In the Pilates methodology, you may hear language used such as Pilates -V (heels together, toes apart), spinal flexion (forward bending), spinal extension (a movement that lengthens the spine upwards and backwards), side bending, and what is referred to as the “C-Curve” (a rounded forward (flexion) movement of the spine the looks like the letter ‘C’, that strengthens the deep abdominals while stretching the muscles of the back. All of these words have likely been used in the cueing or positioning of the body in practice of Pilates (Contrology).
Having an understanding of what is being said or asked will eliminate confusion when you are trying to learn a new exercise. With every movement, we BREATHE. In traditional Pilates, as a general rule, with very few exceptions, we always begin with an inhale and complete with an exhale.
The Pilates Method was created as a whole system, the mat and reformer with optional apparatus which includes the Cadillac, Ladder Barrel, Small Barrels, Spine Corrector, Wunda Chair, Toe Corrector, Foot Corrector, Ped-A-Pul, Guillotine Tower, Baby Arm Chair, (Tower- a modern piece 1/2 Cadillac created more recently to save studio space & attaches to reformer), Bean Bag, Breath-a-cizer, Magic Circle.
The typical session consisted of some mat and reformer work, with some added optionals chosen according to the personal needs of the body that was performing the exercises. A highly trained teacher should know exactly how to recommend the specific optional(s) and appropriate exercise(s). Classes that you now see offered that are isolated to either mat, reformer, tower, chair are typically 55 minutes long and were created for studio/gym business structure and organization to keep things flowing. One of the perks of seeking out a smaller studio or personal session is to have the time to experience the whole system as it was intended and enjoy the very rapid appearing positive results of the practice.
It is important to ask (and or do some verifying on your own) where and by whom your Pilates teacher was trained. It does matter, because the method is preserved through the lineage of the original teaching. When verifying, it is helpful to know that a Pilates teacher’s training should include a minimum of 450 hours with of all the apparatus, mat, observation hours, anatomy, internship with supervised teaching, the history of Pilates. Be sure that the school the teacher attended was a PSAP (see Pilates Method Alliance) approved school. PMA has established industry standards for the teacher’s training that you should be aware of for the consumer’s benefit when you are searching for classes and private sessions.
The school and program I last attended was over 950 hours. Previously to that program, I attended various other teacher training schools and programs that were supposed to be inclusive at 450 hours, and though I was already certified by the PMA and teaching for quite some time, I realized I still had much to learn from the teachers who came from the original lineage. I sought them out, they are my mentors. I will always be a student on a learning journey thirsty for knowledge and experience.
There is no substitute for experience, gained by putting many years of continuing education, personal practice, continued observation, listening and learning into what you do.
Here’s to your good health, look for my new PILATES exercise posts coming up in the next few days!