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Workshop #1091

Pilates For Men

3 hr - Workshop


In Pilates for Men: Bringing Back the Balance, Rael Isacowitz teaches concepts that are needed to teach men. Pilates was created by a man for men, but it has become dominated my women. Like Martial Arts, Pilates has the yin yang qualities of grace and power. Both are needed to have a balance so Rael shares tools to help us get more men interested in Pilates.


- Learn the specific areas men need to work to have proportionate muscular development

- Learn exercises on 6 pieces of apparatus that are beneficial for men

- Learn the restrictions and challenges men have compared to those of women

- Learn what kinds of exercises will appeal to men

Watch Rael's Mat Workout for Men to get ideas of how you can design a class that would be great for men.
What You'll Need: Mixed Equipment

About This Video

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Jul 26, 2013
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Men, for some reason, lose their gluteals. For those of you who are married, you've seen your husbands, you married them with cute little butts and suddenly they are flat. Pilates for Men is a workshop that highlights the issues that the typical male walking into your studio has and how you can work with that male to the best of his advantage and your advantage. We are seeing 99% women and we need to explore today why, we need to remember that Pilates was created by a man, actually for men. Where's the athleticism, where's the power, where's the masculinity in your work?

A really nice thing to do is to now add rotation. Men have this innate drive as they come out of the womb to start doing pushups and to develop certain muscles way out of proportion. We need to bring back proportionate muscle development into a man's workout. Absolutely so wow, suddenly they thinking, "Pilates, something to it." That is a woman over there and these are men over here, in case anyone didn't notice. Is that perfect balance, that yin yang, that male-female energy, striving again for balance in everything we do.

So this workshop will give you many options of working on different apparatus with men. I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 1

Introduction: Bringing Back the Balance

A huge hearty welcome to everyone to the first workshop in the new and improved Bessie Pilates Academy. So thank you, thank you. (audience clapping) I was recently criticized for saying too many thank you's at the beginning of a workshop, but I'm gonna stay true to my thank yous because I have such gratitude to people.

So first and foremost, I want to introduce you to Master Brooklyn and Cynthia Brooklyn, my teachers and my masters. So welcome. (audience clapping) The reason for them being here will become apparent later on right now just looks great. Of course, thank you to all of you and to Pilates Anytime who are filming this workshop today, I'm absolutely adamant that it is a workshop for you, for you all. The fact that we filming it and we're gonna get all this great material on film, should not affect you.

Other than that, you can go back to it later. And my purpose is, you all know me so well, some of you have known me for close to 20 years. I tend to try and put too much into a workshop. It's a failing but today I'm determined to go through all this work, all this repertoire that I've put on there. So we're gonna keep it flowing so that others, hopefully 100 of others can enjoy this workshop.

So moving into a topic that is very close to my heart, Pilates for Men; Bringing Back The Balance. You've got these slides there so you can always refer back to them, when it comes to slides, I recommend you just watch. If they're little points you wanna write down, you've got paper next to each one of those slides. First of all, the intricate balance of nature and I used you all know that I wear my yin yang, which I was told to take off today by Jeff because of the noise that it makes, but it really is this balance, the yin yang, the male, the female, the power of the grace that we'll talk more about. It's finding this balance, everything in nature has a balance, everything.

The heaven and the earth, everything is about an intricate balance. And we need to recognize that Pilates was created by a man for men. So we need to recognize that but that is a fact. And it's so interesting of course, because as we look around us, we are seeing 99% women. Luckily I've got my friend Paul and my friend Antonio here to make me feel a little bit, I'm sorry.

Chuck. Chuck. Chuck, who was sent down by Brandon, forced to come. But really it's predominantly women and we need to explore today why, we need some answers why there are not more men in our industry because we cannot deny the fact that it was created by a man for men. That's not my account, that's the account of Kathy Grants and other first-generation teachers that I had the pleasure of spending time with.

Now, you look at Joseph Pilates, he is not only a man but of course he is maybe a little too much in touch with his yang side and not his yin side. But nevertheless, obviously a very, I don't know, man, man, for want of a better description. I call it grace and power, that is what we are searching for, grace and power. We searching for the feminine and the masculine, we searching for Pilates being the embodiment of masculine power and feminine grace, the embodiment of self discipline and commitment, the embodiment of mutual respect for these qualities and for each other. I mean, that is so important, I just love to see the beginning of these workshops and how excited everyone is to see each other.

That for me is what it's about, community. About self-respect. I always take my inspiration from musicians who seem to just adore each other and wanna just jam with each other and if Eric Clapton can invite Jeff Beck to get on stage, wow, they saying to each other, you're so awesome. That's what we need in our community; self-respect, discipline, appreciation, the embodiment of masculine power and feminine grace, the grace without the power is not Pilates and the power without the grace is not Pilates. You need both, whether it's a pelvic core or a high bridge, the most basic exercise and the most advanced, it is all about balance.

So we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Has the balance been lost? Well, clearly it has because (chuckling) we've got three men excluding myself, and we've got 36 women. That doesn't make sense, that's not a balance. A balance was if we had 50, 50, maybe 49, 51, but not 95%, or 98% and 2%.

So somewhere the balance is lost. I don't where, but let's ask ourselves. We can say the balance has been lost. Has the work lost its power? In many instances, I think it has.

I think it's lost that athleticism, some of you may have been at that Kathy Grant workshop that I had the honor of hosting a years ago at On Center. And she suddenly, in the middle of a workout, said, "Where's the athleticism, where's the power? Where's the masculinity in your work, where's it all gone?" She studied with Joseph Pilates, she must have felt it firsthand. So has the work lost its athleticism? In many instances I would say yes.

I think it's become very cerebral, so academic, and has lost that athleticism. Has the work become mindless? Joseph Pilates spoke so adamantly about the work not being mindless but being mindful. Has it become mindless? Has it become a trend and a fashion?

That's the one that scares me the most because if I can think of myself and say, I've believed in something for 35 years and invested so much of my life, my career, most of my life, most of my adult life has been devoted to Pilates and if I thought that it's gonna come down to just a trend or fashion, I didn't know what I would do. I really would feel that a large part of my life has been wasted. So we need to ask ourselves these tough questions and be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say, do we have that balance that we are searching for? So some of the concepts when we work with men that I feel are so important, they're important with women, but possibly even more so with men, I look at that kind of middle, typical middle-aged men, I'm right in that category. And I look around and then I look at the same category amongst women.

I say this maybe half in jest, but really there's truth to it. I think women are more sophisticated thinkers when it comes to their bodies. Women are very in touch with their bodies. Men are not typically not. I don't know why it is, I once overheard Adele at a supermarket checking out and there she is checking out and within three minutes, they talking about their hormones and then the menopause and what they going through and they're having this intimate discussion and I'm looking then, wow, did you two know each other?

No, just checking out. What are you taking, what are you doing, what are you this? Men? And then the next thing they say, "Do you wanna go for coffee?" Can you imagine me meeting a man at the checkout, "Hey, so how's the prostate doing it? What's happening, do you wanna go out for coffee?" It doesn't ring the same way.

So I do think women are more in touch with their bodies which creates a problem for us because when we speak to a woman in class about a pelvic core and about articulating the pelvis and about being in touch with her pelvic flow, she's not intimidated by that, that's quite natural. You speak to a man about moving his pelvis and about being in touch with his pelvic flow and feeling that graceful articulation of the spine, it doesn't ring true, so it's not comfortable, many men will feel uncomfortable with that. Alignment, alignment, I find that more men are out of tune with gravity than women. Why, I don't know. It could be from a myriad reasons.

It may be societal meaning that women just maybe wanna look better. They have a stronger drive and desire to look better than men. Men just don't mind looking like slobs. So we've got to look at that. The balance, proportionate muscular development, men have completely lost the plot here, because women by and large I feel, for again, for whatever reasons, it may be aesthetic, it may be I don't know, probably a lot to do with aesthetics, they don't feel the strong drive to develop the visual muscle groups.

I mean they wanna look good, but men have this innate drive as they come out of the womb to start doing pushups and to develop certain muscles way out of proportion. And the moment they are muscle groups within the body that are proportionately incorrect or weighted in one direction inproportionately, others are going to suffer. And the structure, this magnificent structure of engineering, masterpiece of engineering, the human body, starts being stressed in different ways like a bridge. Certain cables are just tightening and tightening and tightening and certain are getting weaker and weaker, and eventually that bridge is gonna collapse or in the human body, it usually doesn't collapse but you feel pain, you feel aches. We need to bring back proportionate muscle development into a man's workouts.

But find a way of doing it that they're gonna relate to. I often say in our course, you're gonna hear a man saying I'm going to the gym to pump up my lats or my pecs but you're not gonna hear someone say, I'm going into a gym to pump up my infraspinatus and teres minor and do some external rotation. These are these deep muscle groups or your transverse abdominous, rectus, yes because we can see it, transverses you can't see, it's inside, not as important, we know it's important, but visually, aesthetically. Control and fine tuning of the movement. This is possibly the most difficult and that's one of the reasons I invited my dear friends here to show how you can still be really in touch with your body have that fine tuning, have that grace but still have the power.

And finally flow, harnessing energy. We know that we are wasting, wasting, wasting energy every day because we do not move efficiently, we do not move with flow, we do not hold ourselves and move in tune with gravity. When you see someone moving, you've seen dancers move, you've seen good Pilates people move, you will see good martial artists move, it's in tune with gravity. Specific concepts I wanna address today, the abdominals, particularly the obliques and the transverse abdominis. Men tend to think of their abdominals in terms of the rectus abdominis.

And the rectus is important, let's not give the rectus a bad rep, it's very important, but men tend to ignore the obliques and the transversus. Back extensus particularly the mid and the upper, the lower back tends to get very tight with men. Sometimes hypertonic because many men have a big belly. You can equate many middle aged men to pregnant woman. They're gonna have that same body type and the same issues that arise from pregnancy.

Gluteals, men for some reason lose their gluteals, not sure why but those of you are married, you've seen your husbands, you married them with cute little butts and suddenly they are flat and their pants are falling down and they'll complain to me about that. You're not the guy I married. Well yep, that's it. I hit 58 and you're just not the same guy. The fact is the gluteals get weak.

And we spend in the early Pilates training, we trying to not activate our gluteus too much but then we've got to realize that particularly men for some reason, their gluteals tend to decondition very readily but really with the aging population, it's often common that they have difficulty getting up, difficulty walking upstairs, difficulty with actions that require gluteal and just walking, when we talk about the gluteal, we often talk about the gluteus medius, the hip abductor that holds the pelvis in place and allows us to walk and run effectively and efficiently. Finally the upper body, we're gonna fo focus on shoulder placement and very importantly shoulder placement as it relates to an open chest meaning overcoming the tight peck rounded-shoulder syndrome which is so prevalent amongst men, because men often are sitting at desks all day, men often are driving a lot and then men often choose recreational activities that further tighten the pecs like cycling, like golfing, activities that bring this area even into a tighter position So just now going on to, and I'm quite on time, the martial arts, that is not me. So just to be absolutely clear, I just wanted a little picture of a martial artist but be under no illusion. I am the proud owner of a white belt and we'll be there for quite a while. So the meaning of martial arts, I was having a session with Master Brookman the other day and we started talking and he told me the meaning of martial arts.

Martial means bravery, strategic, exact. And art, of course we know what it means, it means creative, imaginative, emotional, that's the arts. And they have brought these two together and suddenly I thought body, arts and science, BAPS Pilates, that what's always drove me. The study of the art and the science of human movement, in general and as it relates specifically to Pilates. Again, that blending of art and science, that blending of being very exact, quantitative, strategic.

And at the same time, having that creative side, being very structured in our session, and yet that structure is what allows us to be creative. That's how it is in all the arts. No artist just came onto the planet and started painting and became famous, no. It's all about practice and structure. If we have time later, I'll tell you about a wonderful Zen tale that was told to me yesterday about painting and about practice that I thought was so effective.

