Class #5111

Fluid and Strong

55 min - Class


You will create a strong, fluid, and flexible spine with this functional Reformer workout by Tom McCook. He starts by mobilizing your spine and joints so that you're ready for the more advanced exercises in the class. He works on organizing your body and your brain so that you're fully organized and integrated with each movement.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video

Sep 29, 2022
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Hi, everybody, I'm Tom McCook. I'm here with Erin and very happy to be back at Pilates Anytime for this functional reformer class. So what you're gonna need to do in the beginning of the class is put your long box on the floor the way we have it. And Erin's gonna be my model today, which I'm very excited about, and she's gonna come in to a flat back position and put her hands on the box. So this start of the class is just to mobilize the spine and the joints of the body, just to get her fluid and organized.

So the first thing I want Erin to do is just round her back and look back towards her legs. That's it, and then as she slowly bends her knees, she's gonna reach her tail back and come into a flat spine, and then back to round as she straightens. And what you can focus on as you're doing that as she's reaching her tail back, you can feel the sit bones are widening as the spine flattens. And as you round the back and lengthen the legs, the sit bones narrow. That's the dynamic of the pelvis on top of the legs.

And then add your inhale as you extend into that flat back. And as you round, press into the feet and let the legs lengthen. Now, the next time she's gonna do one more the same way, but as she rounds her back and straightens her legs, she's gonna lift her heels halfway. Press into those two front foot points, the ball behind the big toe, the ball behind the little toe, and then right back into the second half of that, nice and fluid. Then as she's curling, she can even lift the back of her neck and wrap the shoulders wide and as she extends, feel that head-tail line.

And just two more before we add another dimension to that. Fluid, connected, smooth breathing all the way through. And one more. And now, as she comes back to the flat back, she's just gonna start to run in place. And let one leg lengthen as the other leg bends.

And then let the breastbone turn in the direction of the leg that's straightening. So think if you'd add that little rotation, and think of keeping the hips even more square to the front, so the rotation is more rib cage up, just like that. That's it, and just a couple more each side. Now, as she comes back to the center, she's gonna step back into a plank. In the plank, just feel that body line.

Now on the exhale, just pull one knee to your chest. Reach that leg straight back off the ground, then pull the heel to your butt and then to the floor. We're just gonna do three each side, Knee to chest, straight back, heel to butt, nice and fluid. She's just waking up her deep muscles, connecting to her whole body. Heel to butt and place it down.

We'll take side two, knee to chest, reach back, heel to butt, nice and strong, connected, knee to chest, heel to butt. And one more time, knee draws in, reach back, heel to butt. As you lower the leg, walk your feet in towards the box, soft knees, drop your head and tail, and just slowly roll up to standing, very nice. Now we're gonna come on over to the reformer, and we're gonna do a lunge stretch, a hip flexor stretch. So we're just gonna put, I recommend you guys put on either a red and a yellow or a red and a blue.

And Erin's gonna face the foot bar and put one foot against the shoulder block and one foot up by the front of the frame. And the feeling she wants to have in the beginning is initiate the movement from her glute on the reaching side without arching the lower back too much. So the front knee will stay still, and just gonna push back slow with that back leg as the pelvis lowers slightly, and then she'll come back up and in. So just nice and fluid, and get the feeling that the press is coming from the back hip, so the glute, and imagine that the pelvis is turning slightly towards the back leg, so the little bit of pelvic rotation, which is what happens when we're walking. Nice and fluid, that's it.

Now the next one, she's gonna reach into it and hold it. On the stretch side arm, take that up overhead, and then nice and slow side bend towards the front knee side, and take a few big breaths, breathing into her side body. Now she's opening up her lower back, her hip flexors, preparing her body for what's to come, one more breath. And then we'll lengthen up and in, and we'll go over to side two. So the foot is against the shoulder block, front foot's up.

Now when she pushes back, she's pushing back from her glute and letting the pelvis turn slightly towards the back knee. That allows the hip to turn on more without overarching the lower back, nice and fluid, that's it. And that's designed to happen every step you take when you're walking. She'll do that one more time, and this time she's gonna hold it. Now, the stretch side, she'll take that arm up overhead and slowly side bend towards the front knee side and just take a few deep breaths, low and deep, opening up the hip, the lower back, connecting to the back of the leg, one more breath.

And then long inhale brings her back up and in. Now we're gonna come to a kneeling position for knee stretch series, and I recommend you put on two outside red springs. Now, in a flat back knee stretch, the hips are about six inches behind the knees, the back is flat, the arms are like kickstands. The hinge is the hip joint. She's gonna press out on the inhale and then hinge back in.

So similar to that warmup we did earlier, the sit bones widen as she comes in with that flat back. The sit bones narrow slightly as she presses out, opening the front of the hips. Now that she's got a feel for it, we're gonna do five more a little quicker, a little bigger pace. That's it, just to warm up those big muscles a little bit more. And two more, and one.

