Class #2976

New Client Programming

45 min - Class


As another follow up to the First Time Client workshop, Alycea Ungaro shares a program she imagines Saundy would be doing after about 30 sessions. She starts on the Mat, with exercises that could be used for a home program and then moves on to the Cadillac and Ped-O-Pul. She focuses on transitions and creating an internal resistance to set Saundy up for success so she can build strength in a safe way.
What You'll Need: Ped-O-Pul, Cadillac, Mat, Mixed Equipment

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Hello, we're back and I'm Alycea Engarret and this is Jackie and she's going to pose for me today as an alter ego to a client I taught in the first time client workshop, and her name was Sandy. Sandy had never done Pilates before and she was pre osteoporosis, so we worked on the reformer and introduced her to some of the mat work and then we did some great wall work with her. She wasn't a regular exerciser, she was a very active walker she had good mobility, but she had a little bit of a round upper back and she struggles with her posture and we actually worked a lot on this sort of internal lifting so we're projecting out now and Jackie's gonna help us sort of see into the future in our crystal ball and see what Sandy might look like, what her program might look like 30 sessions out, so according to Joe Pilates, 10 sessions you'll feel different, 20 sessions you'll look different, 30 sessions you'll have a brand new body, so in a perfect world, we're 30 sessions out, we're with that same client and we're having a look at what her program might look like. I have decided to focus on the mat and the Cadillac and the penna pole for this session. Having said that, I could change my mind as we go, so be forgiving, but I think that we're gonna probably stick to the mat and load her up with springs.

Osteoporosis is something that you really want to work resistance with, but I also want her to have a home program, so there are some really good options for the mat. So let's get started. Put a button on it, we put a button on it. Okay, we're here on the Cadillac, so Jackie I'm gonna ask you to put your head down this way and your feet down that way, good. Bring your knees into your chest.

Okay, so... Sandy was not osteoporotic yet, so some of the contraindications around no flexion or modified twist, all of that, it's not ruled out at this point so I am going to do some of those movements with Jackie, I just want to let you know where my head is so you're not thinking that that client can't do that, she can do many of those things and did do them in her first session. So we're actually gonna start with 100 and in that first session, we actually did a modified version with the knees bent and the feet on the mat, so go ahead and lower these and put your feet flat, and I just want to revisit that because I want to show you where I might bring her after this, so curl up your head and shoulders, reach your arms nice and long. You're not gonna do 100 here, just like 30 of them, inhale, two, three, four, five, exhale, two, three, four, five, in with the air, out with the air, one more time, in, two, three, four, five, out, two, three, hold it right here. Slide our feet out a little further and then extend one leg up, keep the knees together.

Does that feel okay? And then the other and I'm gonna stabilize her and stretch the other leg up to meet her. Good, abdominals are on and start to pump again. Inhale, two, three, four, five, exhale, two, three, four, five, in, two, three, four, five and out, two, three, four, five. Keep going, three more sets, so the transitions, getting in and out of things, are what I'm gonna focus on being really important because this is the client that a sudden move is where she's at risk and so we want to be careful that we carefully set her up for success, yes, take one more set, breathing in and breathing out and we're gonna get out of it the same way we got in, so stop pumping, bend one knee, foot down, and then the other knee, foot down, and you can roll down on your back, how's that?

Good. Good, so let's do a roll up, but we're gonna do from the front to the back or top down, I like to call it so swing yourself up to sitting. There's a strap at the top, no, so flex your feet, legs nice and long and reach your arms over your legs. Drop your head, palms down, good and so not too rounded, not too rounded, because Sandy had actually quite a rounded upper back, so I don't want to reemphasize that, I want to get out of that, but I do want her abdominals to start to work. So squeeze your seat and start to curl yourself backward.

And we're not gonna go all the way down, we're gonna go halfway down, curl back, curl back and stop, does that feel like a challenge? Could be a challenge, squeeze the seat, squeeze the stomach, I'm gonna hold you less and less and less. And then round yourself back over and reach for the toes so we're not going all the way down and all the way up. Curl back to hold, squeeze your seat, reach the arms, flex the feet, work the legs and then exhale and round all the way up and over again. Go back and two and three, hold it there, squeeze, squeeze again, squeeze more, can't squeeze too much, big exhale, so working the glutes, so important to protect that lumbar and again, go back.

People forget you gotta work your glutes if you want to protect your back, squeeze, two, three and come back. And then for Sandy because I do want her to gain strength, I'm actually gonna add a little bit of repositioning of the arms, so go back, two, three, I'm putting on my PT hat here for a minute, squeeze, don't move anything. Now just raise your arms up, (hums) and then lower your arms down and then come forward, so we're just loading her abdominals in a different way. And then eventually I might add the bar. Ooh, and then bring your arms down, so that she's getting even more load on the abdominals.

And then one more time, come back, two, three, hold, take the arms up, lower the arms down and round all the way forward and on this last time you can lower all the way onto your back. Warmed up? Yeah? A little bit, arms are down by the side. Leg circles are next.

