Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

The Elephant

elephant-relationship-facts

Thank you, Elephants for Africa for this photo. I did not receive permission for the use of it and do not have a photo credit. It’s a beautiful photo and I hope they don’t mind my using it here. http://www.elephantsforafrica.org/elephant-facts/

I used to wonder what The Elephant on the reformer was all about. Did you? Do you still? I couldn’t understand how I could excel in so many exercises but still be plagued with The Elephant. From my early on and all through my apprenticeship it felt like my teacher’s greatest dilemma: how will we get Shari to do the Elephant. She just has it all wrong.

Totally defeated, I would teach The Elephant to my clients…and just find it utterly mysterious. WHAT IS THIS EXERCISE ABOUT?! Why can I do super advanced work and not “get” The Elephant and super beginner exercise.

Well, now, I am very happy to announce that I can tell you why: because apparently my teachers didn’t know what it was all about either.

So…what is The Elephant about?
Sure it’s to strengthen your abdominals…everything in Pilates is.
Or if you want to call it your “powerhouse,” it strengthens that, too.
I remember being told it stretches your back body and strengthens your front body.
Well…sort of, but not really.
I mean…it encourages an elasticity in your back body…and…also strengthens it.
Oh, was told that it’s about opening your lower back, I was told.
Nope. It’s so not.

I was encouraged to make a shape that looked like an elephant’s back.
Some sort of relationship to why we call this “The Elephant.”

I was told the story that Joseph Pilates created this exercise for women who had “elephant” skin at their outer thighs.
So, maybe this was about working the thighs?
Something resonates here…

What is it really?
A hip joint mobility exercise and a shoulder joint stability exercise.
Boom.
That’s it, folks.

Is it a torso strengthener, too? Of course. It’s a “full-body exercise.” (a phrase that makes me laugh because every exercise is a “full-body exercise.” Some have more benefit for the entire body than others and some trainers/teachers cue in ways that are more beneficial than others, but even a leg press at the gym is a full body exercise. Every muscle in your body works all of the time and every muscle makes whatever you’re doing happen.) But the primary focus is hip joint mobility and shoulder joint stability which creates all sorts of full-body strength.

Now…the hip joint mobility portion is the most interesting and this is where we get into all sorts of differences in how to do this exercise: body weight forward over the spring bar or body weight back. Spine rounded, natural curves, etc.

If this is about hip joint mobility then it would be wise to seek a position where the person will have the greatest range of hip joint motion available. And that is with the torso rocked back toward the heels. Unless a person is really “connected” and flexible, that also means that the pelvis will be just barely in front of the ankle joint (so as not to allow the mobility and not get stuck in the weight of the pelvis over the legs over the ankle and foot not allowing the carriage to move. Again…more advanced and flexible people can do it with pelvis directly over the ankle. However…let’s stay away from pelvis behind ankles.)

When I say “mobility” that requires strength. That does not mean stretch or floppiness. The more range of  motion of the femur in the acetabulum, the greater strength we can develop. Greater strength leads to greater mobility. Yes…that’s an interesting concept and one I will discuss further in a future post. Stiffness requires strength for elasticity.

And what about the shape of the spine? I strongly suggest learning this with a flexed spine (with a posterior tilt of the pelvis relative to the lumbar spine) so that the lower abdominal and gluteus maximus connections are easiest to develop, as they are in flexion. Then over time when your client is able to stabilize the shape of spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle (relative to the slight movement that must happen as the legs press out and then back in) your client can advance to natural curves of the spine. It is a greater challenge to make a lower abdominal connection in natural curves than in flexion with posterior tilt…so this is an understandable progression.