Now, as she comes in, she's gonna go to round back, curl the tail towards the bar, pull the waistline away from the bar. Now hold that round back as you slowly push back on the inhale, accent on the in on the exhale. So she's holding onto that long lower back, keeping the sit bones narrow. She's doing a great job of pulling the waistline back. That's it, and three more.

And one, and she's gonna come in. Now we're gonna transfer around. We're gonna turn around, but before we turn around, I recommend you put on one spring on number, one blue spring on, and then take your long box, and we'll put it across the back of your reformer. So I recommend you take the straps and put 'em on the floor. So that way the straps won't push up into the box.

And put 'em across the frame where you have about a foot distance between the end of the headrest and the beginning of the box. And then she'll put her knees right up against the shoulder blocks and put her forearms on the box. So this looks like a similar position of what you were just doing, but you're pulling the carriage instead of pushing the carriage, so it's working the pelvis differently. So the first thing she's gonna do is round her back, lift her waistline, then wrap the shoulders low and wide. Now drag the knees forward, keeping the waistline lifted and control the return.

Really get that feeling of the waistline goes up for the knees to go forward. And even on the return, she's keeping her lower back long. That's it, so you're getting a lot of deep core work, hip flexors are working. Even your scapula and shoulder blades are working. And just two more, that's it.

Great exercise, just to connect and feel your body. Now we're gonna take that into an oblique movement. So she's just gonna take her body and rotate about six inches to her left. Same setup, round back, she's gonna drag her knees forward. She's gonna feel her oblique a little bit more on that left side.

Shoulders stay wrapped and low, pressure down into the shins, that's it, just two more. She's doing a great job keeping her waistline lifted, one more. Now she's gonna shift her forearms over to the right. And again, round, you might notice this is a great opportunity to feel the differences between your left and right side of your body. And pull, that's it.

Connected, strong, three more. That's it, and one more. This is all a preparation before we do footwork. Now, from there, she's gonna come back to the middle, and this will be single leg. So in a flat back position, reach one leg straight back to hip height, flex your foot, and reach through the heel.

Now, as you reach through that heel, pull the carriage forward with the kneeling leg and then return with control. See if you can lift that leg right up to hip height, strong and connected. That's it, just three more on that side. Think of your reaching leg as your standing leg. That's it, and one more.

Now we're feeling the love, there we go. Now we'll take side two, good work. Reach that second leg back. Reach through the heel, that's the ground. Drag the knee forward.

That's it, strong, connected, organized, three more. Reaching back to pull, and two more. Excellent, one more, last one, awesome. So as you guys finish that one, now carefully help yourself off the reformer. We'll take the long box off, and now set up for footwork.

We're gonna do single leg footwork. So I recommend either two reds and a blue or two reds and a yellow. We'll put the straps back on the poles if you put 'em on the floor, just so you're ready for when you get to arm work. We'll put 'em that way so they don't clang for you, that's it. Now, in footwork, we're gonna start with a bridge.

So for a bridge, I recommend you put your headrest down if it's currently up, and come up onto your heels with your heels about six inches apart. And just first just feel the sacrum and the back of the pelvis evenly on the mat, just to organize yourself in this relationship with gravity, and just take a few deep breaths and let your body settle on the exhale. Let the breastbone relax, your shoulders, your neck, and just sense your body weight. And on the next exhale, as you follow the belly wall in, curl the tail towards the back of the knees and peel into a bridge. Take a breath at the top of the bridge, sink right below the breastbone, and use your abdomen on the down to lengthen the lower back, and at the very bottom release the tail back to neutral.

We're just gonna do that three more times, nice and smooth. Fluid motion where you're using your abdomen and the back of the legs together, and on the exhale, sequence down. That's it, just two more, nice and fluid. Feel that nice, fluid motion through the spine. Breath at the top, and then peel down through the spine, one vertebra at a time, last one.

Go for an evenness on both sides. Relax the jaw and the neck. There, now when you get back to neutral, up on your heels, press both legs straight, and hold it there for a moment. Now, find neutral and bring one leg up into a tabletop, and bring your opposite hand to your inner knee for a diagonal press. And on the exhale, just lightly press them into one another and pull yourself in with the standing leg.

Inhale on the out, do that for five. So we're working on feeling the back of the leg in the center line, finishing through the front of the leg. One more, when you get out to straight this time, bring the arm by your side. Now, as you come in this time, reach the free leg under the bar, and then back to tabletop for five. Feel that fluid connection, smooth and fluid all the way through.

Two more before we add. Keep the breathing smooth, one more. Now for the next five, you're gonna go under the bar again, but this time fully develop the leg up to the ceiling and then back under the bar, nice and smooth. And it's okay if you can't fully straighten your leg. If you feel like you're changing your pelvis, focus more on the standing leg and just straighten to where you can, keeping good form.

