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The Connections within Pilates

Mat & Reformer are not separate things but are integrated and connected, Pilates is a concept, not a random collection of exercises.

Pilates on the Mat & the Reformer is nearly always marketed as two totally distinct things. There’s even something called “Dynamic Reformer Pilates” that makes traditional Reformer look “so yesteryear” and makes the mat look so “meh”. Find out about what Dynamic Reformer Pilates: click here.

Pilates on the Mat & the Reformer is nearly always marketed as two totally distinct things. There’s even something called “Dynamic Reformer Pilates” that makes traditional Reformer look “so yesteryear” and makes the mat look so “meh”. Find out about what Dynamic Reformer Pilates: click here.

Doing just Mat or Reformer (or either of them without the other apparatus is like having just a slice of the pie and throwing the rest away!

The take away from this is that though they might be marketed as disconnected, in reality Pilates is a system of connectedness in very real and concrete ways!

 

How Pilates is “Connections” all the way through?

In fact you can think of Pilates as a series of threads that connect and interconnect just like the threads of a spider web. On their own, the individual threads don’t at all resemble a spiders’ web, but together, they create that spiders’ web that we are all familiar with – a masterpiece of 3D design!

 

Knee Stretches and Pelvic Tilt on the Reformer
The same exercise shapes are repeated throughout the Method

 

What are the Connections in Pilates?

The First connection is the connections we create within ourselves. And that happens in the first exercise we do when we get on the Reformer: Footwork on Toes in V Position. – the very exercise creates the Connections of the brain to the thighs, butt and gut: this is called the “Powerhouse”, “The Girdle of Strength” or The “Trinity” – every exercise on every piece of apparatus begins with this activation. This is what links all the exercises in Pilates and as a workout unfolds.

The other connections are not listed in order of importance:

  • The same exercise shapes are repeated on different apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Barrels, Wunda Chair, Toe Gizmo, Foot Corrector and Sand Bag to mention few) or even on the same apparatus but in different ways to change the context and deepen our understanding and learning. In our Reformer Workshops we call this “Reformer: ‘Around the studio'”.
  • Exercises are linked through exercise families: stability, mobility, rocking, extension, side bending and twisting. This is a part of our Mat Workshops.
  • Exercises are linked to one another as the workout unfolds: the Roll Up comes after the One Hundred. The start of the Roll Up is the start of the One Hundred. This is another part of our Mat Workshops.
    • … there are more types of connections, but let’s try to keep it simple…

 

The Mat is the Summary of The Pilates System

What’s more, is that the Mat is a summary of the whole Pilates Method. Everything (except the Super Advanced Acrobatic type exercises) is in the Matwork. The Reformer teaches us the Mat. Everything that we do on the Reformer is in the Mat. At Foundational and Intermediate levels, the Mat is more challenging than Reformer, then everything flips and the Reformer leads the challenge.

 

The Reformer helps us on the Mat

The thing is that the Reformer (and other apparatus) gives us sensory feedback through the headrest, shoulder rests, foot bar and springs. On the Mat, you have to provide all that yourself. There are no springs to help you, there is not foot bar, handles or loops to tell you what you are doing… Everything that you do has to come from you. This is partly true for the Reformer as well, but there’s those bits I mentioned to help you.

So, if you really want to make inroads on the Mat, get on the Reformer – because they are connected! And whilst learning the Reformer repertoire you’ll learn how the Reformer exercises connect to the other apparatus in the studio: Barrels, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Baby Chair, Tower as well as the small apparatus: Toe Gizmo, Foot Corrector and Sandbag.

 

Our Workshops

Showing all of the interconnection threads in the whole Pilates System would become an unwieldy mess. So we’ve teased just a few out:

On the Reformer Workshops we look at the Reformer Exercises at Foundational and Intermediate levels AND the Thread that connects each Reformer exercise to other apparatus around the studio.

In the Mat Workshops after visiting the Exercise type Threads we learn the exercises in  at the Learning Order and the Practice Order

 

The Genius of Joe Pilates

These connections between the exercises within the workout AND between the different apparatus is part of the genius of Joseph Pilates: learning new movement patterns and reprogramming the central nervous system is done on different contexts on different apparatus to generalise the learning. This means that what we learn in the studio can more easily be applied to our everyday life! What’s not to love?

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