Nothing wrong with leg circles for anybody, for anyone at all and it's not just osteoporosis, but pregnancy and we lose bone mass in our hips as we age, so it's so important to keep this exercise in your repertoire for a dozen reasons. Cross over the body, around and up, again, cross over the body, around and up, good, try to inhale on the across, exhale on the up, little breathing always gets the blood flowing and across the body, around and up, one more time, reach the arms around and up, let's reverse, go out down, around and up, and out down, across and up, out down, across and up, out down, across and up, one more time. Out down, across and up, bend your knee and give it a hug. Good, and then you're gonna slide it down and I want to take a look at your back when you take the other leg up, so for Sandy, because I really don't want her to flatten her back at all, I want her to work into her torso, so I'm gonna tell her something like bring the abdominals to the back and the back to the abdominals so everything's coming together in a corset way and she's really strengthening her torso. Over the body, around and up and cross around and up, over, yeah, you can really cross, over the body, there she is and up again, across the body, we get so much more comfortable with repetition.

It's okay to kind of keep going, reverse, go out down, around and up, out, down, across and up, again, out, down, across and up, two more times, out, down, across and up, one more, out down, across, hold and bend the knee and give it a hug. Beautiful, I often say that in teacher training, that because we have a limited number of repetitions for exercise only do four to six or five to eight, that number one is when it's right, so you start counting when the first one is right, take your arms up, that gives us a little bit of liberty. Roll yourself up to sitting and we're gonna do a modified rolling like a ball, so come to the front of the mat, hold onto your ankles, yes. And then balance there, so don't take your feet up in the air, I'm gonna stay behind her and I do this a lot for clients that I'm not sure have good balance or don't maybe feel comfortable on a raised platform so I'm actually behind her with my knee and my hand and I'm ready to brace her in case something happens, okay? Chin in, get deeper and rounder and lower.

And we're not actually gonna roll, you're just gonna pretend you're gonna roll, you're gonna start to roll, like curl your tail under a little bit, a little more, a little more, until you feel your abs go wait, wait, no, no, no, and then come back up, make sense? Curl again, curl again, curl a little deeper and then catch yourself before you fall down.. I'm gonna let go, you're on your own now and lower, lower, lower. And back up, good, Jackie, again. Lower like you're pulling your ribs away from the body, don't fall down and come back up, yeah, do you feel that moment where you just might tip, and roll, and again, I don't want Sandy to roll on her back and crack all her vertebrae, I just want her to build abdominal awareness and control, one last time.

Plus this gives her the opportunity to catch herself if she would fall like she's training her balance and reflexes as well, so, so important, last one, and curl, curl, curl and come up. Great, put your feet down, scoot yourself back, and roll yourself back down to the mat, so we're gonna do some of the abdominal series. I'm going to goo back and forth between a flexion and then an extension exercise, so I might like to pepper some bridges in as an alternate to kind of make sure that she's getting both sides of the body, again, just for her condition, not for a regular classical workout, bring the right knee in, this is your single leg stretch. Right hand on the ankle, left on the knee, this leg is up and you can aim for this trapeze as a sort of marker, like how high to put the leg, okay? Give me two good pulls here, one, two, change, one, two, keep going, one, two, and one two, as a rule, these unilateral exercises are gonna be better for delicate spines, delicate hips, instead of those double loaded exercises so if you've got a back or a hip thing or a knee thing or osteoporosis, these exercises are much more forgiving so choose the single leg versions, bring both knees in.

And bring them both in, good, and then rest your head and as an alternate, again, I'm weaving in these bridges so take your feet down to the mat, put your arms down by your side and lift your hips up. Super fun, walk your feet forward a little bit more. Nobody doesn't like a bridge and put all the weight into your heels so you start to feel something happening in the gluteal region or the tush. I'm gonna place my hands on her shins and tell her to push me away, that might cause flames to burst out of her rear end or her face might get really hot pink. That can happen, hold it, two, three.

Good, I'm gonna ease off, but I want you to keep the pressure, keep the pressure and this is a great home exercise for someone like Sandy, or anyone really, because you get all that good glute training. And then just lower yourself down. I'm not so worried about a lot of articulation, right, that's not the client to do that with. And then we're gonna bring the knees back into the chest and go back to our ab series, but not the double leg stretch We're gonna skip ahead to the scissors or the single leg stretch, so split the legs, take the top one up and this one out and again, aim for the trapeze, open your elbows and lift them wide and give me two good pulls, one, two, change, one, two, nice, Jackie. One, two, and one two, keep it going, and in, in, in, in, in, in, yeah, you can go ahead and tug it, grab it, go ahead, and pull, pull, you can knock yourself in the head with it, I don't mind, in, in, in, in, last four, right, right, left, left, right, right, left, left, good, let's go back to the bridge, so feet down, hips up and all the energy is pushing out this way through the knees, through the shins.

