Tutorial #2205

What About the Box?

30 min - Tutorial


Reformer Boxes come in different shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to know exactly where to set up the exercises using the Box. In this tutorial, Amy Taylor Alpers tells us the rules of the Long Box and she explains why these rules are important. She uses Pulling Straps, Back Stroke, Teaser, Breast Stroke, and Horseback to show how you can find your placement relative to the springs so you can enable the exercise.

What You'll Need: Reformer

About This Video

(Level N/A)
(Pace N/A)
Jul 12, 2015
(Log In to track)


Read Full Transcript

Hi there. I'm Amy Taylor, outbursts from the Pilati Center in Boulder, Colorado. And we're going to do a little tutorial here on what are the rules having to do with the long box placement and why. What's the importance of those rules? Because the boxes come in a lot of different sizes and shapes and I've discovered really that people are struggling trying to figure out how do I follow the rules, how do I break the rules, how do I make the exercise fit me or my client? So we're going to look at Ms Christy Cooper who's going to come in and be my model today and we're going to just go through the order.

We're going to do pole straps and tea to start. So she's going to lie on her belly. The actual rule of the box is pull straps and tee the top of the shoulder even with the top of the box. All right? Most people move up much higher and there's a couple of good reasons why they do that. One is they love the support of the legs, so the box suddenly becomes a really nice supporter of your legs. And then for some women it's more comfortable. All right, for some.

So however you're not going to be in a good relationship with the box. And more importantly with the straps in the springs, and then secondarily you're going to stop holding your own legs. And really you basically need to be doing that. So this whole back line will actually turn on. So it's part of part of what we see with the struggle of extension and weakness in the lower back or fear in the lower back.

So a little farther down the box, you have to hold your own legs with this whole backline and that's going to basically set you up much better to do the extension in the upper body as well. All right? So then you take the leather, let the handles go over the edge, and you take your hands up as high as you can without over hyperextending the shoulder girdle, and you let the head completely rest, right? So you're actually in a pretty good curl. Then you're going to grab it and you do want your thumbs around the leather, not on the leather, but around the leather. So you can pull with that interline as well.

So you're going to pull straight to the floor. You're going to pull back, you're going to feel that you arch around. Yeah, you're going to lift up a little bit. Maybe lift the legs a tiny bit higher to balance this probably you could come one little bit lower right here where I so that we're arching the back a little bit more and then you exhale and this whole thing should be sickly. Just simultaneously curl when you get it right, you'll see how beautiful it looks. It really looks like the body goes like this and the hands go like that and then they come back down again and it's really organized timing, right? So big inhale.

So we go in Hale and you pull and you look up and then you exhale and curl back down again. Okay. Now what happens is if she's too far up the box, so let's have you move up like three inches. You feel as if for one thing, again, we're not going to hold the legs as well. So then the back doesn't quite know what to do as well, right? And then also as you pull your in a different relationship to the spring, so you end up working the midback more, right?

So you'll notice that and then we get this constant overworking right in here. And then you come back and the timing isn't quite as organized, right? So let's go back one more time. Top of the shoulders, even with the box. So you have to hold your own legs a lot. Now you're not necessarily lifting them really high, but you do actually have to hold them, right? The head is all the way down.

It'd be relaxed, the elbows just a little bit so that you can pull from your center. And then the sternum essentially stays on the box. Shoulders are lifted really high, convey shoulders up a little bit more and then legs a little bit more. And so you're really posed right here and then you [inaudible] and the whole thing comes down simultaneously. Okay. So now one of the issues that you are going to find depending on the size of your box, is that the box is a little wide.

So you end up pulling a little bit wide to tell you the truth. There's a limit there. And I might say if your box is too wide, that maybe pull services in such a good idea because I've seen people kind of aggravate the shoulders. Doing that tea will be fine. Also, again, if your box is too high, you might struggle with this a little bit as well. And um, there's not a ton you can do about that. If you happen to have risers at the end, you could actually lift your pulley a little bit. So it would be a little bit higher. This box, it's a grots box.

