March Matness Day 18: Spine Twist

Spine twist at exercise 18 really is a release.  It helps unwind the spine from the inverted series and the front body opening series.   The position is often the hardest part of the spine twist.  Seat on something to help you lift out of your hips.  Then play with your rotation.  Lead with your breastbone.   Take big breaths to help open the ribcage.

Primary focus:  Thoracic Mobility

Secondary focus:  Space in the lumbopelvic region

March Matness Day 16: Scissors

Or inverted Scissors as we like to call this exercise in Body Harmonic' Matwork training.    I like to use the barrel with this one, to help my control.  Because all matwork exercises are about your control.   Keeping my torso anchored to the barrel helps my control and allows me to reach my legs away from my torso.  Now I would like my legs to be a little straighter in this.  We don't want to use bend to help get more range.   

Primary focus:  Torso control and stability

Secondary focus:  Hip lengthen and stretch

March Matness Day 15: Neck Pull

The name of this exercise is the #1 thing not to do when performing it, do not pull on your neck.  Since we are 15 exercises in, the neck pull adds challenge to your roll up by weighting your head.  It is a hard one.   We often start this on the way down as it is easier to use gravity to control the movement.   Reach through your legs, press them into the ground to get optimal lumbopelvic rhythm to control the roll down and coming back up.  Lift up and out of your pelvis to help roll up.

Primary focus: Lumbopelvic rhythm

Secondary focus:  Thoracic mobility

March MATNess Day 14: Double leg kick back

We are still opening through the front of our bodies in double leg kick back.   We want to work on stretch here, lengthening legs and reaching arms while supporting the torso.   A great bonus is the ankle dorsi and plantar flexion helps align the torso for upright movement.  Thank you Melissa G for demonstrating.  

 Primary focus: Opening  your front body

Secondary focus: Lower body reach with ankle movement.

March Matness Day 11: Saw

Ah Saw, what other exercise gives you thoracic rotation, side bending and flexion (oh! corkscrew yesterday, well, this is a lot easier to achieve).   Sit on a roller to make the movment about the roation, sidebending and flexion and not about how uncomofortable siting in neutral can be.  Focus on the movement, take is slow then speed it up.  Muscles fibres like different speeds to train them all.

Primary focus:  Thoracic Mobilization

Secondary focus: Lumbopelvic movement

March Matness Day 10: The Corkscrew

March MATNess Day 10: the Corkscrew

This is a fun one.  I love it for my upper back.  But if you look closely, what other exercise do you see?   Imagine you flip Ivana over, what would she be doing?  Something close to a Spine Stretch.   Now take the control you have in spine stretch and put it in corkscrew (yes there are a few shifts as you take your legs to a diagonal etc.)  Try it out.   

Primary focus:  Upper Back Release

Secondary focus: Control and precision

March Matness Day 9: Rocker with Open Legs

Open Leg Rocker

Hmmm, we often say that the exercises you don’t like to do, you should do more.  So I guess I should do more Open leg rocker. 

You have stretch here, and opposition.  Really I should like this exercise as I love playing with stretch and opposition.  I will get back to you.

 In the video with have Paula demonstrating the Open  leg rocker.  She does a great job.

Primarly Focus:  Massaging Spine

Secondary Focus:  Space through lower body (pelvis to feet – feel those hamstrings lengthen)

March MATNess Day 8: Spine Stretch

March MATNess Day 8: Spine Stretch

For a long time, I hated this exercise.  I know it was supposed to feel good but I was too congested in my hip, I couldn't lift off my hips and really feel the stretch. 

Opposition is the name of the game here. Press your hamstring/ legs into the ground and lift your belly away from your thighs.  Lift your torso up and off your legs to find the length in the back body. 

There is a lots of negativity towards flexion of the spine but done correctly, you avoid compression and get space.   

 Primary Goal: Lengthen back body

Secondary Goal: Space in hips and spine


Jump Board Class

Jump board Class

March 6th to April 3rd (new dates as there will be no class March 20th)

Increase the challenge in this heart pumping and fun class. The Jump board tones muscles in the legs and glutes (you will feel the burn!) while challenging your core (in the next day kind of way). In the Jump board class, intervals of Jumared are interspersed with arm and core workouts. This class is suitable for all levels- but expect to get your heart rate up and be a little sweaty!

