Tutorial #1623

Kathy Grant Abdominals

30 min - Tutorial


In this tutorial, Maria Earle shows some of the abdominal work that she learned from her teacher, Kathy Grant. She reviews Kathy's Song which was taught in Cara Reeser's method, Before the Hundred, and then goes into deep core work with exercises like Laterals, Side Push Ups, and "Rotisserie Chicken." Maria also tells us that Kathy wanted to make sure you were organized in your body before you started doing big movements so many of these movements are very small.
What You'll Need: Mat, Towel, Overball

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(Pace N/A)
Jun 23, 2014
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Hi, my name is Maria and I am here with my friend and colleague Karen. Um, we are going to be covering some of the abdominal work in the Kathy grant repertoire that is called before the hundreds. Um, the, one of the things I'd like to say before we get started with the exercises is that if you, um, are joining us, um, that it's really important that you look at the, um, previous, uh, section on the methods because we'll be building from there in that series. Um, Kara looks at the subtle body and centers the body and talks about breathing, which is really important, um, in all of the exercises that we'll be covering today. And I will reference some of that material, but I won't go into it really deeply. So, um, to start, I would just like to review for a quick moment, Kathy's song, which is an incredible way to think about, visualize how to align and you bring the body together. Uh, so we're gonna start with, um, start at the bottom, which is this action of zipping up, right?

So you're gonna think like you're tightening of putting on a really pair of tight pants. You're gonna Zip from the pubic bone up to the navel, right? So there's that zip and you don't really see much happening, but it has to be something that you are visualizing in your head. And it will start to change, like I said earlier, the subtle body. So that zip draws you up and in and then its belly button to the lowest part of the waistline, which gives you that drawing back sensation you put on a belt, which gives you this cinching and I'm talking about a high waisted belt, right? That's comes sort of over and across the belly button.

And then Cathy like to talk about the tape measure that would come across the front. Now we don't really get fitted for clothes anymore, right? I mean, you have to think back to where Cathy was coming from. Yeah. And a time when you had [inaudible], you had tailors, um, make clothes for you. So if someone were going to measure you, you in kind of sort of draw everything, organize everything together, right? Cinching it sort of together. And if that doesn't work for you, she would also say that you could put on a vest and clothes that best. Yeah. Which would bring this whole upper area together.

So if it were a song as we like to call it, yeah. It would be zip belly button to the back of your waistline, put on your belt, tape measure and then vest. Yeah. Um, so I'll be referencing that to sort of correct anything that I see and Karen's body. Yeah. As we go into, uh, what were the warmups and Cathy Studio. Now every time I would go into Kathy's studio, I would do these particular exercises and I'm about to show you, um, I want to say one thing about protocol and Kathy's studio. Um, it was always very specific. You would walk in, um, greet her, say hello of course, and then, um, go to the shelf and pick up all the little things that you needed to help assist, um, or you know, uh, get you through the exercises that were part of your warm up. Um, you would get your weights essential. Karen, you can put these on, you would get your series of balls big, little four between the knees to hold onto. You have some great um, balls from blossom here. Um, and a bigger ball for between the knees if you needed it.

Essential to every exercise is your towel. You would always need to get your towel. Um, during my very, what I like to call my old school apprenticeship with Kathy, I washed her towels quite a lot. Okay, so you are set. We're going to place your towel down and I'm going to put these down cause I'm not quite sure what we're going to need yet. Alright. So we actually, you know what Karen, I'm going to have you start with my name is just to do a quick pull back from the last method section and warm you up a little bit. You need a ball. All right.

So Karen, my name is, you are going to say your name, your address, your phone number. Um, I want you to really let the voice come out. Don't want you to hold it back. And another great image that Kathy used to use all the time is using your eyes as a paintbrush. And so what that means is she's going to look out onto her horizon and as she rolls down onto her back, her eyes will scan down the wall and there'll be a certain point where she gets down as far as she should go. And then she's gonna flip her gaze up to the ceiling and roll down, right?

And that's an incredible way to keep your neck aligned onto your spine. Um, all right, I'm going to hold out of love. Okay. So when you're ready, take a deep breath. My name is Karen Elizabeth. Wonder, I live at 69 13 Chevy chase, Maryland two zero eight one five. Okay, good. All right. Now when she comes up, we're going to move through a cervical nod, which is going to be one and two. When you come up into three, I want you to say three, now, three, four paintbrush for eyes. Sing it out. Six, seven, seven, eight, eight, nine, 10. Good.

Okay. Now when she's counting up, right, there's a spot. There's a spot in every one where you want to skip it. Want to jump over it or you feel like you can't get past it? This is called the green room. So I'm gonna make Karen find that sticky spot so she'll roll down.

