Class #783

Archival Tower Exercises

35 min - Class


Amy Taylor Alpers teaches a special Tower workout in which the majority of the class incorporates archival material seen in some of the early films of Joseph Pilates. Her cues are insightful and "spot on" for taking you to the edge of your ability. This class is great for those looking for extra arm work, and one you are likely to want to repeat time and time again.
What You'll Need: Tower

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi and welcome. I'm Amy Taylor Alpers from the Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado. And we're going to do something exciting today. We're going to do a little bit of our archival work that comes off one of the original films that has just upwards of two, three dozen exercises on it that aren't most of the standard material that we see in a lot of the comprehensive teacher training programs. We're going to mix in a few more standard ones, but most of this is going to be the archival stuff.

We have created our own names for things so don't worry about that if you've got a different name for something, but we're going to start with just a standard roll down. We're just going to take our roll down bars. I'm just going to warm up your spines. You're going to slowly roll your spine down one vertebra at a time, just articulating, beginning to feel it moving and then curl your chin to your chest. Let the spring lift you.

You kind of just work on bending you. So you're going to roll down again. Pull the abdominal deep in. Curl forward as you go. Think of curling forward into the exercise.

And then again, we'll inhale to curl. You keep bending elbows, ears between the elbows, and exhale. And we'll do one more. Inhale. Again, keep curling forward instead of thinking lean back.

Curl forward. That's the way. Exhale and stay at the bottom. And we'll take a straight arm press with a big inhale. So you press to your bars, your hips with the bar, take a huge inhale and exhale.

Release. And inhale. Big lungs-- stretch out your lungs, stretch out your rib cage, and exhale. One more like that. Big lungs, big stretch, and exhale.

Bend in the elbows, pull the bar towards the ribs-- again, stretching the lungs more than the spring. Exhale. Big lungs. Feel that you're stretching the back, low lobes of your lungs as well. Last one.

Inhaling, big stretch, fill up, and exhale. Good. Gently, just leave the bar there. Curl your chin to your chest, roll up, keep bending forward through the arms all the way and rest. Very nice.

Put your left hand in the middle of the bar and let's take your right hand across your rib cage and we'll roll down one arm. Curl back, pull the abdominal in, press the belly deep to the spine. You're going to take your right arm out to the side and up to your ear and then keep stretching as if you were trying to go past the mat. And that will take you into a little bit of a side bend. And as you get to the other side of the mat, you can turn your hand and hold on.

You've got it. And now just breathe deeply into your right lung, stretching out that whole right side. You can feel the ribs expanding, almost like they're splaying out. You can feel the lungs themselves stretching inside. And on the next inhale, we're going to take that right foot over to the left and get a little deeper stretch.

Try to grow your right leg a little longer than your left and feel if you can get that stretch in new places. And then we'll bring the right foot back, and we'll bring the right arm back and around and across the ribs and curled chin to chest. And roll up, bending, bending, bending. Very nice. And switch hands-- right hand on the center, left hand across the ribs.

Pull the belly button deep to the spine and articulate down through your vertebra. Left arm reaches out to the side and up and then longer, longer, longer and over to the side. All right, three big breaths. Stretching out the left ribcage, the whole left side of the body, deep into the lungs. You can even picture all the way to the spine and picture how your spine is side bending and then bring that left foot over to the right just to increase it a little bit more.

You're just trying to open the tissue up and get some oxygen in it and start a little bit of your heat mechanism starting to go. And then we'll bring that left foot back and that left arm across and curl your chin to your chest and roll through your spine. Very nice. OK, great. Come up to standing and you're going to move your roll-down bar down to what we'll call at the "archival" setting, which is the fourth from the bottom.

And basically, the measurement of that is, when you're sitting down, it's as if it's about head height. And it's not perfect, but it's fine, right. Or you could sort of look at the roll-down bar and see that it's maybe about five, six inches from the mat. All right. So we're actually going to turn and face the other way, and we're going to do an exercise we call the shoulder massage.

