Heel down. Heel up. Everything else is engaged, it's not a rest here. The heel lifts (deeply exhales), the foot presses on. Rise up, find it.
Take it back. Reach it. So it's an up to the front, down and back. Step to the front. Now you could play with tempo here, guys.
You want to go a little slower, go for it. You want to go a little quicker, that works too. Press. Just make sure you're moving from a place of integrity. Change the arms if you want to increase the level.
Arms up. And back. Now this series, I was inspired from the chair series that we do, so our chair step-ups. And up. So all the same biomechanics and principles apply.
Last one. And up (deeply exhales). Good, arms up. Flex the spine. Take the hands onto the box.
You are in a long spine here. Step the feet back into a plank, one knee in. So we're taking our plank principle that we have perfected through all of our many Pilates classes and now adding movement. If it's available, pick up the tempo, pulling. Think of your knee stretch series on the Reformer.
Accent is in. Last 10. Nine, knees to chest. Keep breathing. Five, four, three, two, one.
Step the feet in, get low. Press up. Hop the feet out. Take your star. Step the feet in, get low.
Push the earth away. Hop the feet out. Take the balance. So working those core muscles more in an anticipatory nature. They've got to fire.
The sequence has to be there, otherwise I won't be able to balance. Again, I want you to own the tempo here. You want to go quicker, you'll get more cardio. You'd like to go slower, focus on form. In, up.
Out, twist. One more each side. Get low, make sure the bottom drops low. So like a little seedling growing out of the earth, you can sprout up. Get low.
Push. And balance. Hop it in. Roll on up. Great, getting a little cardio, huh?
One foot goes on, external rotation. Arms out, bend. Up to balance. Down and up. So as I do this, I think about the jump board.
Landing toe, ball, heel, push. Toe, ball, heel, press. Play with the arms. Be creative. Do what feels great.
After all, it should feel really good, right? Otherwise we won't do it. Last two. And one, increasing the challenge. Bend twice.
And in. Toe, ball, heel, pull. Toe, ball, heel. In, out. In, last four.
Three. Knee over toe. Two. And one. Off to the other side.
Take a second, find it. Get low. Up. Down. And up.
Track that knee right over the midfoot. I definitely feel my glutes. And up. And up. And up.
Increasing the challenge. And bend twice. Neck is long. Good. Plie, plie.
Think of your leg and foot work. And pull. Four, three, two, and one. Excellent. So you should be feeling a little warm.
Let's place the box on the Reformer and keep going. I'm gonna place on long box position. I have the foot bar down and I have one red spring on. Go ahead and sit onto your box, placing the feet onto the head rest, grabbing a hold of the straps. I'm sitting towards the first third of the box.
The more box there is behind you, the more stable you're gonna feel. Holding on, begin to roll the spine back. One at a time, lift the legs up, shoulders down the back. Exhale, lift arms overhead and inhale. Now we can only reach the arms as far back as the shoulder stability can be maintained.
Remember to play with your weights. A lighter spring may be more appropriate for you. Exhale. Adding the legs if you choose to advance it. (deeply exhales) Pelvis is neutral.
Sacrum is heavy. (deeply exhales) Hug the midline, you're stronger if you do. Belly in, flat abdominals. The lower the legs, the harder. (deeply exhales) Take it down.
Rest the feet. Perhaps, if extending the spine feels good, a little break. Nod the chin. Going right back into it. Turning the thumbs up, adjust the arms.
Exhale as you open. (exhales deeply) You are flexed up to the tips of the shoulder blades. (deeply exhales) The great about this is because of the direction the resistance is coming from, it is not making it challenging at all for my neck flexors. Much harder on my abs and my delts, the legs. Reach.
And exhale (deeply exhales). The lower you send the legs, the harder. So you choose, you play with it. Three, two (deeply exhales), and one (deeply exhales). Lower the legs one at a time, perhaps taking a break feels good for you.
You could keep going if you wanted to. Nod the chin, both legs up. Draw the legs to tabletop. Bicep curl with a bicycle. So I extend and reach.
(deeply exhales), Elbows hovering. Five, four, keep your gaze fixated slightly higher than the knees. Three, two, one. So hold here, flip the knuckles up. Straight legs up.
Back to where you were. Low abs here (deeply exhales). Up, down. Up, down, this is five, (deeply exhales) four, (deeply exhales) three, (deeply exhales) two, (deeply exhales) one. (deeply exhales) Switch the legs and here we go.