Yes, so then if I try to push you down I might not be able to even do it because you really charged everything up. Stay there for five counts, four, three, two, and one, come on down, good, bring the knees into the chest. And I'm gonna leave it at that, and I know we're 30 sessions ahead, but we still have some... Considerations that we have to be sensitive to. I don't want to push Sandy to the place where she is at risk, so I'm gonna be more concerned about adding exercises that are spring loaded and give her resistance training and less about the classic ab series so we are gonna stay with the mat work, but we're gonna skip ahead now to spine stretch forward, so go ahead and bring yourself up, and you can spin around and face that side, put your feet to the poles and this is something I started with Sandy on the first session and I probably would keep this and just increase it, is we did a version of the spine stretch forward with springs, so go ahead and hang onto this and it already sounds awful, right, 'cause you're like, that could be really terrible. (laughs) Lift up in the waist and the first way to start it and just by way of review is do nothing except press the bar down, press the bar down, yes.

Hold that there and then lift up in your spine, your abdominals get longer, keep pressing, keep pressing, keep pressing, oh, excellent and then float the bar back up and they're quite heavy springs. Again, press down with the bar so the more the springs open, the more your spine lengthens up, so two things happening at the same time, and then let the bar up, it looks good, I'm gonna give her a little bit more cuing. Press down with the bar and just lean a little forward into the bar, so push it, yes, yes, yes, and then roll your knuckles forward while you're there, ooh, and push the bar down two more inches, that's the fun zone and then let the bar come up, good, so that's how we started 30 weeks ago, we're gonna add on from there, I'm gonna ask you to push the bar down and then actually do a spine stretch forward, drop your head and round forward and keep the bar down and keep the bar down and keep the bar down, now roll yourself up, but push the bar down lower, and lower, and lower and at the very end, you can let the bar up, make sense? Four steps, press the bar down on one, round the body forward, two, keep pressing the bar down, it's not allowed to come up, as you sit up tall, the bar goes lower, lower, lower and then you let it all the way up and one more time, press down, note as a teacher that you see a lot of pink, muscles get pink when they're used, so I can see her whole skin tone is changing, that's kind of a good sign, keep pressing, roll up, and let the bar come up Excellent, so because we're not doing rolling and deep flexion, we're gonna skip over the... Open leg rocker, but I would like to do some kind of version of a corkscrew, which is like a tick tock that I always think is a good idea for this kind of client, so bring your legs together, you can bend your knees and then lower yourself to the mat, good, arms down by your side, take both legs up and because it's double loaded and sounds like it's dangerous for the back, open the heels, heels together, toes apart so that's your Pilates stance, you can keep them long, they don't have to be flexed, yes.

I'm gonna let you open your arms a little wider, and we're gonna take the legs over this way and you're gonna look that way and that becomes unpleasant pretty quickly, but it's important. (laughs) And come back to center, I'm gonna let go, okay? Squeeze your heels together and reach, two, three and back to center and now try the other way so we're gonna alternate directions, reach, two, three, and come back so not a lot of rotation but I do want some rotation, reach, and this is safe because she's got the floor under her, so how do we choose rotation exercises, I like this because it's supported. There's not a lot of risk here, she can't go too far as long as I'm around, reach, two, three. And up, last one, reach, two, three and come back, bend your knees in and down. I am gonna skip again, not do saw or anything like that bu it would like her to come onto her stomach now and start to get some extensions, so flip yourself around.

Ah, and we're gonna do the neck rolls, so flat palms and I want you to slide them back far enough that your elbows come all the way up like chicken wings is the best way to describe that, heels together, toes apart Now press your hipbones down into the mat. Abdominals are in and up, lift your head first, your chest second and come about halfway up and if you're not really sure how high that is, you can go too far and then lower a little bit. So Sandy had a lot of roundness up here and this is the kind of exercise that gets sort of right into that sweet spot and makes her work it. Even if she did a small, tiny barely lift at all it would be right in that zone, lower your body down. We're gonna add a little neck work to this, so press down.

Use the heel of your hand into the mat to really propel yourself up, hold it there, squeeze your body with your arms, there you go and now stretch the neck over one side, so you're gonna look to one side and then circle the chin down along the chest all the way to the other side before you look straight ahead and then start the other way, so look left, chin down along the chest to the right, now look center and lower yourself down, feels like work? Try again, and come up. And this is basic but I would leave it in the program the whole time because this is a great home program for Sandy, yes. Circle all the way down and around and then back and adding on from there, scoot back a little bit for me, Jackie, and then stretch your arms out in front of you like a baby swan, so you're gonna pick up your palms so they face each other and then lift everything up, legs, arm, head, chest, all of it. Hold it there, reach out longer, longer, longest and set it down, so again with Sandy, I'm looking for length Doesn't have to be huge motion, but it does have to be some kind of length, and this is a place to get it.

Reach up, (inhales) see if you can reach past the poles with the feet, with the arms so that all of this is getting that length that I wasn't able to get and it's not just sitting up and standing. This is a place you can get it and lower everything down. Try it one more time, lift up and reach, chest keeps opening Don't go higher, get longer, yes. See the different? It feels a little bit better and then bring it all down.

