Tutorial #3690

Deconstructing the Twist

15 min - Tutorial


Why do many Pilates teachers avoid teaching the Twist on the Reformer? In this tutorial, Joan Breibart explores this exercise and why there may be a disconnect with it. She compares it on the Mat, Wunda Chair, and Reformer so that you can see how it changes between each piece of apparatus and shows how we can still learn from it even without teaching it to clients.
What You'll Need: Wunda Chair, Reformer, Mat

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Feb 08, 2019
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I'm Joan Breitbart, I'm g Calhoun. And we're going to talk about twist on the reformer. So Jia do you teach this exercise? A lot is exercise. So I think I've asked hundreds of Palazzos teachers the same question.

And they all say what you've said, right? So why don't we look into it? Cause there's a real disconnect because it's in every teacher training program is ours. And uh, teachers work on it and then they don't teach it. So let's say, um, tell me, let's print 10 that we have this situation. We'll make it up right now you're in the studio, right? And your client, Jane, who's a strong intermediate, is there early and she's watching the end of a teacher training session, right? And so she says to you, because they're doing twist on the reformer and she watches all these beautiful PyLadies teachers working on this exercise and you go over to greet her and then she says, gee, why don't you teach me this? It looks like so much fun.

And you're thinking, I'm thinking, no, let's not say waited. Yeah, let's not, I would say. But of course you don't say that to her. You say instead, I'd say, why don't we do some preparation exercises and then get ready and build up to the twists. Okay. That's very diplomatic and good. And so where do you want to start? I'd start on the mat with a twist. Okay. I think that's sort of rushing ahead of that. Okay. Um, why don't you do, why don't you get into applying? Okay, good. Okay. Because, and you can hold yourself up obviously, but if you couldn't or you were shaking a bit, remember this is, this is an upper body, really an arm.

You have to have arm strength or you're not even in the game, right? Yeah. So now let's challenge it a bit and lift this, this up. You can do that, right? And you can do this also, right? And you can try to lift your right arm up and you'd start your shift over, but you can do it. Now let's try to do this arm up and this leg, and this is really hard and I'm holding you, but come down. Okay? So you can play around with that. If you were really wanting to delay it more.

Yeah. And say, oh well you can hold that. So we'll have to put it off. But anyway, let's pretend she did and you're moving on. Okay. So now I want you to do a side plank. Okay. Cause that's really a better indicator. Okay. So that's beautiful. You look great. Now do the hard thing, which is do a little.

Sit here and don't sit all the way, but you see what kind of pressure that puts on your arm and my shoulder a lot. All right. Come right back up and then sit down. Okay, now, now do the twist, right? Yeah. Okay, great. So you do that beautifully. I want you to remember where your feet are. Okay. Think about your feet and where your, where your hand is on the Mat. Okay, let's take it up the next level, right? And we'll go to the chair. Okay. Right?

Because we have assistance, we have resistance, but it's compact. You know when we can control it, we don't the sliding, nothing's sliding. We're just right there where we need to be. Got The chair here and it's great cause it's compact. Right. And we have, you know, the assistance don't make it too much.

It's just be an elevator. But anyway, you've got the springs. Right? And where are you going to start? I'd start with the pike. Yeah, that's great. That's, it's just symmetrical. Linear. It's good. Yeah, let's do that. So I have it on one high. One low. Okay. All right, good. So you're going to set this up and move a little bit more than say that you can help yourself. Okay, good. Let's go up. Just get this whole thing going up.

Head relaxed. Good. Okay. So how does that feel for you? It feels good cause I can feel everything coming up into my center and I have my weight on my arms. So it kind of mimics the position that is the Twitter thing. Right? But you don't have so much weight on your arms if you're really feeling, yeah, the springs are helping me. The springs help you. Okay. So now let's make it harder and do what I call the Egyptian. Okay.

Where are your feet? You're gonna have one here and the other here. Fortunately you have small feet, so that's going to work. Right. And now you're twisting your body, remember and you're changing your hands and they're not in the same exact plane. Right. Okay. So let's try it this way. It's not easy. Be careful going up. Let the hairdryer. Okay, good. Woo.

Okay. Wow. Okay. So how does that feel? Definitely more challenging. I feel my obliques a lot and I have to pull into my inner thighs and midline a lot more. Right. But it also, the twists kind of, it's a little bit strange cause it towards my hips a bit. Cause my feet. Yeah. And where you are. Right. And there's a limitation. Yeah, absolutely. Okay. I guess we should do the twist, right? It's time for it. Okay. Yeah.

I'm going to make it a little heavier because it'll be too hard. I struggle screen so I'm making it so you put it in in this one high, one middle. Yeah, that's it. Okay. So get ready and now I want you to do it that way. Yeah. Where your feet placement. Okay. Go Up crew and beautiful.