And just two more, that's it. One more, just fluid, connected all the way through. And then from there, from the straight position, lower your foot to the bar and switch legs. Bring up your second leg into tabletop. Bring the opposite hand to the inner knee.

And on the exhales, you press, pull yourself in, inhale on the out, five reps. That's it, feel that center line, back of your leg to the front of your leg, two more. And one, as you get to straight, bring the arm down by your side. Now as you come in for the next five, reach the leg under the bar and back to tabletop, smooth, fluid, aware of your pelvic position and your spine. Two more, and one.

For the next five, fully developed the leg to the ceiling each time you go out. Feel like you're reaching into both legs at the same time, and three more. That's it, and two and one. Now when you get to straight, now lower both feet to the bar, but take a moment to come onto the balls of the feet. Now float the first leg up into tabletop that you had.

Now this time we're gonna just do one movement where you fully develop the leg. You go under the bars. You come in, fully develop, and hold. Now with the up leg, touch the bar and lift with both feet flexed and pointed at the ankles. Bend and come in and reach under the bar again.

We're gonna do that five more times. Fully develop, touch the bar and lift, flex and point both, bend and come in, nice and smooth. Shoulders are backing down, jaw's relaxed, fluid motion. Flex point, bend and come in, and two more. Reach, touch lift, flex and point, bend and come in.

And one more, we're organizing the body. We're organizing the brain. We're getting it all connected. (both laugh) And then fully come out, and from the out position, just take a moment to switch your feet. Start in tabletop with the second leg.

As you come in, reach under the bar, fully develop and hold. Now, touch the bar and lift, flex and point both feet, bend and come in. Five more, fully develop, touch lift, flex, point at the ankles, bend and come in. Equal tone in both legs even though one leg's in the air. Touch lift, flex point, bend and come in.

Nice and smooth, three more. Keep the breathing fluid all the way through. Bend and come in, nice, and one more. Touch lift, flex point, bend and come in. Now, go all the way out, fully develop again or just go out to straight, and lower both feet to the bar, still on the balls of your feet, and switch sides one more time.

We're gonna do one more exercise in this positions. Take your first leg up into tabletop. Now go under the bar again, then fully develop and hold. Now with the up leg, just go side to side like a windshield wiper between three and nine o'clock, keeping the pelvis stabilized on the mat. This is a prep for leg circles.

On the inhale, come into the midline, exhale into a circle, nice and fluid, strong in your standing leg, active in your shoulders and arms, fluid in your moving leg. Two more in that direction, and one. And now reverse, inhale away from center, exhale through the circle. Feel the strength of the standing leg against the fluidity of the moving leg. Two more, and one.

Lower that leg to the bar. Float your second leg into tabletop. Go under the bar to come in, fully develop and hold. Now again, just side to side, feel that three and nine o'clock a few times. Start to feel the strength of the back of your arms and shoulders for stability.

And now inhale into the midline. Exhale through the circle, leg towards the bar, then into the circle, nice and fluid. Make the circle as small as you need to to keep your pelvis stable, two more in that direction. And one and reverse. Fluid, that's it, smooth.

Two more, and one, very nice. Lower that foot to the bar. Now just go into a simple running in place with both legs just for a moment before we shift into arm work, that's it. And in your running, it's a great opportunity to work on leg alignment. So inside of the running, press into the two front foot points, the ball behind your big toe, the ball behind your little toe, and press the shin forward on the bending leg.

And on the lowering side, take your sit bone more in towards the midline so you feel like your legs are a little more active and toned, that's it. And then just drop one for a stretch for a few breaths. Let the breathing slow down, become a little deeper and lower. One more breath there, and then go right into side two, nice and fluid, and then bend and come in. Now we're gonna make a little change for arm work.

So I'm gonna have Erin come up and change her spring tension. I recommend for arm work anywhere from one red to two red, depending on your shoulder strength, a red and a yellow, a red and a blue is fine, whatever works for you. And she's gonna come back down onto her back. And if you like your headrest up for arm work, you're welcome to put it up, and take the, she has double loops. She's gonna take the small loops of the double loops in her hands and then put both her heels on the bar for a moment, that's it.

Now with her hands straight up to the ceiling, organize your pelvis in neutral, and just float up one leg at a time into a tabletop. Connect to the back of the shoulders, and on the exhale, just drag the arms straight down to the mat, and then inhale back to that starting place. Just do four reps of straight up and down, keeping the chest open, shoulders nice and low, and down, one more. Now we're gonna go right into arm circles. She's gonna pull to the bottom, open out to the side, and into a circle, and all the way through the circle, keep the chest open, the back of the waistline close to the mat, one more in that direction.