This is a nice height, should be about nine and a half inches. If it's too much higher than that, then you, you may end up straightening your shoulders a little bit. Okay, so now she's in a beautiful position. Bring your carriage home all the way. Yeah. So you're not holding the spring and then soften the elbows a little bit and lift your armpits up. Yes. Right. And then you could take your knuckles down a little bit and then elbows high.

Right? So they're straight, but they're long and wrists are straight. So you're ready to lift from here. The position is the same. So you lift up your shoulders or even with the front of the box, you lift up and relax your arms just a little bit and then lift your chest up and then you lift again and you come back. And then this one, the head stays at parallel with the spine. Right? So again, if we hyper extend, right? And then we pull, we're going to pull more from the front of the shoulder to see. Yeah, she's doing great demo of that. So I like not that your elbows bent bent, but it's not hyper extended. But the wrist, forearm and um, hand, very, very strong risk.

Fist farm's very strong. And then armpits ready to go, like very lifted like bird wings. Kay. And then inhale, pole chest comes up and then exhale wide, wide, wide. Good. And again, so if she was up the box too far, she's going to have too much slack on our strap. So she's going to probably want to like move her hands up the strap or something. So technically you're at the end of the leather and you're up, right? And if, and you see now she's having like how do I, where do I put my upper body? Right? It's hanging a little bit. And then if you start to pull from the hang position, it's going to be very difficult on the shoulder and you end up with just so much choice. You don't know which is the right one, right? So end of the rule there, top of the shoulders, even with the top of the box right now, getting your boxes vary a little bit, but because the shoulder block is there, it can't change too much. Height will make a difference. So if it's too much higher than nine and a half, 10 inches, then if you happen to have a way to adjust your polio, I would do that for pole straps and team. Right? And if your box is very long in some boxes come even longer.

Remember to add that you have to hold your own legs and not let your legs just rest on the box. And especially if she's up farther on the box, there's, you wouldn't really think to do anything else cause the boxes right there holding your legs right so it's not gonna, it's not going to counterbalance. It's not going to be like a canoe, like both ends of the body supported equally through the whole line of the back if you're too far up. So that's the primary ideal. Okay, so then handles in one hand and step off. We'll look at the flip side. The backstroke teaser. People tend again to sit too far up the box. All right, so if we're doing backstroke, two springs for backstroke, one for postop and tea. As she lies down, go ahead and lie down.

So the rule of the box for backstroke is you're lying down. Your knees are basically, they're trying to come all the way to your ears or your cheeks, right? So you're in a curl and your sit bones should be even with the end of the box. Now again, boxes vary in length, right? If it's, if it's, if it's any longer than this, like this is almost as long as the carriage that might be a little too far down. But basically the point is not exactly your relationship to the box, but your [inaudible] to the spring, right?

How that handle is in your hand. So we're going to bring her down a little bit farther. The rule is sit bones even with the box, but that's when the sit bones are curled up a little bit, right? Versus if she were to just let her tail drop. Okay. So then we might think, oh, we have to scoot her back. But in fact, no, the real it needs to be when they're up. Okay. So this is pretty good. And again, this box is not, it's not terribly long, but it's a little bit longer than, for instance, the box that we use, which is our center line box.

And when you get sit low sit bones lined up at the end of that box, it's perfect. So we're here, okay. So that she can have her knuckles together above her head and be in a curl and she's got a little, not pole, but she's got the tautness of the strap, right? And she's in a nice curl. So when she goes up and then out right here out a little wider, that when she pulls, she'll go up that way and maybe not even so high. Right? So that she'll be up in here as opposed to bend and come home if she scoots up her box too far, which people like to do right when she goes to pull the strap. So here she is, she goes up with her arms and then she goes out.