So if we can finish our day with that little tail, if someone could remind me. So with that said, I'm going to hand over to Master Brookman and Cynthia, who I think they speak the same language as us. They are martial artists that speak the same language. We've chosen different paths to get to the same goal. So if I could hand over to you

Chapter 2

Martial Arts Demonstration

I'm master Brooklyn, this is my wife Cynthia.

We teach martial arts in Newport Beach. And like he said, it really is, martial arts, yoga, Pilates, it's disciplines to the same goal. Our instructors always said, "The ultimate goal of martial arts is stay healthy." So we do it a little differently than in Pilates, but there's a lot of the same movements and a lot of the same stances. We don't use the same machines but I know that's inevitable that you're gonna have me in here doing this. That's a fact.

It's amazing, I'm watching Rael up here and by the way, he's not an average middle-aged man. I know he said that earlier, he's so far from an average middle-aged man and it's one of the things that, truthfully, I hadn't looked into Pilates, I hadn't looked into it. I was up till one o'clock last night. And by the way, I've studied a lot of your videos and books and everything now, but even till last night, 'cause I love listening to you. I love seeing your passion, I love seeing your energy and I know that's the Pilates.

That's the conditioning from what he does his whole lifetime enables him to have that joy and that passion and enables him to be so full of life. I've never seen him in a bad mood. Well. (laughs) (audience laughing) I've seen him have concerns-- Of Gene and Stella. (everybody laughing) People perceive martial arts differently than what it really is. I'm sure people perceive Pilates different from your perception of Pilates.

Number one, I don't do martial arts, I live martial arts. He doesn't do Pilates, he is Pilates. Martial arts, the way that we do it originally was not designed just for self-defense. It was designed, they had a monk from India come to China, everyone thinks of it as Chinese or Japanese, but from India to China, and he got to a temple and said, "Gosh, I really want these guys to be able to meditate and do all these really cool things." But the monks would fall asleep during meditations, they were fat, they were out of shape, their temples were getting ransacked and he said, "Gosh I bet I could teach them a little bit of what I know." And they refined it, they actually put together a whole thing called the Yijin where they're doing mind, body conditioning and really it's a mind-body-spirit thing to get the monks to be able to stay awake. So all the postures, all the cakes, everything like that was designed for your head, not for your body.

So we're gonna play, we'll show you just a little bit. We'll go slow motion a little bit on some of the movements. I actually got into the martial arts because I have bad scoliosis. I'm sure Pilates would be way better for scoliosis than martial arts but the doctors actually said, martial arts would be a good thing 'cause you're stretching, you're forced to stretch, you're forced to get all the muscles tightened up, everything's strong not just the workout muscles. I'm not just getting the biceps and the triceps, you're getting your entire body.

As a matter of fact, in China when we go there, the monks have you do leg and ab conditioning for the first year. It's not what you think, it's not jumping around and punching someone in face. The entire first year, you're here and they light a stick of incense and you have to stand there while that stick of incense burns down, and while you silently hate that monk a whole lot. Literally doing that for an hour and then they say great, switch. And you shift.

And they say great, shift, and you have to go into these stances and you're shaking, and when you're done, it's not the workout like at the gym, but you got a better workout and you had real core training, you had real training. In our industry, we had more men. When I was starting up, it was only men. Now we have more of a balance but we got help from the media, "Charlie's Angels" movies, all these things. "CSI" things where they have the women, but the women can always kick butt now.

Can I say butt? Oh yeah. Perfect, but women can kick the barometer fitness. You sort of expect it that they have some sort of training. It used to be, "Oh my gosh, that woman's gonna get killed." Now you say that woman's gonna be able to do something.

So there's been empowering through media, through just generally acceptance of it because people realize it's not just for kicking and punching. That's the easy part of it. So we are gonna do a little kicking and punching for you. We'll do like a little quick five-minute question and answer at the end if you guys have some questions about it too. So one of the things that they taught the monks to do were dances.

When I think of Rael, he talks about like mat work. It's not an exercise and exercise, when you're doing a mat workout, you're going from one exercise to the next to the next to the next to the next. So you're constantly stressing those muscles. You have the beginning and the end of the mat work, but there's not really a distinct break. And that's what our dances are, sort of the mat work, if you will.

So the first one she's gonna do, it's called Cadogan, it's one of the basic dances you would learn at purple belt but it's got some of the lines, it's got some of the movement, but it's a good balance of the yin yang. It's a great balance of the strength, butt movement and flexibility. I'm kind of go through it slow so you can kind of see it. But, yeah. That's as closer she'll get it, don't worry.

Pretty nice job. (audience clapping) And I'm gonna do one, one of our instructors, I guess you would call him an elder, he was one of the few people that I got to work with who is truly one of the founders if you will, the elder and here is first-generation like a Lolita San Miguel and exactly. So it was one of the first ones I was taught by him and they call it Circle of Tiger, it's nothing crazy. True martial arts, it's not really what you think where it's the back flips and the cartwheels and all that. That was added in actually when the communist government went into China because they had to make it not look deadly.

So they incorporated a lot of gymnastics into it. So it didn't look so deadly and the government wouldn't ban it. So can we see it from here? How about now? (audience laughing) All right.

And we do, we take it very seriously. Once the switch is on, we're doing it. When the switch is off, we're not, but when it's on, we're on. So try to turn it on. (humming) This will be good.

Try not to hit the TV for you, Rael. (loud bang) (breathing rhythmically) (audience clapping) It's a lot of stomping. Gosh, it reminds me too of your ABC, I forgot to breathe. We're gonna do a little bit with her showing the movements. Go.

(groaning) And 39. I love that. I really do, and she's being very accurate. So that's solar plexus, temple. Do it one more time, that was cool.

I love that. Try one off the ground. Scoot that way just to here. We'll call this our mat work technique. So even if she's on the ground, I'm coming up. (groans) Oh, that's bad news and go.

Nice. (audience clapping) All right, let's try 18. And this is one, two. And the neat thing about martial arts is it's not her fighting me 'cause she can't beat me, I'm too big, I'm too strong, but she can beat my nose, she can beat my groin. So she's focusing all her energy on beating what she can beat.

All right, number 18. This one hurts. (breathing heavily) So as I'm trying to attack her and you'll be able to see in just like two seconds, or so. She's coming in, oh boy. Oh boy.

(man groaning) (audience clapping) Thank you so much. So we said we're gonna do a little bit of question, answer. I think I've covered some of the basics so far. Does anyone have any questions on anything? Fantastic.

Well, I cannot thank you enough really. Sir, thank you. I mean just such an honor to have two great movers and to see, it seems so perfect to me to demonstrate that yin and yang, to demonstrate the male and the female, to demonstrate how such a beautiful female energy can turn into just a weapon and how male energy can be so soft and graceful, and having a man and a woman coming from an industry where it's just the opposite, where it was so predominantly men and they weren't when many women and Cynthia and I were just speaking yesterday or the day before, about how she had to learn to relate to men in an industry where you're, wait a minute, you had to relate to women coming into an industry where you're having to relate to men coming into an industry. It's so similar, but on the opposite sides of the spectrum.

Chapter 3

Exercises on the Incline Bench

I've chosen six pieces of apparatus.

I've chosen six pieces of apparatus so you've each got six sheets. I'm gonna go from incline bench to Avalon Step Barrels to the Avalon chair, Reformer one the chair Cadillac. I've chosen five exercises on each piece of apparatus plus another one on the Reformer. So that's 31 exercises and I'd really like to get through all that repertoire. If there's time, of course, I was only limited by time, there were just 100s of movements that I'd like to do.

And in fact, as I started delving into it, I started feeling that it almost warrants a full workshop on just one of the pieces, like the Incline Bench or the Step Arrow. They were just so many I wanted to do and I had to start choosing. The piece of apparatus I simply could not do without is an incline. They've been making this for me for years and I've just recently seen that now it's become more a part of the standard offering, but it doesn't have to be made by any particular company. But if you could just, you could even tilt a Cadillac up and just put it on little blocks.

You just need to tip the center of gravity. I said to you that one of the most difficult exercises to teach a man is the roll up. Now, not just men, of course, the women that have a hard time with the roll up as well. But it is one of those signature exercises that is very difficult for a man. So just here, I'm addressing some of the key issues that men have.

By using an Incline, obviously what we've done is we using gravity to assist us. So we inhale to there. Now I'm rolling down hill, I'm exhaling to there. I'm inhaling and exhaling, and to there. And inhaling (breathing rhythmically) and exhale, and inhale, and exhale.

In terms of how much it assists, it's probably like having springs. That's how much it's assisting you by tipping in favor. But I wrote on the PowerPoint presentation, it's not on your notes here, I don't think, oh, it's in the PowerPoint, you'll see your repertoire pages in the PowerPoint, there's a little comment by each piece of apparatus and you'll see under the Incline Bench, I said, try these exercises in both directions because suddenly if you do the roll up in this direction, what are you now doing? Oh, (groans) sorry, the abs are little tight, but now you've suddenly made it much more difficult. Inhale (inhales), now we rolling up hill.

So the same piece of apparatus from the one side, (breathing rhythmically) that's a more difficult one. Whereas in this direction, an easier one. And the same with many of our warmup exercises, Spine Twists Supine. When you're doing it in this direction, actually it's a little more difficult. When you're doing it in this direction, actually this direction is easier because it's helping the hip flexes.

Whereas in this direction, it's making it harder for the hip flexes. So every exercise, by doing it on an Incline, you can adjust whether you're making it more difficult for your male client, or easier. Two exercise I missed out today in the mat class intentionally, was the Double Leg Stretch and the Single Leg Stretch. Well, doing the single leg stretch here is easier, doing it uphill, I'm going up hill, is more difficult. Any questions about that one?

No, going from the roll up into the hamstring stretch. Let's face it, most hamstring stretches we do with men miss the mark. That's why the soul is one I really debated even today weather to put it in because most men don't do a good soul. So just again, you could just use the Incline. Is this gonna help a man?

Yes, it's like sitting on a block. Now, they can possibly, that's a much better soul for most men, but the one I wanted to give you is this one. I really like this. Now, you don't have to do it on the Incline, but it helps on the Incline. What are we doing?

We simply using gravity to assist us. We know that we want the man to keep a flat back so you can sit up straight, use your quads to stretch out those hamstrings. I prefer it with a Dorsey-Flexed Foot, and just go even to there. And most men will say, (groans), okay good. Now we'll take it a bit further to there, to there, but trying to go down in this position, they are truly getting a hamstring stretch.

Whereas often the hamstring stretch that we give on the Reformer are really missing the mark for most men. They simply are not getting into a good position, it's a compromised position for the hamstrings. And then focusing on that flat back by using the support of the arms to come down even just to there, reaching, reaching, reaching, keeping that flat back and back up to there. Obviously you would shift over to the other side. Any questions about that?

No, that's pretty straightforward. You wanna keep your pelvis absolutely square and use the supporting leg, this leg is not just relaxed. Feel that you could lift up onto that supporting leg. That's how much it's working, feeling that you can lift up onto that supporting leg. The hip flex is an interesting one because going uphill and downhill just feels a little different, it feels a little different.

Going downhill is probably more difficult. So, I'll give you the easier one. You can either keep the toes tucked under or like that. It's gonna give you more stretch by keeping the toes tucked under. This again is a really excellent stretch for your male client because they don't have to be as high as me, they could be here and they maybe be getting a good stretch.

They could be here, they may be getting a good stretch. You could push them even higher up. And from here, you're in such a perfect position to simply stretch around something that on the floor would feel very difficult because your knee would be pressing in to the floor. Of course, we could do that in the other direction. What has that done?

It's lifted my hip further up. So clearly that's gonna feel a little bit more of a stretch, a little bit more precarious, but you can still either as low as this for some people, will already give them a stretch, and as you come up, up, up, they're gonna get more of a stretch. We're gonna go over all these and you're gonna have time to practice all of these. So don't worry. We are gonna have time to practice all of these.