Cycle the legs. (deeply exhales) Elbows up. (deeply exhales) Stay lifted. We're almost there. Three, two, one, hold it here.
Straight legs up. This should be the other leg. If it's not, be sure to change it. Stay lifted (deeply exhales). Low belly here.
(deeply exhales) Last five, four, three (deeply exhales), two (deeply exhales), one (deeply exhales). Bend the knees, lower the feet. Drop back if it feels right. Nod the chin, use the straps, flex the spine up. Counter stretch.
Awesome, take both straps in one hand. Turn around. So here's an exercise that I'm sure you've done before. But I'm gonna give you some preparatories so that you can enhance it. Teaser on the long box.
Now I still have a red spring on. You could change to a blue. But what I want you to note is that a blue spring is less stable than a red. So even though it's lighter, it might seem easier, the carriage will be more wobbly. So just be aware of that.
Again, I'm sitting towards the first third of the box. This is very important, because I need room to lie back on. So make sure you're not sitting in the middle. Hands are long by the sides. Breathe in to prepare.
So to get into the position, it's not my goal to come into a C-curve. Instead, the thorax and cervical spine stays long, but my pelvis rolls back away from my femurs. Legs come up. Option to cross the ankles and open the knees, let's do that today. Now just working the teaser, balance, five times one.
Now if this seems scary, intimidating for you to start, try having hand weights instead of the straps. That way, you're eliminating the moving surface underneath you and you're mastering the biomechanics. If you need to break in between, you can. I'm gonna move on. Criss-cross opposite ankle.
Roll back. Notice how I'm keeping my arms up. (deeply exhales) Flex, lift. Roll back. (deeply exhales) Flex, lift, three more.
Massage the spine. (deeply exhales) Two. (deeply exhales) And one. We'll take a break after this one. Deep in that C-curve.
Arms down, legs down. A little break here. Well done. So if those two modifications worked well for you, stay with them, if you'd like to progress. Finding that flexion bias, so cervical spine, thoracic spine, they're tall, they're long.
Pelvis rolls back away from the femurs. Legs draw up. Ankles cross to modify. Circle the arms. Four times.
So I'm working the shape here. (deeply exhales) Abs are in. (deeply exhales) Pinkies and thumbs level. That's important. Reverse your circles.
Wide and down. Three. Two. And one. Adding on.
Now the spine will go into a C-curve. You see I have dropped my chin, hold my ribs back and in. Salute, I press. And bend, let's criss cross those ankles. Press and bend.
Abs in, press, and bend. Last three. Feel that pressure oppositionally as the arms go forward. Two, into belly connect. One.
And take it down, flex forward, breathe it out. So I've given you four opportunities to really perfect that teaser shape. Keep working on that. If it's appropriate for you to move into the full, let's do it. Take those legs long.
Allow your upper body to drape back. So after all that flexion, this extension feels like heaven. Connect those inner thighs. Let the head drop back. Check it out guys, because there's a certain order that makes a big difference.
So I nod my chin towards my chest. As I begin to engage my arms, I imprint, so I feel those ribs drop down to the box. That gives me the green light to go ahead into the lift. The arms lower down, chest is open. Three times, lift one.
Inhale. Two (deeply exhales). Inhale. Three (deeply exhales), arms stay. Begin to roll down.
Once I feel my ribcage into the box, that's when it's okay to release the legs. So at no time am I allowing this enormous lordosis to happen in my lower back. Here's the modification. Nod the chin, scoop, get into those external obliques. Once I'm there, I'm ready to come up.
Knees can bend. Inhale. Exhale (deeply exhales). Work on perfecting it, not just finishing it. All right, it's about how we do it, not what we're doing.
Extend the legs if available. Leave those arms, massage the spine. Once the low back is imprinted, ah, then we release. Okay, one more. You pick which one you liked better.
Straight legged or bent. Here we go, find that scoop. (deeply exhales) Inhale, chest open. Evolve in your exercise. Finish strong (deeply exhales).
One more. (deeply exhales) Take it down. And release it. Excellent. It's okay to just drop the straps here, guys.
Use your upper body. You might that help to flex up and over. Enjoy the stretch. Rise on up. Really good, it was hard.
Come on off. Before I turn the box around, I'd like to do some superman jumps with the arms. You'll see in just a moment why I call them that. So I've got mid bar position. I changed to a red spring.
Long box still. The easiest way to get on is take the hip on first. Now I have a lot of my upper body hanging off the front of the box. The more of the upper body you have, the more your back extensors are going to work. Heels of the hands push on, you press away.