Okay, you did that. Now come down. I don't think that feels too good for you. No, no it isn't. All right, we've got to change these feet. Okay, good. All right, so go like this. Now let's have the feet in a position that I think is going to make this work more. Okay. And it does and it was perfect. Yeah, I feel a lot more stable, more that way and I can actually twist a little bit more more. The other one, I was a little stuck. So, so now we've really moved this along, right? And we're ready for the big time, right? Yeah, we're ready for the reformer.

So let's do it. Yeah. All right. So we're here. This is the big deal. So why don't we start load up all the springs and we'll do what people do. It's called the hang. Maybe it isn't, but that's what I'm going to call it.

And it's going to give you a good sense of whether you can get up there and be upside down and feel secure. Right? Yeah. Okay. So Nice. Cause I won't move. All I'm getting is not going to move. Yeah. So let's hope you can do it. Okay. You get your feet up here and we've got all the springs on so nothing's moving. Right. Right. So you don't have to worry. Right. That's very secure.

You're very secure. You're not dizzy, right? No, not. Okay. So you don't have low blood pressure and your feet are here. And so now we know that you can do this, right? Yeah. You're not afraid, but you're high up. Yeah. Okay, so now let's just put one spring on one light one. Okay, I'll do one blue and we're going to do another or we're going to call the glide because this is gonna really simulate what that movement is. When you're really doing the twist, where this carriage is moving out and you are trying to control it or it's controlling you unfortunately. So what I want you to do is stand here and stand on the leg.

Left leg is going to be your supporting one. You did right here on the earth. Right? You're on the floor so it's solid. Yeah. And then I want you to take your non supporting leg and put it in front like this. Yeah. In front. Good. Okay. So get into that position and let's go. Okay. Well you didn't go too far, but we know why. So now what I want you to do is put this leg behind. Okay.

How does that feel? Good. Oh Mary, you are right. You're really getting some action here. You're moving out right? And your pelvis looks much better. Yeah. It's much more square. It's facing the same way as my hands instead of the other way was more like the Egyptian where my hands are one way and my hips or the other. Yeah. Which didn't feel good. Wasn't secure. Yeah. Had a lot of issues. Okay.

So now we've done this prep. We have the prep. So I think the thing is let's do it right. So you're going to set it up the way you would, which I think will be two springs is in every manual, right? Two full spring to medium. The low foot bar. Right? And you're going to get ready and we're going to hope for the best. Right?

So get your feet up here, right? I'm going to try to hold this for you. So it's simulating it. Then you're going to go out like this, right? You're going to do this kind of sit thing and now you're going to come right back up and you've done it right. Okay, so come off. So let's start with the foot bar. Okay. Okay. So the first thing I notice is that you have it lower.

Yes. And what does that mean? The relationship between this foot bar and that shoulder? Wrist, it's a little far away. I'm about five fourth. So it's hard for me to reach. But if we could stretch you another foot. Yeah, I think this would work. Yeah. But when we put it up and let's put it up higher. Yeah, you can see what happens. Do you want it in the middle or all the way up? I think this is good enough, but because we've, this, this angle here, the geometry, we've closed it up, right? Yeah, it's a little bit, I've measured it and it's four inches. Right? So we, and given that you're five foot four average, you're not in this overly stretched position, however you have this issue. Yeah. Now it's higher though. And which is scary.

It is scary. You're higher off the floor. So then, um, especially if people are afraid of being up off the floor, they're more afraid of falling off the reformer. Right. Okay. So we have that problem, but there's always trade offs, right? Yeah. Okay. Now we come to the next trade off where we don't have a real solution. We can do this and okay, we've closed it. Yes. But then let's talk about the feet.

Remember in each one of these things I asked you what's happening with your feet? Yeah. Okay. So I think it's pretty obvious unfortunately have two legs. Yeah. That when you switched to this as opposed to the mat or the chair, your leg that's non supporting is where in front, it's in front on the reformer, wherever else it was in back. Right. And when it's in back, what does that mean? It's, I have more range to push out in glide. Yeah. So when we try to think about why people learn this and then they don't teach it, I think what we're we're doing in this examination is saying, oh well unfortunately you have two legs.

And so what happens is that you have to put it on the reformer and fun. And I see your pelvis sort of going like twisting, which isn't comfortable, which isn't safe, which isn't good. The other position here that we've done by raising this, yeah. Again, there's a tradeoff because now and remember when you did it on the chair and on the floor, your feet are higher than your hands on the chair. They were lower and on the mat they were equal. Right. So that's a problem.

Yeah. Because once your feet are up here, it's as if you are doing this wearing stilettos or something. Right. Or you're on a slope, right? Yeah. All the way it'll be on my wrist and everything is on your wrist. Right. And it's then when you have to swivel your foot, you know, and I asked them Enrico about this, I said, what about this foot position? He said, you should start off with a big, long flat foot.

