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Day FIFTEEN of March Matness!
HIGH SCISSORS and HIGH BICYCLE
These are super advanced exercises… but they really aren’t all that bad *IF* you know how to access your assets (pun intended). From your last Neck Pull, stay supine. Bend your knees to your chest as you lift your hips up in the air. Slide your forearms/elbows under your ribcage, placing your palms on your bum, fingers pointing UP. Keep the weight between your shoulder blades, never collapsing into your wrists or your neck! Extend both legs straight to the sky, continuously lengthening from your lower back and reaching your legs long and away from your chest. Reach one leg actively toward the ceiling (NOT back over your face) and scissor the other leg away from your powerhouse using your “thass” to reach. Reach reach 2x and swap legs. Continue 3-5 each side then transition to…
Maintain your shoulder stand and hands pointing towards your booty. Don’t over think this— you are literally pedaling your legs like you are on a bike. After your final scissor, reach leg as far as you can across room, bend your knee reaching foot towards the mat then towards your seat. Meanwhile, the other leg starts to pedal towards your powerhouse, then forward and across the room, towards mat, seat and then you are riding your High Bike in the air!! Cycle forwards 3x and backwards 3x.
If you really want to wow em, the next transition into Shoulder Bridge is VERY fancy… turn your palms sideways (fingers face out), reach your legs and feet to sort of arch down to the mat from your powerhouse and seat. Carry on with Shoulder Bridge like a badass.
*Reps: 3-5x each side/direction
First of all, feel FREE to skip these. Just go to Shoulder Bridge. Get that one SOLID before you attempt these. Hopefully it goes without saying you have no business doing these with a neck injury, a baby in your belly or brittle bones. Just be smart, folks ;)
Keep your neck long and pressure free. Stay LONG in your lumbar and waist! Practice ALL THE OTHER exercises you need to focus on in order to get strong and ready for High Scissors and High Bike… get a strong this connection, strong shoulders/upper back and open your chest. Here are just a few to consider (seriously I could go on all day…): On the Mat: shoulder bridge, roll over, jackknife, single and double leg kicks, side kick series w/ bicycle, kneeling side kicks.
On the Reformer: thigh stretch, tendon stretch (esp single leg), high frogs, long spine massage, control balance face up.
On the Cadillac or Tower: reverse push through, long back stretch, thigh stretch, flying leg springs, airplane, shoulder roll down w/ single leg kicks.
On the Wunda Chair: table, standing press downs, bridging on mat w/ feet on pedal.
Check out my YouTube tutorial on how to PREPARE yourself to slay these mat exercises with other equipment in the studio...https://youtu.be/GKiFdZfj3r8
SIXTEEN of March Matness!
So you defeated High Scissors and Bike. If you really want to wow em, do the super fancy transition into Shoulder Bridge… turn your palms sideways (fingers face out), reach your legs and feet to sort of arch down to land your feet on the mat WITH CONTROL from your powerhouse and seat. You can either keep your hands under your bum propping you like a Spine Corrector would, or extend your arms long into the mat. Kick one leg up out and down a few times each side. You can alternate legs or do them all at once on Right then go to Left. You may slide you feet along the mat or just kick up/down.
3-5x per leg
Shoulder Bridge is basically GREAT for everyone! You may leave kicks out if need be. If you cannot bridge due to low back injury, try just a pelvic tilt or imprinting.
Press your non-kicking foot firmly into the mat to stay in your seat… Work that THASS. Keep your neck long and pressure free. USE YOUR ARMS and stand in your upper back. Stay LONG in your lumbar and waist!
🌈Day SEVENTEEN of March MATNESS!!🌟
🍀Happy St Patti’s Day 🍀
Today is the SPINE TWIST...