Sit back on your heels just to transition, yes. And this can be a very big back stretch if the knees are together, so with Sandy I always want to let her have her knees apart, actually, that stretches more of the hips, which can be just a little bit forgiving in the back, don't want to overdo those tender vertebrae. Yeah, come on out, let's do single leg kicks, so we're gonna prop up on the elbows, you're gonna stay on your belly, mmhmm, lie flat, there she is and I think we'll take knuckles all together, so they're in front of you like this, like two fists, that looks great, and the gut is up, and again, I'm focused on this lengthening in the waist, which was so hard to get that first session, but by now I'm thinking she's really got a good handle on, eyes up and chest a little open. I like that you're working in here but I still want your chest open, bend one knee and give me a double kick, in in, change, other leg, in, in, and in in, lift the belly, in, in, keep it going and in in, push down into the mat, in, in, and in in, keep going. Knees together, in, in, last four, open the chest, three, keep going, last two and two and one is enough, perfect, sit back on the heels, so because resistance is so important and we want to build muscle and teach her how to use muscle and because you don't always need weights to do it, just the action of tensing your muscles, positions like that are really important for her, she can really push down, use the mat, use the surface area you're on to build resistance, so I'm always gonna want to add things like that, okay?

Right, let's take some side kicks, so you're gonna come on out, lay on your side and face that way. And scoot all the way back to me so at the very, very back edge, and this is an exercise series I might well grab... Some ankle weights, like, actually weights to wrap around the ankles for this, take your head up on your hands so you can prop your head up like Jane Fonda style and come even further back, like as far back as you can get to the mat, I'll be back here, I won't let you fall off. (laughs) Promise, and take the legs all the way forward to 45 so they're almost off the edge, you feel more secure now? Yeah. Good, so this hand is gonna be your break, make it flat, flat palm and it's so far against you that you literally cannot move at all, and again, every position for her is gonna be about making resistance, so with this hand pressing into the mat, with this arm pressing against the body, there are no soft body parts.

That makes sense, right? Reach out with the leg, and this top one is gonna point and rotate, so just like that and that's all it does, it stays like that the whole time. You're gonna kick twice to the front, one, two and then you're gonna reach long to the back, so this guy can go long to the back, there's a pole here so just be aware, okay? And front, front, reach to the back and front, front, reach to the back, good, now I know she can do this on her own, but I need to give her a certain resistance, so I'm actually gonna stand here and tell her knock me down. Yes, good, now I have to hold down because I will fall down.

Kick to the front, one, two, and I'm gonna lean into her, push me down, come on, you feel it where? All there, that which I so want for her, and go. Kick, kick, now I'm gonna step away, you make that happen on your own, (groans) and kick, kick. Sorry for the growling, reach, reach, again, kick, kick, reach, reach, it looks like you could go much higher up to the front, reach to the back, two more, up to the front, reach to the back, one more. Up to the front, reach and hold, take this hand behind your head, and Sandy was struggling a little with balance, so this is a great add on to that, is.

We're gonna do five more, don't move anything, hold strong where you are, kick to the front, kick, kick, reach to the back, I swear you can go higher. Reach, reach, and to the back, again, all the way up to your face, ah, so much better and again, kick, kick, lengthen to the back, one more time, up, up, and reach to the back, yes, leg over leg, let's try a side kick, up to the side and I'm back into resistance mode, I'm gonna actually give her some pressure. Kick up and I'm gonna catch you and I want you to push me down, but don't get crazy, push, push, push and up, press down, two, three, and up, and press down, two, three, now I'm away, you make that resistance on your own and this is key to doing the mat at home for her, up and resist, two, three, and kick up and resist, two, three, one more time and resist, hold it there, it's in the air, don't rest it 'cause I want it to work as much as it can, tiny little circles to the front and show the down, down around, down around, down, without me, down, down, keep going, circle, circle, circle, this is four, three, two, hold it there, let's reposition the leg just behind and go back and two and three, I'm gonna let go, four, five around, six, seven around, eight, nine, hold it there. Leg over leg and you can imagine that this whole series done with some little weights on the ankle could be really quite miserable, right? Beautiful, rest it on your stomach please.

Make a little pillow with your hands, palm over palm and head on the hands and just check that you're dead center on the mat there with the legs and we're gonna do beats, so legs are gonna come up. Again, we're back in like a nice extension for her, so I really want her to lengthen her legs out. Don't worry about the feet beating, beat the upper, inner thighs and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, hold it there, try to soften that a little bit, good and set it down, we're gonna do the other leg but why don't you sit up and we'll still face forward, just bring your head to this end. So we'll do both sides, which is generally a good plan. And details for Sandy also include, you don't really actually just want to rest on your hand, you want to hold your head up and in a perfect world you'd have, the hand behind your head would be pushing against your head and you'd be pushing back so you could strengthen the back of the neck, doesn't that sound fun?

Heheh, strong palm, arm into the body, make a nice brace for yourself, reach this top leg out and let's do two kicks to the front, one two and one long, reach to the back and kick kick and now I'm here and you're gonna try to knock me down but just don't kill me and kick kick and then press, come on, glutes, come on and kick kick, reach, reach and now without me but the same feeling, lengthen back and kick kick. Yeah, so that internal resistance and learning how to make that internal resistance, so key for anyone on their way to osteoporosis land. And reach, and up up, reach to the back, one more time. Kick kick, reach to the back and hold it, this leg's a little different than the other one. Take this hand behind your head, let's do five more, hold strong in the body so nothing's gonna move anywhere.

