Updated: Mar 20
Welcome to #MarchMATNESS @coreintegritypilates!!!
Everyday this month I am posting a breakdown and quick video tutorial on 1-2 of ole Joe's original Contrology exercises in the order he taught them. Of course I'll put my own warped spin on things, but always paying homage to the man!
Welcome to Day ONE of March MATNESS!!
Today is the infamous ONE HUNDRED...
10 sets of 10 deep breaths! This is your warm up to get everything circulating, blood pumping, all systems GO!
*The Exercise: Lay flat on your mat. Curl head/neck/shoulders up to the tips of the blades gazing towards your abdominals. Legs lift from your powerhouse and extend anywhere from 90 degrees to 2 inches off the mat. Pump your arms VIGOROUSLY as you inhale for 5, and exhale for 5.
*Reps: Repeat 10x for a total of 100, or 10 cycles of breathing.
*Modifications: You may keep head/neck/legs on the mat or have bent knees. Legs are extended to the place where you can maintain a strong abdominal connection, not to where you feel any strain in your lower back.
*Amanda's Tips: Reach your arms LONG from your back and pump them above the height of your abdominal wall, as if you are splashing in water! Inhale AND exhale through the nose when possible as this tones the lungs most efficiently! Hug your outer hips in and reach your legs so long that you feel as if you are standing on the wall across the room!
INJOY your internal shower!
March Matness Day TWO
Today we are covering the ROLL UP and the ROLL OVER…
*The Roll Up: You have just finished the One Hundred. Lie back on your mat with control, legs long and zipped from heels to seat. The heels dig into the mat to engage the hamstring/glute connection (thass). Arms reach from the back, fingertips to the ceiling or overhead for an advancement. Round forward to curl the upper body off the mat one vertebrae at the time, pulling the abs back as you reach legs long and away. Reach forward in a C-curve, arms parallel over legs, lifting the abdominals AWAY form the thighs. Scoop to roll back into the mat, bone by bone, as you send your heels further away from your seat.
*Modifications: Bent knees; climb up backs of thighs with hands. Alternatively, just to 1/2 roll back or elbow slip. Best with a weighted pole in hands and strap over feet. Not appropriate for those with osteoporosis or beyond 1st trimester of pregnancy.
*Amanda's Tips: Once you master the precision time to FLOW! I like to say “arrive just to leave; no loitering” find a rhythm- inhale up, exhale over, inhale down, exhale back. Do NOT THROW yourself to get there “no karate-chopping!”… do the WORK to build the strength. Use your EXHALE to round the corner! Focus on the OPPOSITION and spinal articulation. Plug your shoulders on your back and hug the midline tight!
After your last roll-up, press your arms long by your sides. Lift the legs as one unit to roll up and overhead, keeping your NECK LONG and arms reaching forward, pressing firmly into mat. Dip toes toward floor as you LENGTHEN and LIFT from your side bodies, open legs hip socket distance, roll back into the mat bone by bone, legs lower to 45 or below. Hug legs together and repeat. After 2-3 reverse directions (legs open to roll over and hug midline to roll back down as one unit). Thighs should NEVER collapse towards powerhouse/chest as you roll up/down your spine.
*Reps: 2-3x each direction
*Modifications: This is an intermediate exercise! NOT safe for those with osteoporosis or ANY type of cervical injury, or those beyond 1st trimester of pregnancy. When in doubt LEAVE IT OUT! Sub shoulder bridge or continue doing roll-ups.
*Amanda's Tips: It’s the SAME EXERCISE as the roll-up, y’all, you are just inverting it Stand in your upper back/arms, never in your neck! Chin away from chest. Maintain LENGTH and LIFT in your waist throughout the exercise.
March Matness Day THREE
Today we are covering the SINGLE LEG CIRCLES…
*The Exercise: After your final Roll over (or Shoulder Bridge or Roll Up), lay flat on your back, one leg reaches to the ceiling and one reaches long on the mat underneath you. The leg in the air crosses over the midline, circles down around and back up 5 x, then reverses reaching out a little over and UP 5x. The circling leg foot is long and loose; the leg on the mat is flexed and active as if you are standing on it. As you draw your leg circles on the ceiling/wall across room, stabilize your ribcage/shoulder girdle, pelvis and grounded leg. Only circle your leg as big as you can maintain pelvic stability; generally that is within the frame your your body or mat. Inhale around, exhale pull to it up!