And of course when she's in the ballet, she hasn't seen any bad faith and you don't have that foot. You have a nice dainty little foot, which is now swiveling your higher, there's more pressure on the foot, there's more pressure on the hand. And where are we? Yeah, we have an exercise that works on other pieces of equipment like the chair, right? And on the mat it's great on the Mat, right? It's great. It's a good exercise. So I don't know, I don't think we should take it out of the repertoire, but I think this might be a way to say, okay, let's look at this exercise because we can explore geometry, which is really important with, you know, I mean you have to be able to look at the measurements of this and then look at the body in the size and we can't get you up to six more. Right. But you know, we can get you to be more comfortable. On the other hand, then there's other things that aren't working. Right.

So here's one of the things that I was playing with when I was doing it. Right. So what's this? Thermo, right, but it's my magic remote. Right. And I brought it all the way from New York and I didn't use it. I had to help you because it doesn't work here, you know and technology. What am I going to look at in New York? Right.

But if I could do this right and control the springs, what do you want when you're doing, when you're mounting up here, what do you want? I like it with all the springs cause when it's done done, I'm pressing this button here and you've got all the springs and that enables you to mount this and feel comfortable. Right. Okay. Now you had it on two springs, which is what everyone does. Yeah. What do you want when you're going out? I want even less weight cause it's a little heavy for me cause I'm pretty small. You just want one so I'm going to handle that for you.

Right when it's working I can handle this. She just, while we're going at one now what's going to happen when you get out there? When I have to rush over there and try to hold you right. I need the reformative stay still. Just absolutely still and I've got another button for that. It's absolutely still right. And then you get yourself organized. Right?

And now what do you want to come back more? Wait to come back. So we want it on to, yeah, right here. Okay, great. So because this remote's not working today, you never, never know what these things and also not an, not too many people have it, right? We are looking at an exercise where if we think about it and then we think about the geometry and the movement and the person's body, we cannot change these springs. And so the teacher, if you were teaching Jane would be like holding you here, rushing over here. And I had have all of her weight on me. If she couldn't hold herself up, couldn't, right.

And you'd almost have to clone yourself because you want to be over here with her foot because maybe she has a nice small foot and you have to be holding right there. That's impossible. So I think this is what we have to think about when we're doing teacher training. We're at a point where we can look at an exercise. Yes, it's in the repertoire, but what does it mean? Right? And how do we learn from it actually functional. Yeah. And we see that it's not. So what do we have to do next? Now? Now we have to do the other side, the exact opposite, all thing all over again, Jane. By this time it's just given up. So instead, I'm going to tell you a story that Michelle Larson, um, told me many years ago and I think it's funny. It's cute story.

So she had a friend who was a ballerina, right? And, uh, she had never done anything but ballet and she was good at it and whatever. She meets this man love at first sight, of course, and he doesn't dance, but he plays golf. He said, very avid golfer, which is only the hardest sport, right? And so he says to her, would you, would you take some lessons with the pro so that we can do this together and you'll enjoy it, right? Ever? She said, absolutely fine. She gets y'all okay. And she gets to the club right there. The pro has the woods and the irons and everything out there. Right? Shows or what to do, you know, that position, right?

And she gets right up there and hits the ball and it's 125 yards. Perfect. Of course. And she gets next one. He thinks that said, it's impossible, right? She's just going, Woo. And so finally, the process, I mean, looking at this ballerina who's walking like this, you're just a natural. And she says, I love it. When do we do the other side? So to me, that's what we have to always think about too. When do we do the other side, what exercise we don't need to do?

And here we are. So we've really explored this exercise inside and out. And um, I think it's a good learning experience. Radically. Yeah. And it's fun.


4 people like this.
This is a great tutorial. It helps me to understand the exercise a little differently and I will be able to make adjustments as needed with clients.
3 people like this.
I look forward to teaching this progression to my intermediate/advanced students this upcoming week. Love the break down.
2 people like this.
This was an effective exploration between applying the same exercise to each piece of equipment progressively and how different adaptations must be taken into consideration based on each individuals ability. It's a great teaching tool that brings to light how minor adjustments can affect the execution & outcome of an exercise for both teacher and student. Thank you, Joan for the 'error analysis' approach and how you bring humor into what you do. I enjoyed it immensely.
Great information and approach for teachers to help their clients, and provide a better understanding! Thanks for sharing Joan!
-Emily Zachary-Smith
2 people like this.
Wonderful exploration of a movement that is challenging to teach. The progressions are fantastic. Thank you, Joan.
This makes me appreciate the chair even more! Thanks for making something that is difficult to achieve a possibility! Marika
1 person likes this.
Thank you Joan for this opportunity for us to “think”! Now we see why there is so much pressure on the wrist and why Twist works everywhere but not on a Reformer!
Im disappointed I wanted to see your remote control at work!
Your explanation of all the components of the what & the why, everything that is happening is necessary to work on the essentials and the basics to execute this exercise. The weaving of this is the base of the exercise, here is the transition, the layer of understanding, & use of the mat and chair helps add perspective for the movement experience.

Ha! When do we do the other side? Twist and shout baby! Love Di----
1 person likes this.
Great video! I love the breakdown. You make it so clear to see the progression from each piece. I can’t wait to try this with my students! Thank you!
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