I just wanna stay on task in terms of timing. But if anyone wants to feel any of these exercises, please just let me know. I'll get one of you up here to cue it. So, so far I've been throwing inside exercises but from the actual repertoire, the roll up, does the hamstring stretch come next? I showed the spine twist supine, the hamstring stretch, the hip flexor stretch and the rollover prep.

Now we know that men have a really hard time with the rollover, very difficult time. So most men can't even get to a rollover. So you can either just hold the side of the table, or put, let's not be lazy. From here. Keeping the arms nice and long.

(breathing rhythmically) And slowly down. (breathing rhythmically) Here the sky is the limit to do different variations. I'm trying not to use my arms here, I'm hardly using mine. You really wanna keep the arms out of the equation but this offers a little bit of support. It's really nice here to differentiate between the abdominals, as stabilizers and as movers.

So you can say to your client, gently take the legs down, moving from the hip joint, move the legs up, now, keep the legs still and use the abdominals to round the spine and then slowly roll down and now use the abdominals as stabilizers and just tip the mat, lift up, now, roll, and now down, and tip the mat. Why is that so important? Because in the full rollover, we've got up, we've got roll, we've got, sorry, down. But from here, the pelvis stays still as the legs move and the legs move up. So teaching this action is preparing the person for that movement of the legs.

And once they've got that, you can start playing around with straightening the legs here, rolling down, bending, and down, lifting, straightening, boom, that's where you can open, and we start working into the full rollover. Just boating it step by step. What happens if we turn it around? Becomes more difficult. Now, we start talking about some serious abdominal work.

From here. (groaning) Now we're going uphill and that is some serious abdominal work. So just playing with the incline to make it easier and to make it more difficult. Antonio, let's see you do that rollover. He's my favorite, favorite guy, why?

He's got all the typical male issues. (audience laughing) My favorite guy, I don't need to look further than Antonio. So bring it up to here. And the awesome thing is that, where's Lori? Stand up. The mom.

This is the mom. In front of the camera, look out there, mother and son. Isn't that just awesome to see mom and son in here? What a role model? Come up a little bit, Antonio.

Remember that the further up that thing is, and the further he has to straighten the arm, the harder it is on the, I'm sorry, the closer he is, the harder it is on the shoulder. The straighter the arms are, the less it is on the shoulder, and I'm wanting to just get that wrist nice and straight keep those wrists straight. So let's just work on that first part and exhale as you roll over. Look at him, like butter, that is his good training that he's had. And slowly down, that is really nice.

Inhale and exhale (exhales). And inhale, and don't rush Antonio, don't rush, don't rush. You wanna enjoy that moment. Now we teach in second phase of just taking the legs down, just like that, lifting with a hip flexes. Now, the abdominals takeover again, boom.

And inhale and exhale. As he rolls down again, differentiate between the abdominals as movers or stabilizes he takes those legs down and then boom. So now what we'll do is we'll say, Antonio just straighten those legs. Look at that. And then he'll just roll down again, don't worry about opening, flexing, all that stuff.

We just wanna keep those thighs close to his chest. And the moment that sacrum touches, he bends the knees and takes those legs down and exhales, and roll. Don't start using your legs on me, did you see what he did? He started to straighten the legs to go over. I warned him, that's why this prep is so good.

It teaches him, I don't even tell him where we going with us, teaches him to really use those abdominals. And then we can get that stretch as he comes down slowly, slowly, slowly down, and then bending and taking down. So you can see he's not straightening the legs all the way, exhale, but he's getting a nice stretch that I can assure you, as he stretches the legs over there. And look at that, look at that, look at that, straight legs. I can tell you the improvement in him going through the program with him has been unbelievable.

Boom, and then bend. Good, off you get Antonio, thank you very much. We've got the Swan Prep. Having handles on the sides is really important. Well, you know what?

You could even do it without the handles. You could certainly do it from here, but I'm wanting to show you the effect of gravity because here the incline is helping my back extensors. So you could either have the arms here, just getting to that point where you want to start straightening. I really like it with the handles, I just love that broad back feel. Men have broad shoulders, just being able to push on handles, reaching up, getting those straight arms and then slowly down.

And I almost pull myself down and resist with the back extensors. I'm pulling but my back extensors say, no, give me a moment longer, give me a moment longer, give me a moment longer. And then I get to there and I then reach out and elongate and slowly down and back, and reach out, and elongate, and down and there. Now, with most of them, you're just gonna have a dowel coming out of here. So it will be equivalent to just doing it like this.

And down. But that broader position is rarely good for men because with many people, but certainly with men, when they put in that tight position, they're gonna start elevating the scapular. By working broader, you can stabilize the scapular better and get up there. Now, again, just playing with gravity, what happens? We're going up hill.

So now I'm already feeling my back extensors are really working, really working. Oh, oh, oh, I'm working uphill. And slowly down, and taking it uphill slowly. Now remember, I'm taking you through a year of study. I'm not suggesting this is on the same day, I'm suggesting you working in the opposite direction for a year.

And then when they've really got it going downhill or going up hill, whatever the case may be, you wanna then take it onto the flat and now wow. Antonio's looking awesome, you wanna now increase the intensity. Now, the higher you go, the more it's gonna go into the lower back. If you keep it just like when I started, when I got to about here, I feel in my mid back, mid back, starting to go into the low back and starting to go. And of course here, you're gonna get much more lower back.

And remember the lower backs need to be strong. No one is saying you must never go into your lower back, don't get me wrong. It's just that we want to activate that mid and upper back. Once that male working in the opposite direction is getting really nice recruitment to that mid and upper back, there is a point where you're gonna wanna go to the lower back and strengthen that lower back. So the question is, how much emphasis am I putting on not rolling the shoulders forward a lot.

the beautiful thing about back work and scapular work is that there's an overlap of muscles, muscles that like the lower trapezius, the mid trapezius are assisting back extension and they're stabilizing the scapular. And then absolutely you wanna think of that connection between the external rotators and the back extensors and not feeding into scapular elevation, internal rotation of the shoulders, we emphasize that a lot. And one other principle that we emphasize a lot is reverse spinal articulation. We put so much emphasis on spinal articulation, like a pelvic curl through flection, but we seldom think of spinal articulation in extension, and it is so valuable. So when I'm lifting here, I'm not thinking lift the back.

I'm thinking cervical spine, upper thoracic spine, mid thoracic spine into the lumbar spine. Now, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, stop at that level of mid-thoracic just opposite the sternum and then cervical spine and finally, my head which is equivalent to the sacrum when we're doing it the other way around. The question is, how do we cue the clients? And many men will be like that. The client who always wants to use that lower back wants to go into that lower back, check the way you're gonna cue that is undoubtedly related to the abdominals.

It's what we're talking about earlier. Teaching the person to create a tunnel if they can, if they don't have too much of a belly, a tunnel over here, what I mean the tunnel is over here, from here, creating that tunnel. Think of elongating, a good cue is elongating your sacrum downwards. So you've got this lengthening of the lumbar spine, lengthening of the lumbar spine and then keeping this absolutely stable. The legs must be relaxed here.

The moment those legs start lifting, it's gonna go into the lower back. That's the only way they can do it. So you've got to keep those legs quite relaxed. You've got to keep that abdominal in, you've got to keep the sacrum pulling downwards like a weight pulling you there, and then think of elongating the lower back and just in baby steps, start articulating from the upper back, and it's gonna have to be baby steps. Relaxed legs, gluteals are relaxed, abdominals drawn in, sacrum reaching away from the head, stabilizing with the abdominals and then teaching articulation, first, just the cervical spine, then going into the thoracic spine.

Chapter 4

Exercises on the Avalon Barrel

These exercise are obviously specific to the Avalon Barrels. So those that don't have the Avalon Barrel may find ways of adapting some of these exercises. Let's start with this one, the Overhead Press. The first thing about this exercise and this, by the way, you can do whether you've got the Avalon or not, is sitting upright. In the beginning of the mat class, we started sitting upright.

Let's face it, it's gonna be very difficult for most men to sit like that. So putting them here is possibly the first time that they have ever sat up straight. What a thought? So getting up straight, remember just these positions of holding a position, getting the musculature working in this position, getting the back. I mean, my back is starting to really feel it, just sitting here and then, giving a movement like that or using arm weights to do this movement that we are gonna do with Springs is certainly not out of the question.

So don't think just because it's an Avalon, you can't do it with any other barrel. Just use your creativity, sitting, using arm weights. Actually, this is the one that I'm gonna show but with arm weights what I'll do, is go open, back and down, up, open, up and down. And now I'll do it with Springs as well. I told you I can't stick to one exercise.

So now the Springs of course, is forces you to work the abdominals or stabilizers. We were talking about it earlier in relationship to diastisis, and what happens when the abdominals, you're upright and you've got a spring pulling you back the abdominals, you needs to stabilize. So an exercise like this although it's upper body, the Springs wanna arch you back and you're using those abdominals as stabilizers, fantastic exercise because you're not gonna get that load on the rectus abdominis causing stress on the muscle when diathesis is present. So from here, stabilizing and up and down and reaching up and down, and reaching up, and then you see the guy doing this (groans), and down and then you say, "No sir, you can keep those legs together." "No I can't, Sherry." "Yes, you can keep your legs together. My teacher Rael said, you can and he's a man.

So we'll put a cushion there for you or a ball there for you so you can hold those legs together." "But Sherry, oh, I just can't get up." "Use your back muscles, use your back muscles." (woman speaking off mic) (Rael laughing) To there, and down, and to there. Now from here, I told you, why not add to it? Boom, just like the Reformer, overhead and down and reaching up and overhead and up and in. Tell me a man who's not gonna love this exercise. Randy, would you love this exercise?

I would like- Absolutely. And open and up and in. I mean my upper body, my abs, my back, my whole body is feeling that work. Sue, come Hand there. Yup, you're good, you're good.

If it's too heavy, I'll adjust. How does that feel for you? Okay. Good, bend your arms just a little, stay there. What are we seeing in terms of alignment?

A little leaning back, right? So we're gonna lean about there and lift their chest a little more. Are you starting to feel those back muscles working? Now, I want you to take your arms into a little bit of external rotation so that the spring is trying to pull you back, but you using those abdominals to hold yourself up. Yes, we are loving this.

Okay, and now push up. (Rael groaning) So maybe a bit heavy for her, right? A bit heavy for you? Could be. Could be. Well, let's try one more.

Maybe you just needed to get used to it. Keep that little bit of external rotation here, good, and then reach up, I don't think it's too heavy, and slowly down, and reach up. And slowly down, it is a little heavy, but I'm gonna not, oh no, we've got to adjust for her, we've got to adjust for her. So lift that up a little and it's how that feels. Keep the arms there, opposite the shoulders and then straight up boom, much better, right?

And reaching up. Reaching up and down and reaching up and down, one more, and reaching up and down. I feel all the right muscles working, I feel your back working, I feel your abdominals working. What is your eye telling you that is making this difficult for her? I think it's the shoulders.

I think your shoulders are a bit tight. The elbows should be open, it should be in slight external. I feel her elbows are right. But watch what happens as she comes up here, the scapula is starting to elevate there already. Now go, go, go go.

You see where she wants to be is there and where I would like her to be, I'm gonna help you, is there, and that's where I feel the tightness. And that's where a lot of people have tightness, most people, or many, going from that 175 degrees to 180 degrees. And by the way, that's why I'm so adamant about working with straighter arms and narrow arm position rather than working out here and like this, because this, it needs to tight shoulders. So what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna move that just a little and move that just a little. And now I think we're gonna be in a great position.

Feels better. Feels better, much better. Yeah, I can see she's just now in a great position. Yup, now she's in a much more comfortable position, much better position. However, we do realize, straighten your arms, that she's not at 180 degrees.

