Short Box Series for Pilates Reformer


The short box series on reformer can be used as essential level preps or full-blown intermediate exercises. Feet pulling the foot strap taut as you utilize the strength of your core to articulate your spine. The movement of your arms create longer levers which increases the difficulty of this exercise. The arm movement and spinal twist are assisted by engaged obliques.

Below are three exercises for the short box followed by a full video:

Round Back for Short Box:

Start sitting up straight, feet pulling strap taut, neutral spine, palms on top of one another in your lap. Inhale to prepare, exhale to tuck your pelvis and roll onto your back pockets.

Inhale to lift your arms over head, maintaining that round thoracic spine.

Turn abs on even more, pulling belly toward spine, and roll over your thighs – maintaining that c-curve of your spine.

Exhale to stack back up to a neutral spine from tail to head.

Straight Back for Short Box:

Begin by sitting upright on your box with a neutral spine, feet pulling strap taut. With bar overhead, pull on opposite ends of the bar to engage your arms.

Inhale to prepare, exhale to hinge at your hips and tilt back with a straight back.

Inhale to maintain this position. Exhale to engage your obliques to help you hinge at your hips to pull you back up to straight.

Twist With Round Back for Short Box:

Beginning with the photo above, sitting straight up, arms overhead pulling bar.

Inhale to prepare, exhale to tuck your pelvis and roll back onto your pockets as the bar comes down in front of your shoulders.

Inhale to maintain that c-curve of the spine as you lift the bar overhead.

Exhale to twist to one side. Inhale to return to center. Exhale to twist to the other side. Inhale to return to center.

Continue the inhale to pull belly towards spine as you round forward over your thighs – keeping bar level with shoulders.  

Exhale to keep the bar still in space as you stack back up to a neutral spine from tail to head.

Inhale to lift bar back up over head with neutral spine.

Here’s what that looks like:

Tree for Pilates Reformer

A lot of the exercises I’ve been focusing on this week are especially great in promoting spinal articulation. This exercise is called Tree and it’s an intermediate level exercise. It’s important to maintain an engaged core to support your spine. I love the leg stretches at the beginning of this exercise – it feels especially yummy as a hamstring stretch.

Here’s how to do Tree:

Keeping one foot pulling taut on the strap, extend and flex your gesture leg three times.

After the third time, keep your gesture leg extended and bring both hands to meet at your ankle.

Begin to slowly walk your hands down your leg and you roll your spine down vertebrae by vertebrae.

Once you feel your sacrum level on the short box, release your head to look back – keeping your hands on your leg for support.

If you feel like you want more – extend your arms over head and grab on to the rails of your reformer to enter a full spinal extension.

Take an inhale to tuck your chin and your draw your arms back up to the gesture leg. Begin to walk your hands back up that leg as your spine peels off the box.

Once your spine is back in neutral, bend your knee and set your gesture leg down.

Here’s what that looks like all together:

This exercise is best done towards the end of a workout. Making sure your hamstrings and abs are warm and firing before putting them to the test.

Developé for Pilates Reformer

One of my favorites things about Pilates homework is getting to do some delicious stretches. The Developé is one of my favorite Pilates exercises. It’s an intermediate level exercise because of the coordination required and the core strength necessary to keep your spine supported with one moving leg. Once you start to use the correct muscles – at the right time – you find a flow that is so satisfying. It’s a full body stretch and roll that feels like a full body yawn.

Here’s what the Developé exercise for Pilates Reformer looks like:

Start by placing your right toes on the footbar and your left leg extended out to a 45° angle – toes pointed.

As you push your right leg out to straight, bend your left leg to move through bicycle before extending the left leg straight up to the ceiling.

Straight leg to ceiling – point your toes!

Keeping both legs straight, drop your left leg down to tap the foot bar before raising that leg back up to the ceiling.

Stay here. Flex both feet – dropping your right heel under the footbar. Point both feet.

Bend your right knee to control the return of the carriage as your left knee bends to move through bicycle before extending back out to your starting position at 45°.

Here’s what that looks like all together:

What to Know

I’m teaching a free Community Pilates Reformer Class at Truve in Oakland, California every Monday morning from 9:30am-10:30am. Visit to register.

New Pilates Class + Exercises


Pilates has been a part of my workout routine since 2009. A friend of mine invited me to take free classes at her studio, and I’ve never had more fun while working out. She was funny but firm. The workouts were hard but possible. They gave me greater body awareness and I felt it in my day-to-day life. To this day, Pilates supplements my regular cardio workouts beautifully and I feel longer and leaner. I walk taller and move with more ease.

As I finish my certification, I’m going to begin teaching a free Community Pilates Reformer Basics class on Mondays from 9:30am-10:30am at Truve! I’m excited to start programming lessons and building better strength, stabilization and mobility. Below are some examples of the kind of exercises we’ll be doing. Come take a class – it’s free!

What to Know

Truve offers a ton of amazing classes! Check out their class schedule and click the ‘Community Pilates Reformer Basics’ box to sign up for my free class on Mondays at 9:30am. Hope to see you there!


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“Do you think it’s gonna be a leg day?” Ben was worried that his already sore muscles might take another beating. He wasn’t wrong. Every time we walk into Truve for a workout with the owner, Alison Roessler, we walk out exhausted and in need of a long, hot bath. That’s exactly what a workout should be.