And then reverse, open, down, and up the center. All the way through, you're reaching into the straps. Two more in that direction, and one. Now right at that high point, we're gonna go into cheerleader. So pull to the bottom.

Now one arm will go out to the side, one arm straight up, pull 'em back down, and alternate, four each side, and add a little smile for your cheerleader moment. Here we go, (chuckles) that's it. Feel that asymmetrical work, it's great for your body. One more each side, last one. Now she arrives back at the top with the arms straight up to the ceiling.

Bringing the heels together, open the knees about armpit width for a hundred prep. So a hundred prep, she's gonna do an abdominal curl and press the legs out to a high 45. Bend back to the start with control. We'll do that for five more reps. Curl and reach, inhale into the start.

She's drawing the weight of her head into her center and standing into the arms, zipping up her center line, and two more. And one, as she comes down, she's gonna, we're gonna prepare for coordination, so she's gonna bring the knees together in parallel. Bend the elbows, bring the elbows close to the mat with the hands directly above the elbows, wrists straight. Feel the tone of your side body. Inhale to prepare, exhale, curl up, slide the legs long, inhale, quick open, close of the legs.

Exhale, bend the knees, and bend the arms. Inhale out, open, close, bend the knees. As you're bending the arms, reach the shoulder blades towards the elbows so you stay in that connection, three more. Open, close, knees, arms, one more. And fluid, and then come all the way down to the mat for a moment.

Now we're gonna take it into jackknife. So jackknife is a rollover with strong connection to the arms. So she's gonna take the legs straight up to the ceiling. On the inhale phase, draw the arms to the mat. Exhale into the rollover.

Let the tail chase your feet. From the back of your hips, reach straight up with the legs. Lower the legs to a 45. Now slowly roll down as you stand into the arms, nice and smooth and fluid. As your legs come to 90, float your arms back to that starting place.

Inhale, arms to the mat, exhale into the rollover. Inhale, reach up, use the back of the hips and legs. Lower the legs slightly, and roll through the spine. Stand into the arms, keeping the chest open. Beautiful, just two more times.

Arms back to the start, hands to the mat. Tail chases your feet, reach up with the legs, lower the legs, sequence through the spine. Feel that moment of control, arms to the start. Just one more, arms to the mat. Curl over, reach up with the legs.

Stand into the arms as you sequence down. Beautiful work, back to the start. Now from there, we're gonna change the spring tension. If you don't have two reds on the spring, on right now, two red springs, put on two reds, 'cause we're gonna put the straps on your feet. Great work.

And for this series, it's okay in the beginning to have your headrest up if you prefer that. Put the long straps on your feet, and press out to a 45, and go into a small V with the feet for frog. And think of using frog as a moment to kind of connect to your breathing and a fluid motion of your legs. So inhale, bend the knees in towards the armpits. Exhale to press long, inhale to bend.

Feel like you're using your breath like an accordion to open the ribs. Connect and just let the body become more fluid, and let go of any tension you might've built up from that previous exercise around the neck and the front of the shoulders, that's it. There's always that awareness of getting better at everything we're doing, one more. Now we're gonna go into Peter Pan, the same movement, but one leg's gonna stay straight. So she bends one, she opens the other, and then zips back to the center, alternating, four on each side.

And as you work through this practice, keeping your pelvis even in the middle, legs moving at the same time at the same speed, still fluid breathing, two more each side. That's it, one more each side now. Nice and smooth, and last one. As you get back out to that 45, go to parallel for leg circles. Slowly let the legs come up towards 90, open, down, and together.

All the way through the circle, reach into the strap, and get that feeling of equal work in both legs, equal weight on the back of each side of your pelvis. Two more in that direction, and one. As you get up to the top, reverse, down the center, open up, and together. Chest is open. Neck is long. Equal work in both legs, one more.

As you arrive down at that low 45 in parallel, if your headrest is currently up, you guys, put it down. We're gonna go into short spine. So slowly on the inhale, let the legs come towards 90. On the exhale, let the tail chase your feet. Inhale to plie, let the pelvis rotate a little more over the ribcage.

Now heels together, slowly roll down. Use the abdomen as you sequence through the spine. As you get towards the bottom, pull the heels down to drop your tail towards the mat. Then press the legs long. Inhale to 90, tail reaches towards the feet.

Inhale to plie, peel through the spine, nice and smooth. Arms are long and heavy, heels to the butt or heels down and reach long, just two more times. Just gonna do four reps, nice and smooth. We're restoring the spine today. Nice fluid motion, peel through, tail drops, reach long, and one more, fluid motions.

And then on that way down, really think of the back of the waistline lengthening into the mat, reach long. Now from there, just bend the legs, and help yourself out of the straps. And we're gonna shift, and we're gonna go into semi-circle. So for semi-circle, what I recommend you guys do is take a moment to put your bar on low bar. Right now it's on middle bar for foot work.

