Finish It Strongly!
The most important repetition…
Which is the most important repetition? The first? The second? The last?
Is this a trick question? Is the winning answer “All of them are equally important?”
Well, I guess that is the perfect answer: All of them are equally important. However, today I want to discuss the one that everyone dismisses. Perhaps the most important…
The Last Repetition. The Final Repetition.
Yes. That final repetition in your set. You do three, five, sometimes ten repetitions. What happens to that final repetition? Often times…it fades off into nothing-ness. Not a real repetition. It gets lost like the end of a sentence. Does anyone care about The Final Repetition? That last repetition?
Perhaps after this little article you will!
Repetition Number One
Now, the first repetition of an exercise sets the stage. The teacher sees what the client has taken from previous sessions, previous exercises of the day, previous cues. The first repetition is the starting zone that lays the groundwork for all other repetitions of that exercise. From the first, we know what to cue and where to progress this exercise in the limited number of repetitions for that exercise in that session.
If we’ve got those three, five, sometimes (rarely) ten repetitions, we must gather a lot of information from that very first repetition and apply that to how we cue our client in repetition number two.
Repetition Number Two
Here’s your chance, Teacher! You pull out the stops! You’ve observed that first repetition and all that has ever come before and you’ve got a cue. (Just go with one cue…let’s not go overboard and drive our client’s crazy with more than they can handle in the moment.) You’ve got the most important cue relative to the moment and the arc of your client’s physical journey. You say it loud and proud!
She gets it or doesn’t.
Repetition Number Three
If this isn’t your final repetition…then you’ve got more time to refine. A different way of saying the same cue if she didn’t get the action you were hoping for in repetition number two. Perhaps a different cue if she did get the first one! Maybe it’s a hands on cue. And you can keep cuing like this through the second to last repetition…
What ever it be…you are building and developing to…
The Final Repetition
A remarkable thing seems to happen in The Final Repetition. Strangely, after all of that good work in repetition numbers one, two, three…five, sometimes, nine and ten…after so much good…so many of our clients drop off in the middle of it. And what do we as teachers do? Apparently we let them. I see this with teachers all over the world. I teach those teachers in session and I see arms drop down out of Pull Straps II (The T-Pull) before the end of the repetition. I see half of a Short Spine. I see a sloppy final Double Straight Leg Stretch/Lower-Lift…and just about every exercise you could name…that final repetition is a throw away.
I remember talking with a quite famous teacher and he told me that we do five repetitions because most people drop off on the last repetition… we teach five so they at least get in four solid repetitions.
Well, that didn’t sit well with me. Why would we have one repetition that is a waste of all of our time? Your time. My time. Wasted.
Why not do all repetitions as though they matter? Because they do, you know.
I decided to eliminate the drop off on The Final Repetition. I would work for it in my own workouts and I would get my clients to work for it, too. I just added this little phrase:
Finish it strongly!
That’s it! That’s all it takes! During the last repetition right before your client wants to fall herself and give up…say “Finish it strongly!” And do you know what happens? Your client does! It’s gorgeous!
Every exercise must have a strong beginning, full middle and complete end!
Finish it strongly!
My goodness, my colleagues…it’s only three, five and sometimes ten repetitions. We can all pull out that final repetition. We can do it! The whole point of limited repetitions in Pilates is to keep our clients focused on the exercise so that they can do a few or handful of great repetitions and never have those lousy wasted repetitions we see so often elsewhere. Right.
So…let’s get them making the most of those repetitions. It’s only three, five and sometimes ten.
Of course, there often needs to be a follow up to the now special phrase “Finish it strongly!” For example, Pull Straps II that I had mentioned earlier. Everyone wants to drop her arms before the exercise is over. I say “Finish it strongly! Keep your arms uplifted!”
Yes…that simple to say. Difficult for your client to achieve and that’s exactly why the workout just stepped up to a different level! No matter what the level of your client. No matter what the ailment or combination of ailments…Finish it strongly! Relative to the client’s situation.
Another example, The Hundred on the mat or the reformer or…anywhere. Oh, it looks great for those first several breaths. When you get to the last breath “Finish it strongly! Keep pumping your arms! Give a full exhale!” Now we have The Hundred rather than The Ninety.
Or The Push Through on the Cadillac/Trapeze Table. Of course, that last one just seems like a throwaway…or…”Reach the bar up higher from the lift of your spine! Finish it strongly!”
Or any exercise: Side Kicks on the mat. Mountain Climb on the wunda chair. Swan on the Ladder Barrel. Press Down Front on the High Chair. And so on and so on. Every exercise has a last repetition…make it count!
Watch yourself in your own workouts. Watch your clients and listen to your teaching. What do you say? What is your energy? Do you trail off or do you stay with your client?
Make the most of every moment!
It’s a gift you give to yourself! Finish it strongly!
****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!
If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!
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