OK, you're going to take-- and I would go outside of your springs there. You're going to take that bar. Just for a moment, imagine that somebody has your wrists and is gently pulling them. And then somebody maybe has a foot in the middle of your spine, between your shoulder blades, and is pressing you forward. And you're wrapping yourself around that.

Yeah, OK? You're going to straight-arm press, bend your knuckles forward, roll the bar up your ribcage, lift your ribs-- beautiful-- and stretch it out and down and in and inhale big and exhale out. Gorgeous. And it's purely for opening up all the tissue around your breathing mechanism-- ribs, lungs, spine, shoulders. Now we'll reverse.

Bend up really high, press it down, and get really tall, stretch out long. Here's that friend stretching you again and lift up. Bend, inhale, lift the ribs. Very nice. Down and stretch it out and up.

And last time. Really big-- big generous inhale, deep, squeezing, lifting, exhale. Very nice. OK. A quarter turn to your left and you're going to put your left hand right in the middle of the wood.

And your hips will be about two thirds back so that your hand on that bar is slightly in front of your shoulder and right in the middle of the wood. You have a couple choices with your legs. You can leave your feet flat on the mat, or you can have straight legs. And also you can lift the feet at the same time. The arm out to the side, technically, is here.

If you're struggling at all with that, just put your fingertips down on the mat and use that. It's a slightly different movement. It's not a circle. You're just going inhale, pull the bar down to where your thigh meets the mat, and then exhale back out. So you decide if you need to move in or out a little bit, right?

And inhale. Your task is right to the thigh-- yeah, a little lower. Are you even, Sam? Yup. And exhale out and inhale and exhale.

Good. Now you go straight down to the mat. Really go down to the mat and use that down to give you up. Push down on it, Sam. Yeah and exhale, right.

So the bar doesn't lift. It just goes down to the mat to your hip and back out again. And we're going to do one last time. Big inhale as you stretch the spring, you stretch your lungs. And exhale and rest.

Nice. And spin to the other side. So I'm thinking that was maybe about six. We're going for six. Felt more, right?

And we go-- inhale and exhale. And each one-- more heat, more lungs, more oxygen, more lift. Exhale. Feel that you're moving. You're keeping the shoulder blade relatively still on the ribcage, right?

And you're trying to do it in the arm. That's beautiful. Nice. And one more- inhale and exhale. Very good.

OK, so all that's kind of designed to get that chest moving, get those lungs expanding, get things a little more soft. All right, so now you're going to turn to face your poles. And we're going to do what's called the seated water wheel. So you're going to hold your bar. Now, technically, you want to be shoulder width so you might even span that little metal piece right there.

You're going to reach forward towards your ankles. You're going to press the bar straight down to your shins, right on your shins so you don't have to take your legs anywhere. Good. You're going to start to roll down. Bending your elbows, you pull that bar up your spine with you to your chin, keep a long spine and just come up to sitting, just right up to sitting.

You got it. You reach out. You press down. You roll back. You bend the elbows, and you inhale.

And you exhale, and you let that spring return you. And you reach, press, and roll down and pull it up. Exhale up and reach down and press out. All the way up and exhale Up. And we're going do one more.

Reach out. Big inhales-- filling the lungs. All the way up and lift up to sitting. Very nice. Now keeping the bar on your chin, we're going to do a couple where we just kind of do a flat-back sit up, and then we're going to do the reverse.

So you hold that bar at your chin. And that's one of the sort of typical aspects a lot of this material so that the bar's on the chin. If the chin is a little high, you can go collar bones. But you really want to keep it on your body. Yeah, so you pull those shoulders back, and you really activate the back of the shoulder.

But you're also activating a lot of upper and forearm. So you pull your belly in, and you lean flat back, all the way down to the mat, if you want. Keep your chin down and then lift back up. And let that spring do a little more work for you, right? So you pull you.

You hold the spring, but you pull you. And then you hold the spring, and you let the spring go back up. Let's do one more like that. You go-- inhale go and exhale up. Now we're going to reverse.

So you're going inhale back. You're going to start to roll the bar down your body, curl your chin to your chest, and roll up and forward to your ankles and sit up, bar to chin. And you go out. As soon as you start to roll the bar, roll you. Push that bar down, even a little sooner, and come up.