Now…what about curve of the spine in flexion? We’re looking for light flexion. That means long, supported, strongly muscular lifted flexion. “Lift tall” or “lifted” in my world and The Vertical Workshop world is always more space between each of your backbones no matter what shape you call your spine into. Remember that’s really your disc space…so…all around your vertebral bodies and in between: front, back, sides, etc. They are little discs (See an earlier piece: Abdominals. Spine…) that you want to develop the proper tension of soft tissue (tensegrity) to keep them apart…always…as a priority! (Again…see Abdominals. Spine…)

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Now…was I taught like this? Absolutely not! Heck no way!
I was taught like many of you were taught: my body weight forward, a really rounded spine (which is a force of the thoracic spine and hinging at C7-T1) and shoulders slid off the back to have “shoulder blades flat on the back.”

When the body is so far forward, hip joint action is minimal. It’s not possible to get the most out of the hip join flexion and extension because you’re already set up in a sort midway or more through your range of motion. That’s a problem.

When the spine is so rounded at the thoracic spine and collapsed at C7-T1, there is no use of the spinal extensors balancing the pull of abdominals and gravity…and that causes passive stretching of soft tissues, most likely the ligaments. That’s a problem.

When shoulder blades are slid off of the back to be flat on the back, the upper back muscles are weakened and shoulder girdle muscles are at a disadvantage as the primary shoulder joint muscles originate on the scapulae and require the scapulae to be on your back (See a really, really old post that I’d like to update, but that’s how I feel about all of my posts: Shoulder Girdle: A Delicate Balance) When your arms are up between your eyes and ears, you’re at near, but not quite at , your end-range of supportive motion of your shoulder joint. This is a great place for strength of shoulder girdle. ALSO…when your arms are in this position, your latissimus dorsi (LD) is in its longest position. The tension within the muscle puts tension on the thoracolumbar fascia (TFL) which translates to tension to the contra-lateral (opposite) gluteus maximus (GM – glutes). This makes your GM work really well! So…we want to be in a position for maximal effect on the GM for the posterior tilt of the pelvis and hip extension because that’s a primary part of what The Elephant is about. And…never have to squeeze your buttocks to do it! (Read Buttocks – Seemingly Every Fitness Person’s Favorite Subject… ) With that…this position of pelvis just in front of the hips provides all of this.

OK…so…
Lean bodyweight back until pelvis is just in front of ankles.
Flex spine, be in posterior tilt AND maintain strength and support in spine.
Keep shoulder blades on the back which is easy when arms are up between eyes and ears.
Go!

And what is the Go?
Press the carriage out with your legs.
Resist the springs in.

What? No “pull the carriage in?”
That’s right, my Pilates friends. That’s right.
What brings the carriage in?
Nope. Not your abdominals.
Nope…not your power house.
Oops…it’s not your legs.
The springs. The springs bring the carriage in on all exercises.
Your job is to resist the springs.
The eccentric contraction of the same muscles that pressed the carriage out is resisting the springs in! Ooooooh that’s so good! (I’ll share more about eccentric contractions and their value in an upcoming piece.)

How far do you press the carriage out?
Only as far as you can keep the pressure at the very back edge of the bottom of your heel so that you work your anterior tibialis! Poor thing is a wreck from flip-flops, hard-soled shoes or clogs, backless shoes. Poor anterior tibilis that is essential to walking, simply not falling while standing and many other things in movement life.

What’s the rhythm? Good question! Ooooh rhythm questions are great (see The Music of Pilates workshop that you can download right this moment at a fab discount: https://www.theverticalworkshop.com/the-music-of-pilates/)
Press the carriage out in 1 count.
Resist the springs in for 3 counts.
1  3 2 1

Here’s a little goofy video of me saying things about The Elephant:

 

Questions? Concerns? Thoughts?
Drop me one in the comments!

Thank you for joining me here! I appreciate your interest in learning and playing!

Want more?
Workshops: https://www.theverticalworkshop.com/workshops/
Classes: https://www.theverticalworkshop.com/#/classes/
Sessions: https://www.theverticalworkshop.com/#/sessions/
Photos: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theverticalworkshop/
Tips: Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShariBerkowitz

I’m all over the place and would love to see you in person or virtually!