So go one notch lower. And then when you come back down onto your back, drape your knees over the bar. There you go, now in that position, put your hands on the shoulder blocks. As you press down into the bar with the back of your legs, lift your hips, and then slide the carriage out from under you to straight arms. (both laughing) Exactly.

There. (laughs) There you go. There you go. Takes a little bit of figuring that one out. Now come up onto your heels one at a time with your feet about six inches apart. Now bring the carriage in, and curl up into a high bridge. Now take a moment there where you just sink your front ribs in and let your shoulders set down.

We're gonna take it nice and slow. On the inhale, press the legs long. On the exhale, articulate the spine and the hips down into the springs. Inhale, bend the knees to come in. Exhale, curl to that high point of the bridge.

Inhale, slide long, exhale, sink the chest, mid back, low back, then reach the tail into the springs. Come in, curl to the high point. Just one more in that direction. Press long, articulate down into the springs. Bend to come in, feel that deep hip crease, and curl to the high point.

Now just hold that high point, take a breath. Exhale, articulate back down, changing directions. At the bottom, inhale, press long, exhale, curl to the high point. Inhale, pull yourself in, sequence back down into the springs. Press long, curl to the high point.

Draw yourself in, peel back down. Just one more time, everybody. Press long, curl to the high point, draw yourself in. Now at this point, when you're all the way in, if you can take it a notch further, take one hand either to the foot bar or your ankle, and then the second one. Now imagine you're sending your tail towards your knees.

You're reaching your knees out over your feet, shoulders are back, and relax your neck and jaw. And just take a few breaths to feel that deepening stretch in the front of the thighs, one more breath there. And then nice and slow, take one hand back to the shoulder block, then your second hand, and then help yourself back onto the carriage and rest for a few breaths. Take your time before you come up. You just wanna let the breath, the blood come back.

Take a moment. Ah, now from there, roll to your side to help yourself up. We're gonna grab the long box. So this is gonna be a adventurous and fun hip extension series. So we'll put the foot bar down for this one and put on just one blue spring.

Then we'll put it all the way down so it's out of your way. Now with one blue spring, Erin's gonna come onto the reformer on the long box facing the straps and put one strap, the long loop, on her left foot. So take your time getting into this. She's gonna grab that strap on the left side and put it around her left foot and then put both of her hands on the box and just come into a flat back position. So all she's gonna practice doing is slowly, just with the leg on the exhale, pressing the leg back to hip height, and then slowly return.

And really get the feeling of extending from the bottom of the glute and hamstring. Feeling that spring tension helps her activate those muscles better, one more. Now if you feel like you can take it a notch further, as she moves at that same smooth pace, she's gonna reach the opposite arm forward. Feel the leg first, then add the arm. Just four reps, nice and smooth.

Exhale into it, that's it, good form, two more. Now we're warm. Whew! That's it, one more. Excellent, now next exercise in this same position, she's just gonna slide her body a little bit more to the left, so she can drop her left leg off the box to the left and let that leg straighten. Now she's gonna bend her right elbow.

Come onto the elbow so the body's slightly rotated. Now let that long leg come forward. Now with that straight leg, pull it back towards the foot bar, and let the hip open just a little bit. And then lower again, and we'll do that for four. Pull back, that's it.

Feel like you're reaching the leg away to maintain length, one more. On this next one, pull back and hold it back. Now hold onto that turnout, and bend the knee out to the side and turn out and press it away, do that for six. That's it, nice and smooth. Feel that clean hip extension, long spine, three more.

That's it, excellent, two more, and one. Very nice, then she's gonna carefully help herself out that side, and we'll get ready for side two. There's more! (Tom laughing) Just take your time getting set up. Now the first thing is just all four, straight spine. Just gonna do four reps of just pressing the leg back, just to connect to that.

And feel the presses from the bottom of the glutes. You feel those hip extensor muscles. Energy out the crown of your head, out the reaching leg, and just two more. That's it, doing a good job of keeping her in her lower back the same, one more. Now she's gonna add the opposite arm forward after the leg starts.

Long line through the body. And two more, that's it. And one more. As she completes that, for the next exercise, she's gonna shift more towards the side that she has the strap on her foot and then lower the opposite elbow to the box and let the leg straighten. Now let the leg come towards the shoulder into hip flexion.

Now she's gonna pull the leg straight back towards the bar, let the hip open just a little bit, and then lower. Keep reaching into the strap as you pull back, nice line through the spine, head to tail. Two more, that's it, excellent. One more, and pull. This time as you pull, hold, let the knee open as you bend, and press away for six.

Smooth, fluid press with strength, that's it. And three more, breathing fluid in this strong movement, two more, and one. And as you lower, carefully help yourself out of the strap. We'll put the strap back on the pole. Now we're gonna keep the weight the same.