*Reps: 10x total per leg; 5x each direction.
*Modifications: Keep knees softly bent if hip flexors and hamstrings are overly tight and use a smaller range of motion. A theraband is another great way to reduce quad/hip flexor work and help target abs. Advance it by increasing the ROM (careful if you take it to Vegas, you better have the powerhouse to back it up!)
*Amanda's Tips: Hips and shoulders stay perfectly STILL. “No Elvis in your Pelvis!” Rhythm- over around pull UP; reach cross pull UP. If your hips are “clicky” you probably need to use your backside a bit more, so put some thass into it. Press arms and standing leg FIRMLY into mat!
Day FOUR of March Matness
Today we are ROLLING LIKE BALLS!
*The Exercise: You have just finished One Leg Circles (great job). Give me one clean Roll Up to sitting. Scoot towards the front end of your mat, pulling your heels toward your seat. Pick your feet up off the mat *IDEALLY* placing your hands in front of your shins/ankles, diving your head between your knees, gazing towards your powerhouse, balancing behind your sitting bones. USING YOUR ABDOMINALS, inhale to rock back to the tips of the shoulder blades, exhale deeply to roll back up! Try to balance briefly between the shoulder blades without letting your head touch the mat, and balance again at the top without letting your tootsies touch ground!
*Reps: 5-8x for this one… if you are safely capable of rolling through each vertebrae, then do it until you are rolling in a straight line!! (aka- no drunk rolling)
*Modifications: Hold the backs of your thighs to create a wider C-shape OR you can always re-visit your old pal, the 1/2 Roll Back or the Elbow Slip (those are your #homebase). P to the S… if you have osteoporosis, low back or neck injuries/issues, please just skip all the rolling and spinal flexion. I PROMISE YOU it is NOT worth cracking a vertebrae just to say you rolled on your spine…be SMART.
*Amanda's Tips: ~If your feeling stiff and crunchy, go broad! Make it a nice wide ball, hold the backs to your legs. If you are feeling frisky and strong, challenge yourself… put your elbows on your knees or press your hands into the outsides of your knees, or pull into the tightest smallest ball known to man and go for it!!! ~Put those tennis balls in your armpits and squeeze them. Now, don’t drop your balls!! ~BREATHE…“sniff, sniff- blow, blow” is your mantra. That second “blow” will really help you round the corner!! Empty ALL THE AIR from your lungs. If you are holding your breath, please don’t be shocked when you rip a loud fart… like I said, something had to exhale. Bet you’ll start breathing in class, now ;)
Day FIVE of March Matness
Today we are covering the first 2 exercises in the Ab Series of 5; SINGLE LEG STRETCH and the DOUBLE LEG STRETCH…
*Single Leg Stretch: For a fancy transition out of Rolling like a Ball, pull the right knee into your chest (technically placing your right hand on right ankle and left hand just below the bent knee, but really just hold it however you need to, HA) as you extend the left leg to the high diagonal in front of you. Melt to the tips of the shoulder blades, switch legs as you continue scooping abdominals in back and up! If starting from your back, just hug knees to chest, curl up to shoulder blades, draw one leg in and the other reaches out of the high diagonal, etc.
*Modifications: Keep head/neck on the mat and take legs higher.
*Amanda's Tips: Precision into FLOW! I like to find a rhythm- inhale for two leg changes, exhale for two… inhale switch inhale switch, exhale switch exhale switch. Focus on the OPPOSITION and hugging the knee in from your upper back rather than pulling with your biceps/chest.
*Double Leg Stretch:
The MUTHA of all Pilates exercises… this is the one that you must master in order to nail all the other ones. Think about it… from double leg stretch comes all the other ab exercises, the hundred, the teaser, backstroke, coordination… Joe said this was the most important one to do if you can only do ONE exercise a day!! From Single Leg Stretch, stay high in your chest curl, draw both knees into your chest. Inhale as you reach arms back and legs forward (check to be sure your arms and legs are on the same angle) exhale to pull everything back into a little ball. Keep head/neck/shoulders in the exact same position throughout the exercise.
