Hi, I'm Brett Howard and we're going to do Building Upwards with Brett on the reformer. So what we're going to start with is we're gonna start with a fairly basic reformer. And today, my buddy is going be Tetsuo Yoshida, and we're gonna start on four springs. You can also start on three springs. So I'm using the Gratz apparatus, so it's a one-spring system.
If you're using an apparatus that has different tensions on it, then I would suggest to find what works best for you. I usually find that if you have a reformer that has red springs, those one's are roughly about the same as the Gratz springs. So we're gonna start with either four or three springs. And Tetsuo, I'm gonna have you lie to your side, and you're gonna rotate onto the back. We're gonna have the heels together, toes apart.
Toes are gonna be about three fingers width distance apart. Knees are gonna be just to the outside of the shoulders. We wanna make sure that the negative space on either side of the body is the same. Now, think of lengthening to the crown of the head, zippering up through the abdominals, and think of two rocket boosters underneath your sit bones, and you're gonna slowly stretch out and bend the knees and come back in, and stretching out two, and bending in two, and stretching three, bending in three, stretching out four, in four, stretch out five, in five more, stretch and bend, two, don't speed up, in, and three, and in, out four, and one more, and 10, and in, good. So let's bring the feet together, knees together, and we're gonna go onto the arches of the feet.
So it's kinda like a bird on a perch. The toes are gonna be under, heels are gonna be, toes are gonna be over, heels are gonna be under. Now imagine there's $100 bill in between your knees, zipper up, extending out, and going in. Two, let's go just a little slower, three, and in, and four, and in. You're still lengthening up through the crown of the head, still zippering up through the abdominals, lifting but underneath the seat.
Let's go for two more. And in, one more time, out, and in. Next position, we're gonna go onto the heels of the feet. We're gonna be right in the middle. You're gonna pull back with the balls of the feet, and the little toe side of the foot will pull back just as much as the big toe side of the foot.
Now, stretch, and bend, stretch two, and bend, stretch three, stretching four, stretch five, more, and stretch, and two, and in, out three, two more, and in, one more time, out, and coming in. All right, last with footwork series, we're gonna go onto the toes for tendon stretch. Negative space on either side, the same, zipper up, extend and hold that position. I want you to wrap through the seat, draw the inner thighs together, then from there, he's already going down, lower two, three, and lift, two, three, and lower, lower, lower, and lift, lift, lift, and three, two, three, and lift, two, three, three counts lower, and three counts lift, and lower two, three, and lift, two, hold there. Make sure that all 10 toes are on.
Sometimes my teacher Romano would come by and wiggle the little toe and he said, "This is very valuable real estate. Make sure that's on there as well." Let's go for five more, lower for three, and lift for three counts, lower two, three, lift two, three. Keep the rotation as you lower, and lift two, three. Draw the inner thighs together, and lift two, three. One more, lower two, three, and lift two, three, hold there.
Bend the knees and come back in. Great. Bring both knees into the chest. And then we're gonna lower this foot bar. All right, I'm gonna have you reach back, grab a hold of the handles, and then reach the arms straight up to the ceiling. Knees are gonna be nice and relaxed here.
You're gonna with straight arms, press the arms down. Then from there, lift the arms straight up to the ceiling, and again, press the arms down two, and lift the arms up two, one more time, pressing down three, and lift the arms up three. Now you're going to press the arms down, but simultaneously, you're going to roll the head, neck and shoulders up. So roll the head, neck and shoulders up as you press down and hold it there. Two, three arms up as the head, neck and shoulders come down.
So it's kind of like a lever. And arms down as you roll the head, neck and shoulders up and hold it there. Think of reaching forth through the fingertips more, wonderful. And then arms go up as the head, neck and shoulders go down. One more time.
Arms come down and head, neck and shoulders come up. We're thinking of the rib cage pulling to the waistline. Keep that pull, the zipper, extend the legs out to your working level. Now hold that position. Draw the inner thighs together. Legs are in plotty stance.