Actually, let me say one thing. Cathy would make you find your green room in two ways. Either by sitting up, rolling down into it, or starting from the bottom. Coming up. Alright, so for Karen, I'm going to have her start at the top and roll down. So fine. You don't have to say anything. You're just going to roll down right into that spot.

I want you to know that you can stay there. I'll help you. I'll support you. That's right, that's right. Okay. Nell's right there. Stay and you're going to do little pulses. 30 pulses right into the crease. Under the Bra line. That's right. Don't have to come up high. Make it a secret.

Small, small. There you go. That's it. Now I've lost count. So you're just going to have to keep going. Good. 19 good, good. Keep coming. Curl, curl. Small. 27 good. She's doing it and then you're going to lay all the way down.

Great. Excellent. You can rest your arms down at your side. Okay. Karen's feeling a little warm, which is great. Okay, we'll get rid of this. All right, so out of my name is integration room. We are going to move into laterals, okay. Which is a really fantastic way to get into the side body.

Um, you're gonna take your hips, lift them up and move them slightly to center. [inaudible] just slide over. [inaudible] we're going to take the knees, let them drop over. Stacking knee on top of me. Hip on top of hip. She gonna keep these weights on because it will hands are gonna come behind your head. Okay? So I'm looking here to make sure that the hips and the knees are stacked right?

And you will extend the arm that's um, on the same side as the hip that's up. Okay? We're gonna take a deep breath here and you know what? Before she starts, I'm going to give her a ball because Kathy used these balls to help bring you into your whole arm structure and help you get deeper into your belly. So she's going to squeeze this ball as she curls forward. That's right. And you're gonna pulse here for 10, nine, eight, seven, six. Keep going. Now Curl right through here. When you're done, you can lay back down.

Excellent. And then we're going to go to the other side. So hop those hips over to the other side. Let the knees fall. Good. Can switch so that your balls on the other side. Now Kathy was really hands on. She was not afraid to sit on you to hold you down.

She would often bring other people in the studio to sit on you and hold you down, which I may need a little bit later. We might have a little cameo, but it'll be a surprise. Um, you're gonna curl forward again. [inaudible] reaching dynamically out of this arm and pulsing for 10. Great. Let this elbow float open to the side. That's it. And it's small. It's micro movements right here under the bra line.

Great. I'm down. Perfect. Let's come back. Okay. So what we've done so far is we have worked through the abdominals rolling down and now we've worked laterally. Um, we will now continue with this lateral work, um, with the series. Now that's actually called the La opposites. What we just did was called laterals. Now we're doing the opposites. So for opposites, you are going to lay on your side facing out, Huh?

Alright, Karen, I'm going to need you to extend your legs out. There you go. You're going to take this hand right in front of the rib cage and organize your shoulder onto your back. And this is a great transition. Okay? You're going to squeeze your legs together as if you only have one leg or you have a mermaid tail. Okay?

The legs are going to float up off the floor and that's going to hold Karen. You also need to lift your head right out just a little, just like that. Perfect. Now draw the knees up, floating them good. And then lower it down. Now, Kathy used to say that if you're bottom swung out behind you, that was called a beauty butt and she didn't want you to have a beauty but so she would say and watch that beauty but so you want that to kind of wrap and be underneath you. Yeah. So that your spine is nice and long. All right. So um, Karen can you put your hand flat?

If your wrist is bothering you, you can be up on a, on a fist like that though. Traditionally Cathy would have you down hand flat again. The neck is going to float a little bit away from the arm. Yeah. Now we're going to start with the upper region and you are going to lift those shoulder and head up, up and down, down and there was a rhythm here. So you go up, up and down, down, up, up. Keep it small, Karen. That's it. Again, n a lot of these exercises are, are almost like you are moving but not moving, right? You're, you are working more from an inner line.

So even if you can't come up, which for a long time I couldn't actually get up. I would have to just think the work. And Kathy was very um, specific about that. She would often say when she was correcting movement, you're thinking it wrong. How she knew that is incredible. She was a very intuitive teacher, so she would make sure that you would take the time to organize yourself so that when you started the movement, it was coming from a very deep, thoughtful place. Yeah. So again, think her song, he knows zip belly button to the back of the waistline. Put on your, your belt, your tape, measure your vest. Those are cues to help you organize.

Once you feel like you have all of that, then I want you to think out, to come up. That's it. And down, down. One more thing. Out to come up right up. Not being the goal. It's more that you are how you organize. Yeah. Beautiful.

Now we'll do the lower half. I want you to think same thing. Organize yourself. You're going to draw the legs together. This arm here is your kickstand. And you don't be shy. Use it. Right. Okay. Float your head up. Keep your hand down. Good. Now organize the legs up, up, down, down.