And if I pushed her to 180 degrees, she would start going back. That shows us that there's simply tightness in the shoulder that we need to work with. Your question and that is, is it more difficult or what makes it more difficult to sit in that degree of hip flection? It is more difficult to sit upright. Now, this gives you a good platform.

But undoubtedly, if I elevated this platform and your knees were at 90 degrees, just say sitting on the box, and we can do the same exercise on the box by the way, it's a really good point, on the Avalon box not the regular box, the Avalon box it's got handles and then you'd be sitting at 90 degrees, think of that for your men. Those who have the Avalon, a great one for your men would be to start them great point, start them rather sitting 90, 90 rather than in this position which is about 45, 45. Definitely a tall man, a guy who's six, four is gonna feel like their knees are in their chin. So you could set what Sherry is asking, wouldn't it be comfortable for me because my legs are too, or facing the other way. Yep, that would be a great way to do it.

Yeah, much more 90, 90, thank you Sherry. Your creativity is a constant spring, an eternal spring. From here. The Hug a Tree, we add to the Hug a Tree. I know I'm doing it reverse, I know all my BASItes are saying, "But you usually teach it reverse," meaning sitting on the other side.

We do, but watch what's gonna happen here. So Hug a Tree. (breathing rhythmically) Hug, roll back, face the ceiling. (groans), abdominal, abdominal, abdominal, abdominal. Let's do it from here.

Abdominal and open up. I was gonna go overhead, it becomes quite difficult at that point. So Hug a Tree, rolling back. Boom. Rolling forward.

That's the beautiful, that's the tendon stretch right there. And then opening out to there, pushing, preparing for the rowing series. But we've got this great back extension here. That is the beauty here. And then forward (exhales sharply) and open out, boom.

Rolling up to there, forward, that's where the abdominals come in, and they come in there. Again, any of these upright positions, sorry, what was your name again? Jessica. Jessica Jessica, any of these upright positions are gonna be really useful for diastisis. You feel the abdominals but you aren't having to go through that lift.

Other than from here, that's difficult part. This part is really good so you could just do this, just a little back pushing an open, there, little back, pushing and open. That's gonna feel really good. Again, can be done with on weights, you don't have to have this. What's so valuable here though is that feeling of back.

Now, with on weights, you're using different muscles clearly, I realized that, because here, if you've using on-weights, the deltoids are working. Here you're using some deltoid but the pecs and then you've got the abs working to pull against the spring. Holding it like, like that, yeah, so just to hug a tree starting from there, let's go back again. And why am I going back? Because Shelly did what most men would do and that is, she used her pecs and her scapular glide and I don't want the scapular to glide.

I just want the glenohumeral- Oh, thank you. So much more difficult. So beautiful. And now roll back. Gorgeous position right there.

Draw into the abdominals head forward, reaching into the abdominals, pushing, pushing away from you and then open out to the Hug a Tree, boom. And just the arms, little lower. That's a chill. Now, roll back. Don't rush with those arms.

A little further with the arms they come perpendicular and forward, get into that tendon stretch position, right there your tendon stretch, your tendon stretch, your tendon stretch and then open out to the one last one and boom, and then rolling back. Great position to be in there right there, that's gonna help 99% of your men, just getting into that position, and then boom, and then opening out today. Great work, thank you Shell, very nice. (audience clapping) So doing the rollover on the barrel for men is a great one, many men that I worked with come to mind because if you don't have an incline bench, this is another version of getting someone to feel what a rollover is all about. So slowly lowering yourself onto the mat, holding onto the handles, bending the knees.

The beautiful thing about the Rollover here is you're able to get that lovely hip flexor stretch. And depending on the abdominal control, you can take it a little lower. So here at 90, then rollover to there, flexing down. And now I'm not kidding myself, most men are not gonna straighten the legs like that. But if you can just get that Rollover there, even if they are here, the beautiful thing here is what you're getting is that hip flexor stretch, you're getting that rolling action, and at no point are you on the cervical spine.

You're really keeping the contact with the barrel and you can obviously do it with any barrel. Now, could someone just put the straps on my feet? Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Obviously, the moment you put straps on, it's gonna be a lot more difficult. Here you have to use your abdominals a lot. As it stabilizes, you're pushing away. Here they are trying to stretch you out and then rolling around and back to there, lifting up, rolling, down, the spring is helping me get that stretch, and around to there. Okay?

So without the spring, you're getting that nice hip flexor stretch you're getting the spinal articulation. With the spring, it's getting the added pull on the hip flexes and the abdominal support, you're having to kind of push against the spring to get the spinal articulation, and then you get this incredible hamstring stretch, incredible hamstring stretch as the spring actually pulls you into the stretch. What you could do as a human being, as a teacher, you could gently guide your student down. And we go onto Leg Pool Front. Well, of course, no male program would be complete without a few pushups.

Now, if you don't have this barrel, it's not a problem. You just put the hands on the edge here and either you'll do a Peck Pushup (breathing rhythmically) or you'll do a Tricep Pushup. The important thing is getting the client to be able to do the first correct pushup they've ever done in their lives. And that is to keep the body stable and not do this, or this, or what every other variation you're gonna see. Just to get the person in a good position, to be able to stabilize, to be able to lift (breathing rhythmically) and lift, lift, and then once they're stable, (breathing rhythmically) okay?

And I could have left the handles facing outwards and then of course, you're getting more of a Peck Push up. Did I put Leg Pull Back or Front there? You put back. My mistake, I'm sorry. So the same applies, the first time ever they're gonna do a proper Leg Pull Back.

So getting the chest nice and high and then lifting up and back, lifting up and back, lifting up, get them to stay there if they can and up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, and down. And that is one of the most difficult exercises but if they don't have it, they can't do it on the mat and then obviously they can't go onto the Reformer and do the exercise on the Reformer. You've got to find a way of getting men to do it in an easy environment. If you don't have the Avalon, hold onto the side. Just getting that, hinging, boom and down and boom and down, getting them to activate those back muscles.

What have I done so that it's not sliding? That's a great question because actually this is a rarely slippery surface. It's much less slippery if we have carpets. Where is your energy going when you put...? Exactly, your energy is going down and what most men do is push back.

Thank you for asking that question, it's a great question. And that's how I often give people feedback. Where is the barrel going? It's like on the Reformer, when we jump and people tell me, "Well, when I jumped in my studio the Reformer started traveling across the room." That is true, we've spoken about it, Ofi. But if you take the time and teach someone to land properly and take off lightly and if that Reformer starts moving, oh sorry, that Reform started moving.

You're putting the energy in the wrong place. You're putting the energy down rather than up and hear the same thing. And if you just control your energy where it's going, the direction you're pushing, it will change it on the Reformer here, wherever. The Swan, very similar to the Incline Bench but you're a little bit more supported. And by the way again, I'm not saying everyone needs to have an Avalon.

If you don't have an Avalon, put two blocks here so you can push against two blocks. So initially you can keep the legs really quite relaxed, you're supported here, and traveling through that spinal articulation, even just that for many men is where you wanna get to, why? Chuck, because of your question. Here, we can stay completely out of the lower back, there's nothing in the lower back, nothing's happening here. I've got a lot of support, the work's gonna happen just right here, opposite the top of the arc.

That's my fulcrum, that's where I'm hinging from. So from here. Why don't you try and just lift your toes and see where you can go to, that's where they went today. They could of course do this, but that's not what I want. That's where they went today.

And why did I lift my feet? Because if you keep your feet in the ground and start lifting, it's gonna go into the lower back. By lifting the feat, it allows the legs to move a little. Start going higher and then come down, put the feet down. And then eventually, and I'm talking a year later, you wanna make sure they aren't using their arms too much so they can just hold on like that, just like that.

Then, let's take it all the way. And then Chuck, you can actually make the lower back work by lifting the legs just a little. Finishing off the movement, I've got mid-back, I've got upper back, I've got lower back and then all the way down. So going through that process of going from the rounded position just to flat, just remember that for most men going from the rounded position to flat is already going to be a lot of back extension work, and then using those arms to go a bit further. So she puts her toes in there, she gets this quite relaxed, come down a little bit Michelle, there.

So the beginning, the arms just offer a little support. I just want her to get that reverse articulation, too much here already. I want it here, that's it. Now here, now here. Stop about there.

And I want you to gently lift your arms off, good, and put your arms back. That is where you wanna be for most men, right there. There's no lower back, it's all happening here and slowly down. I'm not gonna say no lower back. I mean, if you put an EMG there, you would probably find some back activity, but this is where the majority is happening.

Keep the elbows just a little low, that's it. Let me try with the elbows wide actually. No, I think I prefer them a little lower. And then slowly down. And then finally, I work my way up the spine, up, up, point the feet and feel your leg so hard.

Move just lightly, and there, she starts going up into that elongate. That is such a great position. You've got the support you need, you've got the arms there. She's lengthening her legs by lifting the legs a little, you get a little more into that lower back. This is all working, the scapular stabilizers are working, her arms are bent over, that's it.

Her arms are working, she was just getting a little hyperlordotic, and her abs are working. Everything is working in that position and slowly rolling the spine down and then you get this beautiful stretch and remember working from zero degrees up to the 180 is also work for the back extension. I'm gonna go over now into the Avalon Chair,

Chapter 5

Exercises on the Avalon Chair

you can do it on the regular arm as well and you can do it on the Cadillac. So don't feel this has to have an Avalon. I don't wanna hear that as one of the comments because every exercise I'm showing you, you can do it anywhere.

This particular exercise, you can do at the end of a Cadillac, sitting on a chair, on a box, on a ball so be creative. Now, one of the things I was talking about at lunchtime, always my favorite conversations happen at lunchtime, where is Mandy by the way? Right here. Okay, thought you were running late again. So it is the first time ever but you won't hear the last of it.

One of the things we were saying is that men like to feel that they've worked. Again, it's a bit of a difference. I don't think every woman needs to tap into that sensation that they've really worked hard every session. I think women are a little more adaptable in that way, they wanna move. I'm a mover, I feel every session should have movement, but the woman is able, I think from my experience, to see movement in different ways, not every session has to be a hard workout.

Some will be a little more mellow, a little more introspective, some will be a little more about the movement, some will be harder. Men to get them on side, to make them believers in the system, they need to feel it. They need to feel they got to work out. Keep it basic, like the mat work today was a pretty basic class, but intense. So you can find ways of intensifying the work but just recognize that if you are gonna ask the man on their first session, to for 15 minutes, focus on finding that neutral pelvic position and the neutral spine position and try to imagine those issue of tuberosities coming together to find the pelvic floor and the anterior pelvic floor and not moving until they find it, I'm telling you, 90% of men won't hang in there.

They wanna feel that they've worked. So find ways in that basic level of creating intensity. So this is an exercise I love. I just think it's such a great one for your men that are more tight of course, put them on the box like this, on a ball, on a chair. For those that are able to, of course, you can put them in this position and that's a little more challenging for the hamstrings.

The important thing is from here, getting first, tell them no movement in the scapular initially, getting that rhomboid, no movement in the scapular. Then adding the movement of the scapular, opening and shoulder joint, glide of the scapular, opening. That starts giving them awareness of that rhomboid lower trapezius area. And this is where I wanna get to. Lifting the chest up.

A sensation that most men have probably never had since they were babies, pulling the scapula together and then adding that lift of the chest to the ceiling and back, boom, scapular together, there, end. So it's a progression of three. First few weeks, just the arm moves. Then after three weeks or three months or three years, the scapular starts moving and then scapula and back extension and reverse it. Scapular, arms, arms, scapular, back extension, center, open the scapula and the arms.

By the way, that can be done on the Reformer as well. I'm showing it on the Avalon, it can be done Reformer, Cadillac, anywhere. Great exercise. I cannot deny myself this exercise because I think it's one of the best hip flexor hamstring stretches you can do. Little more difficult to do on other apparatus but finding this position.

Now, the guy can be down here, it's really nice down here. And from here, you can add all kinds of variations. Rael, please don't get carried away now, but I wanna show at least a few. So why not add a rotation? Come back, why not add a back extension?

