Class #2023

Detailed & Thorough Reformer

45 min - Class


We are so excited to welcome back Deborah Lessen! She teaches a detailed and thorough Reformer workout that will make sure you find a deep connection to your abdominals. Enjoy variations to exercises like Coordination, Swan, Front Splits, and much more!
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video


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Hi, I'm Deborah lesson and Christy is going to do a reformer workout. We're just going to start with a little articulation through the spine. The foot bar is up three springs feet hip width apart, and on your exhalation you're going to empty out through the abdominals, peel off through the tail, roll up one vertebra at a time. Good. Come all the way up onto the shoulders. Take a deep breath at the top, exhale and come down one vertebra at a time and release the tail at the bottom and exhale, empty out. Inhale, come high enough that you open the bottom ribs. Exhale as you soften, drop the stern on the roofs, fold back in and inhale at the bottom. One more time.

Exhale, empty out. Inhale, high up. Exhale, soften and roll. Release the hips at the bottom. And of course if you need more repetitions to feel more warmed up around the pelvis, go right ahead. In the meantime, Christie's going to take her knees up to her chest and I'm going to lower the foot bar down and take a spring off. So now we're on two springs and you can take the handles and we're going to do a preparation for coordination. So I call this chair position, like you're sitting in a big chair, pressing the heels together, but the knees are open and arms straight up to the ceiling.

So first just the arms. Exhale as you lower the arms and inhale, taking them back up again. Exhale as you lower and inhale. And now exhale round the spine as you pull the arms down. And as you inhale, you roll back one vertebra at a time.

Exhale as you lower and inhale roll back down. So head and tail are on the Mat. Once more, exhale, round, head and tail are off the Mat. Now as you roll down, just bend your elbows and start again in neutral. Now I do this with three exhalations instead of two. So you're going to exhale, arms and legs stretch forward.

As you round your spine, accent the legs together, the knees come deep into the chest as it you're using your legs to push the air out. And inhale, bend the elbows as you roll head and tail down faster. Exhale, stretch x scent, knees in. Inhale back more. Exhale, exhale, exhale. Inhale back and exhale. Exhale. Good. Now right into the hundred. Exhale into position and inhale for five and exhale for five.

Now I just want to change this up for some of you who hate the hundred. Take one leg up, press the other foot down on the foot bar to help you get your hamstrings working and round under in the lower body. And now on your next exhalation, just switch legs. Good. So the leg that's up helps you scoop under the leg that's down, gives you that feeling of your thigh falling away from your pelvis.

And now just try one breathing with both legs in the normal position and hopefully you're much deeper in the abdominals. Good. And when you're finished, just lower the licks and roll back and the arms come up. Excellent. And now we're going to come up on the box for pulling straps. Okay, so this is a slower class.

And so I'm taking this down to one spring. And Christie's going to come on her stomach with the bottom ribs on the front edge of the box. Okay, Bang, grab the straps. Now I want her to stay in extension for the entire exercise. So she's in a little slight arch in her upper back, which gets her shoulders in a good position where she can outward rotate at the top of the arms. So you're going to move your arms like a sys down and back toward the hips and down and forward. Good.

And you don't have to come very far back. You want to stay nice and wide through your middle, back and down and forward. Good. Two more. Good. So imagine your body moving forward through space. Good and down forward.

And now you can slide your hands into the loops in the same position in your upper back. Open the arms wide. And again, you're in a slight arch so you can outward rotate here. Keep the Scapula nice and wide. In the back and inhale as you pull the arms in toward the body and exhale forward. And I want you to take your hands even lower, more like toward the front of your hips as you close. Okay. That's it. Good.

So then you don't do that scapular abduction. Good. And one more time. Inhale. Okay. And exhale open. Good. And you may dismount.

And we're going to put a second spring back on. Well actually you're going to come on your back now and let me help you since I'm here. So we're going to do backstroke swimming on your back. Tail at the front edge of the box. Hmm? Yes. Knees to the chest. Okay.