If you don't move, it's okay. You have to just go from the inside. So organize yourself. Go Up, up, down, down. Good income. Up, up, down, down. There's a little pause at the top, right? Like a third count. So we go up, up, down, down. Alright, good. Okay. Here we go. Two parts together.

So the lower and the upper parts are going to float up. You're going to go lift, lift, and lower. Lower thing long through the crown of your head and your tail, right? So it's not just about lifting, but it's about extending. Great. Organize yourself belly button to the back of the waistline. That's it. Where's your tape measure? Yeah. Great.

And rest. Okay, we have to do the other side. Rollover or yeah, change that. That makes sense. Why would we face back? Okay, so let's place this hand right in front. All right, you're going to extend this leg out both legs, out long. Organize yourself. Singing her songs, Zip belly button to the back of the waistline. Put on your belt tape. Measure best. Feel how that organizes you. Use this top arm. Lengthen and lift the legs up to come in. Great.

Okay, so stacking hip over hip. Here we go. Pressing down with that top arm. Lengthen out to come up, up, down, down again, up. Pull this in. There you go. So you don't forget your, um, for you it's definitely your vest. Yeah, exactly. Everyone is going to have a very different queuing here.

Some people might be belt, some people might be zip. Again, up, up, down, down again, up, up, down. Good. Let's try your lowers. So float that head up. Organize yourself, find the legs and bring it up. Oh, down, down. Good.

Now imagine that you have a glass of wine balanced right here. Up, up. Good. Let's do one more. Up, up. Great. Both parts together. He would go find that link.

Tailbone to crown of your head. Up, up, down. Great. Again, up, up. Organize again. S little movement, small. That's it. It will get bigger. But we have to start with how you're organizing above everything else. Rest. Okay. You can just, um, roll onto your back for a moment. Yeah, let's switch you this way. Okay.

All right. So now, um, this is an incredible exercise. That is a quintessential Kathy grant. This is where she really knocks it to you, right? So all this subtle body work and then all of a sudden outcomes, the rotisserie chicken, it's really called that. She also called it the weathervane. Okay.

So you are going to get again into your position where your knees are to the side. So move one hip over, drop those knees down. Arms are going to start behind your head. Now here is the exercise where Kathy would either sit on you, she would call someone else over because you know, Kathy taught where in a very small studio where there could be two or three of us all working at the same time. And we often helped each other. So she would send someone over to help someone with this exercise or that exercise or stabilize that or sit on them. So I'm going to ask the lovely Christie Cooper to come over and help us out here. Takes a lot of people this exercise. Yeah.

I want you to come up here. I want you to hold her legs down. Yeah. Because this is going to help facilitate the exercise, right? This is going to enable, um, Karen to find, um, crazy amount of range in her trunk that otherwise is almost impossible. Now you can do this by yourself, but it's not going to feel nearly is satisfying and nice. So Karen, I'm going to be here assisting you.

You're going to take a deep breath, you're gonna curl forward, keeping those shoulders and elbows real wide, and you're going to start to rotate around. Slide that towel out of your, keep the breastbone lifting up off the floor, gorgeous. And then come back around and lay down. Ah, it feels incredible. Am I right? It does. And it feels even better when someone's sitting on you. So let's do it one more time before we do the other side.

So you take a nice deep breath and come up. Good. And then lift, lift, lift, lift. Gorgeous. Slide it over. Good. Now you're going to lift up. Good. I can help her. I can pull her and down. Exactly. Nice. I should have pulled her more on the first time. That would have been helpful. Good. Okay. Let's flip you around and try the other side.

Okay. Thank you. So let's take the knees over. Yeah. All right. So yeah. Sit on her leg down on her. Exactly. No. Yeah, this is great. That's great. Kathy would have loved this.

Okay. So you're going to curl forward. Come on up. Come on up. Now I can assist her here and then help her spiral around. Now pull up, up, up. Yeah. And down. Gorgeous. Let's do that one more time. Really think about your tape measure as you face down now.

Pull up on your vest, lift your best inside. There you go. There you go. And take it down. Yeah, we need like an aerial view of that. That would be a good one. Right. Great. Okay, let's get your towel organized here. So we look nice. Okay, excellent. Well done, Karen. Woo. Um, we are going to end with an exercise, um, called the side push up, which, um, whenever I had to do this exercise, she would, um, always mention that this was an exercise that she gave to Jillian litter food on a, at a convention and they just, he and she had a, Ah, well I think she gave it to him to prove that not that men often, um, are weakened their triceps and apparently they just had a great old time with this exercise. And like I said, every time I did it, she always had to mention this, um, this moment. So you're going to extend those legs out. Okay. You're going to take your arms overhead and here's the tricky part.

You need to organize yourself with her song. Okay? And you're going to take your body to the side. Like you're on a, um, like a [inaudible]. No, like a spicket. No. A spit. A spit. That's the word I'm looking for. Yeah. So pull your body into yourself. Hug the arms into the socket, hug your legs into the socket.