March 15, 2018 at 1:53 pm 4 comments

I’m coming back to the blog…

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Hello! I’ve been on a long journey of education and growth and have stepped away from The Pilates Teacher Blog for the most part over the past few years. I’ve just earned my Master’s in Ergonomics and Biomechanics fulfilling a promise I made to myself when I was 17. That no matter how long it took, I would return full-force to science.

Before I post my first proper piece back here, I want to invite you to check out what I’ve been posting over the past month on Twitter and Instagram.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShariBerkowitz
I have been and will continue to post daily tips on Twitter. Yes…every day. Maybe not every weekend…but nearly.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theverticalworkshop/
Weekly photos with a bit of info, too. However…since March has turned into a mat-a-palooza…I have been joining in on March Madness and have posted one or two photos on both Instagram and Twitter with different tips in each location every single day.

I invite you to check them out…
Dig into the tips…
Ask questions…
Share with friends…

https://twitter.com/ShariBerkowitz
https://www.instagram.com/theverticalworkshop/

I have much to share with you…even more than ever before! Having earned my master’s was a really life-changing experience for me. Broadened my perspective and opened many doors for me. My research skills are more refined than ever and my abilities to answer your questions and bring you toward new ways of thought and understanding are at the ready!

Check out Twitter and Instagram and then I’ll have a solid piece up here rather soon!

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Workshops: www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com/workshops

2018 will be full of more and more live-streaming webinars and live-streaming classes. I have been doing Live-streaming work for years now and find it quite successful for the participants. Curious? Just email me and I will tell you about it. info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com or go to the Contact section and send me an email there!

EVERY DAY at your home:
The Music of Pilates
http://www.TheVerticalWorkshop.com/the-music-of-pilates2018
March 18 Webinar (with recording)
April 15 New York City, NY
April 27-29 Colorado Springs, CO
May 11-13 Seville, SPAIN
19-20 Atlanta, GA
June 22-24 Rio de Janeiro, BRASIL
16 Paris, FRANCE
July 20-22 New Orleans, LA
Aug 10-12 Boston, MA
Sept 21-23 Istanbul, TURKEY
Oct 12-14 Chicago, IL
Nov 2-4 Austin, TX
Dec 7-9 Venice, ITALY

(more soon to be posted with work online, recorded and in person)

March 13, 2018 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment

Independence by toeing the line…

What does Independence mean to you?
Yes…all that you just thought is exactly what it is. It is so many things to so many people.

And in Pilates…what is Independence?

It’s Independence Day here in America and I always consider what this means in relation to Pilates. As I’ve written before, Mr. Pilates wanted to encourage independence in the studio. That his students wouldn’t rely on the teachers for everything, but for only what they need. That piece was many years ago and can be read here: Independence: It’s Fundamental to Pilates!

Today, I want to consider the remarkable internal feeling our clients develop when they discover that they are getting stronger and more able…and how we really can help them get there.

You know that feeling. The feeling of accomplishment when you’ve surprised yourself that you could do something you thought you couldn’t? And do you know the feeling of confidence that you can do anything that you call your body into? The first is more common. The second is less common. Let’s discuss…

The First: The feeling of accomplishment when you’ve surprised yourself that you could do something you thought you couldn’t?

This is something that we can really work to help our clients achieve. It’s tempting to keep our clients in a safe zone of easily accomplishable exercises. Ones they feel they “get” and need very little struggle to achieve. Keeping things safe won’t help our clients achieve their physical goals. Not really. Most physical goals are achieved by going just beyond normal effort. It’s the struggle that is of value. But how much struggle is enough? How much is too much?

I’d love to say that there is a clear sign, a meter you can attach to your client or to yourself to answer these questions. Of course, there is not. However, if we train our clients to pay attention to their internal actions and communicate with us…then we make it possible to continually work towards the appropriate struggle.

The appropriate struggle is when your client can almost accomplish the task/action without being in danger of getting hurt and can sense that it will be possible in the near future.