Good. Now, watch your wrists, you guys. Try to keep them nice and strong. Pull the belly to the floor, start rolling you. Roll you.

That's the way. And come back up. Two more-- big inhale, go, go. Exhale, curl, and roll and up. Last time-- inhale and exhale, curl, and roll and up.

Very, very nice. OK, so one of the sort of aspects that we want to be a little more aware of with certain of these exercises is that you really allow the spring to do a little more work for you. You do you, and you let the spring help you. It creates a sort of unique connection. OK, great.

All right, good. Now let's come up to our knees and we're going to do a version of "thigh stretch." There's several versions here. This sort of more classical one can be done with a spring up high. You can do that with straight arms. That's a more familiar one.

This, again, is done with a bent arm. Now, one thing to kind of know about this archival material-- we don't really know why some of it disappeared. But I think, possibly, that it was because it's a little bit more some of the guy material, right? So you got to get your guy on here, and you got to use those springs. OK?

You got to be with the spring, and you got to let the spring be with you. And it's a big, serious dance. Go for it, OK? So you're going to pull that bar to your chest. You're going to use your arms.

You're going to use your back, and you're going to go. Pull the spring and let that spring pull you back up. Yeah, keep your chin on our chest, but you can lay your shoulder blades on the mat. And come back up. Let's do one more-- big inhale.

Just enjoy that spring, trust it. It's strong. It'll be there for you. Exactly, very nice. All right.

So, good. So you do have to kind of build a little bit of that energy for some of these exercises because they're potent. Straight arm press. We're going to do chest expansion, again, with the bar on this lower setting. It's a slight change.

We're going to add an additional thought too. So you're going to press the bar to you. And as you press the bar to you, pull you to the bar at the same time. Keep that connection and do about a two-inch thigh stretch. The whole thing goes back-- stay.

Look right, look left, look center, return, release. And inhale, pull, lean, look left, look right, pull to the bar, pull to it, and pull up to it and release. So just do one more set, OK? Big lungs-- inhale, pull, lean back. Don't arch at all, though.

Curl into a little bit, yes. Look, look, return, release. Last one-- and inhale. Lungs-- big time lungs. Go back, look left.

Pull to the bar-- pull. Don't lean of it. Pull to it and come forward and release. Nice. All right, so now a third version of the "thigh stretch" here.

So you pull the bar to you, and then you thigh stretch. And you go as far as you can, and then you come back up. Beautiful, ladies. And we go-- inhale, chest open, shoulders back, triceps strong, fists strong. One more time-- pull that bar, pull your belly in, stay with the bar, don't hang off it.

You got it. You got it. You got it. Beautiful. All right, very nice, OK.

Putting together several of those elements into a bigger exercise we call "the wave." It looks a little bit like what we would call "the water wheel", which is again an exercise done up here. Other people have different names for that one. So it can be a little confusing because it's close, but not quite. All right, so this one you are going to reach out into a child's pose. You press the bar down.

Remember when your legs were there and you pressed the bar down? Same movement, only you're kneeling. You start to curl the tail, curl back, pull that bar up your body, back into your thigh stretch. And you come up to kneeling and keep that bar right on you the whole time. You go forward into the child's pose.

You curl that tail. You pull the bar up you, right on your body. Go all the way and keep it with you and come back up. Got it. And reach and roll, pull it all the way back, really stretch-- stretch you, stretch it, and come up.

Good. Now when you head for the floor, go straight to the floor, don't circle. And pull, curl all the way back. Big inhale and exhale. Let's do one more.

Straight down, straight down and out and then curl all the way back and lift it up. Nice. Did you mean straight down? Straight down in the sense that from-- come to kneeling for a second, you guys. Put it right here.

You're going to go down into your child's pose and right out to the floor at the same time like that and really like right down. Want to try one more? Just one more. OK, so we're finished our last one. We're here.

Reach down and curl it long, then roll it back, all the way back, and lift it up. And beautiful. That was just fantastic. Have a seat. We're going to do a crazy one that we call "stir the pot." and I have to give you just a few indicators first because it's a little counter intuitive.