And in this position, she's just gonna lie onto her belly for the next series on the long box. So the first exercise is postural and for your shoulder girdle and for your rotator cuff muscles. So she's gonna take her elbows out to the side like she's doing a, and she'll let 'em, the hands come right under the elbows. So imagine like you're doing an upside-down bench press. You're holding a bar across your chest.

She's gonna have a straight line through her head. And on the exhale, I just want her to feel, on the exhale, to draw the lower belly wall in and turn on the bottom of her sit bones and upper inner thighs so she feels that connection to her middle. Now on the exhale, as you do that, spin your hands to the front so your hands will be the same level as your shoulders. Inhale back to the start. Do that four times. Feel how you're using the back of the shoulders, the whole body line, two more.

So it's mid back. It's rotators. Great for your shoulders and your posture. Now this next time, hold it. Now reach the arms overhead, and keep rotating the thumb up towards the ceiling. Bend back to the start.

Let the arms rotate back to the beginning. And again, external, as you reach overhead, rotate the thumbs up, bend, rotate back to the center. There you go, three more times. External, reach overhead, bend, return to center, two more. Great exercise for posture and shoulder health.

Bend, back to center, one more. And reach, bend, and back to center. Now we're gonna take it directly into pulling straps. So for pulling straps, let's take her arms and reach through the straps so she can hold a little higher on the rope, which is kinda light, we have on one blue. With the hands outside the rails, just take a moment to feel that strong, straight line again head to tail, and on the exhale, without even extending, just drag your arms all the way back to your sides.

Feel that strong, straight line, control the return. Do three of those before we add spine extension. As you're pulling, let the shoulder blades come back, energy out the crown of your head. That's it, one more. And then we're gonna add spine extension.

That's it, for the next four, pull back again. Now slide the heart forward. Take the shoulder blade tips in, and then lower with control, nice and smooth. Exhale to pull, inhale to open. Nice and smooth like that, two more times.

Exhale back, inhale to open. Lower with control, and one more. Feel the full body working, and lower. Now we're gonna go directly into the T press. And if you wanna make it a little lighter, 'cause this is a little harder, you can walk your hands back on the strap.

She's gonna pull back the same way, pull 'em back the same way, the arms in close to your body. Now turn your palms to face the floor, and slowly open out into a T to about shoulder height. Now pull back from the bottom of your shoulder blades like you're reaching back towards your back pockets. Then open, do that for five more. As you're pulling, think of energy out the crown of your head as you reach towards your hips.

Three more, fluid, that's it. And two, and one. Slowly lower, put the straps back on the poles, And just take a moment and rest for a second. Let your belly, when you breathe in, let your belly relax. Breathe nice and deep so you can let your diaphragm expand and relax your lower back.

That's it, one more breath like that. Ah, and then just carefully help yourself off the reformer, and we'll take the long box away. So now we're gonna set up for single leg knee stretchers, the nice countermovement. So we'll put the bar back up into middle bar, which is the same as you would use for footwork. We'll put on either a red and a blue or a red and a yellow.

And Erin's gonna stand on one side of the reformer with her foot against the shoulder block, but the standing leg is straight. And the standing leg will be back more towards, not all the way in the middle of the carriage, but a little bit behind the edge of the carriage with a round back, and that'll be the starting position. So the standing leg is straight, and the spine is round. She's gonna curl the tail. Now the leg movement's gonna be small.

So she's gonna push back without losing that roundness of her back and then control the return. So the standing leg stays right over the foot. The waistline is lifted. She's getting that nice hip flexors, nice countermovement to that back extension, just two more. And one, now transfer into a flat back.

Now in the flat back, you will be able to straighten the leg. Now she's gonna fully extend the leg. That's in control of the return. We'll do that for four. Feel a little lift in the front ribs, long through the back of the neck, that's it.

One more. Now from there, she's gonna bend her standing leg and sit back a little bit more, but she'll keep this knee off the carriage, still in a flat back, now into a leg press, now fully press. So it's gonna be stronger, but she's got more power. So now it's more hip strength, strong standing leg. One more.

And then for the last four, as she comes in, she's gonna bring her outside arm back by her hip. Now as she presses, arm reaches overhead, arm and leg reach for four. Fluid and strong, two more, and one. And we'll come in, and we'll go right to side two. Now we're working. (laughs) So the first one is the standing leg is straight.

The back is round. The shoulders are low. Now when she pushes back, it's small. It's using her low glute, hamstring, and abdomen to open up the hips and strengthen her core. That's it, for four reps, one more. Now transfer into flat back, and now fully extend the leg and get that sense of strength in the standing leg.