I'm gonna assist her a little bit here. And you're going to roll over as one unit. One Unit Wa yeah, that's tricky, right? The idea being that you stay in your long line near next to impossible. Alright, so stacking her legs one over the other. Again, this position here of that arm, the bottom arm is gonna wrap under and hold the top of her shoulder. Again, here's an opportunity to really hold your person down, which I will do. And Kathy was very specific in this exercise that what you were doing here was in your mind's eye, repeating a very simple phrase, which was straighten your elbow, straighten your elbow, straighten your elbow, straighten your elbow, and then bend your elbow, Bend your elbow, Bend your elbow.

And by repeating that in your head, it gave you just this very simple hinge movement at your elbow without doing a whole lot of other stuff. One more time, Karen. Now organize yourself by drawing your vest in. Exactly. Now head alignment here is tricky, but you have to think about this band of sound around your head, right? To align yourself. And one more time. I think this is three. Oh, I made you do it four times and go down a great, let's try the other side, which I have to make you do four times. I apologize in advance.

Alright, so this rotation right here on yourself is really hard. I'm going to hold Karen and help her. So when you're ready, I'm just, hey, you know what this is like when you were a teenager and you were playing that game called um oh, what was it called when you did slumber parties and you, um, we're long and good. Like the board. Oh yeah, a stiff, like a board light as a feather. Did anyone play this game? Okay, this is your moment.

I'm going to hold her like this. Okay. And she is just going to float over to the side as one unit. Oh, don't leave that booty behind you. Don't leave your booty behind you. Okay. Hand comes on top of the shoulder. I'm going to hold her down cause I'm her friend and friends help friends. Right? Okay. So align your neck, right?

So it's floating head is as high as the breastbone. I'm holding you down and here we go. Straighten your elbow, straighten your elbow, straighten your elbow, straighten your elbow, lower your elbow. This is your good side. So just because it's your good side, make sure that you're not throwing yourself into it. But then again, you are working from the inside out. You're singing her song and you're just focusing on that elbow like, yeah, good. [inaudible] good and down, right. It's like your arm is working like a um, car jack hoisting you up.

There you go. Good. Okay, let's even it out. I think you got two more. That's right. Really use that arm down into the mat and then come up away. Even float as you go down. So the energy is not you dropping into the floor, but trying to stay lifted even as you lower.

Put your best done. Good rest. Well done. Okay, so these are exercises that I had to do in Kathy's studio every time I came. This is part of the warmup. This is how you organize your body, how you came in from the street, dropped in. Yeah. So she really invented so many of these things for the New Yorker who was running around like a chicken with a without a head, and to bring you into center to bring you into focus. Goodness. Um, and well, that was fun.

So I hope that gives you a little taste of some pretty hardcore abdominal work.


4 people like this.
She talk toooo muchhhh
As a studio owner, it is helpful to hear how Kathy's studio worked. I also like the terms used for cueing. I especially like the paint brush eyes and rotisserie chicken. This is a great warm up and body organizing tutorial.
Maria Earle
Hi Eloisa! I know I talked way to much!!! I was so incredibly nervous about presenting this work. Kathy was a genius and so intuitive. She never talked so much while she taught! Mostly it was up to us to figure it all out and make it our own. Don't let my blabbing on and on keep you from doing the exercises.
Maria, your dialog is quite perfect. i am a studio owner, and certified pilates practitioner. Most often, its not about just a move. Its about breaking the choreography apart to find and discover the best way to use the muscles to create the move. Creating connection that makes choreography look effortless. For every client we teach. Watching how the body reacts to cues is amazing. I decided to view this video because I watch the videography of kathy. Tuning into your class clarified lots for me. I saw Kathy's students holding balls. I decided to use that idea in my next day's classes. The first thing I noticed??? Full arm engagement. Every muscle in my student's' arm popped with length and engagement. I am glad to hear your clarification of why Kathy used the balls held in hands!!! I loved the history you presented of Kathy, your smile, and your cues. Blabbing is GREAT! Lol! Listening to it is how we grow as instructors. Going DEEPER in the work. Thanks so much!
3 people like this.
Was very nice and very helpfull, thanks!!!!
1 person likes this.
I LOVED this! Thank you so much:)
1 person likes this.
I agree with Mary! ^^

I think there is a lot of subtlety that would be totally lost without your very clear explanations and descriptions of the movement. Further, I love hearing your stories about working with Kathy any her wonderful use of cues. Bravo!!
2 people like this.
Maria was one of the teacher trainers during my training in 1999-2001... I love her!
Hardcore indeed. I really liked the emphasis on small movements because when I tried some of these movements, I could target the parts that were warming. I loved it also.
Love it!
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