You're going to do that seated "water wheel" that we did where we pulled the bar up to our chin. Then you're going to turn right. You're going to lift right-- the other way. Yes. Is this the right side?

Yup. And you're going to lean right. so. It's going to feel like you want to do the other way, but this hand is coming up. You're turning that way, and you're going to lean that way.

Then you're going to circle the bar all the way around out to the other side, and we'll come back. And I'll talk you through it as we go. So we stay up and right? Yeah, it's going to go from one perpendicular. And when you cut across, kind of cut across here so you don't clunk your other springs.

It'll actually come this way and then it'll go-- And switch sides, OK. --switch to the other direction. How many are are we doing? Three in a row? We'll do three, and then we'll stop.

And then we'll reverse. So you're going to start-- reach out, press down, roll back, curl it all the way up to your chin and stay for a moment. Turn right, lift right, push out that way across the shins, across all the way over, and come back to your middle. Twist again-- right up, to push, push left, cross over way out, and come back to center. Good.

Stay way back here, pull that bar, twist you. Reach-- not too far forward now, just down and across and then way over here-- way, way, way, way, way over here-- and stay center and come up to sitting. We're going to reverse. We'll do three to the other side. Now, think of moving you and not this thing so much.

So you turn you. You're not going to straighten your arms even. You're going to keep it pretty close. Move you. You do extend a little bit but not too much and then move you and try to make a pretty big circle come all the way back here.

Reach out, press down, roll back-- all the way up, come on, pull it up now. Twist left, lift left, push all the way down and around. Pull back to center. You got. Twist-- other way.

There we go. There we go. And push and around. Big now. Way back, all the way back.

Last time. Twist, push-- yeah, that's it Kristi-- and around all the way back. Stay long for a second. Pull it to you. Come on, pull it, pull it.

Lift your belly and come up to sitting. Very nice. They're good for your brain, these exercises. A lot of coordination parts to them but also just you got to go. You can't do them slowly.

You can't over think them. So it keeps you moving. It get you very, very hot. And that's kind of the key to the whole system is that heat, that's your health mechanism generating its power. One last one with the roll down bar.

You're going to turn and face the other way, and you're going to lie down on your back. So there's kind of two exercises that look similar on the old film, and this is a little bit of a combination of both of them because they're close enough. You're going to put your arches on the bar. You're going to go hip width so you have a little bit of stability. You're going to put your hands on the pole system-- strong straight arms, thumbs with fingers.

Yeah, so go thumbs with fingers and really get a good, strong push. Push more. Push your elbows out. Just move it? A little bit.

I think you'll be OK. Start by just, first off, press the spring away and let it come back up. Now let's say this-- no hyperextension, right? So you're going to soften the knee. You're going to press the power of the back of the hamstring and not the front of the knee so much.

Those are going to be good springs for lifting. One more time. Down. So now as you're down, you're going to lift your hips, push with your arms, come up to a shoulder stand all the way, and then roll down, straight legs. So legs are straight the whole time.

You press and lift, and you rise up. And you roll down. You got it. And you go-- press, really long bodies, and roll down. Very nice.

One more time-- press, lift up, and roll down. Now we're going to do a little variation on the theme. You're going to roll up. You're going to reach out and fly, and then you're going to go back up again and roll down. Put your weight on it now.

Up we come. Inhale and lengthen out-- really long. Push. Yes. Lift and roll down.

Last time-- inhale, up, and push. Go, go, go, go long. Stretch your back, stretch you belly, and up and roll it down. Very nice. Lovely ladies.

Go ahead and take your feed off of that. We'll go ahead and take that down all together. So you can just put it on the floor behind your mat there. We're going to do two exercises with the leg springs. So with these purple leg springs, I would say if you're feeling like you want to stay on at that level, it's fine.

Samantha, you could probably go up. You could probably go up too, if you want. You're welcome to stay on this, though. The last work was pretty heavy so I think we can stay low. OK, we can stay low then.