Wow! That’s awkward! But that’s it!
1. Safety first: NO DANGER! No danger of injury relative to your client’s imbalances and no danger of injury of falling off an apparatus or pushing too hard. (You think I jest…but I’ve seen teachers push people so hard they fall off apparatus or apparatus has fallen on them. It’s not pretty. It should never happen.)
2. Almost accomplish the action: This means it’s not perfect. It should appear to be a bit of a struggle. Your client has to fight for the exercise! And that there is a positive development from the first repetition to the last repetition. However…positive development does not actually mean nailing it! (See another really old article I wrote: Expectations: It’s About Growth – Not Perfection)
3. Sense it will be possible: That’s the kicker! An internal sense of possibility! That’s where drive and desire come in! Your client will almost be able to taste possibility! She’ll want to do another repetition when all repetitions are completed…and you don’t let her. Because the truth is…it won’t happen in this session in that one more repetition. It will happen in the next session…not this one! If you give her that one more repetition she will  feel failure. So…you say “memorize that feeling! Let’s play with it again next session! And…next exercise is:____________!”

Toe the line of possibility and accomplishment! Get your client to the edge of her abilities of the day to excitement about what is possible for tomorrow! It’s just beyond comfort into a bit of a push. An appropriate push.

That’s key: ” An appropriate push.”

I am not a supporter of giving your clients exercises that they simply aren’t strong enough to really dig into. Some teachers choose really hard exercises so that their clients feel weak and then want to be strong enough to do it. No. Embarrassment is not a good teacher. Toeing the line: Good! Pushing beyond excitement and into embarrassment or deep competition: Not Good!

We toe the line to be slightly uncomfortable in the sense of wanting to get something that is just barely out of reach. Almost accomplishable…but not quite…you can see it and smell it and taste it… From there great strength and excitement develops! An inner sense of independence develops because you’ve gone just outside of your comfort zone and then over time you’ve achieved!

Make sense?

The other concept I expressed was the amazing independence of being able to do anything that you physically (or mentally) ask yourself to do. Well, that is something that not everyone will be able to achieve for many reasons. Physical, emotional and/or chemical barriers to being able to accomplish all. Some of our clients are acutely aware that they are limited and feel their Independence is therefore limited as well. They cannot do all that they wish to do. It’s more normal than not. Feeling limitations. However, I do believe that what we do in Pilates especially when we toe the line and make for accomplishment over time and all of the time helps our clients find more and more that they are able to do rather than focus on what they are not able to do.

Independence…are we working with our clients and ourselves (our favorite client…oh there is a piece I wrote on that right there: Your Favorite Client) in a way that we seek to accomplish what is just out of reach all of the time? Can we help our clients focus on what they can do more than what they cannot do. And not by saying…but by letting them experience it!

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please write in the comment section! I’m glad to have a discussion!

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!

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, go to: https://www.theverticalworkshop.com/#/classes/

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon! Or go to: https://www.theverticalworkshop.com/workshops/

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
More information is here: https://www.theverticalworkshop.com/#/sessions/

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

 

July 4, 2017 at 12:46 pm 4 comments

What will it be this year?

 

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What will it be for you this year?
The year it was Capoeira was perhaps the most life-enhancing for me.

Each year, I seek something that I can be a beginner in. Something I can do 3 times a week as a newbie, a tyro. Something where I must experience what it is like to know nothing, learn, study, work hard and accomplish! Something where I can learn from an expert in a field that I know nothing about.

I’m not a fan of resolutions. They are not only nearly always broken which then makes the failed resolver feel guilty, but they are usually guilt-inspired, too. Either you’re going to work out more or eat less of this or eat more of that or do something that is so completely out of your norm that you despise it. You’re going to go out less, drink less, go out more, drink more?! You’re not doing them. You’re not. You don’t want to you. Guilt is not a good educator. Guilt does not inspire. Guilt is not an enhancer for life. Resolutions fail. If you’re the one person reading this who says “My resolutions don’t fail” then I applaud you! Go for it! But you are one of not-so-many.