7:30 – 8:10 on the reformer then 15 minutes cool down on rollers at the end.

Contact the studio to sign up!

Pilates in Guelph

109 Surrey St, E


March Matness Day 7: Double Leg Stretch

Double Leg Stretch

The name says it all.  This is about stretch (and opposition).    Focus on what isn’t moving and reach what is moving from your steady base.   Imagine you could reach your legs from your midsection and your arms from your midsection and feel how glorious (it is there again) this movement is.   

We have our wonderful Michelle demonstrating the Double leg Stretch in the video.  Hopefully you’ll see her teaching soon. 

Primary Focus: Stability of Torso

Secondary Focus: Stretch

March Matness Day 6: Single Leg Stretch

The Single Leg Stretch

I like to do Pilates when I travel.  Mostly because each area and each studio has a unique way of teaching Pilates.  I love to feel the differences with the similarities.   I bring this up because teacher I visited a couple years back, gave me a way of thinking about the single leg stretch which I hadn’t thought of before.   She said (these are my words paraphrasing what she actually said) “ Joe wasn’t about pretty, so when you pull your knee to your chest, feel the thigh bone in the hip socket and deepen the thighbone connect, then reach it out, opening at the hip.”  

Primary Focus:  Supporting the torso

Secondary Focus:  Thigh bone movement in the hip socket

March Matness Day 5: Rolling Back (Rolling like a Ball)

Rolling Back (Rolling like a Ball)


This exercise is fun.  I teach it to children to make them laugh and smile.  And when I teach it to adults, their inner child comes out. For this exercise,  I want you to think of the stretch and the opposition.  Trying to make your body get as round. Create space in the spine and hips and support that space with your structure.   In the video we have Nicole demonstrating the rolling back exercise.  We used a ball between her chest and knees to help her hold the space and the opposition between upper body and lower body.  

Primary Focus:  Massaging the spine

Secondary Focus:  Stretching the Spine/Pelvis

March Matness Day 4: One Leg Circle

One Leg Circle

Today we have a pregnant Angelina demonstrating the One Leg Circle.  Since she is not comfortable on her back, we choose to demonstrate this exercise standing.    This exercise is about what is stable not about what is moving.  So you want to focus on how steady and your body be when you do One Leg Circle.   You do want to reach the moving leg to create the space for the thighbone to turn.  

Primary Focus:  Stability of Torso

Secondary Focus:  Differentiation of the thighbone in the hip socket.

March Matness Day 3: The Roll Over

The Roll Over

I love this exercise because I have a tight upper back and when I roll over I get a glorious release of all the tightness in my upper spine and rtbcage.   

Caution:  If you have any issues with your neck, choose something else to do.  

I am doing the roll over on a spine corrector to help facilitate movement and my connection with the ground.   It allows me to focus on precision until I have the strength and mobility to do it really well on the floor.  Whole system.


·       Find your reach.  Reach your legs like you are standing on them.  Reach your belly away from your legs to help create the space to roll over

·       Anchor your arms and upper back and feel your torso rotated around steady armbones. (Prep with a bridge – it is the same feeling)

March Matness Day 2: The Roll up

We get stuck on the Roll Up (and it is only the 2nd exercise of Joe's series) .  Many of us struggle with this exercise, but why?  Because it takes mobile hips, good lumbopelvic rhythm and thoracic mobility and antithesis of sitting at a desk.  The support for the movement by doing it on the Reformer, Cadillac, Roll down to Pedal on the Wunda chair or on a spine corrector.  

Helpful hints

·       Engage your hamstring – Press your legs into the ground to create an achor

·       Reach with your heels – stretch with all the power of your legs

·       Create opposition – reach your belly away from your thighs and your thighs away from your belly

·       Sing or count as you move.  Sometimes we need to get out of our heads and let our body do the work

Primary Focus:  Lumbopelvic Rhythm (how your thigh bones, pelvis and low back interact with each out)

Secondary Focus:  Stretch and Length

Also until you have it use PROPS.  This fitness circle helps with focus, use weight balls in your arms, squeeze a ball between your legs.  

Happy Pilating!