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.