What if you did something that you want to do? Not a punishment, but something you find interesting and fun! And as teachers, here on The Pilates Teacher Blog, what if you were a beginner at something that you are interested in that might make you an even better teacher? What if you put yourself in your beginner clients’ shoes? Your clients come to you after the new year looking to fulfill their resolutions or start mid-year hoping to accomplish something important to them. Achieve goals. They come as sheer novices seeking guidance from you…the teacher. What if you did the same?

Sure, we can all remember being a beginner. I remember being a beginner at Pilates. I remember nearly everything about it! Can you recall what it was like being a beginner in Pilates? Do you remember what it was like doing each exercise for the first time? (Strange!) What it was like walking into a Pilates studio for the first time? (Weird! Every apparatus looks horrifying!) Having a teacher stand over you and touch your abdomen? (Unless you’re a dancer, this is bizarre!) Taking some time to remember what it was like to be a beginner in Pilates yourself is an important task. Remembering what it is like to be a beginner and less accomplished makes you extra compassionate to your clients.

Along with the vital quality of being compassionate…becoming a beginner, again, makes you a better teacher! You will learn from your new teacher some skills that you don’t already have. Putting yourself in an unusual circumstance enhances your ability to recognize good (and not so good) teaching skills. I mentioned Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) at the start of this article. When I started training in Capoeira, I didn’t realize how much I would learn about being a teacher. I thought I was just going to get an excellent workout! Two of my teachers were particularly special: Eletrico and Mestre Boneco (these are Capoeira knicknames). Eletrico was one  the most clear and encouraging teachers I had ever had in anything (aside from Germaine Salsberg in tap, but  I haven’t been a beginner in tap since I was 3 years old). He was remarkably sure of the technique of each move, when and how to use them in the playing of Capoeira. If I had a question, he always answered it clearly in a way that made me very sure that I really understood. He cared that I understood. Then there was Mestre Boneco. “Mestre” is Master in Brazilian Portuguese. And he is the master indeed. He was overjoyed with Beginners! He’d walk into his classes and exclaim “Beginners!!!” He recognized that Beginners are everything to a real teacher! Teaching beginners well, encouraging their growth is what brings life what it is that we teach! Mestre Boneco spoke in a very powerful voice. Loud, sure, but it wasn’t just volume that commanded the room. His voice bellowed in a way that made each student know that they were individually seen and cared for. His voice was strong and supportive. My female or male teachers in dance and Pilates never used a voice like this. The most famous directors I worked with never had this. My greatest academic teachers did not embody this. I learned that if I wanted to teach with the strength that I had inside of me, that I must lower the tone of my voice, use more muscular and deep notes. I’ve always been known for my musical voice in my teaching, but hearing Mestre Boneco command the room as he did with his resonant voice and joy for beginners…it called me to attention and drew me to be excited to learn. His voice made me feel he was ever-present, supportive and happy to be there for us! We were a bunch of nervous beginners…we needed support! I certainly did!

Learning to ballroom dance was another great experience. Though I had danced all different styles professionally since I was a child, I had never had formal ballroom dance. Being choreographed in a tango, rhumba, waltz or swing is not the same as taking lessons to go beyond choreography. At first, I took group lessons, but soon realized that if I was going to get what I needed, then I would have to commit myself to one-on-one lessons. Somehow I carved out the time. My teacher, Danny, was the guy you’d see on the dance floor and wish you could be his partner. Everyone wants to dance with Danny. So…why not take private lessons? Again, though an accomplished dancer, I was such a true beginner in ballroom! I was happily stunned to be a novice! I love when I know nothing and then give myself the opportunity to learn. I loved that he really had to teach me how to follow, what are acceptable steps and what are not and so much more. I loved that as a woman being “the follow” and he “the lead” I had to go backwards into every step and not know which step/move he was going to lead me into. I had NO IDEA what was going on and that was a great thing! Give yourself up to your teacher and trust! As I took each session, I learned more and more. I went from stepping on my teacher’s toes and feeling lost to dancing backward (in heels) with confidence. I learned the nuances of being led, which steps were appropriate, how to move around a crowd of other dancers without bumping into others…and that made me feel accomplished! Going from newbie to accomplished student made me feel happy!