*Modifications: Head/neck down, legs higher. Break up into upper/lower body movements before putting them together.
*Amanda's Tips: Keep your tailbone heavy on the mat. Get LONG and stay long! Feel like you are being pulled in 2 directions by two very strong people and your only hope for return is to use your deepest EXHALE to draw everything back in. Let the breath be the catalyst for the movement!
Day SIX of March MATNESS
Today we are covering the second 2 exercises in the Ab Series of 5; SINGLE STRAIGHT LEG STRETCH (Scissors) and the DOUBLE STRAIGHT LEG LOWER LIFT…
*Single Straight Leg Stretch (AKA: Scissors): From Double Leg Stretch, stay in your chest curl and extend both legs to the sky. Place both hands on right leg either above or below the knee and pull the leg towards your power house 2 times as you extend the left leg to the diagonal in front of you, creating an even “V” over your hips. Switch legs and pull pull the left as you scoop your abdominals away from the thigh.
*Modifications: Keep head/neck on the mat and take legs higher. May work with softly bent knees.
*Amanda's Tips: I like to “blow blow” the air out with each “pull pull” of a leg, but you may breathe however you like. This is another one you need to be careful about taking to Vegas. Start small and if you can control it, you may increase your ROM. Be sure to pull the leg from your upper back rather than pulling with your biceps/chest. Reach your tailbone away from your abdominals to ensure the longest flexion in the torso. We don’t want to get crunched up, we want a long lean powerhouse!
*Double Straight Leg Stretch (AKA: Lower-Lift):
From your scissors, keep both legs straight to the sky, overlap your palms at the base of your skull, pressing head into hands and hands into head. Inhale to press your legs away from you, exhale to resist them back to 90 degrees. As you lower your legs, be sure you keep your back ribs fully connected to the mat. As you lift your legs, keep your tailbone anchored down.
*Modifications: Head/neck down, knees stay softly bent. Frame tailbone with hands for tender low back issues. Decrease ROM.
*Amanda's Tips: This is all about CONTROL. Do not throw your legs! DRAG them through the mud!! Create your OWN resistance. Your brain doesn’t know the difference if you actually have springs connected to your feet or you just tell yourself you are resisting the recoil, so use your imagination and get creative! The head into hands/hands into head is critical… pull elbows slightly fwd to feel your upper back turn on. Do NOT hang on your neck… EVER. Hug your outer hips in and keep drawing in all the way around your waist. Use your breath!!! Inhale facilitates the lengthening, exhale facilitates the contraction.
Day SEVEN of March Matness
Last exercise in the Ab Series of 5, the dreaded CRISS-CROSS…
*Criss-Cross: From Double Leg Lower-Lift, stay high in your chest curl, twist your ribs to the left as you draw your left knee towards your right ARMPIT and extend your right leg out to the high diagonal in front of you. Curl HIGH ACROSS THE CENTER keeping both shoulder blades OFF the mat!!! Twist right extending the left leg long across the room. Continue crissing and crossing, wrapping the ribs around your spine while you anchor your pelvis. Legs hug the midline throughout.
*Modifications: If you are unable to lift your head neck and shoulders safely, please leave this one out! That includes prenatal and osteoporosis. You may keep your head flat lying supine and simply do a knee "sway" or "drop" right as you look left, drop left as you gaze right, using your breath and powerhouse to return nose and knees to ceiling together. Tick-Tock is another alternative to work your obliques--- same as above just work with legs extended and arms wide on mat.
Keep your bent knee at 90 degrees to force your upper body to come and meet your lower body, not visa versa. That is cheating people.
Focus on armpit towards knee rather than elbow.
Continue pressing head into hands and hands into head, keeping chin off of chest. This allows you to recruit the lats and scap stabilizers in the upper back to aid you in your curl which keeps you OUT of your neck and IN your powerhouse. Reach your tailbone away from your abdominals to ensure the longest flexion in the torso.
Stay tuned for week TWO... Spine Stretch Forward through Neck Pull!