So the first thing I want to do is set the shoulders down on the back. Legs are alive and active. We could even do a little elevation, depression of the scapula. Now it's not my intention to be in extension here. Not yet, we'll do that in a second.
So stay long like a torpedo. Elbows bend towards the wooden rails, and I jump (deeply exhales). Awesome. (deeply exhales) Now, let me tell you why this is great and it's not just for toning your delts. So I have this moment where I am weightless, I'm just hanging out here, right?
So what I have to do is engage all the muscles in my back in order to hold my body up. I also have to engage my pelvic floor deep stabilizers because there's this anticipation that's happening. Muscle sequencing. Super important for everything that we do. Core before peripheral limbs.
Now you're feeling that burn, I know. Stay with it. Five, four, three, don't let the legs die, two, and one. Come in, good job. Press out.
We've got some extension coming up, so let's warm up the spine. Set the shoulders, inhale, soft elbows. Exhale as you press away. (deeply exhales) Set the shoulders. You see how the whole spine is extending evenly.
Let's get that center spine to mobilize, the part that's the tightest. Up. It's like I'm presenting my chest straight up to the wall in front of me, one more, up. And press, you know what, I want to do one more because there's something I want to explain. As you lift, your elbow should be soft and I'll tell you why.
If you can soften your elbows, you can fire into your lats. They're very important in this exercise. If you're able to hyperextend the elbows, not only is it elevating your shoulders. but turns off your lateral system. So soft elbows so that we can get that true and healthy extension.
Good, bringing the carriage in. So we're ready to swing the box around. Pivot it to short box position. Move the foot bar up to high. Great.
I'm just gonna add a couple more springs to stabilize it. So I've got three reds on right now. So back extensor work, you're also gonna feel the glutes. I like to begin this exercise by kneeling on the box or on carriage, I'm sorry, facing towards the box and then from here I can pick myself up and place my hips and pelvis on. I can start to inch myself forward until I feel like I'm in the right position.
The more of my upper body that's hanging off the box, the harder it's gonna be for me to support. So if you have any low-back issues, you should be back here, okay? So please pick what's best for you. Think of your barrel series. We do this a lot using the small barrel.
Pull your ribs in and up. Let the whole upper body drop down. Before you begin, guys, there's a triangle of pressure that needs to happen in the pelvis. So press your pubic bone down. Press your hips down.
Keep that triangle indent into the box. Lift up, inhale. Exhale to lower. The entire spine lifts evenly. To do this incorrectly, would look like this.
So I'm lifting for my heart center, the back of the neck is long. You might may be able to really lift into extension, but make sure it's coming from a place of integrity. Last three like this. Inhale, up. (deeply exhales) Last two.
(deeply exhales) Last one. And release. Now if you need to take a stretch, feel free to. Child's pose, Cat stretch, listen to your body. You can also increase the challenge by adding rotation.
Only do that when you're ready to progress. It looks like this. Lift up, inhale. Exhale, lift higher. Inhale, center, exhale, lower.
Lift up, inhale. Exhale, lift higher. Find your center and lower. So I go up. (deeply exhales) And I go down.
And I go up (deeply exhales) And I go down. One more each side. Up, reach. And take it down. Up, lift.
And all the way down. Hands on, knees on. And let's enjoy and stretch. That was very good. Flex the spine and release it out.
One more. Flex the spine. And release it out. Great. All right, all I need to do at this point is move that flipper out of the way.
I still have quite a bit of tension on these springs, so that the carriage stays stable. Taking a seat onto the box, tricep dips. Again, an exercise you may have done before. A little different twist still using the box. The hand could be either centered onto the box like this or for wrist issues here.
I'm gonna place my hands here, fingers spread, fingers pointing towards the foot bar, heels of the feet onto the foot bar. Feet together. Posterior tilt. (deeply exhales) Lift up. Inhale as you bend.
Exhale, press, lift. Now try to keep your weight back over your arms here. After all, it is a tricep exercise. Inhale, exhale, press. Inhale, exhale, press.
For three. (deeply exhales) Two (deeply exhales). And one. Take a seat. Take a stretch.
Adding on if you choose. Not only does this next variation increase the level of difficulty, it increases the coordination level. Spread the fingers. Chest is open. Hips up.
(deeply exhales) Tabletop leg. I kick when I go down. So now I have the weight of the leg pulling back towards my nose, increasing the challenge on my arms. Two. And one.
Other side. I kick up when I go down. (deeply exhales) Elbows point back. Three (deeply exhales). Two (deeply exhales).