Struggling and then succeeding brings on happiness! We see this with our clients and we deserve to feel it, too!

Now, as a teacher of movement, you might think that engaging in a movement practice is the only way to embark on this, but it’s not. What about learning a new language? Learn to play an instrument! Learn to play golf! Learn to write screenplays! Learn anatomy and physiology! Learn something new! Give yourself a gift rather than a resolution! Put yourself in beginner shoes and feel the great accomplishment of going from novice to, well, not-novice!

Each year, I embark on learning something new. I make myself a beginner every single year. Sometimes more than once a year. You might say “who has the time for this?” You do. We all do. The time spent on Facebook or some other social media…if you tallied that all together you know that would be enough time to do something considerably more productive that would bring you far more joy and sense of accomplishment than a resolution that you’re going to drop. That wasn’t meant as guilt, but rather to show you that you do have the time. We all do. We all have the same 24 hours in each day. What we do with those 24 hours is a set of choices we each make that either brings us to feelings of true joy or not. Now, in truth, there are times in our lives where it is impossible to do something so satisfying as learning something new and being able to make time for it. Sometimes there is literally no way to build in the time for 3 times a week of study or even one. However…most of the time there is. Sometimes it might just be taking on a new sort of puzzle: crosswords, sudoku… Maybe it’s cooking a new recipe even once a week.

Do something new! Something that you are a beginner at. Be incredibly terrible at it and then learn! Accomplish! Enough with resolutions where you will fail yourself and live in the cycle of guilt. Instead…learn something new. Commit yourself to it for 6 months. Be a beginner who develops and feels the joy of accomplishment. Let that seep into your teaching experience. See how your compassion for your students burgeons and your skills as a teacher grow exponentially!

Enjoy!

****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!

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

 

January 4, 2017 at 6:57 pm 10 comments

My Hero…

and then
when all of your heroes are gone
what then?
will you be your own
hero at long last?
will you be so brave
to realize
you
always
have been?
– Shari B.

 

December 27, 2016 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

World Peace Pilates on the 12th of November 2016

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I don’t usually advertise any classes or workshops as a blog…but just a quick note that on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 2pm NYC time (check for your time zone), I will be teaching a live-streaming mat class for anyone in the entire world who wants to join in! Studio S Pilates asked me to do it and I happily agreed! It’s worth sharing here where you all are such a special worldwide community!

The world is an interesting place…especially right now! There is so much conflict in the entire world and even in the world of Pilates. Why not spend a bit of time together just enjoying what we all have to share?! Our common interests and passions!

That is what World Peace Pilates class is all about!

It’s a 1.5 hour session. A 55 minute mat class and then 30 minute question/answer session. You can send questions ahead to Sunni Almond who is hosting at: studio_s@icloud.com or bring them out in the moment that day!

For registration, go here: https://studiospilates.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?appointmentType=1947492

It’s only $30 and a complete tax-write off!

World Peace Pilates-cize with me on the 12th of November!

I hope to see you there!
– Shari

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

November 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

Finish It Strongly!

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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!

Enjoy teaching!
– Shari

****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!

****Live-Streaming and Recorded Sessions: Twice a week I hold live-streaming group sessions with teachers that are recorded. People join in from all over the world both in the live-stream and viewing the recordings. In the live-stream, I see everyone and cue you as though we are in the studio together…individually. If you would like to learn more about these remarkable sessions, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!

****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

 

 

June 27, 2016 at 10:19 pm 7 comments

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