Great back extension work. You're well supported, you're holding that knee. And by the way again, it doesn't have to be on the Avalon. It just happens to be a great piece of apparatus to do it on but you can find ways of doing it on different apparatus. From here, you're nice and upright, stretching that hamstring.

It's a position that most guys can try get to, try keep the pelvis square, come back to there. If they can, very beneficial to try and lift up, even using the support of that knee, if they can, great. Moving out to there and then back to there and then back to there. So as I go through a few stretches on the other side, I'm gonna talk about some of the other things that not only may need but for some reason, I find that it's more prevalent the deterioration with men, and that is balance. As people get older in any case, balance becomes a huge issue.

I find often with men, it just is one of those issues that I'm just going through the same few variations, showing you things that you can do here, from here. It doesn't have to be high, just lifting to there, and down, lifting to there and then stretching out. So here you've got balance. Wow balance, balance, finding that balance in this position. Men, they want immediate results.

I'm just thinking of some of the funny stories that I've heard of men come to me. One guy, just one of my favorite men that used to come here and in his early 80s, he said to me, "Rael, I just bought myself a Harley." I said, "Oh really, have you ridden motorbikes before? "No, not really, my balance is so bad, I'm thinking if I get a motorcycle, I'll work on my balance." Addicts, not a good thing to do. There're other ways of working on your balance besides buying yourself a Harley and deciding that you're gonna become a biker. And I love riding motorbikes, but I find even with myself, my balance is just not, I can't corner like I used to, it just deteriorates.

That's the fact of it. Now, the guy came to me, he said, "Rael, I bought myself a unicycle." You know what a unicycle is? It's one of these, just one wheel and you have to sit on it and (imitating pedal sound), and away you go with nothing in front of you. It's really tough. Again I said, you know what?

It start with a balanced board and get you a unicycle later. We can either do a tricep pushup but I did that last time. So I'm gonna do a bicep push up this time, Peck Pushup. Sue and I were just talking earlier, why's Sue? We were just talking earlier about the fact that a lot of the equipment is too narrow for men.

It's absolutely true, when it comes to back support front support, we need handles out here whether these handles can swing this way or that way, either way, but we need handles wider because men are broad and I'm not a big guy. You get guys like this. Well, if you ask them to hold onto the handles of a Reformer or regular piece of apparatus, it's putting undue strain on the joints. So I think this is an exercise that's not overly difficult but a man sees themselves in this exercise, I do something with my feet here, it's not essential, but I tend to push back with my heels and then as I go forward, I push forward with my feet and then up and back. But that's not the important thing, you could keep the feet absolutely still and just get this beautiful pushup.

And the important thing is that what you're saying to your male client, I'm changing your approach to this very fundamental male exercise. Let's face it, most men identified by the pushups they do. How many pushups do you do? I do 300. That gives you the whole background on that man.

But it's not how many you do, what you do, what can, you do a pec pushup or tricep pushup, that's like a common language between men. But what you're doing here, you're showing them how this exercise that they've done 1000 times can be felt completely differently by just getting them to, and you start seeing them sag, no, up there. You start seeing, no, up there, you start seeing this, this, no, there, absolutely still. I want you to hold that for 10 seconds. Absolutely still.

Wow, suddenly they thinking Pilates, something to it? And you're holding them up there. Now move. Nope, your scapular moved. Get them back up.

Nope, your chin moved, get them back up. Wow, this is tough. And suddenly, they do one good pushup and they start shaking and shaking and shaking, and you've suddenly shown them through an exercise, what we try and teach; the mind-body connection, the importance of precision, the importance of stabilization, the importance of alignment, all of these concepts you did in that one exercise. Honestly, I highly recommend if you don't have a box with the handles, I've got them in the other room, I love those rotating, rotating, this candles. I've got to say to them, those pushups.

Yeah, they're made four pushups. Remember, we can buy a Pilates not Pilates apparatus but if it's gonna make our work better, why not use them? If I'm not mistaken, Joseph Pilates actually had handles like this. I know Gratz make them, but they static. I love the ones that rotate.

In fact, I had it in this workshop and I knew we would never get to it so I took it out. But because you can rotate the shoulder and then you would just put it on the floor or put it on small moon boxes and then do the same thing. But I still think you should get an Avalon. (Rael laughing) The Arm Standing Series is one of my favorite series and we were talking about that earlier, the Arm Standing Series, and when we do the circles on the Arm Standing Series, particularly on the Avalon, there's such a pull in this direction. We flip the handle to be up here so the Springs coming from there, so you do your Hug a Tree, and then as you're going up, the spring is pulling you back.

So you've got to use your shoulders and a lot of abdominal work as you come more than the Cadillac, it's gonna start pulling you over, you have to pull back. But one of the ways that we can work our glutes which as we know is a really important thing, just put your foot up there and take your other foot forward. Just so that the knee is over the ankle. Get down like this into a squat, so you using your glutes, you're stretching your hip flexes, you're stabilizing and what man is not gonna wanna work their biceps? But in a way that is stretching the pecs.

You're getting this beautiful stretch for the chest, you're not there, you're open. You're getting that stretch for the hip flexes, you're nice and square in the pelvis. (breathing rhythmically) I'm starting to feel my legs really working. And then you can slowly come up. And for now, I do have a way of getting out of it that's a bit more advanced, but for now, make sure that heel is up against the Avalon, coming down to there, getting into that nice squat position and boom and back.

(breathing rhythmically) Remember what a lot of men also gonna want is to relate what they're learning in a Pilates session to recreational activities. Like that is perfect. In fact my inspiration for that was Telemark skiing. It's a type of skiing where you go down like that on every turn and just seeing these skiers go down the hill like that, the mountain, I thought okay, I've got to do something that is gonna be similar to that and what makes it so functional is that you working you're legs, you're working your upper body. Everyone talks about core, core, core, core, core, but this is it, I mean, this is it.

You've got the core working, you've got your upper body, your legs, a perfect exercise. The beautiful thing is here, we don't need to lean the body forward. So all we do is this, we stand here and this is gonna be very tight, meaning very strong. What I would do for a woman even for myself is bring the lead and the barrel closer together. But I don't wanna move it now so I'm gonna leave it here.

But from here we come in, I'm perfectly aligned, and here, oh, abs, abs, abs, oh my gosh. I've got to resist it Cherry. I'm not using that weight of the body that we use on the Cadillac to lean forward. It's just me, my body and I. Boom.

(woman speaking off mic) I just enjoy that company. It's just a perfect little team. So what I'm gonna do for her is actually bring the handle just a little forward so that I don't have to move the barrel. There we go. Perfectly set up for you.

Take that handle, take that handle underneath. Yes, put that foot back there, exactly, and just creep forward. Good, she's in a lovely position. Yes, intern you rotate the shoulders just a little, just so the palms face down like that, keep it like that. And now bend the elbows and open, nice.

Wow, strong lady, power, fierce woman. Bend that a little more. Yes, feeling the legs working? Yes. Feeling the body working? Yes.

Yes, nice. Look at that alignment, I love it. Yes, and straighten your legs and then you just come back there, yeah. And you do a couple on the other side. Very nice, really nice, very good alignment.

I like this even better, look how nice and low she's going there. You see the straight line that stretch of the hip flexes, she's got to keep those abdominals engaged to get the full stretch and then bend and straighten and bend and straighten and bend and straighten and bend and straighten. Very nice, really nice, beautiful. (audience clapping) Some of my favorite exercises right here,

Chapter 6

Exercises on the Cadillac

in fact, I'm not even gonna change this, I'm gonna keep it like this. We obviously could put handles there for the typical way we do squats.

I'm just gonna leave the ball here, it's a nice way to do it. So we know for typical squats, what we're gonna do is bend the arms so you get that nice bicep work. Lot of backward here, lot of back work, and we're gonna bend going straight down and up, coming straight up. Going straight down, straight up, straight down, straight up and forward. The issue with that exercise, there's no issue with it it's just that you really do feel the arms a lot more than you feel the legs.

So I mean, you could set a person to sit there for one, two, three, four, five, up and forward and back. And one, two, three, four, five, up and back. But really nice thing to do is to take one leg off. Bend and then boom, and up and boom, and up. I would've made it easier for myself, I will on this side, by stepping to the center so that you're centered.

So this is my side, I'm having a bit of a hip problem. So this is perfect for my hip, gain bending and then down and up and down and up and down, up and down, up, back to center. Incredibly tough work. I mean, just an exercise like that is so full body. You've got your arms, you've got huge back work going on.

First practice it with two, getting that nice isometric contraction at the bottom where you're just holding everything, holding everything, holding everything, up and forward. And if the guy leans forward which is what probably most men will do, no, we don't do that here. We come into perfect alignment. Use your spring. Yeah, but that's harder than my arms.

Well, you're supposed to have strong arms and hold it there. Hold it, hold it, hold it, up and then forward. And then taking that onto that single leg. Now, we've got balance, now we can't overpower with the dominant leg, now we working the glutes a lot, huge gluteal work there. I can feel it because this gluteal is inflamed.

So when I go down on that side, it just wants to cave in. I can see how much I'm using the gluteal. We know that we're taught that your knees shouldn't come forward of your toes. So you're not gonna go for the net. There's one thing that makes this different and that is that we've got this, this is taking the strain out of the knees.

This, you see this? (woman speaking off mic) Slightly yes, I'm weighting a little more into my heels. But you couldn't go this low without the spring, you would fall or you'd have to take the knees rarely fall forward. And by the way, even with that, remember if we couldn't take our knees further forward, then the feet we'd have to eliminate half of our dance technique. Because what happens when you go into a Grand Plie, where do your knees go?

So we need to recognize that these are- It kind of these safety criteria that typically have come out of the fitness industry, that they have credence to them. You can see what the thinking was, you can see what the thinking was but you need to also understand that if you're first of all, involved in activities, say you're a surfer, say you're a skier, snowboarder, those knees are gonna go right down. You've got to be prepared for things that you love doing in life and to say that your knees will never go further forward than your feet is going to restrict you severely in life. But what we can do here is train someone to do it well, and here you do have this advantage. I mean, I could sit right back here and have them all the way back there because the way the spring is to helping me take the weight off the body.

As long as you're not weight bearing when you go down, the problem is minimal. You want to have definitely a balanced recruitment of your quads, of your hamstrings, there's a very balanced recruitment that's going on. But what I'm saying Gina, is even in certain instances, it's going to happen by virtue of the activity that I'm doing here. I wanna be able to do this. Now to say that I can never do this, it's just gonna take out of the equation, all the activities that I love doing and that many men love doing.

And sometimes they're coming to you because they love doing those activities. So we need to be able to develop the alignment, the core strength, the balanced musculature, the balance muscle recruitment to protect those joints. Mandy's questions are really difficult question because she saw me go down and I said, I've got a quite severe inflammation on this hip joint, bursitis and tendonitis, so should I be working that pain? Mandy, you're taking me right into a minefield because rarely it is. And then if a question was, if you have someone with sciatica and they get it when they rotating to the one side, the truth is the conventional wisdom is to stay away from pain.

There are very few instances where you will wanna go into pain like when you're trying to achieve range of motion after surgery, you sometimes have to go through a certain amount of pain. However, when it's related to inflammation, the conventional wisdom is to let the inflammation go down before you work that area that is obviously being inflamed more and more. To say to you that I follow that all the time, I don't but it's often to my detriment, particularly as you get older, I think again Grand Powers as some of you know, comes in here and he sat me down for a stern conversation and said, when you were 20 and 30, that may have worked. Now you've got to let that inflammation subside. And he's probably right.

Being such a driven-mover, personally, I find it very difficult not to try and find ways of getting the muscles strong because what happens when you limp, just do that, you can hardly see it happening but the muscle starts getting weaker and weaker and weaker and you don't know what's happening. And then one day you go and do an exercise that you've done 100 times and you're wobbling all over the place. You think what happened? What happened is that you didn't even notice it happening but the one side was getting weaker and weaker and weaker and weaker. So, I am just very driven to keep my muscles conditioned but the conventional wisdom would definitely say that you should not work into pain.