Reach into the moving leg, long line through the spine, one more. And now sit back into an imaginary chair, keeping the knee off the carriage, and now fully extend. Now it's a leg press. That's it, feel a little lift in the front ribs, so you can feel that length with strength, two more, and one. As she comes all the way in, the outside arm will come back by her hip.

Now opposite arm and leg reach for four, strong and connected, and two more, and one, and all the way in, very nice. Now we're gonna do a combination movement for the upper body. This is gonna be long stretch, side support, long stretch. So for this series, I recommend you guys use either a red and a yellow or a red and a blue. If it's too light, you need to make it a little heavier.

If it's too heavy and you go to the single arm, you gotta make it a little lighter, but you gotta feel it through. So Erin's gonna come up and stand on the carriage and put her heels halfway up on the shoulder blocks. For the long stretch in this particular version, she's gonna lower into a plank in this version. So now just three reps, as she exhales, reaches the bar away. Inhale to come in, exhale away with strength, one more.

Now as she comes all the way in, she's gonna take her left hand to the middle of the bar and turn onto the sides of her feet for side support. That's it, now tail forward, push out slow, come all the way in, three reps. That's it, one more. As she comes in, hand back to the bar, back to the long stretch position for three more reps of long stretch, reaching away. Make it as small as you need to to keep the form strong.

That's it, one more. Now as she comes in, right hand will come to the middle of the bar. Turn into the sides position on the right. First organize, long body line. Exhale to push away, inhale to come in.

Keep the hips lifted, one more. As she comes in, she'll rotate back down to the bar. Now from the plank position, pike the hips up to bring the carriage in, and then press back out to plank, do that for three. And then pike again, and back to plank. And just one more time, pike, back to plank, and then come all the way in and rest.

Great work, very nice. Now from there, we're gonna transfer into kneeling salutes. For kneeling salute and hug a tree, you guys are gonna wanna make it lighter, go down to a blue. And you'll kneel facing the foot bar and take hold of the hand straps. You could hold the long loops or the short loops, whatever you prefer, depending on how the tension feels for you.

And then when you're ready, carefully come up to tall kneeling. Now in that tall kneeling position, think of bringing your pelvis into neutral. So you wanna feel your glutes, your inseams, and your head's right above your spine. Reach the arms in front of you at mid chest level, and then open your elbows like you're hugging a big tree. On the inhale phase, let the arms open.

Exhale, wrap around the tree. Feel that connection from the bottom of your shoulders down to your inseams, do that for six. Wrap around that tree. Keep the elbows a little bit bent the whole time. That's it, and three more, and two, nice long neck, and one.

Now from there, we're gonna go into salute. So keeping the strap above your upper arms, bring the first finger or thumb together at about forehead level, elbows wide. On the exhale, press up on a high 45, inhale to bend. Start to feel the connection from the bottom of your butt to the heel of your hands. That's it, three more, and two, and one more, last one, best one.

Very nice, then as we release there, put the straps back on the poles, and we're gonna take it into front splits. So for front splits, I recommend a red and a yellow or a red and a blue. You can feel how it feels. Bar's in middle bar. Erin's gonna put one foot on the bar and then have the other heel halfway up on the shoulder block.

Now the first position, she's forward in the lunge, hips are square. The first movement is, on the exhale, she's gonna drop her chin, lift her hips up and back, and then slowly press the carriage out and then bend the front knee and open the chest to come back in. So think of it like a circle. So you'll lift the hips up and back, press out, open the chest as you bend the front knee, lower the hips to come in, and just feel, it's like a circle of the pelvis, goes up and back, press away, bend the front knee but keep reaching into the back leg. Just do that two more times.

How's that weight feel for you, that okay? That's it, then open the chest, come in, and one more time, up and back. As she opens the chest, she's still reaching into the back leg, and come forward, up and in, and then we're gonna switch sides. So she'll put her foot on the bar. Getting in and out of this can be the most challenging part of it.

So first thing she's gonna do, just feel her body line. Keeping the shoulders low, on the exhale, she drops her chin. Lift the waistline up to lift the hips up. Press away with both legs. Now start to bend the front knee.

As the hips lower, the chest opens to come in. And again, exhale up and back, press away, lower the hips as you open the chest, and bend the front knee. That's it, feel how you've taken your pelvis through a circle, three more times. Up and back, press away, open the chest, come forward, up and in, two more. That's it, and then open as you bend, and come in, and one more, last one.

And then as you lower, bend and come in, great work. Carefully help yourself off of there. Put on one red spring for finishing with mermaid. In mermaid, you can sit in a Z seat, cross-legged, even feet on the floor, depending on what works for you. She'll have her hand on the bar a little bit in the front of her body.

Now as you reach out, reach the outside arm up before you bend. Get long, and then as you side bend and push away, keep that outer hip energetically weighted, and let the inhale bring you back up, nice and fluid. So get long before you bend, nice and smooth. That's it, just do one more like that, nice and fluid. Up to go over.

