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Movement Monday: Exploring the Pilates Reformer Foot Series

Foot Series: Single Leg Toe
Single Leg: Part of the Foot Series

Welcome to another Movement Monday, where we step away from the mat and delve into the world of Pilates apparatus. Today, we're focusing on one of the most iconic pieces in the Pilates system – the Reformer. Joseph Pilates designed all the apparatus to train your body to do the matwork better, creating a comprehensive system that improves overall body function.

The Reformer: A Pilates Staple

The Reformer has surged in popularity recently, and for good reason. It's a versatile piece of equipment that challenges and refines our practice in unique ways. Today, I want to shine a spotlight on the Foot Series – traditionally the starting point of any Reformer session around the world.

The Importance of Foot Preparation

Before diving into the Foot Series, it's beneficial to warm up the feet. Lolita San Miguel, one of only two people certified by Joseph Pilates himself, advocates for foot preparation exercises like circles and pointing and flexing. These pre-reformer exercises are essential for priming the feet for the work ahead.

Exploring the Foot Series

The original Foot Series by Joseph Pilates focused solely on parallel foot positions. However, after his passing, Romana Kryzanowska expanded the series to include rotations. The primary goal of the Foot Series is to stabilise the trunk and pelvis while the legs move, providing a dynamic challenge to your core.

Both the extension and return phases of the movement offer benefits. As you push away and come back, you're working in both directions. The Reformer is often called a "breath machine" because your breath guides the movement. Traditionally, it was taught to breathe in as you push away, but nowadays, many teach the protective breath – breathing out to push away and in to return. Your breath also dictates the speed of your movements.

Spring Tension and Technique

Typically, we start on a medium spring tension. While some might prefer heavier springs, it's crucial to choose a resistance that challenges you but still allows for proper trunk engagement. Too heavy a spring shifts the focus to the legs, rather than the core, where it should be.

The Value of the Foot Series

The Foot Series is a vital part of any Reformer programme, whether in group classes or personal training sessions. It's a fantastic tool for rebalancing and centring the body. The forward and backward movements help you focus and stay present, grounding you in the practice.

However, individual conditions like foot or knee problems may require adjustments or starting with other apparatus. Despite this, the Foot Series remains a fundamental component of the Reformer repertoire, offering significant benefits for overall body alignment and stability.

Incorporating the Foot Series into your Pilates practice not only trains your body to do the matwork better but also provides a strong foundation for all other movements. So, as you continue to explore the Pilates system, remember the importance of the feet – they are, after all, the foundation of our practice.

Happy Movement Monday, and may your feet guide you to new Pilates heights!


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