March MATness 2018 is on and Cueing Theory is up for it! Prepare for a new, short cue every day of March to coincide with the March MATness movement. If you love our in depth discussions of cueing and movement and exercises, fear not, they’ll be back in April.
Day 1 of March MATness is all about the Hundred. Let’s get the month off with a bounce. A trampoline bounce. As the Hundred gets underway, imagine the arms are beating a spring-loaded trampoline. Hit it with enough force to create a bounce back and then control that bounce back with muscle engagement through the backs of the arms and down the ribcage.
Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@worldisyourstudio) to find yours truly taking on the March MATness challenge day by day.
Are your clients plagued by dread when your class sequence gets around to Hundreds? Do look around your studio in the middle of Hundreds to find most of your clients are so focused on not collapsing, that the arm movement is a total after thought? What if we could make the arm pulses more fun, while at the same time causing a distraction from the sheer impossibility of the exercise that clients seem to dwell on for all 100 counts?
Try adding a little rhythm. Set your Hundreds to a super fun song with a strong, rhythmic beat (at the moment I really like Imagine Dragons “Whatever It Takes” starting about 40 seconds in – gives time for setup and prep before the beat gets going). As the Hundred gets underway – breathing is cued, lower backs secure, shoulder blades off the mat, legs given a multitude of variations – add in the beat cue. Ask your clients to listen to the song for a few seconds, then find the beat with their arms. See if they can’t just turn the Hundred into a dance party for 100 beats – who knows, maybe they’ll want to keep going!
When it comes to Pilates and results, momentum is not usually our friend. Momentum allows us to more easily complete some movements without having to utilize our bodies in the proper way – in other words, to cheat. With momentum, we can fight against gravity with more than just our muscular recruitment and skeletal positioning.
But cueing to discourage using momentum is difficult and can sometimes be disheartening to a client who feels that it’s the only way they can accomplish the movement. So, use this cue with a grain of salt. If your client is ready to execute more challenging, gravity defying supine exercises, specifically, Roll Up, Neck Pull, and Teaser, then go ahead and challenge them with this cue. If your client is just starting to get to these exercises without modification, try adding this cue to applicable modifications or regressions (Assisted Rollup, Teaser with bent knees, etc) prior to asking them to do the full exercises in slow motion.
The cue is simple: sticky tape. Imagine that your spine is lying on a track of very sticky tape on the floor. You must peel your spine off the sticky tape, vertebrae by vertebrae. Imagine struggling against the sticky tape to free each knob of the spine. This cue works a little bit like my previous post about moving through honey: it creates an imaginary hindrance to the client’s movement.
See if that cue doesn’t cut out momentum, slow things down, enhance segmental spine movement – all the while creating a crazy burn in the process!
One of my biggest pet peeves is when clients move their extremities through an exercise as if they are floating on a cloud, weightless. When you ask them to beat their arms and they just sort of flap them. Or when you ask them to move their legs up and down, they look around wondering if they’re doing it right because it’s so easy. Well, the truth is, they’re not…doing it right.
In our training, we’re taught to move through an exercise with intention, but what does that really mean? Remember all of that theory about muscles stiffening to prepare for a load? Joseph Pilates’ mantra was “as much as necessary, as little as possible,” but, what if there isn’t any load – like when we’re moving our arms through arm arcs or pointing and flexing our foot as we move our straight leg through space?
Try giving the client an imaginary load to think about. Have the client imagine that he or she is moving those arms and legs through the thickest honey. So sticky and viscous that they really have to work to get the body to move through it. See if that doesn’t fire up some extra effort!
Another thing to note here: this is a great time to throw in some guided resistance tactile cues!