So the feet are together. The knees are slightly open, so they're going towards your ears. The whole spine is inflection. Take the arms and legs high up to the ceiling. Open the arms and legs wide. Yes. Scoop and reach forward. The thumbs come together over the thighs deep in the hole.

Curve to come back in. Inhale up turnout, exhale, reach and the knees come in toward the ears. Inhale up, open reach and come back in. Now just frost your feet here. Take your arms up to the ceiling. This is my add on exercise I call crucifix.

So you're still inflection and right from under your sternum. You're going to take your whole upper body back. Circle the arms around scoop to your sit bones. Good. Keep the curve. Take the arms high up to the ceiling. Go all the way back, stretch your abdominals, arms open.

Scoopin. So I really want you to work on folding through the upper body. Once more. Inhale all the way back. Exhale, scoop. Take the hands back into the temples.

I'm going to take the handles and I want you to wiggle back so that your shoulders are off the back edge of the box. Okay, now we're still in the same position. Feet together. Knees Open. You're going to hold onto your shins and give yourself a hug. Okay, so we're going to do two levels of this and just do what's comfortable for you. You're going to exhale. Reach your arms and legs to me. Yes. Inhale, go all the way back. Circle the arms. Head comes in, fold in and give yourself a hug. Again, x hair. Inhale, circle, exhale, fold, and hug. Now you can try the next one if it's too much for you.

Just do what you have been doing already. You're going to fold the chest and roll up. Good. Roll down, bend the knees in and give yourself a hug. X. Inhale, exhale scoops. So you stay behind your sip phones.

You're in teaser position. Roll down and give yourself a hug. Last time. Exhale. Inhale all the way back. Soften the chest. Come high up. Just take your balance.

Keep your legs long as you roll away from them. Bend the knees in. Give yourself a hug. Good. And come on up. Excellent. Okay, so now we're going to do a preparation for Swan. I'm adding a third spring. Um, this equipment is a little different for me, so we'll, we may have to take another, a couple of steps.

You're going to come on your stomach and you're going to take your feet through the strap and just take your toes on the wood there. All right, so literally you're wedging yourself between the box and the frame. That's it. Comfortable. Yeah. How secured in my does my foot. Um, try to get your Mediterra whistles on there. Okay. Alright, now I want you to stand, so don't Relevate keep your heels down. Okay.

Hook your thumbs together overhead and hang all the way down. All right, so first you're going to trace your fingers up the wall in front of you, or in this case, out to the beach and up the mountains and stay and exhale and roll back down. Good. So you're reaching forward for through the sternum and standing on your feet as if you're standing on the floor and roll all the way down. Now we'll take it up a notch. So you're going to reach forward, pivot against the edge of the box. You're going to bend the knees and rise up, and now reverse stretch your legs and pitch out and all the way back down and reach forward. Inhale, pivot, stretch the legs and all the way down. One more time.

Reached forward. Inhale, bending the knees. Exhale, stretch and roll all the way down and let your low back stretch. Good. And you may dismount and we're going to move the box. Great. Good as it all should.

If it doesn't feel great, you may not be doing something that's good for you or you may not be doing it right. Okay. Now we're going to move on to stomach control. So you're going to come sit right on the edge of the box and your feet are under the strap and you're pressing outward so that you're stabilizing with your ab ductors. Okay, so you're going to come into a deep curve. The arms are loosely folded and they stay parallel to the floor. So just round your back. And before we start, inhale into my hands and exhale.

Inhale into my hands. On Your exhale. Roll down towards your low back and stay. Inhale into my hands. Exhale, deepen and roll back up as you inhale. So just let the arms float up. Stay round. So this is just like those waves coming in and out.

Inhale into my hands. Exhale as you roll down. Stay. Inhale, exhale, deepen, and reach the elbows forward and the low back back. Exhale as you roll down. Now from the top of your neck, float the face up, breathe into your back. Exhale, deepen, and roll back up and exhale as you roll down.

