Classical and Contemporary Pilates

The original 34 mat based exercises were devised 1945. The contemporary approach dissects the original exercises, making it accessible for all to enjoy.

School Of Pilates Posted Jul 26, 2017 Future Fit Training


Classical and Contemporary Pilates

The original order of the Pilates thirty-four mat based exercises were devised by Joseph Pilates and released to the public in his book ‘Pilates Return to Life through Contrology’ in 1945. Pictures are shown with all thirty-four exercises depicting the flow of the original mat work as detailed below in the table with only three to six reps of the exercises. The intensity was created within the flow of performing all thirty-four exercises in succession of each other. It may be argued, how this can possibly be effective as we can see that many of the exercises occur in the sagittal plane and yet we function in all planes of movement within our everyday lives. Even Joseph would not have thought to continually to work in sagittal plane alone.

Joseph mentions (Pilates, Miller, Robbins and Heuit-Robbins 2010, p. 20)), “If any particular part of your body is under-developed or shows an accumulation of excess fat, select Contrology exercises specifically to correct the respective conditions, repeating the exercises at stated intervals throughout the work day whenever it is possible to do so. However, be sure never to repeat the selected exercises more than prescribed times.” Joseph continues to say how it will do more harm than good. From this comment, we can concur that Joseph would have structured his exercise programme to suit the needs of his client and the body in front of him, hence why each of his Pilates elders that trained with him spread out across America and each brought their own interpretation to the method.

So how has the Pilates method evolved? The contemporary approach has been to dissect and modify the original thirty-four mat based exercises. This has resulted in a positive contribution to the Pilates method and made it accessible for all to enjoy the benefits of Pilates. The advancements in the Pilates repertoire over the years since Joseph’s death in 1967, has given teachers greater opportunities to assist clients from all walks of life. Teachers can create sequences of exercises for beginners with a controlled manner to a more dynamic, flowing and intense emphasis for the advanced practitioner.

The freedom for the teacher to create and devise sessions should focus on ensuring that all planes of motion are covered. The functional movements that are performed within life can be incorporated into a well-planned Pilates session, for example the spine twist exercise imitates the action of looking over the shoulder to pull out from a car parking space, the roll up mimics getting in and out of a chair and the push up is like the action of pushing on a door. The teacher will need an understanding of the planes of motion of each exercise to incorporate this into their clients programming and this should focus on the postural goals of the individual.

Planes of motion

Exercise

Sagittal

Frontal/Coronal

Transverse

Hundred

x

 

 

Roll up

x

 

 

Roll over

x

x

 

One leg circle

x

x

x

Rolling back

x

 

 

One leg stretch

x

 

 

Double leg stretch

x

x

x

Spine stretch

x

 

 

Open leg rocker

x

 

 

Corkscrew

x

x

x

Saw

x

 

x

Swan dive

x

x basic level

 

One leg kick

x

 

 

Double leg kick

x

 

x

Neck pull

x

 

 

Scissors

x

 

 

Bicycle

x

 

 

Shoulder bridge

x

 

 

Spine twist

 

 

x

Jack knife

x

 

 

Side kick

x

x

 

Teaser

x

 

 

Hip twist

x

x

x

Swimming

x

 

 

Leg pull front

x

 

 

Leg pull

x

 

 

Side kick kneeling

x

x

 

Side bend

x

x

 

Boomerang

x

x

x

Seal

x

x

 

Crab

x

 

 

Rocking

x

 

 

Control balance

x

 

 

Push up

x

 

x

By Lizzie Tuff

References

Pilates, J H. Miller, W J. Robbins, J. Van-Heuir-Robbins, Lin. (2010).  A Pilates’ Primer. Ashland, Or: Presentation Dynamics.

 

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