Reach to the back, a little hard, yes? Up, up, and reach, so I'm getting a lot from this. For Sandy, I'm getting, the chest is opening so the upper back is getting some strength, she's getting torso stability which she so, so needs. She's getting all this hip and glute strength which is amazing for her, kick kick. Reach, reach, one more time, kick kick and reach reach, legs together, and with a little weight, it's even more resistance training, so right from here with gravity, you have resistance, we kick up to the side first, now push, push, push, and kick and a push, two, three and a up, now resist, resist, resist and up, two, three, keep going, up and resist, two three, and up, lengthen that a little longer, Jackie, little longer, there she is and reach, two, three, last time, reach, reach and hold.

Good, so no resting in between any of them. That keeps the muscles loaded, little circles, accent on the down, down, down, you still with me? Down, you can breathe, (laughs) Five around, six, seven around, eight, nine and a 10, let's go to the back, so down, brush the heel right by the other one, four, five around, six, seven around, eight, nine and a 10 is enough, rest the leg, you don't have to do beats on stomach again. That's the good news. (laughs) Lie on your back, actually, come to sitting, I think we'll come to sitting, perfect. Okay, I'm gonna be your anchor and we're gonna do a version of the neck pull that looks a lot like the short box flat back, does that make sense?

So let's take the feet hip width apart and flex them and I'm gonna hold you down so you have some support and you're gonna take your hands behind your head and we're gonna do a flat back reach back, so again, I'm not looking for a lot of spinal articulation, big left, hinge back, so flat back, that's all just like you would do I the short box with the pole and now come back up, lift the chest and come back up, again, lift up, hinge back, and come back home, again, lift, hinge, come back and pause, okay, so I'm not gonna be there, you're gonna use your seat a lot more, so the first move I should see is squeeze up, ooh, I like that, then hinge back, keep lifting and then pop right back up, excellent, again. Lift off, reach to the back, ooh, nice shaking and up, reach it back, come on home and last one, up, reach, reach, reach and come home, you can take a stretch over your legs, you earned it. So always referencing the system also is gonna be good for all your clients, by 30 sessions they should understand that these exercises on the mat can happen on the reformer, happen everywhere in the studio. Still good, all right, so we're gonna switch gears now and move into some spring work, so important for our osteoporosis, I'm gonna hook up some leg springs first, so why don't you lie on your back at this end, that'll be perfect and we will work, and again, by 30 sessions, she's probably done a whole lot of these, alignment is gonna be key, because she had that slight roundness in the upper back and she had a tendency to sort of tuck her tail under her. Gonna try not to kill you, Jackie, here we go, good, slide yourself back, grab the poles, yes.

And come a little higher than that with your hands. Perfect, good, so that's how far I want you and then the feet can come up and they'll slip into these loops, look at these beautiful pointed toes. Resistance, resistance. Pilates is resistance training. I always say this is the simplest way to explain it when people say, what's Pilates, and you get all crazy, I say, Pilates is resistance training.

We use springs instead of weights, that's it. Bend your knees. (sighs) Good, you can relax your feet, they don't need to do too much, okay? Drop your tail down, pull your stomach in, I am gonna just adjust you over a half an inch that way, here with your shoulders, yeah, and keep your hips here. Push out to me. Yeah, they're heavy, right?

And bend your knees in, again, press out. And bend in, now Sandy will have been here 100 times by now so she's, like, I got this, right? Press out and stay, now you know how heavy they are, right? Relax your feet, don't make them do all the work. We're gonna make some circles, we're gonna start at the top and then open down together, so I'm expecting she's gonna be a rock star and Jackie's got dancer genes, so she's gonna be a rock star too, so focus on the in and up, and in and up, got it?

And in, yeah, when I let go it's a little bit different and up, keep going, and in, and up, again. Circle down, and up, so very tempting to sort of tuck your tail up and that's actually what Sandy did too and with resistance added its sort of hard to get out of that, but I'm gonna keep cuing her to drop her tail down and sort of get out of her own way with that so she's working her spine nice and long. Keep going, two more that way and don't go too wide because the springs actually get softer or looser when you go too wide, let's reverse the circles. So open from the bottom, bring it up and press down, open lift, together down, there you go, open lift, together down, easy toes, and. So there's no place that's not getting work, and even for Sandy, I'm like push into the poles, get as much resistance as you can everywhere and press around and up, press around and up, one more time, press around and up, bend your knees all the way in, still good?

Take a breath, you're coming back out, push the legs up and out, good, and use the trapeze as a good marker, I think, good, we're gonna take a walk, so little shuffling steps, yes? Walking down, one, two, three, four, five, six, up, two, three, four, five, six, down, two, three, four, five, six, up, two, three, four, five, six, faster, down, two, three, four, five, six, up, two, three, four, five six, down, down, down, down, up, up, up, up, one more set. Up, up, up, up, bend, I think that's actually the most hateful one, these reciprocal moves, though, are really, really good for weightbearing exercises, for hips, for all kinds of conditions, come on back out, you're so not done, so we're gonna pedal a huge bicycle, one leg pedals down and out, you bend it in, uh-huh and then the other leg pedals and you let your knees open, the springs will just fall in between, look at that, came out all by itself so pedaling a huge bicycle, reach the spring as far as it'll go, as far as it'll go, open it up so it's maximum tension, reach and that's what I want for Sandy, maximum tension, maximum load as much as she can get out of the springs, taking that into her muscles and lengthen and lengthen. Lengthen, good, all the way down, lengthen, give me just a couple more before we reverse, reach, two more, keep pushing the poles back, still good? Mmhmm.