We'll stay low. All right, so go ahead and lie on your backs with your head over there, your feet towards me. Once you're lying on your back, you're going to reach up, take your left spring, and put it on your right foot. Beautiful. Arms on the polls again, thumbs always with fingers.

So you're reaching through the long bones of your arm. Both legs straight. Long and strong through that right leg, you can almost pretend that there's a spring on your left leg too that's helping to keep you nice and stabilized in that length. You are going to do "single leg circle", and that means you're going to pick up your right hip entirely over your left. You're going to press down, meet the other foot, touch the mat with your heel, slide wide, and then come back to center.

You pick up your right hip. You reach out through the strap, touch the mat, slide across the mat, go wide out, and come to center. It's just absolutely yummy, and it teaches you lots about your "single leg circle" and also about your "corkscrew", other twists that we do. Big inhale-- reach through and then exhale. Widen out.

Let's do one more. After you've twisted, keep your sacrum over there until the foot meets the other foot, then come back to center. Go wide out and center. Reverse it. Out, down.

Let that pelvis twist way over and release your spring all the way. Let it come up and come back to center by pulling your belly button to the mat. Wide, down, push, push through your arms even more. And find again that you're not hyperextending. So you're not pushing your kneecap into your hamstrings.

You're supporting the back of your knee with your hamstring. Very nice. One more time. Big inhale. All the way down.

Big twist and come back to center and stop. Very nice. Take that leg spring off, and foot. So it's good that we didn't go any heavier, I think. For in general, if you're not too tired when you do this, the "single leg circle" can be done on a higher spring tension then a lot of your just standard leg springs.

So you can err a little bit heavier on it. Strong arms-- really long and straight, long bodies. And we cross over, whole hip. Push through the whole body down, long. Feel like you're the spring.

And again, you're moving you and not so much manipulating the spring. You reach out wide and come back up. Fantastic. Big inhale. Push through the whole foot.

Use the entire foot for this exercise. Come back up to center and release your spring even a little more, Sam. And the last time. Reach through the whole foot-- toes and everything. Wide out.

Push through those arms-- full-body exercise-- and center, reverse. Inhale. Whole body-- everything works. Push through it. Big twist, lift the leg, center the pelvis.

Big, wide inhale. Way over. Stretch through your back, lift up, and center. Inhale. Down, twist-- wring out the body-- exhale, to center.

Last time. Wide out, reach, stretch, twist, and come back to center. Beautiful. Take that one off. Put it on your right foot now.

Grab your other one, put that on your left, and we're going to do what's called the "prayer foot." So this is an unusual position in Pilates. We're going to go straight up to the ceiling first, and you're going to try to get the sole, the footprint of your foot together. And that outer little toe is going to be the hardest one. Same push with your arms. You're going to press out like two inches so you have spring tension.

First off, all we're going to do is take the heels to the floor straight down and then straight back up again. So it's as if this was a wall kind of like right here. You push out toward me, but you just go straight down and then straight back up. Good. And as you're doing it, you are really twisting into that position.

It's quite an odd one. But once you get used to it, it's quite yummy. So the toes are trying to stay up, and then the heel is trying to push out a little bit. It's a very unique sensation. It really works those inner thighs.

So now we're going down to the mat. Then we're going to straighten legs down along the mat and then bring them back up to the ceiling, still keeping your little toes together. So you may or may not be able to fully straighten. It depends on the range in your ankle and the outer leg. And then you come back.

Toes still stay up, and you're still trying to keep those little toes together. It's quite powerful for the outer ankle in terms of all of those many, many ankle sprains we've all had over all those years, and it shows up in a lot of the other exercises we do in Pilates. Now stay up a little bit taller and we're going to reverse-- straight down, flex in, and straight up. You got it. And big inhale-- push, push through everything, take your left hand up a little bit and your right hand down a little bit.

There you go. And come back. Two more. Big stretch. See if you can straighten, move that spring, make it do stuff, bend it in, and up.

Last time-- big stretch. Yes, fantastic. Bend your knees in and straighten up. Beautiful. Go ahead and take those leg springs off.