Now you see she's, she's already way down here so that the, the strap didn't actually lift her. It kind of made her pull down on herself. Right? So we have to get her far enough down the box that, let's say like pet a pole, that when you pull that spring, it makes you go this way. Right? And into a little curl, but it's not a big huge girl, but it doesn't make you go this way, right? So the spring is going to pull you up into a curl that's not any different really, or any bigger than the pollster. F T arch was, right.

So that we didn't come down here in our arch and we're not going to come down here in our curl. We're actually picking this all up, right? Pulling it this way and going around it. Yeah. So that's the main thing, right? So depending on how long your boxes, you might have to play a little bit and your straps also should be certain length. And we'll look at that in a second. So we're going to go up, everything goes up, everything goes out. And then she goes, ah, up. That was really nice, right? So that she's like, I'm up here and then I lift, bend the elbows high and wide and I'm way back here in the old films of Joe. He's like seriously? Way Back there. Right.

And it's a nice feeling and it feels a lot like when you're doing, say swan on the push through bar, right? So that you have this huge lift here that helps you pick your body up so the backstroke shouldn't feel in a way that different from your tee. Right? We had those nice lifted armpits and we didn't like, oh, I'm pulling this way because I wasn't exactly sure. Really. How do you use that Spring, which I'm holding in my hand through the strap to give me the lift I want. Yeah, exactly. So you see how she's so nice and lifted, but she's not forward.

So if she scooted up her box again just a little bit more, even when she's here, right, she's going to be a little bit kinda down in herself, right? And then right away the pool is down like this. Okay. So the rule of the box backstroke, sit bones, even with the end of the box, when you're in your starting position, which will be in a little bit of a curl, not a neutral. All right? Now again, if your boxes too long, if it's as long or longer than your carriage, we're talking probably about coming about three more inches up your box proximately and a m and your straps. Basically the goal is that the leather loop, the very end of the leather loop right here would be even with the front of your handle of, sorry, of your shoulder block. So, and they get all their leather, so they stretch out a little bit, but something about like that, and you'll know if they're starting to get too stretched out because there'll be this kind of slack in the exercise that isn't helping you lift your chest. It's starting to make you compress your chest. Okay, so then teaser, nobody likes this idea, but it actually helps a lot and that's that you try to stay as low on the box as possible, barely give yourself a half an inch back up at from your backstroke so that you're absolutely gonna have to curl, right. So that again, this exercise is going to take you this way up into your lungs instead of down into your quads. Right? Which is a pretty common. So a little softness here. Makes sure that I, sometimes they'll say that it's not that the legs are pulling on you, but that the legs are connected back up into your center.

So when you pull that strap, you go this way like you did in your backstroke, right? And you have to curl that much, or you fall off the box. So you have to be only as far as the box that you don't fall off. But you've got to fight for that a little bit. So she's going to be such that when she pulls that spring, it's going to take her right up, up through her belly, and lift her into her lungs. Right? So we're gonna take a spring down, cause it's one spring exercise. And then again, the same feeling as that nice rhythmical switch that we saw in pull straps. So you're gonna Curl Your Chin, you're gonna rise up, you're gonna lift your hands. Gorgeous. Right?

And then you would go up and down or maybe into some circles. And if you take circles, right, you get to lift the whole pull strap t shoulder girdle. Yeah. Right. And you have to hold yourself here. And then when you come back up again and you lift your chest a little bit more, that's right. So it's a nice lift he chest. Then you keep this and you lower yourself down and feed in hands and eyes level.

And then right here, don't drop them, hold them and set them down. Keep them up and lifted them down in your head, in your hands, in your eyes, all simultaneous. Right. So we would have, once again, before she goes again, we'd have this feeling of it comes up and then it comes back down again. Really evenly. All right, so just watch hyperextension, elbows and knees, right? And then we'll just take a huge inhale this time. So we're going to go in Hale and then exhale, right? And inhale, big lungs, bigger lungs, bigger chest and exa. You got it this time. We'll stay in here and then, then let's go on down and exhale.