Good, and this is a reverse and reach out, good, make sure the leg that's extending is really going down the midline of the body, good place to spot for alignment and where you can see, oh, is something going on with one of those hips? And even on yourself, if you're on your own, if you left your head and just take a check, what's going on down there, are those feet landing in the same spot, they ought to be, good, last pedal set. Reach, and a reach, bend your knees, bring 'em on in. (sighs) So fun, we're gonna do Ron Dejam, so stretch your legs back up and out and these are tiny little circles that really look like UFOs, yeah, so the accent's gonna be in, it goes around and in, around and in, around and in, yes? On your own, around and in, yeah, harder without me, for sure, reach around and in, catch the tension of the spring, around and in, drop your tail, Jackie, drop your tail, don't let the tuck up to do the work, yes, better, reach and circle in and circle in and circle in, one more, this way you're gonna reverse it and out and in, yes, out and in, stay under the trapeze, out and in, the whole time, stay under the trapeze, ooh, that's so hard, reach, and circle, two more.

Circle and circle, bend your knees all the way in. I always say an exhale is the universal sign of effort, but I think, like, laughing is also a universal sign of effort, I'm gonna take these away. Still good? All right. Let's try some arm springs, you stay where you are, you're in good shape, I do have to make an adjustment with this little...

Pipey thing, so stay with me and I'll try not to clock you in the head, how do the legs feel? Yeah, (laughs) and by good you mean? (laughs) Yes, okay, so I'm coming down a little bit low and for Sandy, because I don't want her in so much flexion, I really do want her to do this with her legs all the way out, you do have some options and we can start to teach you, but by 30 sessions I'm assuming that we are ready to do this with our legs straight, so here come the arm springs, they have these pretty heavy wooden handles for the hands and when you reach it up in the air, you want no slack on the spring, so that means you're actually gonna slide kind of far down. Yes. Hold onto that, now that's probably a little far, but let's take a test, can you pull the springs all the way down? To the mat?

Just barely? Bring 'em up, I like just barely, just barely's like the perfect situation for me, move back a little bit and for osteoporosis, that's the perfect work, yeah, just barely, good, legs together, work into your Pilates stance, thankfully I'm here, so I'm gonna help you, okay, take a deep breath in. On one count, you get to the mat, you're gonna hold it for three, holding your breath, holding your breath, holding your breath, here's the exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, and we go again, inhale, press down, (inhales) hold your breath, hold your breath, hold your breath, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, let it all out, good and this again is a good place to see that she's got a nice, healthy spine alignment, she's not tucking, she's not arching, she's keeping everything as is, heels together, reach the springs open and let it up, let it up, let it up, so one arm might get a little shaky, that's okay, inhale, press down and hold it, good, use your lats, so your back muscles can push the springs even longer, what if I gave you that, could you push me away, yes? And then up, up, up, one more time, press down and hold it for three, hold it for two, stay on the mat, hold it for one and then exhale, exhale, exhale up, good. We're gonna go back to circles, they're small circles.

They're very much like those little UFOs you made with your legs, they happen right over the tops of your knees, so you're gonna make a little circle and accent's gonna be on the in, circle around, in, circle around, in, use the abdominals, squeeze. Okay, I'm letting go, you're on your own, reach, oof! And reach, three more that way, reach, circle around, in, one more time, hold it there. Here's the reverse, you're still gonna end here, out and around, reach, out and around, reach, with your feet, and reach, out around press, three more, and reach, and reach, one more time and reach, take your arms all the way up so for Sandy this is invaluable. All of that upper body strength working with resistance, this great healthy spinal alignment, non negotiable. Drop your elbows down to the mat, let's do one more for triceps, and hug your body with your arms, same idea, nice long wrists, same breathing pattern.

Inhale on one, get to the bottom, stay there for three. Hold it for two, one more count, warm, slowly bend, slowly bend and dig your elbows down, dig, dig, dig all the way down, yeah, this is the least fun, inhale, straighten and hold it there, hold it there, you got this, Jackie, hold it there, exhale, bend, exhale, bend, exhale, bend, exhale, bend, like you don't want to and inhale, straighten and hold it there, open the springs, you see them, push them out even further, farther, farthest and then bend with control, control, control, last one and go, press it down and hold and hold and hold and exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, keep your elbows on the mat, ah, beautiful, I'm gonna take these away, you still with me? Okay, good, so lots of resistance training, leg springs, arm springs, I'm gonna put the roll back bar back on now and we will have one more resistance set, so we did our heaviest springs, our medium weight and then we're gonna go back to our lightest, you can go ahead and bring yourself up to sitting. I'm gonna move this up a little bit or down or out. Actually, I'm gonna leave it right where it is and not use it at all.