And you guys, let's come up to standing now. We'll do a few things standing. So now you're going to take your leg spring, and you're going to bring it up to shoulder height. Right? Left?

Both? Both of them. If you have to err on the side, go a little higher. So we're going to do "swimming." So you've got your springs. You're going to face this way.

We have to switch legs. So we're going to lunge, and then we'll return them. We'll do the other leg. So you're going to lunge out, try to get a nice turn out on this leg. And then you just swim and use your whole body-- swim.

And again, you decide, do I need to be closer or farther, what? And it's whole-body. Get in that's spring. That's the way. Use your back, use your abs, use your arms, let yourself move a little bit, and then step back in together.

Good. Take a big breath. I feel like my whole body is filled with oxygen, and we go the other leg. And we lunge and swim and swim and swim. Yeah, like you're really having to.

You're swimming through peanut butter. You got to really move that stuff. Whole body-- using your legs, using your spine, using your shoulders, your hands. Last breath and come back up. A couple more things and we'll be so done.

Completely cooked. We're going to take our arms out to the side. Well, you'll decide again, And you'll probably just have to stagger a little bit. So you're going to take one arm up, the other arm down, and you're going to stretch over for that and come back up. And the other side-- big stretch.

Push down, side bend way over, and come back and down and push that top bar, push it over and up. One more-- and up and over and come back. Good. Now we're twisting. You're going to twist.

I'll go your way. Taking that right arm up and over, you're going to turn all the way around, bring that arm down. And then you're going to do three pulses backwards-- one, two, three. And you're come back to center. And you twist around, and you press back.

Find those low shoulder blade muscles. Eyes up, chest up, a little bit. and one more time. Big inhale and exhale and then we'll pump, inhaling and exhaling. And last time.

Up and around-- we got long arms now. And press, press, press, and come back up and rest. And we're going to finish with one last exercise which is just called the "Russian squat." This one may be more familiar. You're going to turn and face the other way. You're going to have legs parallel, hip width, arms in our kind of standard "Russian squat" or rowing position.

You go into a deep squat. Your tail could hit the mat. Lean back, trust that's spring. Lift up, turn your palms, and dive down and touch the mat behind your heels. And come back up and scoop and curl back up.

Lean on it and lift back up and turn and press it, press it, press it. Good. Now, a couple thoughts. One is you don't need to actually sit, darn. And when you press back, try to keep your hips a little more forward-- our tendency is going to be want to sit back-- and also kind of hang in hyperextension.

So watch your hyperextension and don't let yourself sit back too far. We go-- inhale down, exhale up, inhale reach, and return. And last time-- inhale. Pull belly deep and lift and exhale down and return. All right.

Very good, ladies. Good job. [APPLAUSE]


5 people like this.
That was really special. I love the archival work.
like like like! Thank you so much for putting this out there. Brought me back 3 summers, in fact this archival work inspired our "tower power" class. Wonderful reminders!
2 people like this.
One word. Awesome. Can't wait to share this with my clients using the Pilatesstick. Thank you Amy & thank you,as always, PA
For me it Was impossibile using blue spring but as you wrote it is 3level class. I hope someone want to teach some modification next time . Grazie Monica
1 person likes this.
Beautiful beautiful class. Thank you Amy!
Kailey you can see how much I struggled too. I think it must be a bit easier when Amy is standing right next to you... That said this was one of the hardest classes I've ever taken... I loved it and I did it, but I definitely needed to "get my guy on" to complete it!
3 people like this.
Love the "Stirring the Pot" exercise. A definite for October Halloween Class. Stir the witches brew ;) Also really enjoyed all of the spiraling and rotation. As always Amy delivers a great class with lots of insight and depth. I gotta get out to Boulder more often this year. It's in the plans.
I'll meet you there Laurel!
2 people like this.
I have never seen some of these exercises. It made so much sense to me! Wow! Thanks so much for sharing this. What great teaching! Yeah, some strong arm moves!
2 people like this.
Thank you Amy, from Louisville! How yummy!
1-10 of 46

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Pilates Anytime Logo

Move With Us

Experience Pilates. Experience life.

Let's Begin