March MATness Day 30: Control Balance

Yesterday, we urged clients to Hang On! and let the legs do the work.  Today, the legs are still doing the work, but we want them to try to Break Free.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The Control Balance exercise is all about creating a stable balance point for the body and maintaining it throughout the movement.  In order to make this a more successful endeavor for our clients, we want to cue them to focus on the grasped leg.

The upward force into the hands created by the grasped leg (trying to “Break Free” of the grasp) acts as a counter balance to the leg moving away from the body’s center of gravity, helping the client stay balanced in the inverted position.

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Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 29: Rocking

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Hang in there – just 3 more days of March MATness!  But also, Hang On.  Our cue today is all about letting the legs to the work and take the thoracic spine for a ride.

We’ve all had that stretch or pose in yoga that we really just need a partner to help us get into and deepen.  For Rocking, think of your Legs as that partner.  Your Spine is getting a boost from your powerful Legs.  Help your client get into position to begin the Rocking exercise with each hand holding firmly to the foot or ankle.

Now cue the client to move only his or her legs – attempting to straighten them.  Just as a partner in yoga can help you get into a position without overtly increasing effort on your part, your legs, as they attempt to straighten, will pull the shoulders back and the spine into extension without extraordinary effort from the trunk muscles.  This exercise should really make your quads burn!

To add the rocking movement, stay with the legs.  A quick flick of the legs away from the body and then release should get the rocking going and avoid the “head bobbing” that is so common.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign upfor our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 28: Seal & Crab

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

Less than five days to go in March MATness!  Today we have two exercises, and two really challenging ones at that.  Seal and Crab require flexibility, incredible abdominal strength and coordination, among other things.  One thing that these exercises also have in common is the breath.  With so much going on in this exercise, cueing the breath can be a really effective way to ground clients and give them a sense of calm going into it, instead of being bogged down by the details.

For BOTH movements, per Pilates’ original text, as you roll back off your tailbone, take an inhale and as you initiate the return, exhale.  Cueing the inhale specifically for the roll back sets the client up use the exhale on the challenging return – helping to engage the abdominals and stay focused and in tune with the body.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign up for our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 27: Boomerang

I can’t help but geek out over Boomerang.  If anything is more my passion than Pilates, it’s MOVEMENT in general.  Boomerang is such a great movement integration exercise.  It’s one of the few in Pilates’ original mat work that explicitly calls for a sequence of previous exercises in a choreographed movement.  Spine Stretch, Rollover, Teaser. All mashed together, yet beautifully highlighted.

Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net from Pexels

That’s where today’s cue comes in.  Break it down to the building blocks.  Any time you create a movement sequence for a client to work through – and I LOVE to do this for clients – it is really helpful to start with the pieces and string them together for a final few reps of pure flowing movement.  You can refer to earlier exercises in the class if you’ve done a piece of the sequence already, or you can do the exercises in order just before stacking them together to create a fluid a movement.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign up for our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 26: Side Bend

Side Bend is a a really beautiful exercise.  It’s smooth, the body is at its longest and the arm movement even reminds me of a ballet dancer.  A really good cue to emphasize the top of this movement is a rainbow – we discussed it here on Cueing Theory back in October.  Let’s take that a step further here and focus on the rainbow’s PURPLE arc.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

By isolating the purple arc in our clients’ minds, we can help them hone in on what the bottom of the body has to offer to the Side Bend exercise.  Lifting from the bottom side of the body in this lateral position cues the client to engage from the back of standing arm all the way down to the tips of the bottom leg’s toes.  Think about that.  Triceps, deltoid, serrates anterior, exterior oblique, QL, rectus abdominis, glutes, quads, hamstrings and more.  All of those working together – now that’s a lot of muscle power!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign upfor our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 25: Kneeling Sidekick

Kneeling Sidekick is viewed as a more advanced option to the Side Kick exercise.  While they are certainly related, I think that focusing on the similarities actually does the practitioner a disservice.  Sure, there is the hip disassociation, the core stability and the length, but what’s different?