So we know the punching exercise, a really nice thing to do is to now add rotation to it and boom and rotation and boom and rotation and boom and rotation. Now, you don't even have to come back each time, you can say to your client, let's do five and four and five, boom, back, and one and two, three, getting that beautiful rotation, and four and five, back, end. So nothing wrong changing each time, boom and back and boom and back and finding the rotation. Because for years, we've been teaching it to keep everything still. Now they know that, let's add that full body rotation which of course is so similar to many activities and sports that we may be involved in.

To tell you the truth, the handles actually are easier. It's easier, the bar is more difficult. So actually the handles, just remember the squat, typically done, you can center your leg. If you want it less challenging, center your leg in the center. You wanted more challenging, stand in a parallel position and then what's happening?

The spring is pulling me off center and that just makes it a little more challenging. The Prone II exercise. I'm sorry to the camera people and to the audience out there we can't move the Cadillac around but hopefully you can see from behind. So we know the Prone II Exercise, we wanna see it like this. So through, we turn the corner, we go up, we come down, through and down.

Here, it's really important to turn this corner. What I mean by turning the corner, the arms already stretching up as we go all the way up, down, back, most men are not gonna do that. So what we're gonna do, I'll show you. We put one arm down, be careful because this spring is heavy right now. You can do it on a lighter spring.

Take it through and up, through and down, through and up, through and down. There're two advantages to that and I'll show you in a minute. The one is the pec, gets a huge stretcher and then take it up. The pec gets a huge stretcher and down. Not only am I allowing a little rotation, that was gonna be my next thing, I'm desiring a little rotation because rotation is your gateway to extension.

If you do that a few times with rotation, suddenly, oh my gosh, you just go straight up. Because by giving yourself that rotation, you have opened the doors to the kingdom of extension. That's it. Now when I do my extension, am I straight? But now it feels like a different back.

Now it feels like a different back. Whoa. So as everyone can see, these are the prototypes actually of the Avalon Cadillac. You can see the Avalon handles on the Cadillac. The hanging back is a lovely exercise because it's accessible to most people.

You've all worked through that exercise, I'm not gonna do it too many times. Finding that stable pelvis, maximizing the thoracic extension and then the hip extension and pelvis. But why not come back to there and add one, two, three and then down to there. And you can do three of those, three of three. Go into full extension, come back to center, one, two, three, come down.

Full extension, back to the plank position, one, two, three. After two, most people are gonna wanna rest, but you can go to three. And again, not a very difficult exercise but so satisfying for your male kind. It works on the upper body, it's working on your glutes and hamstrings, working on your core. Just one of these full body exercises.

Let's see someone up here doing it. So come all the way down there Gina, nice. So she rolls through the spine, whoa, whoa she's going into extension and what's happening here? It's not high enough. Wait, Gina, don't go into your extension.

Let's bringing that pelvis a little higher, head up a little more, chest there. Now that's the straight position. Now go into your cervical, thoracic and then lumbar extension. Not so much head, and then coming down and then yes. Yes, yes, good, good, good, good, good, good, good.

One, all the way straight, and two, all the way straight, and three, all the way straight, and then carry your journey on down here, articulating through and then inhale and exhale. Articulate the spine, find that straight line, I liked it Gina, a little more, there, and now continuing, continuing. And now, back to the straight line, this is where I can walk on you, I can walk on you, one, and feel how those sceps when it moved towards each other here, and three, just slightly, yes, and down and then you could do another one if you so desired. And roll up, little higher here, that's it, go into the extension, relax your head rust a little, there we go. And now up to the straight line and then up.

Now the movement of the skeps isn't much really, it's a slighter, you wanna feel it more than actually move those sceps. (audience clapping) Nice (laughs). That would be my third one. Yeah, I realized that the moment I'd say that, I'd opened the can of worms. Don't move the scapular.

If they are in a good place, keep them there. The problem is most men are gonna be here. So I'm going to want feel as they're pulling here, that the scapular find the neutral position, find neutral, because I don't wanna start getting this. I realized as I said, I thought, oh God, what did I say? I don't want to start getting that scapular retraction.

It really is more thinking into that area and for men that are from here, thinking into that area of lifting the sternum but without getting that. So to everyone, no gliding the scapula, think of the scapular, finding neutral. You may have to glide them into neutral. So this is one that I love, we teach it on one of our programs, I believe it's the Mentor Program. And that is the Hanging Front Prep.

Again, so accessible to most men but they've got to do it right. Essentially what they doing is a pec pull up, that's what you're doing. So what you're getting down here and then pulling up to there and down and pulling up to there. Now, hold it up there, find it. That's what they've got to get, that stable position, and then down and boom and back and boom, hold it there.

And by the way here, the leg is just following. It's not doing any work. And the arms are doing the work. Find that position, there, change and down. So the hanging front is just too difficult for most people, particularly as they starting.

But the Hanging Front Prep is one that is accessible. Let's face it, the Hanging Front is a no-no for most, particularly men, because of gravity pulling you into hyperextension. Just absolute no-no but the prep is a good one.

Chapter 7

Exercises on the Reformer

So the Standing Leg Press is standing in this position, you can take that other leg as far back as you want, and she's better to get it just on that edge. And I've got quite a heavy spring here.

I'm on two greens and a blue which is pretty heavy for this exercise. So I'm gonna go down just a little. So I've got two full, heavy Springs on here, I've really aligned my pelvis well, I've got this foot is active. What you don't want is to push and that foot drop. What you want is that foot to stay nice and high as you push out and then back and push out and back and push out and back and push out and back.

Now, you could do it without the support, that's fine, it works on balance. But by holding here, you can just work a little heavier resistance. If I was gonna work it with just the balance, I'd go a little lighter because it's just really tough on that spring. But what you doing here which is really nice is you're bringing the body into a more upright position. And we know much of Pilates is done lying down.

And again, just getting the alignment correct, I'm using the bar for support. I'm like pulling the bar upwards to keep my body stable and pushing and pushing, great. Let's have six of you right here. One and a half springs, six people meaning a green and a blue. Let me see you do it.

We do five on the right leg, five on the left leg, get that toe right centered, try get that back heel. You wanna move further back with that leg. My friends, you want forgive me, but just by your crutch, that's where the ball should be, it shouldn't be up here. You should feel your back thigh leaning against that bar. Your back thigh leaning against this bar, this thigh, there, leaning against the bar.

Pulling up on that bar, Antonio, wait, wait, wait, Carrie. Lifting that foot, keep lifting your heel up Antonio, there. Get that chest up Antonio. Okay, ready? And go.

One and back, two and back and three, Sherry, Keep the heel up, and back, more plantar flexion, and four and back, a little straight to Jen, and five and back. Sherry, I want that backside to be up against that bar, the back thigh, yeah. Change sides. Ready, upright position, Antonio get the chest up, and push out and back and out and slowly back and out and slowly back and out and slowly back and out and slowly back, a little more plantar flexion, Jen, and out and slowly back. Well, are any questions from the people that were doing it?

What you really wanna feel is that plantar flexion. So your foot is like that, you'll feel a cuff working a lot, a lot of cuff work, rather than relaxing that foot and pushing with a whole leg and getting that thigh onto the bar here. Getting that thigh onto the bar here, that is gonna stabilize the pelvis. So you are stable. If you're here, the pelvis isn't stable, here by getting the pelvis on that bar then, and even if you can't straight an absolutely all the way due to the hamstrings getting in the way, just try go as far as you can and then back.

But this is what's important there and not dropping it. It's a good question, is it gonna be different for a man setting up in that position than for a woman? It may be, getting right down into the crutch could get a little difficult, but you don't have to lift it much. You know, you just have to get that thigh so you'd come in just a little bit. But what's important is to get that back thigh touching and not just be working in space, nothing wrong with that, it's not a classic Pilates exercise so nothing wrong with anything.

I'm just advising you to have that thigh up there, have the thigh up there, use the upper body. And now I'm not touching at all. I mean, I'm not touching my groin. The next exercise, one that you all know pretty well but I encourage you to teach the Long Back Stretch is a very advanced exercise. But why not teach just the dips.

(breathing rhythmically) Even if that's too difficult, do it with the knees bent. Down and up and down and up, because suddenly, the dips are gonna take on a whole new meaning for your male clients, because that is a true dip. And what we typically see is not focusing on the correct muscles. So again, setting up either like this is easier to set up, like this is a bit more difficult, either way, you wanna get that open chest and up and open chest and up. There's no spring here.

I mean, it doesn't really matter, I don't want the carriage to move. So you could just have it on two Springs, one and a half springs, but you wanna keep the carriage still. If you wanna challenge them with the carriage, actually going light will challenge them, going on to one spring. Eh, you could later on to go a little lighter, put it on one spring, I had it on one and a half here so it was very comfortable for me. Let's do it with knees bent because you probably haven't done it that way.

Michelle, you can take your legs further forward, where Shell is is beautiful, good. Let's do it with the next bent. That's it, yes. Ofi, nice position, take your legs forward Ofi, that's it. That's it, straight and go down and up.

Don't rush Margie, and down, go, go, go, go, go, go, go and up, nice Shell, and down, and up and down. Judy, watch those shoulders. Scapula, stabilize the scapula and keep the chest open down. Nice Margie, better, keep your chin up and down, Laura nice. Stay down, stay down, stay down, stay down, stay down, stay down.

Judy, open up here, use your back muscles more, back muscles more, that's it, and now up you go. Lovely, let's go. So what I want is we all know the Side Over. Thank you, Jody. And she goes over.

She starts coming up, come up to this line and then rotates. Little more, oh, look at that. Oh, I'm so happy I got you to demonstrate, I wouldn't have been anywhere nearly as good, and up and then she rotates, give me a little more flexion here. That's what I want, this as she keeps those obliques. Oh, she's so good, and up.

Gosh, no way am I demonstrating after this. So you get, look at that, look at that. Go Jody. Go Jody, and then down, then she comes up and goes into opposite rotation. boom, and back and down and up and yes.

Oh my gosh, when all of you can do it like this, we'll have our next workshop. And go, Jody. Wow, you just don't see it like that 'cause I'm holding her pelvis just perfectly stable. Oh my gosh, you are too good, thank you so much. So all the Springs on, you're ready?

And now hooking the leg under, that's it. So all I'm wanting to do is just stabilize the pelvis, hand behind the head. Now you wanna find that diagonal line. Little lower, the loss person, a little lower. Nope, everyone else come up, just the last person, thank you.

Interlace the fingers and everyone goes down and then comes up and then rotates to the ceiling and then back to center and then down and up and then rotate to the ceiling. And then back and down. You're trying to keep the pelvis as square as possible. It's probably gonna tip just a little bit, and back to center and down and now come up and rotate towards the floor, boom. Nice Christen, and down and up and rotate and back and down, and one more up and rotate, just try to move the head and back to center.

Yes, and all the way down. Good, other side, let's go, ready? And down. Now when you rotate, although I say ceiling, you really can't get absolutely to the ceiling. You wanna just get that nice rotation.

And up and then that's it, just there, perfect. And then back and center and up and rotate and center and center. And then, oh, we've lost each other? And come up and to the floor, boom, and come center and down and up and to the floor and center and down, one more, and up and to the floor and center and down, stretch. Okay, next one is Swan Reverse.

So this one I came up with really just as another option to Pulling Straps. It's very similar to Pulling Straps I, feels a little different and by the way, I know my bar's up, I actually liked the bar being up just so that the legs don't start sagging. You don't have to have the bar up but I think it's a nice little cue for the legs. And from here, holding onto the side of the Reformer and pulling and slowly down. And you can work pretty light here.