Let's start pumping up and down and as you breathe in with the air. Breathe out 2, 3, 4, 5, inhale for the hundred, and exhale 3, 4, 5, 3, and exhale, 3, 4, 5 in with the air, and exhale, 3, 4, 5, inhale, and exhale 3, 4, 5 more in with the air, and exhale 3, 4, 5, inhale, and exhale 3, 4, 5, 1 big breath in for five, one big breath out for five, two more sets, and exhale 3, 4, 5, 1 more set, and exhale 3, 4, 5. Hold, bend the knees into the chest first. Arms come up as the head, neck and shoulders come down. Very good.
All right, let's move to the frog and the leg circles. I'm gonna go to two springs. Now, I'll take these from you. And then let's set up the long straps. So when I'm setting up, I always like to stand at the very back of the reformer, this way, I know I'm not going to drop anything onto his head. So I take the loop and I meet it with the handle.
Then from there, I take one of the straps. I'm gonna thread that through, attach. Then I place it on that wrist so I always have two hands to work with. I open, close it so it meets. Then from there, I'm gonna take the end of one strap, thread it through the loop in the handle, and then I will attach it.
So, I'm gonna make sure that the hardware is on the outside, in the middle, so then it's not going to hit and detach. All right, let's place this onto your feet. I want you to imagine there's $100 bill in between your heels. You're going to keep that glued. Other thing that I want you to think about is that you're in a bowl of jello.
You're going to imagine that you're pushing through a very thick substance. You don't wanna push out too quickly. Now, zipper up through the abdominals in opposition as you stretch through jello to go out, then from there, bend the knees and pull back in, pulling through jello, pressing forward through that thick substance, keeping the $100 bill. Now pull back through jello to come back in, and again, zippering up and extending out, and bend the knees and come back in. Hold there. We're gonna go for three more.
Imagine that your pelvis and your rib cage are in a double pan scale. In this exercise, you wanna keep the pans even. You don't want one pan to tip on the other pan. So zipper up as you extend out to keep the pans even, yes, and then pull the knees back in. Keep the pans even, equal weight on the pelvis and the rib cage, and bend the knees and come back in.
Let's go for one more. Extend out, the distance between the bottom ribbon and the hip stay the same, and then pull the knees and come back in. Now let's extend out one more time and hold that position. I want you to imagine that you took a knife and split you right down the middle of the body. The right side of the body, and the left side of the body are gonna be a mirror image of one another.
So it's all about symmetry. So it's called the leg circles, but we're gonna make it more like a box. You're gonna open the legs, then lower, bring the legs together, then lift, straight line, straight line, together, and lift. Let's go for three more. Open, lower together, and lift.
Twice more, open, lower together, and lift, one more time, open, as you lower, keep the pans even on the double pan scale. Bring the legs together and lift. Let's reverse it. Equal weight on pelvis and rib cage as you lower. Open, lift, together. Zipper, open, up, together as you lower even Distance between bottom ribbon and hips stay the same, and twice more, open, up, and together.
One more time, down, and open, up and together. Now pull back in through jello to pull the knees in. Great. I'm gonna take these off and then keep the knees into the chest. And I'm just gonna drop these into the wealth. Okay. We're gonna move on to the stomach massage series.
So, you're gonna roll to one side sitting up, and then I'm gonna have you stand up. And now we will go to either three or four springs. Then from there, I'm gonna get the short box, and I'm going to place the short box in front of the shoulder blocks. Now you could always place the short box in between the shoulder blocks and the eye hooks if you need a little bit more room, but today let's just place it right in front of the shoulder blocks there. Then from there, we don't need a pad because we have the box here.
Let's lift the foot bar up. Okay. Sitting down, you're just going to sit down first, turn, bring your feet onto this frame here. Now, push your lower back into that box. Then from there, just push slightly out, bring one foot up, then the other foot up, bend the knees and come back in. Here again, make sure you're centered right in the middle of the reformer, negative space on either side of the bar is the same.