This time, as you're in the side bend, hold it. Put your attention on your weight-bearing arm. Bend and stretch the weight-bearing arm for three. Reach from the underside of the shoulder, keeping that outer hip energetically heavy, one more. After this third press, wrap down towards the foot bar.

Bring your other hand to the bar, and open up your weight-bearing arm wider. Now lower the torso a little lower. Now bend and stretch both arms for three. Press away from the bottom of the shoulders. Keep your breathing fluid, one more.

On that third press, hold it. Now start to slide your heart forward and up and come up into extension. And then from the top down, curl back down to that low place. Do that three times. Inhale to lift and open.

So you're getting all those joint spaces and muscles to move, leaving your spine fluid and flexible and strong, one more. Lengthen forward and up, and flex down. At the bottom of this next one, hold it and take a few big breaths, expanding the inside of the ribcage with your lungs, two or three breaths like that just to create more space, fluidity, energy. And then nice and slow, bring the weight-bearing hand back to the middle. Come back to the side bend.

Lengthen back up, and then do a counter stretch the other way. You can grab the shoulder block and side bend the other way just for a counter. And then lengthen up when you're ready, and we'll turn around for side two. First action is just gonna take the outside arm up to get long, and then side bend, keeping that outer hip energetically weighted. And then lengthen back up, nice and smooth.

See how she's keeping her hip energetically weighted. It's okay if the hip's slightly lifted, but energetically, you're trying to keep it heavy so you get more of an opening in the side body. On the next one, she'll go into it and hold it. Now put your attention on the weight-bearing arm, and bend and stretch for three. Feel the reach from the underside of the shoulder.

And one more. On that third press, press, then wrap down to the bar with the free arm. Bring it to the bar, and open up your weight-bearing arm wider. Now take the torso a little lower, and then bend and stretch your arms for three. Press away from the bottom of the shoulders, keeping the neck long.

One more. After that third press, hold it. Now slide the heart forward and up to come up in, opening the top of your chest. Curl down from the top, nice and smooth. Feel how you're using your back muscles as you come up, how you're using your abdomen and shoulder blades to go down.

One more time, nice and smooth. Extend and open, flex and lower. Now at the bottom of the movement, take three big breaths. Expand the ribcage. Think of the lungs.

Start at the bottom of your ribcage, you're opening, one more breath. And then nice and slow, bring your weight-bearing hand back to the center. Come back to the side bend. Lengthen all the way up and in, and do a counter stretch the other way. Take a breath or two there, and then slowly release.

Then come on up to standing, and we'll finish with a standing roll down on the floor, if you wanna come around to the front. There you go, and then just stand with your feet directly under your sit bones. Center the weight, unlock your knee joints, take a breath. Now bend your knees a little bit more, and from the top down, do a sequential roll down, head, upper back, mid back, low back. Then let your pelvis roll over the top of your stable legs, and at the bottom, just feel the way to your head, and nod your head yes a few times, rotate it no.

Take a nice fluid breath, and feel your feet starting to grow roots as you slowly stack your spine, arriving at the top in aligned posture. Let the head be the last thing up. Center the weight. Let the breathing drop lower in the body, and just sense alignment, ease, aliveness. Acknowledge yourself, your great work today.

Thank you for joining, everybody. Thank you, Erin. And I hope you enjoyed. Let us know how it goes for you, and hope to see you again on Pilates Anytime.


Shelley H
5 people like this.
Thank you so much Tom.I absolutely loved this class. Challenging but your voice is so calming and encouraging!!!Oh and i love your cheeky laugh on the hard bits!!!!!!
Dawn U
5 people like this.
Tom, I struggle with the jack knife and rollover.  Do you have any suggestions for me?  Love the class.  Thank you.
2 people like this.
Great to see you back on PA! Thanks for this lovely class, Tom :))
1 person likes this.
Love your work on the reformer Tom! Fabulous class!! I also love the reformer class you’ve done for BCP … more please! 
6 people like this.
Shelley HDawn UAnne P.Monica D
Thank you all for taking the time for the class and your great feedback!
Dawn for rollover and jackknife, one option is to use either the posts behind the shoulder blocks or move the infinity bar to the other end past the headrest to hold on to. Practice the rollover this way as you’ll have more leverage nd can focus on the pelvis and lower spine. 😊🙏
1 person likes this.
What a wonderful and smooth class. Thank you!
1 person likes this.
Great class
Maureen GJulia D, thank you both and enjoy!😊🙏
Shona Croft
That was so great. Your calm precise cues meant I didn’t even have to LOOK the class was seamless x
Shona Croft, thank you! It’s great to hear my intention of you being able to “work in” with clarity came through!! All the best to you 🙏
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