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In the Reformer Breast Stroke Exercise it is customary to spot the performer's ankles to facilitate the lift into extension. Regan Hoerster shows that if you lead with the arms it is possible to attain the extension desired without being spotted at the ankles.
The Pilates Footwork is comprised of four positions in a specific order. Two separate films exist of Joseph Pilates teaching the footwork. In both films the order is the same. In one of the films, close ups are made after the full body exercises are displayed. The order is this: Pilates V, arches with soft feet, heels on bar in dorsiflexion, then on metatarsals in parallel with only one lower lift of the heels between each extension of the legs.
Variation of the footwork is a gross error of judgment and presumption on the part of the teacher. Sure, you might choose different positions or order to the footwork, for whimsy or reason, but in the end, the target is the footwork of Joseph Pilates.
Joseph Pilates never explained much about the "why" of the footwork. But when you consider Pilates as an idea, as Michael Miller Pilates professes that it is, the reason for the position and sequence of the Footwork exercises becomes self-evident. Subscribers can click here for explanation.
The Short Spine exercise is done on the Reformer in preparation for doing the Roll Over on the mat. It is more easily accomplished in the Short Spine because the straps attached to your feet connect to springs that make you lighter. The Short Spine becomes the Overhead when the straps attach to your hands instead of your feet, acting as a more removed indirect means of support.
Reaching the axis running through your ears away from the axis running through your shoulders is a key aspect to getting the eccentric and fluorescent qualities you are looking for from the exercise.
The Spider comes from a session I had with a rock climber who maintained his breath did not influence his strength. He was, of course, built like the material he loved to climb--built like a rock.
That night I kept seeing him in my mind's eye, like a spider, clinging to the rock. and this was the advent of tandem reformer exercises--like the spider. the image below only shows one reformer because that's all I have in my studio, but usually it is done with another reformer in parallel, feet positioned like hands. Inhale out, exhale home.
Just leg pull front, and leg pull on the mat, and control push up front and control push up on the reformer, spider front and spider extend the equipment's ability to find fluorescence.