*The Exercise: Inhale sit TALL with legs zipped tight together, wrapping your seat beneath you to LIFT your bum! Arms reach from your back, straight out East to West. Twist your ribcage from your waist to the right, then twist it a little more, and then a little more! Sit tall in the center with an inhale, exhale to twist ribs left, keeping pelvis squared. With each twist, WRING the air from your lungs until there is nothing left. Rinse and repeat! *Reps: Repeat 3-5x per side *Modifications: Work with bent knees and/or sit up on something (box/block/bolster) to get out of tight hip flexors, hamstrings and low back. Lessen ROM if needed. *Amanda's Tips: Wring the air from your lungs as if you are wringing water out of a wash rag. Reach your arms LONG from your back. If you struggle with flinging your arms beyond the twist of your ribcage, you may place hands in a prayer position or on shoulders so as not to “cheat” your twist. Press the leg you are twisting TOWARDS slightly forward in order to keep legs even and pelvis squared off. Don’t let your feet “paddle”. INJOY another internal shower!
March Matness Day EIGHTEEN
Today is the JACKKNIFE… fun!
Lying supine (flat on your back) with arms actively pressing long by your sides, lift your legs and hips across the room and overhead until they are parallel to the floor. Then comes the exciting part… “Jackknife” your legs and seat STRAIGHT UP to the sky so your body is almost vertical and find the angle of toes over eyes! WITH CONTROL, lengthen your body towards the mat, keeping your chin away from your chest and trying to maintain the toes over eyes. When your booty touches down, lower your legs ideally 2 inches off the mat if you can stay in your powerhouse. Repeat the exercise rolling hips up and overhead!
As always, when in doubt it gets left out! If you have osteo, are preggers or have no business rolling over on your spine, you may sub shoulder bridge or double leg lower-lift. If you have a healthy spine and no baby on board but you’re just not ready to go overhead, you may also choose from rolling like a ball or open leg rocker as a substitute.
Well firstly, I like to make a switch-blade sound effect to encourage people to flick their knife open with pazazz. You can make your own sounds, of course, but I generally provide them if you are with me in class ;) Stay out of your neck. Stand in your upper back/triceps. This one uses EVERYTHING… I mean, they all do, but jackknife is one that you truly have to get yourself CONNECTED HEAD TO TOE before you go into it for success. Your transverse abdominous (your internal corset), your shoulder girdle, seat, legs and arms are all working to help you maintain this long strong line in motion!
March Matness Day NINETEEN
Today is the SIDE LEG KICK SERIES…
Lying on your side, line your body up with the back edge of the mat then bring feet to the front bottom corner so there is a nice crease in your hips. Organize your body as if you are standing up, so head/neck are in line with the spine, hips are stacked, shoulders stacked, waist lifted off the mat like there is a mouse house beneath you! Lift top leg hip height and stretch it out BEYOND the length of your bottom leg. Ideally, you are propping your head into your bottom hand and top hand is behind your head as well. For more stability, use your top hand as a “kickstand” on the mat in front of you.
The following are JUST the standard Side Kick variations that Joe did… there’s TONS of additional choreography out there so feel free to play!
*Front/Back: Kick top leg front to back without letting the torso rock or losing your powerhouse connection. Find a flow/rhythm, “kick, kick front, sweep to the back”. *Up/Down: Lift top leg up and resist it back down. This can be done parallel or in external rotation.
*Little Circles: Rhythmically circle top leg small and tight- trace a quarter.
*Big Circles: Also known as “grande rondejam”, you are tracing the largest circle possible while maintaining your center!
Flip the record, realign and play side B!
3-5x each variation/direction (honestly, on these I always do 8-10x)
Everyone needs to be doing side-body work, do not skip!! It is SO IMPORTANT to support yourself laterally by strengthening your external rotators!!! Even if you need to lay on your side with pillows and just lift/lower a bent top leg, that’s fine.
Modify your head/neck shoulder position for your comfort and do whatever variations support you best in the moment. To advance it, add a magic circle or a booty band!
Don’t crush your mouse!!! Give him a name & a family… you will keep your waist lifted if you know the little guy ;)
Press your bottom leg aggressively into the mat for balance!