And one. Take a seat. And take a stretch, you've earned it. Enjoy it. Great job.
So as I'm sure you started to notice, when you have a smaller base of support like the box, the level of difficulty goes up. Let's seize that principle for some mat work. So think back to your mat Pilates exercises. I move towards the front of the box, because I need this. Hands to the front of the box.
Flex the spine. (deeply exhales) Take the legs up. So I can widen my hands, but I'm not going to let go. Inhale, legs go long. Exhale, pull.
Inhale (deeply inhales). So there's nothing underneath my scapula. I'm holding myself up using my core, a little help from my arms. Last two (deeply exhales). Last one (deeply exhales).
Take it to a bicycle, 10 nine, (deeply exhales) eight, seven, way harder than on the mat, four, three, two, and one. Legs up. Straight legs down. Exhale and up. (deeply exhales) Straight legs down.
(deeply exhales) Inhale, lower. Hold those shoulders down on your back. Open the collar bones. Three more. (deeply exhales) Two, (deeply exhales) One.
(deeply exhales) Lower the feet. Flex the spine up and over. Oh, enjoy a break. But just a short one, we have more to do. Okay.
I hope this class is starting to get your creative juices flowing. There's a lot we can do with this. I have now my safety foot strap, getting ready for some side bends. Not a new exercise, just a hard one. I love it.
So this foot's gonna hold up my body. So don't point the toe, keep it dorsiflexed. Options for legs, guys: leg up, leg over, leg under. Leg under is harder. Let's do it.
Here we go, we're leaning. Fingertips to the forehead, inhale, lower. Now just pause for a sec. Lift up through here. Exhale.
Pause for a sec. Cinch more in here. 10 times. Two, chin up. Three.
Four. Close the ribs. Five. Do you remember what I was saying about how your lats help to engage your obliques? See if you can feel it now.
Slide the shoulder down. Get more into that whole lateral line. Two more. One more. Rise up.
Take the foot onto the box. Take the foot out of the strap. Bring the femur behind you. Sit tall. Arms out.
Rotate. Place the hands onto the box. Think back to your barrel series. Chest open. Slight hinge forward.
Leg lifts and lowers. Up, so I am still into my obliques here, now I have a little more glutes, up. I'm not doing this. I'm lifting the knee. I'm focusing on the femur in the hip socket.
Up, abs in. Last four like this. Three, stay lifted. Two, one, take it back, back, back. This is a glut exercise.
If you don't feel it, then lift your leg up higher and you will, I promise. Press. Press. If this is getting into your low back, lean a little more forward. The more vertical, the more challenging.
Two more. Circle the leg up. Up. Up. Reverse, circle it up, up, up.
Hold it. Lift it an inch more and place it down. Let's take a mermaid, inhale laterally flex. Exhale (deeply exhales) towards the box. Inhale, press the box away, chest up.
Exhale towards the box. Take it back to the side, and all the way up over to the other side. Great. Are you ready to do it again? I'd like to do a seconds at triceps.
It's up to you if you want to do them with me. Here we go, heels and the feet on. Hinge forward. Inhale. Press.
Press, hips stay up. So second set, gives us an opportunity to perfect it. Keep those collarbones wide. Everyone likes strong toned arms, especially in those triceps. Three, two, one.
Sit back. Flex forward. Adding the legs, lengthen up. Press down, remember option hands here. Hips up and forward, tabletop.
Five, four, three, two, one, switch legs. Five, four, three, two, one. Take a stretch. Awesome. All right, guys, side bends.
Opposite side, other foot in. It's a great opportunity from this angle to watch what happened in the ribs. Sit very tall. Choose your leg position. This will be more challenging with ankle crossed behind.
Go down first. Now just pause. This would be incorrect. So get that lateral flexion. Pause, cinch, 10 times.
(deeply exhales) Two. Three. Go for length. Reach to the crown of the head, four. Set the shoulders, five.
This is six. Stay with it. Seven. Full into the front belly, eight. Nine and 10.
Awesome. Take the feet on. Take the leg behind. So I grow taller because I know that the more I lift up, the more rotation I'll have in my mid-spine. Slight hinge forward.
Here's the trick. That femur must be back behind you. The leg will lift, up, (deeply exhales) and up. This would be incorrect, so get that knee to come up. And up.
Last four. Three, two, hold it up, kick it back, 10, nine, stay lifted, eight, seven, pull in from the center. You're stronger there. Last five, four, three, two, one. Circle it up.
