Its all about the Roll Up
No, not the supposed pressed fruit pasted to plastic you find in the grocery store and eat. I'm talking the spine articulating, abdominal controling, often done poorly roll up that most of my clients do nearly every week during their Pilates sessions with me.
Don't take it for granted...a lot can be said about that darn roll up. Can you curl your spine up off the floor one vertebrae at a time? Without lifting your legs? Without skipping 3, 4 or 5 vertebrae moving as one rod of spine? Without throwing your hands or falling back down to swing yourself up? Its much harder than you think. And even when you can do all those things, its hard to control it both ways, since what comes up must come down right? And of course, why do it just once?
So what does watching a client do a roll up (for better or worse) say to me as an instructor? A lot. Is there spine articulation or do the vertebrae move in large lumps? Do the hips and legs do the work of the abs? Is there abdominal use? Do they get "stuck" in particular parts of the movement? Are the tranvseverse abs (those deep ones that are always overlooked and never fully appreciated) engaging or are the abs pushing out? And I haven't even got to the shoulders, head, legs and feet positioning or the breathing yet! It pulls everything that IS Pilates to me into one little exercise: Range of motion with strength, muscle functionality, posture and breathing.
This is why we do it so often, if not at least once nearly every session. Some of us (OK, most of us) need spring assistance and a few of us are not appropriate candidates for the wonderful ROLL UP (people with disc problems or structural problems in the spine). But next time you're down on the ground, give that roll up a go and see what it says to you.
(I've posted a video on Facebook of my rollup for you to analyize away...happy rolling).