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Embracing the Open Leg Rocker: A Movement Monday Exploration for Pilates Teachers

Malcolm in perfect form with the Open Leg Rocker
Malcolm demonstrates the elegance of balance and control in the Open Leg Rocker.

Happy Movement Monday to all our Pilates teachers! Today, we delve into one of the more challenging yet profoundly rewarding rolling movements in Pilates – the Open Leg Rocker. This exercise is not just a test of balance and control but a beautiful expression of flexibility and strength. However, before we embark on this journey, it's essential to understand the foundational steps leading to this advanced technique.

Preparatory Movements:

The Pilates repertoire includes five core rolling movements, each building upon the last to enhance your skills gradually. Before attempting the Open Leg Rocker, I highly recommend mastering the Basic Rolling, Seal, and Crab. These preliminary exercises condition your body, preparing you for the complexity and demands of the Open Leg Rocker.

Understanding the Open Leg Rocker:

The Open Leg Rocker is not just an exercise; it's a journey towards achieving harmony between strength and suppleness. It demands good length through the legs, making it a challenging prospect for individuals with short hamstrings. Here’s a gentle reminder: patience and perseverance are your best allies on this journey.

Key Considerations:

  1. Flexibility Matters: To execute the Open Leg Rocker successfully, one must have a decent level of flexibility, especially in the hamstrings. This is crucial for maintaining the open leg position throughout the movement. Encourage your students to work on their flexibility consistently.

  2. Control Your Speed: The beauty of the Open Leg Rocker lies in its controlled, fluid motion. The speed of the roll is pivotal – too fast, and you lose control; too slow, and you lose momentum. Strive for a graceful, measured pace that reflects the poise of the exercise.

  3. Grip Strength and Tension: How hard you hold your legs significantly affects your stability and balance. A grip that's too tight may introduce unnecessary tension, while a grip that's too loose could compromise form. Teach your students to find a grip that offers stability without tension, fostering a balanced and effective workout. Ideally, long term, all you would need to do is to touch the leg with no grip at all.

Teaching Tips:

1.     Progress Gradually: Introduce the Open Leg Rocker only when your students have shown proficiency in the preparatory movements. Ensure they're comfortable and confident before progressing.

2.     Focus on Form: Emphasise the importance of maintaining a rounded spine and engaged core throughout the exercise. Proper form is key to reaping the full benefits while minimising the risk of injury.

3.     Modify When Necessary: Recognise the diversity in flexibility and strength among your students. Offer modifications to accommodate those with tighter hamstrings or less core strength. Encourage the use of a band or slight adjustments in leg position as needed.


The Open Leg Rocker is a testament to the balance, control, and elegance at the heart of Pilates. As Pilates teachers, guiding our students through the challenges and triumphs of this exercise is incredibly rewarding. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination. Let's embrace the beauty of movement, one Monday at a time.


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