That's the key, up. Up. Reverse. Four, three, two, and one, take it down. Here's your mermaid.
Grow tall. Rotate. Flex the spine. Inhale, extend the spine. Come back to lateral flexion.
Let's see that one more time. So I go up and over. Exhale, flex the spine. (deeply exhales) Inhale, lengthen. Flex, come back through.
And all the way up. And release. Great, definitely feeling my obliques. And definitely feeling my seat. Changing the springs here, let's have a nice light spring.
I'm gonna be doing one blue spring. The box will go onto the front part of the carriage. So I pull it out slightly so that I can place the box on. Once it's on secure, make sure that there's even access on both sides so that is secure. It's safe for you to come unto your elbows and forearms.
Placing my feet against the shoulder blocks, I'm coming into a modified plank. This is a great variation for somebody who's strong enough to do a plank in their center, but perhaps should not be doing weight-bearing exercise on their wrists. Elbows are underneath the shoulders. Press up. So let's take a second to find it.
Scoop the belly, holding abs up and in. Just as we do on the Reformer, rock forward. Rock back. Rock forward. Rock back.
Thinking of our long stretch and press. (deeply exhales) Pull up and in from your center. Don't be afraid to connect through the seat. (deeply exhales) Last two. (deeply exhales) Last one.
(deeply exhales) Take a small break. Stretch back if you need it, adding on. Nice neutral spine here. Pull up from the center. Press back.
This time just the knees, bend them in. (deeply exhales) In. (deeply exhales) In. (deeply exhales) Each time I press my legs, my tummy draws in and up more. Four.
(deeply exhales) Three. Two, one. Take a break. Great. Taking it to the side.
I love this variation because it allows people to execute your side bend series without having any limitation in the wrists. You know it. We've done it before, arm up, flex, scoop, lift. Inhale. This is not a variation that makes it easier.
It's not easier. It's just different. (deeply exhales) You can really feel those obliques concentrically, really lifting you. So bring the carriage in. Last three.
(deeply exhales) And two. (deeply exhales) And one. (deeply exhales) Great job, other side. Set it up. Find the elbow position.
Take the twist. Arm comes up, stay lifted through that underside. Flex, scoop, and up. Lift and open. Flex, scoop.
And up. (deeply exhales) Good work, guys. Keep that shoulder down the back. Last three. (deeply exhales) And two.
(deeply exhales) Last one. (deeply exhales) Awesome. Take it down. Enjoy a nice little Child's pose. Breathe it out.
We've done a lot of cardio. We've done a lot of great core work and upper body. We have earned some stretches. So I placed the box on a long box position. I'll keep just the one blue spring on, standing behind it.
Chest is open. Standing pigeon. So one legs comes up, but is flexed. You may find it's quite challenging for you to get your shin down and level like this. So if your leg's a little lifted, stay here, breathe into it.
Allow the glute to open. It will release in time. If you'd like to intensify, step your back foot back. This lowers your body, increases the stretch. Chest open, inhale.
Exhale, if it's available, fall forward. Taking those arms out in front of you if you like. Breathe into it. (deeply inhales and exhales) Coming back up. Switching sides.
You may notice also that one side feels very different than the other. It might appear different. So that's a little signal for you, there's an imbalance. Let's work on correcting it in time. Step back.
Chest open. And hinge forward. (deeply exhales) Take those arms forward if you'd like. This is your time to stretch, you've earned it. Do what feels right for your body.
Great work today, guys. The last thing I want to do is just a little back mobilization standing facing the equipment. Knees a few inches away from the shoulder blocks. Breathe in as you float the arms up. Exhale, flex forward, belly in and up.
Inhale as you press out. Lift your toes, fan them. Drive the heels down, lift the sacrum, bend elbows and press. (deeply exhales) Last two. (deeply exhales) And one.
(deeply exhales) Flex the spine. And again, press out. Bend the elbow, exhale as you press. And two. And one.
Flex the spine. (deeply exhales) One more, press out. Pelvis tilt up anteriorly. Shoulders slide down the back. And one.
And flex, begin to rebuild the spine, one vertebra at a time. Head is the last thing to come up. We did a great job with this one. A really rough work out. I hope that you liked it.
Again you can pick and choose elements of this workout and incorporate them into your favorite Reformer classes. You can do this workout in its entirety. But it is a good full body workout, a little bit of cardio as well. I encourage you to think outside the box within the house of Pilates. There's a lot of great fun exercises we can do.
So keep those creative juices flowing. Thank you for watching.