I'm on a green which isn't light, but you could certainly go even on a blue. But getting that nice pressing into the Reformer, lifting up in the chest and down and lifting up and down. Now this one in the course we call it the Breaststroke Prep, sorry, I'm kind of rotating. But in the course, we call it the Breaststroke Prep, but watch how I reverse it and it becomes like the Swan Dive. So we learn at first like this, a great exercise for men, they will feel the back extensors.

I'm working light, I'm working with one spring, pushing out. Now, I lift up to there and I come down. That's the second stage, lifting up to there and to there. But what do I do now? I come in, lift, press.

Lift, press, lift, press and lift, press and come in, okay? So you see three years of work. One year, stay down, two years, you come up and down, three years boom, boom and three different versions. I say three years but in all sincerity I think we rushed too much with repertoire. We've got to take it slowly, got to get it deep and without wanting to labor the point, but I had those martial arts us here today and I just love certain things about the way they do things.

First of all, I love the respect. Whomever the teacher is, it's amazing, these teenagers, they black belts and everyone just walks in and there's this real humility. These guys are just amazing. But they're there teach you and you have the utmost respect for them no matter what your age. And then what I love is the reverence for the levels.

Meaning, if you're a white belt or yellow belt, you would never even dream of doing the black belt material. You just wouldn't because you know that you've got to go through your levels. You've got to work at a white belt and then you've got to work as a yellow belt and then you got to work as an orange belt and you go to work as a purple belt. Like my son, he's 12 and I'm a white belt, he's a purple belt. So I said to him the other evening, "Can you just show me your Kempo 3?" I could see suddenly he had this conflict in his head because he wanted to show me and he said, "I'll get permission.

I'll ask the teacher for permission and then I'll show it to you." So there's this thing, you don't just show people, you don't. And then he'll go and he'll ask the teachers whether he can show me Kempo 3. I love that because there's not this rushing. And what happens is people get to the advanced work and it's not in the context. Like if you come and show someone, let's say Maria, I know you wouldn't but say Maria sees this and Maria shows this a first time client and he sees this.

Now he will never know that it came from practicing that and then it came from practicing that and then that led to that. It's like that was your purple belt and then your brown and then your black, you need to earn those levels. I'm throwing you into black belts because I know you're all black belts. So we just doing the black belt now. Straighten the arms, go up into your extension and bring the carriage in.

Up, up, up, up, up, up, up and then push back and then lift up, push back and lift up. just what your shoulders, and push back. So that's it, it just goes to that. You could actually lie a little forward Maria, you can actually move forward on the box, just a little. Yeah, that's it.

And then there, that's better. And then lifting and then reaching back and then lifting. And it's got this beauty, you can see with Kara, it gets this beautiful arc and that beautiful arc and that beautiful arc and that beautiful arc, right? Yes, we see that. Good, thank you ladies, thank you very much.

And then bend the arms and bring it in. Paul, don't be an overachiever male. (everybody laughing) So all my men, three men, isn't this great? All men lift your legs just a little, thank you. There, now straighten your arms men.

Stay there. And now lift up men, bring the carriage into the stopper. Up, up, up, and push out men. Chuck, Brandon, we'll hear about those shoulders, and lift up, keep the scapula in place, thank you Chuck, and then push out and lifting up, up, up, up, up, and push out, breathe. So I want you to look, thank you for asking the men to do it because we seeing something very different here.

Kara, get on that Reformer please. Gina, move a minute, I want the camera to catch this. We see the men's body and we seeing the woman's body. That is a woman over there and these are men over here in case anyone didn't notice. Okay, stay there, wait, wait, arm straight, everyone in unison.

Lift up and down and lift up and out and lift up and down. Let's stop for a minute and bring the carriage in. What are the differences we observed besides the beauty? The big thing is keeping the legs up. So what is really happening?

Say Paul's the most advanced, he's body is very organized but even with Paul, what is actually happening? He's like teeter-tottering, he's teeter-tottering because of tighty flexes. So he's teeter-tottering. His body goes up but his legs go down. His body comes down, his legs go up, he's doing this.

Chuck, you got to watch your your shoulders, the shoulders elevate as you come up. I'd rather you come less forward, don't come as far forward, but keep the scapular stabilized and not elevated. Don't think down, but think neutral with the scapular. It's a concept we studied in my last workshop. Antonio, what Antonio has to watch, and he's getting better, a lot better, is to just become acquainted with those upper back extensors and stretch out the chest.

But with Kara what we see is that optimum of the legs, staying level to the floor and then upper body, the trunk, the spine, arcing and then down, arching and down. Now, Cara is a beautifully-trained dancer, a young body, very young spine, but you see these very typical differences because although the men digits slightly differently, but they were very similar in the way they looked compared to a woman's body. Well certainly, this woman who has trained very extensively. So I would wanna now start getting the men to be aware of their legs so that the legs don't splay and don't sink down. I want the hip extensors to work more.

It will bring it more into the lower back, you can't go into your lumbar. So if someone can't go into their lumbar, I don't know if this would be the exercise for him anyway, but it's an important thing to remember. Let's move on to the one to choose, thank you.

Chapter 8

Exercises on the Wunda Chair

The first one is the Side Lunge. Just remember, I'm not taking you through a program here, I'm taking you through certain exercises that I feel could be very beneficial for men.

Of course, the Forward Lunge is one of my favorite, you all know the Forward Lunge is my favorite. But I wanted to show the Side Lunge today. It's a very advanced exercise, so we don't learn it until the Mentor and Monster programs. But if you do a preparation for this exercise, it's actually a really good, wonderful exercise. This Lake can be externally rotated or actually as Joseph Pilates did it just flat on the pedal.

I'm demonstrating it on the Wunda Chair and then I'll do it on the Combo Chair. But getting the hip over here, over the pedal, you could ask a man, guy's not gonna get a nice second position, most men won't, but what you're gonna teach them here is that this part is so difficult to lift up into that position there and then go down and then out and lifting up into the position, I'm not overusing this arm, but I can use it. And what this is gonna work is their external rotators because the body's gonna wanna swing around like that. Whoa, I will move, that is pretty close. I told you once. (everybody laughing)

You did, you did, wow. Okay, that's gonna keep me aligned. That's gonna keep me away. From there and then down and to there. I know this is more intricate.

I mean, of course I debated whether to rather show you the Forward Lunge which would be like, wow, I'm gonna take this a little away from that fan, the Forward Lunge is a great one and really men should learn that Forward Lunge. But that side one, it works the gluteals so amazingly well that I just wanted to venture and show you that one. But please if that one is too tough, don't shy away from this one. And when done well, keeping the body absolutely aligned and it's so nice with this bar here to be go up, up straight up and only at the end, do you just come up like that and then down and then moving the pelvis all the way back. You can actually do it without the seat.

I'm sorry, I should have shown it without the seat. It's got be a perfect marking actually for the foot. You keep the foot aligned on the wood. You can see that marking there that keeps the foot aligned and makes it much easier and much easier to work there. That is the prep because I'm using a support.

The lunge is the one that we do without any support. Shell makes a good point, is the Forward Lunge for, she used a great word, husky man, and a bigger man, She's talking about 250, 280, it really depends. I mean, I've worked. In fact, I would say my Forward Lunge has been my favorite exercise with athletes like football players, basketball players, volleyball players, who are all interested in either jumping vertical leap or sprinting. And what that gives us, that Forward Lunge, is it gives us this perfect recruitment pattern of starting from your hip extensors, your hip abductors to prevent the hip from doing that.

And then your quads, at the same time, incredibly strong work of the core. So I don't think weight is an issue there, particularly if you're gonna allow them to press not pull, but press, that's an important difference. If they pull onto the handles, it'll pull them forward. You wanna keep them back so that they're in more in this position here, from there, boom and pressing, pressing, pressing, reaching up rather than what a lot of men would do is that. You need to keep the body back there.

That's where the body needs to be. But in terms of weight, Shell, I don't think that's an issue. I think you could start on maybe simpler ones like the Leg Press, stepping up onto a box and down, step ups onto a box, step down, step up. But once they doing that, essentially that's what they doing, is a step up. The back dips, so I teach, this as a more advanced exercise but I really encourage you first of all, to get the back dips.

Do I have a four, four there Maria? Four, four, so that's where I wanna be. (breathing rhythmically) And then taking it into that back extension. (breathing rhythmically) Now, is this for every guy? Probably not, but I just want to show you where we're aiming to get to when we do the dips, because I want to go in the opposite direction of what most men would do.

This is what most men are gonna do, that. They're gonna try get up like that. What we wanna do is the opposite, keep the body further forward. First, teach them these dips and then see how it's actually taking us into an extension. And even if you add, I know this is advanced, but even if you added that dip in extension to try and work out of that rounding, always rounding.

Side Overs with leg raises. I would put one spring, you want a pretty light spring. So one spring either on the top level or the second top level. That's leg just nice and relaxed here, this leg reaching out, this arm going over. Now we know this exercise, the Side Over.

So most men can get this. So you wanna get the stretch and then the lifting of the leg at the same time and the stretch, lifting of the leg, stretch, lifting of the leg. Now we do that with rotation as well. Down and up, down and up, down and up. So what we do is down, lifting up.

Down and lifting up. And what that does is it targets different areas of the gluteal. The first one more towards the hip abductor, meaning the gluteus medius primarily, the second one more towards the hip extensor, the gluteus maximus. No, actually my leg it's like it's turned out. My leg stays in the same place.

The rotation occurs in the spine, the lower body stays the same. Sherry, you just feel it when it's here, you just feel it more to the side. Although here it's a combination of abduction and extension, you're right. It's not pure extension, if it was pure extension, we'd let the leg come all the way around and then extend. So it's bringing the gluteus maximus more into play by rotating.

Up stretched to a really important one for men. Again, just because of this, so many men love the pushup, is to get that stretching of the shoulders, the back extensors working and then back to there and reaching up to there and back to there and reaching up and back to there. I'll go a little lighter for Laura, she's in lightweight. I'm gonna go back on myself there, I'm gonna burger back on myself. You can't push down, you've really got to float the pedal.

You mustn't push back and you mustn't push down. However, you mustn't push back, that's the key. So when she comes up here, she's got a rarely keep most of her weight on her upper body, the legs are really floating. And then when she goes down, she hinges down but she's keeping those legs very light. The legs don't do much, that's the thing.

The legs don't do much, and down. So you could see initially she was gonna push with her legs, but now she's perfect. And up. Just watch you don't go into hyperlordosis there, that's it, and down. And even that lightweight, it's very light right now.

But someone heavier could do it, I could do it on that weight 'cause I'm keeping my legs lifting. I'm not really using the legs much at all, I'm really pivoting. It's really the upper body that's doing the work. (breathing rhythmically) It's much harder definitely on a very lightweight but you wanna work in that challenged position, If you're working with someone, a gentlemen, gentlemen are usually heavier, men are usually heavier, I would go a little heavier. So I wouldn't go heavier than one spring at the top but one spring at the top is feasible.

So we know the Swan on the Floor as a challenging exercise particularly on this spring, is very light. For men, it's easier going heavier. Now once a man has got that, we want to start introducing the hip extension as well. Now pull, this will obviously go more into the lower back, but I don't feel it excessively in the lower back, but this is where your Swan Dive is. That's where your Swan Dive's gonna come into play, and down.

So we've done two exercise today that are gonna prepare you for the Swan Dive on the mat. Boom and down, intensifies it dramatically. Okay, we're going to set up the equipment. We're gonna split into groups of six and this is gonna be well-coordinated. Every group of six, find your apparatus, and then we're gonna start going around, five minutes for each group.

Chapter 9

Practicing the Exercises

Are you ready? Let's go. We were in the slightly leaning position, right? So as we come forward, we leaning there. Your spine is vertical, she was-- That's what I'm saying, that when you come out here, the spine is vertical and you're trying to lean there.

