Entries in Reformer (7)
By Madeline Black
It is not uncommon to see Pilates teachers use props during a session. The intention is to enable the client to move in optimal alignment. But, is it appropriate to use a prop? Yes, when there is an understanding of why the prop is being used and it facilitates the intended response. But too many times, props are used out of habit.
One common prop habit is placing a ball between the thighs (or knees) while performing Footwork on the Reformer. The ball brings the legs together and/or holds them in place, preventing a client from splaying open her thighs when pressing the carriage out and knocking her knees when returning the carriage home. This can actually hinder the healthy movement sequence intended in this exercise, and I would suggest that we break this habit. Our goal is to encourage optimal leg alignment while executing Pilates in a dynamic and functional way, not in a held position. Here’s a closer look at why it doesn’t serve the client to use a ball during Footwork.
By Michelle Fama
A career in Pilates can take you just about anywhere, including the set of a cutting-edge reality series. Instructor Michelle Fama, owner of Core Pilates NYC, was recently offered the opportunity to train the cast of If I Can Dream, a new reality show that streams live online 24/7. Here’s her behind-the-scenes look at working on a show that doesn’t really have a “behind-the-scenes.”
My suck into the Hoover-vac of reality TV began early. First there was my “Survivor,” Season 1 finale party where guests casted their votes next to a lit tiki torch outside my Brooklyn brownstone apartment. I shed tears for Ryan and Trista’s blooming love on “The Bachelorette” and have texted “vote” for my Idol faves more times in a row than I would like to mention. And, who doesn’t cry when they “move that bus” and reveal a new house?
So when I received a call from producers of “If I Can Dream,” a new hybrid TV/Web show from “American Idol” co-creator Simon Fuller, I was ecstatic. The show gives viewers a documentary-like look at what it takes to achieve success in Hollywood. A cast of six young people — two musicians, an actor, two actresses and a model — leave their hometowns and live together in the Hollywood Hills. Their every move is streamed live online by over 60 fixed cameras as they rehearse, write music, socialize, plan their careers…and do Pilates!
How did they find me? They had just outfitted the “Dream” house with a new bamboo Reformer from Root Manufacturing and asked Root to recommend a Pilates instructor that could train the cast and teach them how to properly use and care for the Reformer. Having just furnished my NYC studio with Root equipment, Root recommended me.
The show’s mission is to give these kids opportunities to help them on their journey toward stardom. Producers realized the undeniable benefits Pilates could bring to the cast members’ Hollywood pursuits. It would help them with the voice, acting and modeling auditions that they would be filmed doing. Along with Pilates, the cast gets weekly yoga sessions with a yoga instructor who visits the house.
While I have been scheduled to train the entire cast, I’ve only gotten half of them at any given time since their audition schedules and classes keep them busy. I created their Reformer workouts based on easy-to-retain exercises organized by areas of the body – arms, legs and butt, and core – rather than training them through a classically ordered session. With such a bustling, social household and busy schedules, I needed to deliver quick routines that they could safely do if they worked out solo or in a time pinch. When I train more than one at a time, I take them through a classical mat class as well.
Improving posture and flexibility is aspiring model Giglianne’s goal, while actor Ben wants core strength to improve his gym workouts. Although the cast had never done Pilates before, they were excited to have the chance to see what the hype is all about. Each came with individual requests such as easing tight hamstrings and lower back while carving the core. They are not required to do the workouts, but the workouts kept them interested. They are all sold on Pilates so far!
My biggest challenge is remembering that the cameras are always on. My first day in the house I made a comment about how sloppy 21-year-olds can be after seeing one of their messy bedrooms, and proceeded to blurt out language worthy of a bleep while setting up the Reformer. A friend who was helping me, clueless of the cameras, turned beat red after her how-does-reality-TV-work questions elicited the “It’s confidential – I can’t answer” response.
While I’m pretty sure that a few slips of the tongue and my tough training tactics won’t get me voted out of the house anytime soon, I’m not so sure the cast will like my lecture on Reformer etiquette next time: I just clicked on the live feed from the Laundry Room where they keep the Reformer and noticed that the handles and straps were sloppily dumped on the floor, and someone had placed their guitar on top of the carriage.
Will someone be working out tomorrow at lunchtime? Will the straps still be in the same place? Will you catch me training them? Log on to the Laundry Room cam, and keep me updated by posting comments here. For real-time action on and off the Reformer tune in to ificandream.com or hulu.com for episodes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Fama is the co-founder of Core Pilates NYC and is the NYC chapter head for the United Pilates Collective. Prior to establishing her Pilates brand in 2002 and growing it internationally, Michelle lived and adventured extensively through Africa, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and South America as a journalist and travel writer.
The Growth of Pilates Collectives
How to Run Your Pilates Studio Remotely
New, Eco-Friendly Pilates Equipment from Root Manufacturing
Pilates and the Voice
by Lauren Charlip
We’ve noticed several Pilates group equipment circuit classes pop up lately, so we decided to rustle up the instructors who teach them for a closer look at this new trend. Some teach just one circuit hour a week and some base a large chunk of their business on group circuit work. Each has their own unique way of running things. A few themes did emerge among the instructors we spoke to: They all agree that multiple-apparatus work allows for a deeper, more well-rounded experience for the client, and that a circuit class is an affordable way to reap those benefits. They also stressed the importance of previous experience on the Pilates equipment for clients before they join a circuit class; the more machines involved, the more complicated the skill set. For more details on how different studios and instructors are adopting this format, we’ve provided five takes on Pilates equipment circuit training from around the country.
