Four different takes on the Pilates Frog.
In Pilates we always work from the inside out. That means that before we work the peripheral parts of the body like the arms and legs, the inner core or Powerhouse needs to be strong and stable. When we can apply this principle to our daily activities, we can do Pilates all day long without even getting on a mat or a reformer. Here is how.
Behind the Wheel: When driving, always adjust your seat to a 90 degree angle so that your back stays straight. Firmly press your hands into the steering wheel and pull your abdominals in and up to lift your lower back bones. Reach the crown of your head to the sun roof and imagine your bellybutton getting higher than the steering wheel.
Waiting on line– Instead of impatiently shifting your weight from side to side, keep your weight centered on both legs. Lift through the arches of your feet so that your weight isn’t sinking into the floor. Reach the crown of your head to ceiling, lift your abdominals, and reach your sitz bones downward towards the floor.
Watching tv- Sitting on the sofa and watching tv does not have to be synonomous with couch potato. While watching your favorite show, sit towards the front edge of the couch and firmly place your feet into the floor. If your feet don’t touch the floor place them on an ottoman or stool. Pressing your hands firmly into the couch, Scoop your abdominals in and up to lengthen your spine and cinch your waist. Keeping your back lifted, lift your leg and reach your heel towards the tv screen. Repeat on the opposite side.
Carrying and Lifting- Whether you are carrying a heavy purse, an infant carrier or a toddler, balance your load by shifting your upper body weight to equal it on the other side. Visualize you are carrying an identical object on the opposite of your body side and try to keep both sides of the spine equally balanced. Switch sides often in order to prevent overdevelopement of muscles on one side.
Pushing a Stroller– When done with a little concentration and body awareness, pushing a baby stroller can be an amazing Powerhouse workout. Always lift your waist and chest and keep your shoulders back rather than leaning into the stroller. Lightly grip your stroller handles and imagine that your are pushing the stroller forward with
Sandi Vilacoba, owner of The Pilates Project in Fair Haven, NJ teaches 4 variations of the Pilates criss cross.
Pilates is exercise for the body and the mind. That means the brain must work just as hard as your muscles to get the lean strong Pilates body you’ve been hoping for. Here are five ways to connect your mind and body and get the most out of your Pilates workout.
Concentrate. Let’s face it. It is easier to think about what you will be having for lunch than how high you can lift your shoulder blades off the mat in the criss cross. The truth is, the more you focus inward, the harder your muscles will work. Eliminate distractions. Shut off your cell phone, resist conversation, and put your mind on the movement.
Be Meticulous. Pilates is all in the details. Each movement should be performed with accuracy and precision with the correct mindful intent. During your workout, ask yourself some questions: Are my abdominals in and up? Are my lower back bones lifted? Is my box square? Am I hugging my midline? Are my shoulder blades on my back?
Keep it moving . Do you collapse after each section of the ab series? Dilly dally to get your short box? Next time, pick up the pace and try transitioning from one exercise to the next without a rest. Transitions are necessary to keep the flow of the workout, increase stamina , get the heart pumping and keep you mentally engaged for the entire hour.
Work the Whole Body. In Pilates, we are working the body as a whole, which means you work several muscles simultaneously and get a lot of bang for your buck for each movement. Take the push-up — it works the triceps, chest abs, inner thighs, and serratus muscles. Leg Springs work the inner thighs, hamstrings, abdominal muscles, upper arms, glutes. The list goes on.
Switch it up. Do you love the tower but shy away from the reformer? Do you avoid the mat? Does the electric chair scare you? Remember, Pilates is a system. To get the maximum Pilates experience and its benefits, all apparatus should be used. Each excercise informs the other. For example, the teaser can be performed on the wunda chair, the Cadillac, the spine corrector, and the reformer. Mastering them on all those apparatus will make a successful teaser on the mat.