Important to train on different kinds of apparatus so you know what you're doing when you show up here. Okay. So we did a spine stretch forward with the bar earlier. I'm actually gonna ask you to come up on your knees now and do a little chest expansion with this bar, yes, is that okay? Mhmm.

Good, you're gonna be one arm's distance away from these poles, so you're just gonna grab it and that's where you stay, okay? Chest expansion, getting back into this upper back, still working with springs, working on all this lift that we were getting, this wa a first session exercise for Sandy, so I revisit it, by now I figure she's a total star, lats are working, press the bar straight down and roll your knuckles down so it's like you want to put your fists on the mat, ooh, yeah, that'll make anybody shake, hold that there and then let the bar all the way back up. You can shimmy forward an inch if it's just unbearable. Abdominals in and press down with the bar, hold it there, move it from here, forget about your hands, your elbows, all of that, this is where the work happens and let the bar back up, okay, we're gonna let the head, okay, from your armpits, press the bar down, hold it there and turn the head one way, ah, turn the head the other way, look straight ahead and let the bar slow and controlled and again, shoulders back, see if you can get your shoulderblades to touch behind you, ooh, that made a huge difference. Turn one way, knuckles to the floor, turn the other away and look straight ahead, release, even the wrists need this work and go, press down, such a place that we get fractures all the time, so huge, huge effort here, reach the bar down, see if you can lock out your arms, yes.

And then forward and let it up, up, up. Beautiful, let the bar go. (laughs) You're safe, awesome, so having finished the mat and worked with all of the springs available here, we are gonna move on to the penna pole for the wrap up of this session. Okay, Jackie, so we're back and this is the penna pole and it's a great device for resistance training or balance for alignment. And some of what we do in Pilates is take the last section of the workout to address particular personal concerns, whether they're just your concerns today or they're the issues that you deal with all the time, so in Sandy's case, because I'm trying to make sure she has a good, healthy dose of resistance training and alignment and we're working on upper back strength, this is gonna be a great tool for us to use and pepper into her workouts, so I'm gonna hold this so it's stable, go ahead and stand on the penna pole and give me a little bit of Pilates stance, heels together, toes apart and go ahead and slip your hands right into the handles, now they're heavy and the springs are lazy, I always say. They just want to be at rest, so any time you're putting tension on them, they might kick you back, so I will stay with you for the first bit of this.

But this is the exact same exercise we ended with on the Cadillac, so we're kind of using the system to inform her body, okay? So you're gonna press the springs down and you might find that you lean a little bit forward in the pole and that's okay, I'm gonna help you, you're gonna reach down to your hips and maybe even past your hips and that's great, hold it there, turn your head one way and then the other way and then look ahead and now you're gonna really press these springs down to bring them forward and right about here, the springs are like, no, no, no and you have to say oh yes, yes, yes, into the abdominals, into the abdominals, hold on, hold on, lean a little forward, lean a little forward, don't let your toes come up, good and that's why I stay with you, does that make sense? It's hard and it's just at that point where the springs are like, oh, I'm just gonna fly up so that's where your control and strength has to come from. Press down, use your seat, reach behind you, reach behind you, reach behind you and the head goes one way and the other way and then the head and now pull the springs open and control, control, very good, steep learning curve all the way forward, I am barely helping her, go again. Press down, I'll hold the pole, reach behind you, nice, open the chest as you turn one way, open as you look the other way, straight ahead, now open the springs, keep them open, lean a little forward, don't fly away, I gotcha, reach, reach, reach, and.

Last one, press down and back, this part is great. This shoulder could be just working a little bit harder from that armpit, other way, look straight ahead, reach the springs open, this is a big cuing for Sandy is how to get her to work into the resistance. Beautiful, hard, satisfying, though, right? (both laugh) Good, stay here, yep, you're perfect, turn around, put your heels to the poles, good and the pole now becomes your spine, so it's actually, I'm spotting you that it's all the way up the center of your body and go ahead and hold onto these and I'm gonna walk around. Try not to tip over. (laughs) So we're gonna just take arm circles and we're gonna start with a little bit of tension, we're gonna maintain tension, so they're never gonna get slack like this, okay?

So we're gonna start just in front of the body and they're kind of like the bottom of the circle so we're gonna go out, circle around to the bottom and come straight up to chest height, out, circle around to the bottom, come straight up to chest height, got it? And around, so with Sandy, her arms were actually pretty even, it's her upper back I was gonna be concerned about because I'm not sure she's gonna be able to stand here and this might be the work enough is just getting her skull to the pole and having her wrap her shoulderblades around the pole and working all of that, of course, and the resistance for all of that threat of osteoporosis that we're trying to combat, this looks great. Let's reverse, and out, there we go, down around and center, down around and center, work the right arm a little stronger, it seems to be a little bit shy of the left arm. Gotta get it involved and together, down around and together, one more. Down around and together, beautiful, still with me?