Chicago Pilates instructor Laurel Silverman teaches out of her home and rents space at One Mind Body & Being to teach group classes. She hit upon the circuit idea when only one client showed up for her Reformer class and she realized she could move her onto other apparatus. Because that client had mostly Reformer experience, the difference in the work was readily apparent. Silverman noted her client was making new connections and that it was much easier to gauge her strengths and weaknesses. “I started thinking clients who are only able to afford Reformer classes are being done a disservice without access to other equipment,” Silverman says. She began to spice up her Reformer classes with a new apparatus exercise here and there. “Clients really took to the idea. I first started incorporating one exercise that we would circuit through, then we would talk about it and compare,” Silverman says. “It was amazing to see changes when they got back on the equipment that they’re used to.”
by Mary Kay Hausladen Foley, PT, GCFP
Pilates instructors know well that the Reformer is an excellent tool to work on strength, flexibility, motor control and balance. For these reasons, the Reformer is also an extremely useful tool for working with people with multiple sclerosis. I have worked with a wide variety of MS patients over the last 23 years, as a physical therapist and as a Pilates Reformer instructor, in association with The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis (the mission of which is to empower MS patients; its motto is “Can Do”). Some patients have such mild symptoms that an outsider would never guess that they have the disease, while others can be quite debilitated it. For the MS population, the Reformer can be invaluable for work on functional changes in areas where motor control or muscle function is compromised.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It is a chronic and usually progressive disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin—the layer of insulation around nerve fibers—in the brain and spinal cord. This leads to a decrease in nerve function, which causes symptoms that vary from patient to patient and in severity, such as weakness, fatigue, spasticity (a condition we’ll discuss later on in this article), bladder dysfunction, pain, vertigo, decreased balance, cognitive deficits and speech and swallowing difficulties. Because multiple sclerosis affects motor control, the majority of people diagnosed with the disease experience walking difficulty at some point. Research indicates that number is somewhere between 64 and 85 percent. In fact, 70 percent of MS patients report that walking is the most challenging aspect of their disease. Within 15 years of diagnosis, 50 percent of multiple sclerosis patients require assistance walking and, in later stages, up to a third of patients are completely unable to walk. More than 400,000 Americans have multliple sclerosis: most are between the ages of 20 and 50, and women are twice to three times as likely to be affected than men. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.
Though Pilates exercise will not change the disease process, it can help people maintain strength and function longer than would otherwise be possible. There are, however, special considerations that a Pilates instructor should be aware of when working with someone with MS.
Here’s an idea for going green in your studio: choose Pilates equipment made from sustainable, eco-friendly materials. A new Pilates equipment brand, Root Manufacturing, has now made that easier, with the launch of its inaugural line, the first ever made from bamboo.
Root is the first Pilates apparatus line direct from Colorado’s Hart Wood Incorporated, which has been making equipment for the past 13 years for other Pilates brands. “It’s a brand-new offering,” says Root founder and president Vic Hart. “There’s innovation going on, particularly with the bamboo, which offers not only sustainability, but also beauty, strength and hardness.”
Bamboo is technically a grass, not a wood, and Hart says it’s very hard yet lightweight, and stronger than actual wood because of the multiple laminations required to engineer it, thus making for durable and easier-to-move Pilates apparatus.
Hart says the company has prototyped and finessed many of the Root designs with ample feedback from the Pilates community over the years. Design highlights include locks instead of knobs for adjusting high Ladder Barrels, and multiple sizes and configurations for Reformers, including two standard widths, four standard lengths—combinable in any form and compatible with pole systems for converting to Cadillacs and Towers.
“We have a lot to offer the Pilates community, in terms of product,” Hart says. “We’re also trying to help studios grow and sustain themselves. We realize equipment is not inexpensive, sometimes ‘grow as you go’ is the only way to make it happen.”
Root Manufacturing also offers oak and maple products sourced from suppliers who use sustainable forestry practices. The equipment is all hand-crafted, and there is plenty of information about Root’s materials, as well as a nifty color selector on the company’s Web site. “We’re trying to make a product that is going to last a lifetime and also at the same time be good a citizen of the world,” Hart says.
By Christine Binnendyk
With recession-strapped clients groaning at the cost of private Pilates sessions, you may find yourself thrust into a new style of teaching – group Pilates Reformer classes. The incentive for trainers is a higher per-hour wage, yet you’ll now find yourself challenged to make the leap from focusing on one or two clients at a time to observing, correcting and safe-keeping six, eight or more bodies at once.
I train 12 people at a time at the Nike World Headquarters. Any given group class can include professional athletes, people managing bulging discs, Olympic-hopeful runners, harried executives, new moms and pregnant employees. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how to make these classes work. Follow my guidelines, and you’ll have a map for:
- Gathering a group you feel comfortable teaching
- Choosing the exercise variations to keep that group interested
- Keeping all learning styles engaged
- Developing a successful communication style