While at the McEntire Pilates Summit, one of my courses taught by Jenna Zaffino, focused on progressions for a population with a chronic condition. In this case we were talking about Osteoporosis but progressions are not unique to just this population.
What do we mean by progressions? Simplified, it is breaking down of movements into the smaller parts, mastering the those movements before moving on to the next level. This message also came out loud and clear earlier this year at my Kathy Grant Training course with Cara Reeser. As a Pilates instructor the idea of progressions is not a new one. I think some times our students, however, miss this concept if we don’t encourage and share it.
As a student myself, I have a desire to do more, move more, conquer and achieve. I’m a goal-oriented person and that extends into Pilates for me. What I need to be mindful of with my own body and Pilates practice, however, is jumping ahead to quickly. Moving on to the next level when I am not quite ready for it. Sometimes we can ‘make it work’ but we are not actually doing the proper work! Stepping back and working on the building blocks and the smaller movements that make up the bigger ones will set us up for bigger success, strength and results.
I believe students often see the smaller parts as the ‘fluff’ we have to do before we get to the good stuff. The filler movements in some cases. Maybe we need to reframe how we view these progressive steps and building block movements. These are the ‘critical’ movements that allow us to progress. Instead of trying to zip through them, we should focus on how perfectly we can do them.
Take the example of double leg work on the foot bar. I’ve heard students refer to this as simply the warm up part of class. While yes, you may be warming up your body, make no mistake when done properly this work. Figuring out how to properly land and stand on your feet is crucial for other standing work or balance work. Slowing down and paying attention to connecting all 10 metatarsals with the foot bar, using the posterior side of the legs not just the quads, and using your breathing muscles changes this ‘warmup’ into the work of the class!
Another example would be doing arm circles while laying supine. Boring? Not really when you consider the work that is needed to stabilize the shoulder and create nice rotation without moving the torso. I often hear students say seated arm circles are challenging … but the way to master these is to first master the supine version 🙂
My challenge to you next class is to find the work in what you consider the ‘fluff’ or ‘warmup’ exercises. Or ask – and I’ll show you what we are progressing towards! Progressions equal progress!