Classical exercises: where they come from, and why does they exist?

Chat and questions regarding Pilates or the "Introduction to the work of Joseph H. Pilates"
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Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:56 pm

Classical exercises: where they come from, and why does they exist?

Post by Joao »

Hello everybody!

Hope there's still people coming here willing to discuss our beloved method.

Lately, I was thinking about the additions/deletions that came after Joe died. I found the 48s (I think) sequence of Reformer exercises, and started practicing it. So far, some things caught my attention:

- The absence of Pulling Straps and Pulling T;
- The absence of three Short Box exercises: Side to Side, Twist and Reach and Side Sit Ups;
- Javier already told us in his book excerpt, but I'll repeat: no Stomach Massage series either;
- No Elephant, a bread-and-butter exercise in the Classical World;
- No Pelvic Curl, which was taught to me as a "preparation to stand up". I guess Running does this job waaay better anyway;
- No Front/Side/Russian Splits at all! That was kind of shocking :lol: ;
- But hey, we have the Russian Squat (Stretch)!

I can't help myself but think: why those exercises made its way to the "official sequence"? And what was the rationale to include them?

My guess: those exercises serve as a preparation for the heavier/ more complex ones. They should be eliminated from the sequence by the time our client is able to do the original ones, since keeping them would make the workout too long (recall that Javier already told us that the sequence lenghtened through the years...).

Considering these exercises listed above as a "Pre-Pilates" exercises, I came to this conclusion:

- Pulling Straps should prepare a future Chest Expansion;
- Pulling T probably is the Swan Dive facing the straps (I think Javier posted this exercise on his gallery. It also appears on Peter Fiasca's DVD);
- The Side Sit Up, as far as I know, is an exercise from the Ladder Barrel. Its presence on the Classical Reformer List probably has something to do with small studios which couldn't have a Ladder Barrel. Side to side maybe appears for the same reason, as we have the Mermaids all over the studio but the only Side Bend we have on the Reformer is a very heavy exercise.
- Twist and Reach may be a preparation to the Around the World, which may prepare our client for a future Corkscrew;
- Stomach Massage Arms Back reminds me of Tendon Stretch (the original one: changing the shape of your body as you press the carriage out) as well as the first movement of Long Back Stretch (going down with the hips as you press the carriage out), and the Reach may help loosening the hips for a future Russian Squat. The Stomach Massage Twist may be a loosening exercise for a future Twist;
- Elephant, as we already know, is a preparation for the Up Stretch. Unfortunately, it is taught nowadays in a certain way that makes it impossible to;
- Pelvic Curl, honestly, I have no clue! :lol: ;
- Splits were taught for people who actually needed them: mainly dancers, but we have photographs of regular clients doing them. Suffice to say that they aren't a standard, as opposed to the Balance Controls. Javier already told us about these too...

I would really appreciate to discuss this idea, if there's someone wanting to! :-)


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