So keep the neck in the curve of the spine and just float the face up. Exhale, deepen. Good. And we're going to do one more exhale as you roll down. Breathe into the back as you float the face up. Exhale, deepen. Good. Now we're going to add the arms.

So you're going to exhale down the same way. Float the face up, float the arms up, bring the arms in the head in, and inhale, breathing into the back. Exhale as you roll first the face, then the arms, arms in, head in, deepen, and inhale up. One more time. Exhale as you roll down. Inhale, lift, exhale, deepen. Inhale, and rest. Very good.

Okay, so this exercise gets more and more difficult because you're taking more weight back behind your pelvis. So each time you add more weight going back, you have to deepen an anchor into the pelvis. Okay, so Christie, now if you could turn to the front, you're going to keep this foot under the strap. Parallel to the floor. This foot is going to come under your calf. So this is probably different than how you learned it and you're going to lie down on your side. That's it.

Good. All the way down. Just hang all the way down. Yes. Okay. Now if this is a difficult position for you, you can take your left hand behind your head. You all right? Okay.

And you can take your right arm down by your side and let's just do a couple that way. So on your inhalation, you're going to take your fingers out the window and just roll back down. So this is very small. You're really moving above the pelvis. Good. Now if you want a little more challenge, take both hands behind the head, you're still hanging off the strap and just contracting above your hip. And if you want a little more load, take your thumbs hooked out overhead, long arms, and inhale up. That's it.

And exhale down. So you're gonna stay down here. You long gait the underneath side, that's it. And down. One more time. Reach and hangover and stretch. Good. And now that you've used these muscles, they'll really stretch for you.

Good. And I usually say to my clients, when you're bored on this side, then it's time to go to the other side. Okay? So you're going to slide this flip down under your calf. Basically, you're getting your leg out of the way so that you can lie down right on your waist or some facsimile thereof. Okay. Alright, so let's just go right for straight arms. And those of you at home that want to modify, please go ahead. All right, so inhale up and exhale and go all the way down. Stretch the underneath side and go all the way down.

Three more literally is if you're tracing your walls, your walls up your fingers, no your fingers up the wall and exhale down. One more time. Inhale up and exhale down and hang and really let this stretch. Good. So in this position, you want your top hip right over your underneath hip. We all tend to spiral a little bit in one direction or another.

So try to get a direct profile. Hm, good. And when you're ready, come on up. And we're going to get rid of the box. Okay. And Christie, if you could put that on three springs, I know it already is, but on a four spring reformer, we want to use the two outside springs and one inside for balance, okay? And we're going to do your footwork now. So come lie down, toes apart, heels together.

You want to put your weight directly onto your fifth metatarsal. Even if you feel that your toes are hanging off on the top, it's okay. You can still move toward wrapping your toes on the Bar, but you must have weight on the fifth metatarsal. So you're going to inhale to take the carriage out and exhale coming back in. Good. And keep your ankles in a neutral position.

So it's not complete flection, it's just as if you were standing up on the floor. Good. Okay. And now bring the toes and heels together. The knees, you're still on the balls of the feet, particularly with weight on the fifth metatarsal. The knees are always slightly open so that when you straighten your leg, you don't inward rotate. Okay?

And these two bones right here are always apart. Okay. Heels are together so we can initiate a little bit down into the heels just there. Okay. And now open the knees as you come in. That's it. Inhale out and exhale. So this breathing may be opposite what you're used to. Um, when I trained with Corolla, all the foot work was done inflection. So the headrest was up with a pillow and you tried to get your low back down onto the mat.

But now I work in neutral spine for the foot work specifically because this is like rehearsing for standing up. Hmm. Okay. And now you're going to come up on the heels with the toes together and the knees slightly open. And I just want to guard you against coming so high on your heels that you feel like you're going to slip off yet you should have a little bit of weight bearing on the outer edge of the foot.

So inhale as you go out and exhale. Good. And you're still breathing into the same part of your back that you were breathing into on stomach control and backstrokes swimming. Good. And as you come in, the center of the knee goes out towards your little toe. Hmm.