Keep the chest a little bit. Yes. And the hands keep going. In the hands. Keep the legs. Even I'll say to people, the feet have to be eye-level even when you can't see them. Right? Cause we like to just suddenly go, oh thank God I can get these legs out. But if we're organized well we won't really feel the need as much because we'll be really balanced. That's the goal is that between the spring and our structure and our long legs, that legs weigh a lot, right?

That we get up there and it's all balanced and then we can put it back down again. And it's really like one thing. That's our ideal. Okay. So in summary for backstroke and teaser always, again, depending on the size of your box, but the rule would be that you're as far down to the end of the box as possible, such that you don't fall off and in backstroke specifically such that when your knees are up by your ears, your sit bones are in line with the bottom of the box. That's the rule. But the point of the rule is your relationship to the spring, right? The relationship to the spring such that when you hook into it, it connects your whole body into one piece, balances your lift and your lower, so you don't have to struggle as much as you might think, and so that you can breathe, right? So when we get a little bit trapped here, a little bit trapped in the quads, that's when we stopped breathing, which is kind of the opposite of the point, right? So depending on your box, which might be, uh, the center line box is a little smaller than this. This is a grotto box, which is kind of a medium sized one. And then you can get much larger ones. So if you have a very large person, not so much of a problem, they might fit quite well. But for a tinier person, especially in Teaser, you might have to decide to mitigate neck, shoulder stuff by coming up the box a little bit.

That will loosen your relationship to the spring, however, right? So once again you might, like we saw in backstroke, you might feel like this brings a little in front of you when you wish it was a little bit more back here so that it could connect you right up and then left. Let you go right back down again. Okay, so that's our struggle a little bit with the box, full straps, t backstroke teaser, and then we're going to look at breaststroke and see how that goes. Okay, so one spring still the rule of the box is that you get on your belly with your knee cap just off the box, like literally right up to your kneecap. And that's closer than you think. Most people think they're on their kneecap, but they're actually already still two inches down. And it's for exactly the same reason, which is that if you're too far back on the box, two things are gonna happen.

One is you're not going to be holding your upper body. The box will be doing that, so you won't be ready, right? And then the other thing is the spring is going to hit you too low in your back. Okay. So we'll see if we can show them. All right. So here's her knee cap. There's the edge of the box, right? So depending on your choreography, you do one or maybe three kicks.

The hands could be right down on the leather like that or the vinyl and or another version is to just have your knuckles. Yes, still down on the, on the, on the carriage, but straight her arms behind you. So just straighten your elbows back. Yeah. So you might start like almost with a carriage at home. Okay. I like that. Right. And then you can just even rest, rest your wrist down a little bit. Okay. So that you are holding your upper body a little bit, right? Yeah.

And then you kick, kick, kick or just one, three. And then you pull through straight legs. You try to go out as narrow as possible, lift up and then circle around. And then from here you start your kicks as you curl two, three and then you stretch, lift and around. Okay. So now that's what it should look like. And that looked beautiful.

But what if we were scooted way back? So for down on our box too far, right? Once again, the spring is not going to be very strong. Okay. So we're going to feel like we can't quite get our lift here. There's no lift happening. And we're like, what do I have to do? Oh, come on, come on, let you know. But it's because you're just in the wrong place on the box. So the rule of the box always makes a difference.

And then just depending on the size of the person, it's the size of the box. More importantly, even than the size of the person, you might need to make some adjustments here. Again though, this is not going to change dramatically from person to person. It's just that if they're very tall, they're not going to love it because they're going to really have to hold their upper body. But if they are holding their upper body that's going to start the exercise and much more powerfully, they're not going to like it because they'd rather have the box do that for them. But as we saw, that's not gonna work either. Okay. Do you wanna try one more? You done? Okay. All right. So also, just as an aside, when you Ben, go ahead and bend, see if you could really relax, release your knees.