You're gonna grab a hold of the front very strong with the arms, wide elbows. I heard that Joseph Pilates would sometimes try to take your hand off. If he could take it off, you'd be livid. Now, everything that is below the box, the lower back is imprinting, pressing into the box as if the box was made of wet sand or clay, or puddy, something that could be imprinted into. Everything above the box, spine stretch forward.
Now he's going to push deeper into the wet sand, imagining he's moving away from the fist as he spine stretch forwards more. Then from there, come back in. Yes, that's good. And again, stretch and imprint into the box, and then bend the knees and come back in. Now stretch. Now, hold that position. We're gonna add the tendon stretch that we did earlier on.
Lower the heels, lift the heels, bend the knees and come back in. And again, into the box, lower the heels into the box to lift the heels and come back in. Imprint into the box, lower the heels. Imprint into the box and come back in. And into the box, lower the heels.
Into the box and come back in. And let's do four more now slightly quicker, and lower, lift and in, two, lower lift and in, three, as you lower, maintain the rotation. And one more, lower, lift and come in and hold in. If you're on three springs, stay on three springs, but he's on four, so I'm gonna take him to three. Take the arms back, grab the back corners of the box.
Now, the elbows are gonna be slightly bent. Imagine there's a walnut in between the shoulder blades and crack the walnut. Imagine that the head is hanging like a marionette puppet, lift up through the temples, the occipital processes, crown of the head hanging from five string. Press into the box, lower the heels, press into the box, and bend and come back in. Into the box, two, lower, into the box, and in.
And press, lower, press, and in. And four, lower, lift. Let's go for six more. Press, lower, lift. Let's go five more. Lower, lift and in. Two, lower, lift and in. Wrap, the bottom, ribs and in, and two more.
Lower, lift and in, one more, lower, lift and in, hold in. Now let's go to two springs. Take the arms and reach on a forward diagonal. So first two, you can allow the back to touch the box, but don't press into the box any more than you are at the moment. So stretch out, now, bend the knees and come back in.
As you stretch out, you can touch the box, but don't lean into the box any more than you currently are. And then bend the knees and come in and reach for my fingers hold my (indistinct) fingers or reach, reach. Now this time, let's just stretch out, try to take the lower back off the box. Now, try to keep it off the box as you go in and go off the box, off the box, off the box. One more time, stretch out and now lengthen and go off the box, off the box, off the box, round over, grab a hold of that.
Now he's gonna grab the bar. He's going to extend the legs and stretch for a monkey, and then bend the knees and come back in, and stretch the legs two, and bend the knees and come back two, and stretch the legs three, hold that, shoulders relax. You can just hold the stretch or if you have the flexibility, lower the heels, lift the heels, and lower the heels two, lift the heels two, one more time, lower the heels three, and lift the heels three. Now soften at the knee and ankle joints. Come back in. Very nice, turn around, and then standing up.
I'm going to lower the foot bar. We're on two springs still. Now let's lower the headrest, and then I'm gonna move the box back. Now, if you are around 5'2", 5'3" or shorter, I would actually keep the box forward of the shoulder blocks, but you are taller than that. So, sitting here, and then I'm gonna bring your feet underneath the straps. You're gonna open out in the straps, keep that tension the whole time.
Now, one arm around the waist, then the other arm around the waist, then round over the forearm. So even though the hips aren't moving, he's gonna stay nice and curved there. Now the (indistinct) is tailbone under, pubic bone up, slowly roll down one vertebrae at a time and go to where you can, then lead with the crown of the head and come back up. And again, tailbone under sacrum under lower back under, and then lead with the crown of the head and come up. So you keep that tight ball shape, curving under, now round over the forearms to come back up, keep the abduction of the legs curving under.
So always opening out into those straps. One more time, curving under, under, under, and rolling back up, short box flat. You're gonna lift the spine tall, keep the open, bring the hands behind the head. Now, I'm gonna have you wrap in the ribs a little bit, and I personally like the elbows to be slightly forward. Now, squeeze in the bottom, lift the spine and hold it there.