Sure, they’ve made the whole exercise harder by increasing instability and balance challenge, adding lateral flexion and increasing the hip abduction required to bring the leg to parallel, but this exercise throws you a bone too!

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

You’re up on your knee!  The POWER of the KNEEL!  That bottom leg has so much more leverage to help out now.  The kneeling leg’s glute, hamstring and quad muscles are REALLY strong and well positioned here to be REALLY helpful!

Cue clients to look to the kneeling leg as the answer to many of the new challenges the exercise poses.  A slight pelvic tuck, engagement through the front and back of the kneeling leg, toes firmly planted on the floor and your client will be off to a much more successful start to this challenging movement!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign up for our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 24: The Leg Pulls

Leg Pull and Leg Pull Front are great, total body exercises that require a lot of strength before clients can master them in their original form.  For this reason, there have been many, many variations, modifications, and regressions thought up and practiced across the Pilates landscape over the years.

If your clients are ready to go for the original movement in all its glory, here’s one cue for them that will help with both versions: remember the pelvis.  A slight posterior tilt and a mindfulness of wrapping the sit bones towards one another creates a stability and levity to the body that helps to shift the focus of exercise from the sheer difficulty of holding one’s body in a plank, to the intention of creating length from the crown of the head to the tips of the toes.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign upfor our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 23: Swimming


X Marks the Spot.  And the oblique slings are the treasure.  Swimming is such an amazing exercise to hone in on cross-body movement and the oblique slings.  To illustrate these benefits to your client and to create awareness of the muscles working together, refer to the letter X.

Imagine an X drawn on the posterior side of the body with each line stretching from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes of the opposite foot.  As each line takes a turn lifting during the movement, imagine stretching that line to make the biggest X possible.  Remind your client that the aim of the exercise is not to shorten the lines while lifting the limbs, but to lengthen them.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign up for our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

March MATness Day 22: Hip Twist

Fewer than 10 days to go in March MATness and we’re going to keep today’s cue short and sweet.  For Hip Twist, there is an incredibly simple, neary universally accessible imagery cue.  It’s so obvious, I’m sure you can guess it.  But here’s the deal, sometimes the most obvious and simple images are the ones that most loudly resonate with our clients.

Source: @chrisganno on giphy.com.

So throw your client a bone and strip this exercise down to it’s basic movement.  Set your client up with the proper arm position, posture and leg starting position, then just let them go for it with a relatable movement image – windshield wipers.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign upfor our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.

 

March MATness Day 21: Teaser

Today’s cue is purely tactile.  The most challenging part of the original version of the Teaser is keeping your legs still and suspended while moving the torso from the v-shape to the floor and back again.  Most clients don’t even realize that their feet are moving!

To help them practice doing the exercise without any foot movement, try a simple tactile cue.

Source: @absurdnoise at giphy.com

In a one-on-one setting, use your hands to act as a cup for the heels of your client’s feet (hopefully you won’t need to hold your breath!), once they are suspended in the right position.  As the client rolls his spine down onto the floor and then back up again, it will be clear when the leg movement happens due to the tactile feedback and he can work to edit out the impulse.

In a group setting, clients can line up with their feet towards a wall or mirror.  They can scoot their sit bones close enough to the wall for their feet to barely touch the wall once they’re in the Teaser position.  The wall feedback will work the same way as your hands worked for the single client.

A note about adjustments – to begin with, the client may need to take a lower leg position than they are used to (either at the wall or in your hands).  The higher up the feet are suspended, the more challenging the movement will be. To avoid frustration, consider starting with the heels about four inches below the client’s natural Teaser pose.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.  And sign up for our Cuesletter to get these cues sent directly to your inbox and be the first to hear about them!

Copyright © 2018, Cueing Theory, All rights reserved.