Yeah. And you really would like to come all the way in so that you get a full this and then a full vet and not a half and half. Right. So this would come all the way in. Then you'd start your pull and you read simultaneously left. Yes. And come back around and down and then this would come in and they, they try to again be kind of simultaneous, just sort of like a double leg kick on the mat that you come this way and everything still remains attached and you come this way and everything still remains attached versus I've got an upper body and I've got a lower body and they're kind of doing separate things. I have a question. Yes.

What do you do into the right space and still can't? I still can't get up. Okay. So remember brushstroke is really very advanced exercise for some people as no problem cause they have extension and it's great. And for a lot of us it might be a lifetime pursuit. So again, it's not an exercise for everybody, but if you are doing it and struggling with it, one thing to be really aware of is that you want to be higher up on the box. Yup. Further up towards your head.

So Lee capsule just off the box, right? And also if you're going to actually partner somebody, let's not do it again, but when you partner somebody, if they're too low, right in the box in the um, boxes up here more on their thighs, there's actually no leverage. Now for Kristy, it's tricky anyway cause she has a lot of hyper extension. Um, we really want to be able to lever her right over that knee cap versus if she comes down her box like three or four more inches, right? There's, there's going to be nothing to push on it. All right. So again, it's that kind of canoe idea that you, you know, the both ends of you should be very balanced and connected so that you could lift this end or this end and it would stay organized through the center. Whether the center is, we're looking at it through extension or through fluxion. Okay, so then let's just look at horseback is the last one. So yeah, it gets better and better. Okay, so still one spring. So horseback is, doesn't have exactly a rule specific to the box, but again, the, the reasoning always is where do we place this person relative to the spring so that they actually can get the connection we're looking for. So she's going to have a seat. I'll often say if your straps are the right length, again, because the box, regardless of the size of your box, is limited by the shoulder blocks.

We don't have a lot of choice back here. So you know at least the four finger idea as in your short box. But that's for a different reason. This is purely so that when she pulls that strap, it actually connects her. Whereas in short box that specifically so that you have support for your sacred if you're going to go into extension. So that's a different reason.

But you could use a similar idea to sort of set her up again, depending on a little bit. The length of your straps. The point being that when she starts, right, take your legs a little higher. Yeah. And then you reach into your strap, like put your body on the strap. Yes. You got it. Then pull your belly back in opposition. Exactly. So that you could lift this strap from here.

Yeah. And circle around. And you'd stay in your straps. You try to keep your legs up. Yeah. And you're really on the handles. So often tell people, just come here for one second, not to high. Lift your legs a little bit more. Right. Stand on your strap and then pull your belly back in opposition until you really feel I'm balanced in this force here.

I'm not just leaning on it or trying to fight it. I'm actually floating in it and then I can pick me up. The whole of me, not just my arms, but the whole of me lift me up better. Yeah. Good. And then just keep the elbows a little soft even as they get high. So you stay in your spring? Yeah. Do you see how you, you sink just a little. So we're coming. We're here. Find your belly again. Now instead of thinking, I lift these in, I cross my fingers, it's that I lift these from here.

Actually I pick the whole of me up and I circled the whole of me. Yes. And I pick me up and I stay up in them up in the yes and I come back around. Good. So for instance, if we scooted her back a little farther, right? And then she went for it, her strap is going to be a lot out here a little bit. It's gonna be a little bit harder to find anything to hold because, and you'll just sort of muscle it. You'll figure it out, but you'll, you won't really be floating in it. You'll be hardening in it.

Versus if we came too far forward, then the spring is going to be behind us and it's going to keep throwing us backwards and be a lot of weight to deal with. So there's this one lovely little moment where you're in the spring and then there's, oop, not enough spring and oop too much spring or the spring is too far behind me. Right? So, so that's your goal with the box. It's like there's the rules. These are the reasons for the rules. My box varies in size, maybe from, from the box that the rule was made about. So what was the point anyway?