The spine stays vertical there and then here you've got a little bit of a lean. It's more of a step than it is for forward. Yes, it's more of the step, that's right, yes. Rather than (groans). It's the step into it but you're actually vertical.

Last week I had shoulder surgery so I don't know if I can- I can see. So don't overdo it, that's really good, that is fantastic. Jessica, you wanna keep that thigh touching there, really presses against there, nice. And use your upper body, don't be shy of using it. They could go a little further back possibly.

So it's fine to have it here but if that means that your femur is coming over like that, you call that tibial torsion. Then it would be better to take your heel back. There's no rule, it doesn't have to be there. When you see the hips hiking as she's rising. And that's because she's not using her turnout, her external rotation of the hip, her external rotators.

Keep it down, that is better. That was good. She's doing the pec push up but you can see that scapular, she's going too far. Do you want the bar fixed on this one? I wasn't sure if we did it or we didn't.

I usually fix it but it's not gonna make much difference to tell you the truth because the swing just moves. So it doesn't really make much difference. Even here, I feel come, there, because she's starting to get it on the foot, you want in a nice secure place. Amazing work. I mean, we went through so much repertoire, went through 31 exercises on six pieces of apparatus, we did our discussion, we had our demonstration.

And then really it wasn't 31, we probably showed another 10, 20 variations of those. So you've got a flood of information. However, it all comes back to precision because that is the difference between a man working the typical dip, the typical pushups, and coming to work with you because you are gonna get them into that alignment. Those dips, don't think triceps think alignment, think upright alignment. Just that position, your male client starts sweating.

Then you have to tell the to initiate from the long head of the bicep, the front of the deltoid, shoulder flexes. Don't think triceps, that comes right at the end. Think of that shoulder pushing forward and then the triceps coming into it. There's such a long journey. I know I threw you into that extension but don't miss out on those building blocks.

So it's so perfect for me to tell you this little story that was told to me by my friend Chip yesterday. So I'm gonna change it a little bit because I don't remember exactly as Chip told it to me, but it's a beautiful Zen fable. And I think it kind of ties up our martial art this morning, talking about working with men, talking about practice. And it's about this great Samurai warrior, comes to this painter, a Zen painter. And he says, "I want you to paint me a picture of a tiger, a leaping tiger." Ang he goes off to battle and he comes back to the artist and he says, "I don't have anything for you." And he says, "Okay," goes off to battle again.

He comes back and he says, "I'm sorry, I don't have anything for you. I've tried, but I don't have anything for you. Go off to battle again. When you come back the next time, I'll try and have something for you." And he goes off to battle again and he comes back from battle again and once again this great artist says, "I don't have anything for you." And then he goes off to battle a final time, he comes back from battle and he sits in front of the artist and the artist just does swoosh across the paper and there's just this gorgeous painting. It's just a line but the line says everything about this energy of a tiger and the samurai warrior says, "It's amazing but it's just a line.

You sent me off to battle five times and what you did across the paper is one simple line." And he goes to this cupboard and he opens the cupboard and out comes flooding, these hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper with these lines across them, and it shows his years of practice and how many times he practiced that swoosh and that swoosh until he had it right. Thousands of times he just practiced until he just put it in his closet, until this warrior came back and he could just do shoo, and it was all there on the paper. So what that fable says is that just doing a move is nothing. It's what led up to that, what makes it seem effortless, what makes it seem so beautifully aligned? Master Brooklyn this morning, what was so interesting about him is his movement was so much more feminine than hers, and she has so much more masculine than him.

Just this complete yin yang. But you know how many years just goes into that? You know how many years goes into a pelvic core? Someone can see a Forward Lunge and say, I've done 1000 of those step-ups, oh fitness tests, that's step ups. No, that's a step up and this is a Pilates Forward Lunge.

A dip, I've done a million dips what are you gonna teach me? Little Laura, what are you gonna teach me? A big brute man about dips? But I will teach you because I've practiced those dips, I've sweated those dips, I've had rails handle my back, pushing me forward until I wanted to say, what do you want me to do, I'm trying my best? And I still don't want you to push back, I want the energy to go up because I can feel in my fingers on a dip, is that first bit of energy back or that first bit of energy up.

And then you see little Laura doing the perfect dip and the man's gonna walk in and say, "It's just a dip." It's not just the dip 'cause she's gonna open her closet and out will pour 1000 dips with blood, sweat and tears, where she was trying to lean back and I pushed her forward to try and keep that energy going upwards. So with that, I'm just gonna say strive for balance in the work. Remember, the work exemplifies our lives. I loved what said, he doesn't do karate, he lives it. You know that with us.

We don't do Pilates three times a week, we live it. We are immersed in it, we practiced it. I love a doctor, dear friend of mine who's a doctor, his is about 85 when he said this to me, one of the greatest doctors specializing in diabetes in the United States, he is now passed who have Lou Gehrig's disease. But I remember him saying to me at 85, he said, "I say to all my patients that I practice medicine." And they say, "You practice medicine? He said, "Yes, I'm still practicing.

I'm practicing to be a good doctor." We never give up practicing, that's what it means. Practice to be a doctor, I'm a practicing doctor. I'm practicing, we're practicing Pilates practitioners. So I hope that this workshop encapsulated just a little bit of that grace and power, of the yin yang, of the male-female energy and with some of these exercises, you can enhance the practice of your male clients. Thank you so much for coming, thank you.

(audience clapping)

Chapter 10

Questions and Answers

Do we inhale or exhale on a back extension? Thank you so much. We typically inhale on our back extensions. It's not that the pattern can never be changed and sometimes it's advantageous particularly for a beginner to just feel the abdominals being recruited by exhaling. You aren't looking for height at that point, you're looking for abdominal support.

So sometimes it's good to exhale. But as a general guideline, not a rule but a general guideline, we inhaling on the back extensions. Did I exhale or inhale? I'm not sure what I did, I may have done either, whatever felt right at that time, but I really was wanting to get that recruitment of the abdominals. An incredibly important concept to teach men from the outset is that deep abdominal recruitment, and then what happens is the spine is fixed.

From here to about here because you've got the abdominals pulling. So then when you say extend, most of the work is then gonna happen in the mid and upper back because the lower back is being fixed by the abdominals. And that allows you to as it were hinge, just around the base of the scapula and then the upper back and the head, work together. Sherry was wanting to ask a question, lying on the front side for men. I actually wanted to address this a little in my presentation, and I don't know why I didn't put that slide in, but I meant to.

And that is how do we approach men, and forgive me, I will get you a question, from the outset? The fact is if a man walks into this environment that I'm looking around right now and every one of course is in beautiful leotards and tights, that's not a comfortable environment for most men. So they need guidelines. Meaning, what do I wear to my first session? Just wear comfortable shorts, longs or shorts will allow me to see your legs working better and be sure to wear firm briefs to hold yourself nice and firm.

And not loose but firm fitting because these are questions that are asked. It's not comfortable when you got a man with the legs and the straps, very loose shorts, very loose undies at best, sometimes going commando, everything is hanging out. I mean, it's not comfortable for either party. So it's absolutely fine to say for men, wear comfortable, slightly form fitting shorts or longs, firm briefs and a more form fitting tank top or shirt so we can see your body. The next thing is we need to be aware of anatomical challenges in some of the exercises.

And obviously, now I'm aware of it with women. If I'm gonna put a woman onto an exercise like the breaststroke or the pudding strips, so obviously I'm aware of where the box is gonna sit in terms of her breasts, because I don't want it to be uncomfortable. So I modify the exercise in certain ways. Now, it's sometimes uncomfortable for men. So if they adjust or allow themselves to adjust, that's fine.

It's more when we get onto the apparatus that it becomes a problem or the more advanced ones like the Swan Dive, the Rocking, those can be uncomfortable, there's no doubts about it, I just want you to all know that, that it sometimes is uncomfortable. One of the things that sometimes helps is putting pads on either side, like those green pads you got there and maybe two or three on each side, just to give that support. Certainly helps when you're doing barrel exercises, the ladder barrel exercises, the Avalon Chair exercises, to put pads on each side. The one barrel got there was designed specifically for me, well, I asked them to do it. I actually wanted to cut an opening in the middle of that barrel but they didn't wanna do it for me.

So what they did is they put more foam on each side. So you'll see on that barrel, it's built up on either side because it's a fact that men are not comfortable in those rocking exercises, Swan Dive exercises, barrel exercise where you're doing back extension, and the best way to deal with it is not try and pussy foot around the issue. Just get straight to it, are you comfortable? Do you feel that you're being restricted? Most men will know what you're talking about, and then if they are, just speak straightforward.

Yeah, let me put some pads there for you. If they aren't, in terms of holding the legs together like that, specifically I wanted them to, because men's legs tend to fall outwards. Well, sometimes it's anatomical but usually it's not. Usually it's tight glutes and weak hip adductors. So just say, keep you legs together.

Wishful thinking. It's wishful thinking exactly, for those who are lucky enough to have to keep their legs open, most are not. So just put a cushion there, the critical thing is not whether the legs are totally together, but that those hip adductors are working. A ball or a cushion or a block, anything that's gonna keep those hip adductors working and that's gonna keep the hips and legs aligned in a good position. And finally cuing, and throughout the day I want you to ask me, and that kind of relates to cuing, should I use tactile cuing, should I use verbal cuing?

Should I use visual cuing? If I use verbal cuing, what type? Should I be more analytical, more imagery? Cuing is really the essence of teaching a man and a woman, often comes down to cuing. Yes, they are the anatomical issues.

Understanding center of gravity. For instance, a roll up, a roll ups hard for a man, why? Because we've got bigger shoulders, small pelvis and some of us have short legs. So all our weight is up here. Well, you asked me to do a roll up, it's very different to a woman with long legs, a bigger pelvis and a very short torso and petite in the upper body.

Well, the man's gonna see this woman just rolling up and saying, what's the deal, she so much stronger than me? I'm weak, I'm weak. I've seen men agonize over that roll up. If I could just do a roll up, I just wanna do a roll up then my life will be complete. The fact is you've got to realize it doesn't come down just to strength.

You've got to in every exercise, analyze where center of gravity is, how is that male body different to the female body? Where are the restrictions, where are the challenges? Everyone's gonna do it in the end. But in every exercise, certain body types are gonna have an advantage. We need to analyze that, we need to know it and that is gonna guide our cuing.

The cuing is everything when it comes to working with men and women. To make someone feel good, comfortable that they are in the right place. They didn't by chance happen to be booted in here by their wife and left to survive amongst the sea of women. They are in the right place, they have a place here, a comfortable place. You know how to relate to those men.

Continuing Education Credits

If you complete this workshop, you will earn:

3.0 credits from National Pilates Certification Program (NPCP)

The National Pilates Certification Program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)


1 person likes this.
This workshop was AWESOME! I also used it as a study guide for my upcoming centralized testing. Would love more workshops from Rael on Pilates Anytime!
Thank u Rael, your teaching again is gold to me, I drawl so much from your work shops.
1 person likes this.
Well excuse the spelling mistake, of corse I meant draw so much from your work shops, I must say it gave me a laugh, as often my brain is going faster then my fingers can type on my iPad.
I loved this workshop. The fable at the end was touching.
I loved this workshop. The fable at the end was touching.
WOW! Loved every bit of it
How important it is to make sure we can differentiate the differences on each body and make men understand they have a place in Pilates. Would love to be able to make them understand that they deserve (and need) that place!
Thank you for watching Emily. I head up to Pilates Anytime tomorrow to film some more classes. I could not agree more that men need Pilates, and Pilates needs men.
Omg Rael do I ever need this. For some reason men find themselves to me. Even the kids I teach are teenage boys. I'm not past the 3rd chapter yet because I keep re-watching certain things. So helpful thank you for having the foresight to do this!
Renee, I am so happy you found this helpful and pertinent. I am also delighted that you are managing to get men in to do Pilates, particularly teenage boys - that is fantastic!
Melissa P
Great workshop! Is there anyway I can get the handouts that included in the live workshop?
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