Good. One more. And now we're going to come back to the ball of the foot. Toes in heels together. Knees slightly open. Go out to straight legs and stay. And Nice, slow, stretchy flex and Nice, slow, stretchy point. No wrap around and press the heels together.

So you have constant pressure between the heels and I just want to note how free and clear your neck is in this position. So those of you at home, don't worry about your low back being off the mat. It should be if you're in neutral and breeze nice and wide through your ribs. Good and bend back in. And now we're going to take the heels wide and again, you're slightly on the outside edge of the foot so that you have lift and support through your incite ankle bones.

So inhale as you stretch and exhale coming in. Good. And you can go to your full turnout. As long as the turnout comes from the top of the leg and you're not trying to crank your legs open from your feet. Good. Just register out there. Yes. Every time you get to straight legs, feel your tailbone and release your hip joints down into the mat.

[inaudible] very good. Okay, and bring your knees into your chest. Now there's also a full series of single legs, which we are not doing today, but just so you know that they exist. I just took a spring off. Now we're on two springs. Again, if you were going to do single legs, it would be on two springs, one less than the double legs. Okay, so now Christie, we're going to go onto short spinal massage feet in the straps. Okay. Now in your starting position, this is the same PyLadies v that we were in before. Toes together, heels together, knees. Either think of them towards your ears or just outside of your rib cage.

So you're going to stretch on the diagonal. Bring your legs toward you. Now you can use the straps for resistance and go up on the diagonal. Bend the knees halfway rolled down through the spine [inaudible] and bring your heels down. Inhale as you stretch. Exhale, rolling back.

Inhale as you roll up, open the knees. Exhale as you rolled down, tailbone and heels down. One more time. Inhale, exhale. Good. Roll heels down.

Okay, now I'm just going to lift the headrest here. If you want, you can do bend and stretch here. Just stretching out on the diagonal and bending back in. Now I usually don't do this anymore, but it's wonderful for people who have very tight, low back and really need extra work specially up through the inner thigh. Why don't you do it?

Um, because I do a lot of other leg work on other equipment. So the session is balanced in its entirety, not on each piece of equipment. Okay, so bend in for a minute. I'm going to take the head rest down again and now I'm taking the straps to put the extension straps on for long massage and that is the name that Corolla called these exercises. The spinal massage exercises different to Joe. I'm all, I can only assume that it came from Joe.

Okay, so you're going to put the feet in the straps. Take them to vertical, okay. Now you can do this either parallel or turned out, but you want to keep your legs vertical the entire time and your vertical line. I'm judging from your heel to your sit bone, so your legs may be a little further away from you. Then what seems right? All right, so you're going to scoop under, enroll straight up to the ceiling.

Good. Inhale, open hip with the part. Exhale, roll through the spine and licks together. Scoop and roll. Inhale, open. Exhale, roll. So you don't want your heels any wider than your rib cage. If you get too wide, you'll lose control. Scoop under.

Inhale, open and exhale. Roll down. And now we're going to reverse the direction. Starting open and scoop under elongate the entire body to bring the heels together. Exhale, roll down. Great place to work on your turnout at your hip joints and open. Exhale, scoop under.

Inhale together. Exhale, roll. Inhale, open. Exhale, scoop. Under, inhale together. Exhale as you roll. Good stay. Let's just do a few leg circles in each direction. So again, I'm going to raise the head rest up. Exhale. As you press down, circle open, and come back to your starting position.

So let's do three in each direction. Take care. Um, this, you can go as wide as you would like, but you don't want to go too low because you don't want to lose control of your pelvis. Good. Okay. Ben, the knees into the chest and you can give yourself your own head hug or I'll give you one. Okay. And let's take these off. Take your getting up because you just how to deep stretch for your spine and just check. But you're still on two springs. Hopefully you are.

I'm putting the handles back on because we're going to use them later. But now we're going to go on to kneeling knee stretch. So you're going to have your heels back against the shoulder stops. That's it. Round your spine, way under and sit as low over your heels as you can, but still wrapped around under the butter. Also the head is down, so you're going to stick all of your vertebrae out in, in the back. As you press the knees back, inhale and open the low back and exhale, come all the way back.