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Shortly after moving to Oakland, we knew we needed a regular and vigorous workout routine to keep our bodies healthy given the rigors of a nearly year-long tour schedule. Imagine Dragons toured with a personal trainer so we were used to getting our butts kicked on a regular basis. We were able to establish a regular fitness routine and though we felt sore and exhausted at the end of it, our minds and bodies felt strong and ready to take on endless bus rides, flights and arena shows. Now, it was time to find a home-base for fitness.

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The Bay Area is known for having an active population. The weather is just too perfect for people to stay indoors. So, when we began our Google search for a trainer, we were inundated with a ton of options. Alison stood out to us because she was an athlete. She suffered a serious injury in college and her athletic training helped her to recover from her injury. From that point on, she started training other athletes through their injuries, older clients looking to strengthen their bodies to avoid injuries, and men and women looking to meet fitness goals.

“She didn’t look like some big, muscly guy that was going to injure me” Ben said.

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We never know what kind of training session Alison has planned for us. Each one is a different series of exercises meant to work arms, legs, abs and cardio before the hour is over. True to her motto, she keeps us #hellafit. We often work out in the big, open room that makes up a majority of the gym. Lining the wall of mirrors are weights, ropes, tires, bands, exercise balls, mats, and other fitness machines. The opposite wall splinters off into a TRX/yoga room, a stationary bike room, and a pilates reformer room.  Sometimes, she takes her clients outside to pull tires, run stairs, and otherwise take advantage of those sunny Oakland days.

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We often train during the middle of the day when Truve is buzzing with clients taking advantage of a group class, wellness service, or cleaning up in a fully stocked locker-room. Memberships at Truve include unlimited access to classes in TRX, 30-20-10 circuits, Capoeira, Pilates Reformer, Yoga, Spin Core, Boxing Conditioning, Sculpting, Strength Training, and more. You also have access (whether you have a membership or not) to a full range of wellness services including facials, acupuncture, deep tissue and shiatsu massages, and spray tans. You can easily workout, get a massage, shower and pamper yourself before heading out to explore the rest of your day. Truve keeps us #hellafit and we are #hellagrateful.

Try It Out

Truve – 2345 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612  (510) 788-8909

Website – Check out class schedules and professional services at

Deals – You can get up to 50% off your first year membership : for each friend you refer (up to 5 people) you get 10% off your own membership.

Trainer Extraordinaire – Alison Roessler is the best and I mean it! Try out some of her workouts.





“I spilled water into my shoe at the beginning of that” he confessed. Not the perfect way to start a circuit training bootcamp, but it certainly helped me take the attention off my own physical struggle. I wasn’t expecting to wake up at 8am, the morning after drinking one too many glasses of wine, to keep my guy company at an early morning ass-kicking.  I woke up cursing the name of his good friend, who at the bar the night before, described the ‘torturous’ workout he would be doing and invited us to join. I know my guy. He’s competitive. All you have to say is that something is hard and he will try to best you.

The hardest thing to do after a night of drinking is convincing yourself not to sleep through a work out commitment. It’s so tempting to keep your tired muscles and throbbing head laid flat on your Tempur-Pedic mattress. This temptation is a lot easier to give in to when you don’t have a human alarm bell, loud and fully alert at 7:30am, poking and prodding you to wake up and get excited about the inevitably brutal workout.

Driving down College Avenue in Oakland, the gym is hard to miss. The bright orange sign hanging over the sidewalk reading ‘SWEAT’ is as hard to miss as a flashing neon sign on the Las Vegas strip, and as telling a reminder about the fate that awaits you. “But” I thought, “I workout. I’m sure it’ll be fine”.

Walking in, we were greeted by Carl, an Englishman dressed in his best old gym t-shirt and Adidas shorts. We told him we were there because we heard the first class was free, and he happily showed us to the cubbies where we placed our belongings in the black, numbered buckets. The gym consisted of one open room with a full length, wall-to-ceiling mirror positioned at the front, perfect for checking yourself out as you kicked your own butt.

This would be a circuit training workout, and the room was organized with different stations for you to crunch, row, plank, wall-sit, and TRX your way to hard-earned exhaustion. The weathered appearance of many of the weights, straps and mats served as evidence that people in these classes went hard.

It was time for class to begin and Carl walked to the front of the room, blasted Destiny’s Child’s “I’m a Survivor” and started the fifteen minute cardio-heavy warm-up. High-knees, burpees, and lunges just about brought me to my knees before the circuit even started. Carl told us to pick a station to begin, and work our way around to each station completing the full cycle a total of three times through. We were to spend fifty seconds at each station and spend a total of twenty-five seconds immediately after doing one of the five different cardio exercises we did in our warm up. Safe to say, I felt all the hateful feelings one could half-way through the first circuit. But, like my guy, my competitive nature kicks in during a group class. I had to act like I wasn’t tired because I refused to quit when the two pregnant women and senior citizen couples were pressing on. The first circuit is always the hardest because you have to convince yourself that you will not, in fact, die and that you have it in you to finish two more rounds. The funny thing is, by the time I get to the beginning of the final round, I see the finish line and my drive to get there allows me to pull strength from my reserves. By the time we finished our last station, I fell to the ground in utter humble, sweaty relief.

There is something about not shaming yourself in front of a group that makes you go just a little harder than you would working out on your own. The reward after such a hard-earned effort is compounded by the new-found comradery of this sweaty, worn-out, kick ass group of circuit warriors.