The point was always to make sure that your in the spring and a certain way that enables the exercise. Does that make it easy? Easy. But it does make it feel like, oh my God, that's it. Like you'll, you'll feel it. So pull ships and t will feel like, oh, and then I come back down, right. Or Oh and then I come back down. I don't struggle so much. And backstroke, I feel like, just like in horseback, I feel like I've, I'm right here and Teaser, I feel like, oh okay, I could just move these because I'm actually holding myself in the spring rather than kind of hoping it'll be there for right. And then breaststroke too, it's like as you come here, if there's not thing, it's like, oh, you know, and that's why people ended up partnering at a lot because nobody's getting any lift. Right. So scoop forward on your box so the leverage is better.

And then just like you were doing here, stay out in the spring as opposed to what we often do, which is kinda throw the spring away, right? Versus stand on the spring and hold ourselves up to it. And then, then we really see that horseback is sort of like the culmination of those ideas and it makes a lot more sense suddenly versus just being this exercise that people have a lot of things to say about, but nobody's quite sure, which is like squeeze your inner thighs and pick your pelvis up and you know, et cetera versus it has all that in it. But really it's so much more about finding that oppositional energy to create the sport for you. That's the point that you feel the connection to the equipment. For me, I always think of it, it's like it has to be like the air that the bird is flying on, right? Or the water that the fish is swimming in.

It has to be something that they're supported by and not something that you're making up or fighting. How do we figure that out? So that's where the rules are for, and then you just have to figure out how to play with them a little bit based on your person and your equipment to see if you can't make that happen.


2 people like this.
Amy, this was so very helpful. Really good explanations of the how and why. It makes so much sense. This will really help me and my clients find that sense of being lifted in the wind. Love that image.
1 person likes this.
Amy, This was a great long box refresher!! Thank you as always!!
1 person likes this.
Very nice and well worth watching. I learned something today!
4 people like this.
Very, very good tutorial! I use Balanced Body Equipment and was educated through their program. The strap length is essential to feeling connected to the springs but was overlooked in my cert training. That goes for ladder barrel length as well. I learned from a classical taught instructor to measure the strap length with the handles or hand loops over the shoulder blocks. This is still shorter than the straps in this video. Will the longer measured straps seen here work with facing back rows and rolldowns? Do you need to choke up on the straps as in pulling straps? I hope a BB teacher reads this and gives me the definitive strap measuring technique. My coworker, who is also BB certified,was taught to measure the straps with the foot loops at the shoulder blocks. We can not agree on which is correct. Thanks for sharing.
2 people like this.
Thank you Amy. Excellent tutorial. We need to understand why to be able to access how to make our equipment work for anyone. This makes so much sense. And i love your description of being lifted by the wind or water. Key for me was to meet the resistance, not fight against or take too one to find it. The takes using the apparatus to another level.
Hi Kathy. The basic strap length is usually set at the front of the shoulder blocks - that's where the leather loop would reach - then the handle extends from there. So the leather loop for short spine is at the front of the block, and that handles are about 8" longer than that. In the old films though, sometimes the straps seem much shorter. Part of that is that fact that the frame is now sometimes nearly 2' longer than the original, making the strap 3-4'longer from carriage to pulley to handle and the engineering gets off. Hope this helps.
Oops. I forgot to answer your other question. I actually don't know what rolldowns on the Ref. are, so you'll have to ask a BB teacher. All the classical rowings (front and back) are done with the handles just as seen on this clip though.
This is an amazing tutorial Amy...Thank you from Chicago :)
1 person likes this.
Absolutely LOVE this tutorial! So enlightening and helpful! Your clear and detailed explanations and demonstrations make so obvious the impact of working with the apparatus properly. I love how the more we understand the equipment and what it is meant to do and how it is meant to support us, we can actually work with it so much better to have success in and get more out of the exercises! It can ease so much frustration when we realize that sometimes we're struggling not because our body is not capable, but because we are not setting ourselves up for success from the beginning. Thank you!!
1 person likes this.
Enlightening indeed! Thanks from Estonia!
1-10 of 26

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

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