And so let's pick up the pace and exhale. Exhale, exhale, exhale, stay good. Change your back. Good. Same thing in extension. Inhale out. Exhale. Good and see how still Christie is keeping her pelvis. That's wonderful and hold in. Excellent.

And let's go right on to long stretch front. The head rest is up. Ready for you. So I want you actually to stand on the head rest so you can walk back a little bit. Good. All right. Now No. Think of keeping your weight up into your hamstrings here. You can very slightly round under just so that you don't drop your low back.

Inhale as you press out and exhale, chest forward through the arms. Inhale, pressing out. Good. And as you're doing this, always have awareness that your pelvis is not rotating, but your hips are squarely facing the floor. One more time. Inhale, exhale. Good. You may dismount and we're going to go on too long. Stretch back. Okay. Now I am not a stickler for the hand position. If this works for you, fantastic. If it's too much flection for your wrist, you can turn your hand around or you can even have it fingers out to the side. Okay. Do I have to be, you don't have to be flexed.

You can actually Relevate which brings your pelvis back a little bit and if you still feel too far away, you can put a roller in front of the shoulder stops. Okay, now you're going to round your spine head. Don't drop it, but just look straight ahead and keep your weight under and high up inside your arms. So this is like bowling. You're going to send your pelvis way out in front of you and deepen the chest and come back and high up inside your arms. That's the whole Shebang. Scoop back and high up.

So literally you're moving your ribs forward away from your arms. Very good. One more time and rest and you may dismount. Excellent. Okay, let's do elephant. I'm going to leave you on two springs. Um, I would say you could try one spring and see if it worked better for you. But I think I know your body well enough. That two is great. Okay.

And also, Christie, if this is not enough stretch for your hamstrings, you're welcome to walk your feet further forward. How much does, um, it's good for me. Okay. All right. So am I meant to feel it? Stretch? Um, I want you to feel the stretch when you're bringing the carriage in. Okay? So start with the toes up. Drop your head towards your knees, your chest, towards your thighs. Just push back a couple of inches and scoop your pelvis under to bring the carriage back in.

So you're constantly pressing your upper body back towards your legs to give you resistance. Good. So as you come in, you're opening up these bottom few joints and you should get a nice stretch through the back of the leg in your cafs and rest. Very good. And you can come down. Okay. So let's go on to, um, chest expansion, which we're going to do sitting. This is how I learned it. Um, again, if you need one spring, do it. I think two springs is fine for you.

So you're going to sit here with your legs straight back across the head. Rest. Okay. Now the arms are down by your sides on your inhalation. The chest goes forward and up the arms. Go back and hold. Lift and rotate your head over your right shoulder.

Center the head and release the arms. And now we go to the other side. Inhale, lift and open. Rotate over the left shoulder. Center the head and release. Good. So you're wrapping around, lift and rotate.

So you almost have to counter rotate when you turn your head with the opposite shoulder. Good. Center and release. Now this is a little easy for you. So just do one set holding on here or you can double up on the handle and the straps. Okay. And you still want your palms facing back. Inhale, lift, rotate, center and release. Inhale, lift, rotate, center and rest.

So from day to day you can decide which challenge is better for you, more range of motion or more resistance. Okay. So now let's turn around facing the foot bar and we're going to do hug a tree. Looks are straight forward and the feet are flexed. Okay, so actually hug a tree is a name I learned much later on from Michelle Larson because that's the name that eve used when we did this exercise with Corolla.

The palms were facing down, the arm was sloped slightly downward and you're going to bring your hands together in front of the center of the chest and open wide. Good. So you're always projecting your body forward and up through space onto your legs. Good. Three more. And keep the elbows just slightly soft. Yep. So that you don't hyper extend against the strap. Very good.

