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.
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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Earlier this week, we talked about how Pilates exercises themselves are sometimes the best cues for more difficult or complicated movements in the repertoire. Bridging came to mind first, but there’s another that is imbedded in SO many exercises. The Hundred.
The Hundred teaches us a ton about how to organize our whole bodies, including the breath. Many clients think about this as an intense, nearly impossible ab workout, but what’s really going on is a lot more central to Pilates and the overarching benefits we preach about.
The Hundred is all about organization of the body and recruiting the total body, including the breath to perform an incredibly difficult task. The Hundred cannot be performed without the body engaging toward the midline from the toes all the way to the neck. Try it. Attempt Hundreds without hugging the legs together, without lifting through the pelvic floor and lower abdominals and without using the oblique slings to pull it all together. Now try it without organizing your head neck and shoulders. Now try breathing into your abdomen instead of into the sides of your ribcage. It’s near impossible. Your legs won’t lift, your lower back arches, your head seems to weigh 100 pounds and it all falls apart even further when you try to inhale.
Mastering body organization and breath is imperative for the success of Hundreds, but it is also necessary in order to gain the most from other exercises as well. Referring back to the body organization and muscle recruitment that made clients successful with Hundreds, can help them understand the proper organization and alignment that many other exercises require.
These exercises run the gamut from the obvious – other supine abdominal exercises (Chest Lift, Assisted Roll Up and Roll Up, Single Leg Stretch, Single Straight Leg Stretch, Double Straight Leg Stretch, Criss Cross, Neck Pull) to full body (Teaser and Leg Pull; you can even make an argument for Leg Pull Front, Push Up, Plank) and inversion (Jack Knife, Controlled Balance, etc.) exercises.