Two, three, and release. Engage the seat and lengthen. Two, three and release. One more time, engage the seat, lift and lengthen. Hold this position. You're going to keep the engagement of the seat, and you're gonna hinge backwards, lengthening through the spine, and coming back up to center, and again, engage the glutes, lifting the hinge back, make sure the eyes stay straight forward, and we'll come back up to center, lifting the hinge so you don't want to look down or up.
If you look down, the upper body rounds, if you look up, probably the rib cage will splay. Twice more. Lifting the hinge, think of a compass drawing a long arc, and keep the same arc or greater arc to come back up. One more time. Lifting the hinge, elongate, elongate, elongate, hold it there.
Squeeze the glutes more, wrap to the ribs more, lengthen to the crown of the head, tremor of truth, and come back up to center. Now, the side to side. You want to imagine that your pelvis is on that double pan scale. Right side of the pelvis and left side of the pelvis are gonna be even, so you don't want the scale to tip. Lift the spine and go over to the right, and come back up to center.
And again, lift and lengthen over to the left and lengthen to center. Lift, go over to the right to keep the pans even, and come back to center. One more time, lift and go over to the left and lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, and lift to center, hold there. We're gonna repeat this, but I want you to extend the arms straight up to the ceiling. Now, make a fist with your left hand.
Then you're going to bring your right hand and rest it on there. Push up with the left fist. Then keep going up, up, and eventually you have to go over, very nice. Now push through the fist to come up even more. Hold, let's switch.
Now, push with the right fist and push the hand away. Still maintain the equal weight on both sides of the pelvis, and come back up to center, and switch. Imagine your body is in between two flat walls, a wall in front and a wall behind, and come up to center. Try not to touch either wall. Move in between the walls and reach through the fist, reach, reach, and come back up to center.
Twice more, hands behind the head, but keep that same idea. But instead of lifting through the fist, it's the crown of the head. So lift, go over and reach, opening out through the legs, and now lengthen and come center, very nice. Lift, bend over in between the two flat walls, and then come back to center. One more time, go over to the right, and now lengthen the center, and go over to the left and lengthen, lengthen, lengthen, and then lift back up to center.
Round over, stretch out your back and relax. This is where we would give the little bit of a dessert here, only if the person deserved it. Alright, rolling up through the spine. And then, I'm gonna have you take your right leg out of the strap. Then from there, you're going to take this, and then nice, tall, straight back.
Head is directly over the sitz bones, and extend the leg, and bend the knee. Extend the leg two, bend the knee two, extend the leg three and hold that position. Now bring your forehead towards your shin, relaxing the shoulders in one piece. Curve back and stop when the leg gets 90 degrees, then lead with the crown of the head rolling up, and then lift the spine to a nice tall straight, lift it back. As you repeat that, bring the head forward.
Shoulders relaxed, curve back in one piece. When the leg gets 90, hold that position, then lead with the crown of the head, and rolling up to your spine to a nice tall straight back. Now, take one hand and bring it behind your calf, or your ankle, then the other hand behind. I'm gonna remove this. Now, turn your right leg out, energy through the heels sitz bone reaches to front.
Fold the forehead to shin, curve back in one piece. When the leg gets 90 degrees, hand by hand, walk down to the hip. The hands and the shoulders will be the same level. Now walk up, as he walks up, you simultaneously will lift the spine up and right the spine over the hips. And again, bring your forehead to shin.
Now in one piece, curve back. When the leg gets 90 degrees, hold up position, hand by hand, walking down to the hip. Now simultaneously walk up as you lift your spine, as you bring your bait directly onto the sitz bones. Now hold here, flex the foot, and point the foot, and flex pulling that little toe back, yes, point. One more time. Flex the foot and point the foot.
Let's rotate the leg parallel, bend the knee, and then we will switch legs. Good. Take the left leg out, and you can bring the ball of the foot right onto the strap there. Lift through the spine, making sure you're right on your sitz bones. Extend the leg and bend the knee one, extend the leg, then two, extend the leg and hold that position.