One more time and rest. Okay, let me take these and now I would like you to lie down again. And we're going to do a preparation for semicircles without pushing arm's length. So we're just going to be toes apart. Heels together. Same position as your foot work. Okay? Okay. So weight on the fifth metatarsal knee, slightly open. You're going to step into your heels and push halfway out.

Hold it right there. Articulate up through the pelvis. High Up. Now you're going to bring your pelvis up and over towards your feet and roll back down and press halfway out. Scoop under. Keep the heels down. Yes, yes. See if you can get a little higher in here. Good.

Come up and over and exhale as you rolled down. One more time. Press scoop under. Inhale up. Now I want you to make the transition right here. So you're going to go up and out. Stay there. As you roll down, drop the hips, whoop and scoop under an up. We'll get it next time. Up and out.

Stay there and rolled down. Drop the hips. That's it. Come in and scoop under an up last time. Up and out. Exhale as you roll down. Release. Beautiful, good.

And breast. Okay, so it's really good to be able to do this well before you push out arms. Close. Fingers lengths. All right, so I'd like you to come up now kneeling, and we're going to do a parallel stretch. Yes. Okay, so bring your right foot up onto the bar in front of your hip. And I want you to start standing up on your left leg and you're going to put your right in your hands, right on your knee. That's it. So this is the starting position. Now the movement, you're going to scoop. Let your head go down inside your knee.

Push out with your right leg, just your right leg, and you can take your hands on the bar if you want and stay good. So we want to get this first stretch with the hips really square. Now if you can push back with the left leg and only go as far as you can. Keep your hips square. Good. Now you're going to stay out. Bend the front knee, chest forward and up. Take your hands back on you knee.

Bring your spine up to vertical and zip back in. Good. So take your time, especially if this is new for you, you're going to scoop under, gets your abdominals way back, empty out. Good as you're straightening your right leg. Take your hands on the foot bar, finish that leg completely, and then stretch the other leg. Now as if her tailbone was going forward.

You're going to hold that back there. Go forward through your spine. Bring your chest up, take your time, walk your hands back to your knee, bring yourself vertical, and then scoop back up. And let's change to the other side. Excellent. So it's too much to just draw, dive in and stretch both legs at the same time to be safe. Stretch the front leg first. All right, now in your starting position, come back onto your right leg.

Now Christie, you got to drop your left hip. That's it. Yes, we all reveal our special things. So you're going to scoop under dropping the left sit bone. As you straighten the leg, stretch the back leg. You're going to move forward through your spine. Come up through the front. Good. Excellent.

Walk your way back in and lift up. Excellent. One more time. So actually the more tension you have on the springs, the better your balances. That's it. Straighten the front leg, stretch the back leg. Go forward through your sternum. Good.

Keep pushing with your back leg to bring yourself up. Dad. Sit and lift up and that completes our workout.

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1 person likes this.
That was wonderful. Loved the clear concise delivery. Lots of variations I can't wait to try.
2 people like this.
Just beautiful. I cannot wait to try this when I get to the studio. I love the que "relaxing the front of the hips into the mat". I only hope my hips can obey!
3 people like this.
What a treat to be able to watch such a seasoned and brilliant teacher! Thank you!
Elizabeth V
Loved how methodical she is. And the way she always mentioned the spring load was great. Thank you.
1 person likes this.
Hi Deb!! Thanks for this class. Very specific cueing that is helpful for me as Pilates Anytime is my teacher/coach. You mentioned that you do a more comprehensive class mixing the apparatus. I would love to see a class with a reformer, chair and barrel that I could do at home. Glad to see you are doing well!
Helen H
I love you Deb! My favorite pilates class ever! Thanks for the great stretches. I feel so flexible and strong. And learned so much from your excellent delivery. Oh please offer more.
James M
2 people like this.
Thank you Deborah and Kristi. I loved that version of the Front Stretch.
"If it doesn't feel great you may not be doing something that's good for you..."

Top of the gratitude list today! xoxo
Thank you so much deborah and kristi. Loved doing another class with you deborah. Xoxo have a great day molly
Good class
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