Your arms must be on your back and you must continue ACTIVELY lifting up out of your shoulders/elbows throughout the exercise.
As with all mat exercises, you are responsible to create your OWN resistance, moving AS IF you are connected to the springs!
I like to dramatically advise folks to “PUSH top leg up like you are lifting something heavy; RESIST it back down like you are hugging a magic circle between your ankles.”
If you need a little help imagining this resistance, I highly recommend utilizing a magic circle to both ABduct and ADduct your legs and find a deeper powerhouse connection.
PS- I like to flip onto my stomach in between sides, place forehead on hands, melt chest, lift legs off mat and do little beats before flipping the record.
March Matness Day TWENTY
Today is the oft dreaded TEASER…
Next to the One Hundreds, the Teaser is probably the most universally recognized classical Pilates exercise! Performed after the Sidekick Series, Teasers challenge your balance, core stability, strength and stamina, as they come fairly late in the series. Teaser looks similar to a calisthenic “V-Up” or a yoga “Boat Pose”. These are the basics of Teaser 1,2 & 3. There are TONS of variations out there, so feel free to play!
*Teaser 1: Begin by lying on your back, knees bent into chest. Lift head and shoulders while extending legs to 45 degrees. Keeping the legs out, lift the arms to parallel the legs. Roll up like you're trying to sit, balance just behind or sits bones, then roll back down ideally leaving your legs out at 45 degrees the entire time, rolling your upper body off the mat to meet your lower body at the top. Alternatively, bend knees back to table top.
*Teaser 2: Roll up as you did in Teaser 1 and balance. Keep upper body/arms in place as you lower/lift your legs 1-3x before rolling upper body back into Mat. Arms stay extended by ears on the way up and down.
*Teaser 3: Start with arms extended behind ears and legs on the mat. I like to call this version “the Book” because you are basically folding up and down like a hard back book. Head and heels lift off mat at the same time. Keep toes/eyes on the same plane throughout. Everything folds up and down together with no pauses.
3 sets of 3 reps of each variation
*Modifications: Substitutions- 1/2 Roll Down or Elbow Slip. Beginners can start with knees bent and feet on the Mat and work on extending one leg at a time. You may hold the backs of your thighs to leverage against your legs to safely round up and back down. Advanced Clients can start with arms extended behind ears while lowering and lifting legs.
I know many clients feel like if they don’t nail their Teasers, the world might end. But y’all, Teaser is NOT the end all be all, it’s just another exercise! It is, however, a great “check-in” exercise to see where you are and what you need to work on. The important thing is that you keep working towards your personal ideal version of each exercise, and finding it on a variety of apparatus can really inform your Mat practice on a comprehensive level.
PS- To remember the progression, think Teaser 1= upper body, Teaser 2= lower body, Teaser 3= put both ends together!
March Matness Day TWENTY-ONE
HIP CIRCLES or CAN-CAN…
After you have finished your last Teaser, hold the position and circle arms around behind you on the mat. Hands face away, chest and upper back are broad, arms reach strongly from your back. Be sure you are not “resting” into your arms but lifting out of them! Wrap your outer hips in. Find your midline and seat connections. Maintain lifted chest as you circle your legs as one unit in one direction and then the other. It’s almost like a seated corkscrew.
3 circles each way
Substitutions: Corkscrew, Hip Circles propped on elbows, or the Can-Can!
*For the Can-Can, use the same set up, sitting tall with arms stretched back, but knees are bent and toes touching mat. Dip knees R, L, R then extend legs to a teaser shape on the diagonal.
Repeat 3x each direction.
Keep practicing this one!! Don’t give up on your straight arms… use them to LIFT your spine (practice the 2nd part of your Stomach Massage on the reformer and your Open Leg Rocker on the Mat!). Connecting your lower body and really feeling a strong wrap of the seat will help you circle the legs. Don’t go slow… find your flow here, it will help! If you do the Can-Can, be sure to show them your bloomers and say “Woo-Hoo!” Each time you extend your legs 😉