Forehead goes forward towards the shin, curve back in one piece when the leg gets 90, hold that position. Then lead with the crown of the head a little bit similar to that short box round we did earlier and now lift the spine to a nice tall back. One more like that. Bring your forehead to shin, shoulder stay relaxed. When the leg gets 90, hold the position, then lead with the crown of the head, and then lifting up to a nice toe, straight lifted position.
Maybe go a little bit more forward to ride on those sitz bones. Then from there, one hand grabs the calf or the ankle or even the thigh, and then the other hand. Now fold the forehead to shin, and one piece curve back when the leg gets 90. Hand by hand, walk down. So make sure you walk down, not slide down, then walking back up and lift the spine so you're right over those sitz bones.
Last time, fold the forehead forward, and then curve back. When the leg gets 90 degrees, walking down, then walking up, and lift the spine nice and tall. Just lean forward. You don't need to scoot. Just lean forward a little bit. Now flex the foot and point the foot.
Flex the foot, and point. One more time. Flex and point, rotate the leg to parallel, bend the knee, and then standing up onto the floor, and we will go for the elephant. So to start, I'm gonna return the box. Then let's lift this head rest up. And right now, we're gonna go to one spring.
Now this is a little prep I'd like to do for elephant. You're gonna kneel facing towards the back of their former with the knees right against the shoulder blocks. Then hold on to the frame of the reformer. Make sure the thumbs are with the fingers. Now, round the back like an angry cat.
So in this exercise, it's very important to make sure that you do not move the upper body or pull with the upper body. It's the action of the knees moving towards the wrist. So pull the knees towards the wrist. Upper body stays stable, very nice. Then control it out. Pull the knees towards the wrist two, and control it out two, pull in, and control it out.
And again, pull in three, control it out. Pull in four, control it out. Let's do one more, pulling in five, and control it out. Very nice, standing up, and we are going to go for two springs. And let's lift the foot bar up.
Now we're going to go for the elephant. You're gonna step left on right foot, other hand, other foot. Now heels are pressed against the shoulder blocks. Now, if you're a little bit smaller, you can always walk the feet a little bit further forward. Now, round the back.
We're gonna fine the tight point of the spine, and we're going to really highlight that. So that'll be the highest point up. Lift the toes up. All of 10 toes are gonna lift up equally. Now, press back through the heels, not moving the upper body. Three counts. Pull in one, pull in two, pull in three.
And again, pressing out two, and pull in one, pull in two, pull in three. Let's go for three more. Press to the heels, pull under through the tailbone. Press to the heels, under through the tailbone and sacrum one more time. Press, pull in one, pull in two, pull in three. Very good.
Now I'm going to have you bend the knees down, and then we're gonna go for the knee stretch with a round back. So round the back once again like an angry cat, head will be dropped, tailbone will be dropped. This exercise is very similar to the elephant where the upper body will stay still. We're only gonna move the lower body half. So, press back with your feet.
Now pull under to the tailbone to bring the knees in, out, pull under, out three, pulling under, out four, pull under, out five. Let's go for three more, and out, under one, out two, under two, out three, under three. Now hold that position. Now we're gonna reverse the position. Instead of having a rounded back, we're gonna have an arched back.
Head will be lifted or an extended back. Tailbone will be lifted. So, imagine someone pulls the tail of the cat up. There's a diamond right around the neck. There's a champagne flute on the sacrum.
Keep that champagne flute there because no one likes to waste alcohol. Now, press out one, pull in one, out two, in two, same idea. The upper body stays still, while only the lower body half is moving out. And then let's go for three more, and in, two, all the way in, and one more all the way in and hold it there. Good.
Now for the knees off, we're gonna do a little bit of a modification. I'm gonna lower the foot bar. I'm gonna keep us on two springs. Now you're gonna round over and you can grab the side. There we go.
Now this time, instead of having the thumbs with fingers, it's okay to bring the thumbs opposite of the fingers. So we round the back like an angry cat again. Now, you pull up like you're hanging from a hook around the waist and lift both knees up off the mat simultaneously, hold it there for three, hold it two, hold it one, lower the knees down. Let's repeat that, pulling up and hold it there. Two, three, and lower down. One more time.