Good, take your arms out to the side, this is the fun stuff now, okay, and Jackie was a dancer so it will be easy. This would be harder for Sandy but I think it's okay. Come up on the balls of your feet and rest your heels against the pole, great, and this is our centering exercise, and what I don't want to do is work so hard in the upper body and arms that I leave out all of her lower body. I know Sandy walks a lot, but I don't want to forget about weightbearing with the lower body and we did do some leg springs but I also want her to do some upright exercises and in that first session she was much more comfortable doing upright exercises. So lengthen, and Jackie should be a good demonstration for this, you're gonna just bend your knees in a knee bend and you're gonna take the springs with you, stop right there Good, now press the springs down to your hips.

Now straighten your legs, ahh, and float the springs up. That's the whole thing, see? Bend the knees, take the springs with you . Lower the springs, straighten the legs and float the springs up, got it? Bend the knees.

Lower the springs, all the way down, straighten the knees and arms come up, again. Bend, then lower, then straighten and up, one more time. Bend, excellent, press, straighten, and up, we're gonna reverse, go down with the arms, then the legs, then up with the arms, then up with the legs, down with the arms. Down with the legs, up with the arms, and the legs. Two more times, first arms, try to get your back into the pole if it's possible, up, and lift one more time.

Press and bend and up and up and that's enough. Let your heels down. Excellent. I'm gonna take this away and that would conclude our penna pole and our session for Sandy so I'm hoping that we addressed resistance training, a home program and all of her alignment, strength and postural issues that we saw in that very first session so that by 30 sessions, she is a full, living breathing example of Joseph Pilates' work, thank you, Jackie. (laughs)

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1 person likes this.
Hi Alycea, thanks for the class. I have a question about the position and "attitude" of the client's leg /foot when doing these movements in supine and side lying: when the leg is rotating laterally, this objectively laxes the periformis: which as far as motor control isn't gonna set up anyone for safety and movement confidence. The other point I would like to know your opinion is about is: if the floor work is designed to give a client home programs, then there seems to be a lot of exchanges between the teacher/therapist and client that might give the impression to the client "as long as I the teacher is here you should be in the safe range, position, etc.". Also, why is the standing ballet stance adopted in mat work? I'm curious to know if there is any reasoning behind this or is it another case of "just because".
Hello Mastenah -I will happily put on my Physical Therapist hat to answer your initial questions. I'm not a "just because" kind of girl! Can you tell me specifically which moves you are referring to in your first question?
1 person likes this.
gorgeous work-out; so small moves count! I never feel fed up with Alyceaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa:) Love her:)
Hi [Alycea, thanks for your prompt reply. I am specifically asking about the feet/legs in the legs in springs but also in the side kick. Also, could you educate me on why one has to put their physio hat on to answer the enquiry? I have seen even a few professors of physiotherapy totally ignore the most basic alignments concerns in a 'patient' that was seeking remediation/education from them. It is worth mentioning that in the chest expansion exercise you are allowing your client to sheer acros their lumbar vertebrae as if the wight of the structure above it was to be supported by the spinal processes. If logic be applied bringing the edges of the shoulder blades together places the amazing balance of the seratus muscle out of action. Could this actually benefit the action of rib movement?
Mastenah - we all speak through the filter of our training. I hear in your language that you have a bodywork education. There is much variation across differential studies. Static vs. dynamic is one example. Massage therapists do not observe muscles and tissue in the same way an exercise professional does, and neither come close to the chiropractor's analysis. In putting on my P.T. hat I simply wish to reveal what paradigm I am sharing.

Using the leg springs in external rotation is a mechanical choice that mimics the footwork and other positions on the reformer. I employ a "systems" approach to Pilates whereby exercises are performed and re-performed across many apparatus. With respect to anatomy, weak gluteals are far more common in the average human and contribute significantly to back issues but also to hip, knee and ankle problems. Working the gluteals in extension and lateral rotation simultaneously increases recruitment and therefore strength.


I would disagree with your two statements that muscles have been turned "off" by specific positions. That's not really the way human kinetics work. Gravity and the fibrous connections of the particular muscles and the movement executed all play a part in muscles turning on or off. A great idea for a panel discussion at a conference someday!

Thanks for your comments. I hope to meet you at some point.
1 person likes this.
Thanks Alycea Ungaro for your reply. You are prsenting an interesting view of looking at the weakness in the gluteus of the general population. The main flaw in this generally accepted view is one simple and objective principle: THE CURVES OF THE HUMAN SPINE and every single muscle that attaches to them function as a dynamic whole only when the human has leanred how to related them to one another so that the curves are in the FRONT of the spine rather than the back, which is what is generally accepted as the norm. Again, I bring your and your esteemed colleges attention to the "chest expansion" exercise: There is more hurt on the lumbar spine there than a so called strong gluteals could ever counteract. Kindest regards from Australia!
I thought you were fabulous Alycea and will incorporate some of the cueing with my clients. Thank you!!
Thanks a lot Alycea, - for sharing your thoughts and Great approach to teaching different People!!! Makes me so happy everytime I see a new class from you!! You oppend my eyes at the last PMA! Love your style! Thanks
I find this really helpful and I love the way you teach and give your client the confidence to find strength! I would work with only some clients in this way and I am happy for the inspiration! Others might need a different program and maybe more release work on balls etc. That is the great thing about looking at just one body, - one human. And it even takes different approaches on different days... Thank you, Alycea and PA
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