Short Box Series for Pilates Reformer

Video

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.

Semicircle on Pilates Reformer

Video

I know, there have been a TON of Pilates posts lately – but that’s what’s up in my life so that’s what’s up here. This week, I have been working on form for many of the intermediate reformer exercises. This exercise is called Semicircle and I hated it when I first tried it. You have to roll your lower thoracic spine into extension and it’s a really odd sensation. People don’t normally bend back in half. This week, I went slow and controlled through the movements and I found a really satisfying spine stretch that left me feeling looser and taller after my workout.

Here’s the Semicircle for Pilates reformer:

Footbar at position 2, heels together, toes apart with toes on the footbar. Feet and legs laterally rotated. Roll your hips up to one long line with your body.

Push through your feet to engage your quads and straightened out your legs.

From here, start from the top of your spine and slowly roll down through the spine to drop into the well of the reformer.

Maintaining that spinal extension, bend your knees to pull the carriage back in to the stopper.

Tilt your pelvis to roll your hips up – articulating the spine from bottom to top. Come back to your starting position at one long line.

Now, reverse the semicircle. Starting from the top of your spine, begin to articulate back down into the well of the carriage.

From here, extend your legs out to straight to push the carriage away. Lift your hips in line with your shoulders and knees.

Bend your knees, keep your hips lifted, as you slowly return the carriage back to the stopper, maintaining that long diagonal line with your body.

Here’s what the semicircle looks like all together:

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 TruveFit.com to register.