Pulling up and hold that position. Now maintain the spine. Press out one, pull in one, out two, in two, out three, in three, out four, in four, out five, and in, out, and in. So the knees stay the same level as the heels, and in two more, out, and in one more time, out, come all the way in, in, in, and then gently lower the knees down. Great, standing up. We're gonna go for running. So, let's go for three or four springs, whatever you started the foot work with.
So if you did foot work on three, I would do running on three. If you did foot work on four, I would do running on four. So lie down. This time, legs are gonna be parallel together, and then heels will be nice and lifted. Bring your pelvis just a little bit to your left, Tetsuo, so then the negative space on either side of the body is the same, zipper up, extend out, hold that position.
Now, bend one knee as you drop one heel. Now let's lift. Now, bend the other knee as you drop the other heel, and lift, and drop, and up, and drop, and up, and drop. So the accent is on the up, and drop up and hold there. So that was three. We're going to do seven more on each, just a little quicker.
And up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, two more, up, and up, and up, and up. And one more set. There we go. Now, bend the knees, come all the way in. Great. So let's bring the feet into the corners. Now you can be on the arches of the feet, or you can be on the heels of the feet, whichever one feels best.
Flex at the ankle joint. Then from there, start from the tailbone, slowly roll up one vertebra at a time till you get the bottom ribs. Then from there, the upper back is soft, but curved a little bit more. Now, once again, we're gonna push through jello, stretch, and pull back in, and stretch through jello or molasses or peanut butter, something very thick, and pulling back in, and pressing three, drag the carriage back in, and again, out, and pulling all the way in, and again, press, and pull all the way in. Let's go for five more. Stretch, and pulling in.
Stretch through jello, and pull back in. Press, press, press, and pull, pull, pull. Press, press, press, pull pull, pull. Two more, press, and pulling back in one more time, pressing out and drag it in, drag it in, drag it in and this time stay in, but keep the hips up. Try not to move the carriage, slowly roll the spine down one vertebrae at a time, all the way down to the tail.
Vundabar, that was great. Bring both knees into the chest, hug the legs. Now, circle the legs three times to the right. Circle one, circle two, circle three, let's reverse it. And circle one, and circle two, and circle three.
Great. I'm gonna have you stand up. I'm gonna give you one more exercise today, which is a nice little stretch, and we will go for Eve's Lunge. I'm gonna take us to one spring. Now, you're gonna stand with the left foot right in line with that front leg of the reformer. And then you're gonna bring the right knee down, and bring the right foot against the shoulder block.
Now I want you to go forward through the hips and then press out. So in this Eve's Lunge position, we make sure the hips are nice and square. We make sure we're really actively pressing forward through the thigh, zippering up through the abdominals, and then you can come back in. And again, let's press out a second time, finding the lift, and then return the carriage and come back in. One more time, press out, hold that position, take the right arm and lift it straight up to the ceiling.
Now I want you to bend over to the left, and lengthen the center. Now, I want you to lift an arch back, arch, arch, arch, and then center bring the hand down, and let's come all the way in and we'll go to the other side. So now we're going to align the right foot in line with the front leg of the reformer, left knee comes down, and press, and hold that position, and come back in. And again, pressing out two, and lengthen and come in two, and pressing out and hold that position. Now lift the left arm up to the ceiling, bend over to the right.
While you're bending, reach to the fingertips. Go forward to that left tip. Now center the body. Now, going back, if you did ballet it would be a cambre back, then come back to center, bring the hand down and come all the way in. Now, if this was a little bit too much for you, you could always do Eve's Lunge with the knee on a yoga block. Just let's show the position real quick.
And what it's gonna do, is just going to allow the angle to be just a little bit less. And so, it's going to be slightly less of a pull, and you can always then work your way to where the knee would come all the way down onto the mat. That's good though. All right. So, this has been Building with Brett, first class, and I look forward to seeing you guys for our next class.