What do you think about archival exercises?

Chat and questions regarding Pilates or the "Introduction to the work of Joseph H. Pilates"
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What do you think about archival exercises?

Post by Paco »

Hello Javier and all,
It seems like everyone is talking about 'archival' exercises and they are posting many online. What do you think about them?
For example here is one:
IMG_1445.jpg (149.25 KiB) Viewed 1585 times
Why did they change it? Who did?
Where can I learn them?

I appreciate your answer and take on it.

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Re: What do you think about archival exercises?

Post by Javier »

Hello Paco,
I am not thrilled about the question -I don't want to star a war- but I guess the person who made that pic already posted it online. I think she actually contacted me a while ago about teaching her online but maybe is not the same person since she said she also 'hated' social media.

There are a few inconsistencies in the picture:
The setting, the bar, the strap, the approach...

- She is using the Roll Back Bar. Originally is with either the Airplane Board, or the Trapeze bar. Not only is nicer -you don't have the feeling that is going to roll up your hamstrings, but it clarifies the position of the legs: Parallel.

I learned the exercise parallel, and the reason that was given then to cross the legs was to allow trainers with small hands to grab the clients legs (again, people changing the method to 'deal' with clients)

Rolling Stomach Massage Angle.jpg
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- The setting/spring: The spring is not the original and the setting is way high. Romana does it with Joseph on setting 1 on the Rehab Table. On the Trapeze Table it becomes a different feeling since the spring pulls you 'up' rather than 'off' the mat. Very nice but different. In this case, since she is 'showing' the original, not accurate.

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- The Strap: is not the original strap in the exercise she mentioned (you can see in the picture the original placement) It was always a standard procedure to use the strap like she is doing for anyone having shoulder/elbow/wrist problems. Anyone with a half decent Pilates education knows that that is the 'modification' for anyone having said issues.
Having said that, this variation is HEAVIER ON THE NECK but, like one of the goals of the exercise, MUCH NICER FOR SHOULDERS AND CHEST.
Hands 'behind' you are always engage the muscles of the neck than when the hands and neck are parallel.

Neck-tension.jpg (42.55 KiB) Viewed 1415 times

- The approach: she seems to be doing a flat line. It is an articulation exercise and arching is encouraged and part of the exercise (Joseph will literally push on the lower back to make it even more so) One should not mix two styles when describing something: either do it the Joseph way or the modern (Classical in this case) way. "Close the ribs" is NOT part of his universe, that started after he died.
Rolling Stomach Massage Side.jpg
Rolling Stomach Massage Side.jpg (218.43 KiB) Viewed 1415 times

Let's make one thing clear: "THERE ARE NO ARCHIVAL EXERCISES". And this is not only true but a literal quote from Romana herself.
There may be exercises that you don't know. That can stem from either your trainer not knowing them, not wanting to share them with you, thinking that you are not ready or you not spending enough time studying the method or with enough trainers. None of them good reasons. The worst one, nowadays, being the fact that educations are terribly incomplete and then after finishing them, the new trainers start teaching new trainers.

I was taught the exercises in a non secretive manner in front of everyone. Yes, you had to be in shape and possess a certain amount of experience. Many complained then that they would teach me the exercises and not to them. But there again, I worked harder and longer so trainers like Romana felt it was warranted and safe.
It is really annoying to see people pretending that they don't know the exercises because somehow they were 'archived', 'hidden' or 'tucked away'... Now they throw them back together mixing styles, equipment and using even different coreographies... very sloppy. All just to get a social media moment.

To prove my point just think about the educations today. Even Romana's Pilates -the one education I can attest for- is increasing the amount of 'archival' exercises every year: as time goes by they decrease the amount of exercises that they include and they change the ones that they have, practically turning plain exercises into archival ones by 'placing them in the closet'.
Apprentices pay more for less 'method'. Sadly, then they become easy prey to those who may know a little more.

I started an education in my studio and now at least I can do my bit to 'dump' all the 'archival' exercises into a new generation of trainers... they all learn them in the most plain, normal and useful way.

Again, I don't want to start a war... but since we are in a remote corner of the web I don't think it will come to that.

The web is full of data. Way too much. It is very hard to know what is what.

And as always: will I ever have a short answer to a question? :oops:


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Re: What do you think about archival exercises?

Post by Paco »

Hello Javier,
Thank you for the 'lengthy' answer... I think I understand it. Not sure.
If the exercises are not known, what do you call them then?
I do understand the explanation of the differences in this particular exercise.
Now I don't know what to think...

But thank you for the thorough explanation.

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