Learning the Ropes

Come hang with the Bodhi Suspension System for a revealing new take on the Pilates repertoire.

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By Anula Maiberg • Edited by Amanda Altman

The concept of suspension training in combination with traditional Pilates exercises isn’t new, but it was certainly new to me when I was first introduced to the Bodhi Suspension System by Balanced Body. There’s something about working with fixed resistance rather than spring resistance that caught my attention. After I took my Bodhi training two years ago, I really came to understand what a nice complement the ropes can be to anyone’s routine.

My main goal with these exercises, which are appropriate for all skill levels, ages and pathologies, is to showcase how I can take what I already know and turn it on its head. A squat, a lunge, an arabesque and a Roll-Up are always the same, but when I change the relationship to gravity or add the instability of the ropes, I also change how the exercises feel.

What I really enjoy is “freaking out” my muscles, giving my body something else to try to negotiate. The ropes offer a certain amount of support and a certain amount of unpredictability. This unpredictability forces me to react and strategize my movements differently than when I use springs. The ropes are anchored and fixed—I’m moving around them, instead of them moving around me like with the apparatus.

The Bodhi is a four-point system that’s meant to be anchored from the ceiling. Being a New Yorker, my studio’s ceilings aren’t reinforced enough to safely support the ropes. My solution is to anchor them from a Tower or a Cadillac. I find this to be very safe, as we hang off these machines on a regular basis.

I love that the ropes work well in both the studio and the home setting. They aren’t space consuming, and are an affordable way for anyone who has been curious about resistance training to noodle around a bit without a huge investment.


GENERAL GUIDELINES

Rope Setting: The loops should be at about mid-body height when kneeling an arm’s distance away.
Props: instability platforms or a Bosu; foam roller
Breath: Exhale on the in; inhale on the out.
Reps: Varies
Tips:
• Play with the rope length to change up the resistance and see what works.
• To make the exercises easier, omit the instability platforms or roller.


Cat

Purpose: warms the body with spinal articulation
Setup: Kneel about an arm’s distance from the ropes with your knees hip-width apart on instability platforms (or a Bosu) while holding the handles with your arms straight.

1. Leading from the crown of your head, articulate your spine forward into extension.


2. Leading from your tail, articulate back to the kneeling position. Do 3–5 reps.

Tip: Try to imagine that the crown of your head is the start of your spine, going all the way down to your tailbone.


Kneeling Plank into Tricep Push-Up

Purpose: promotes shoulder stability and mobility
Setup: Same as Cat.

1. Lean forward in a straight diagonal line from your head to your knees into a Kneeling Plank and hold.


2. Perform a Tricep Push-Up by bending your elbows close to your rib cage, and then straightening them. Do 5–8 reps, and then return to the starting position.

Tip: Try to keep your elbows pointing back, but feel free to go wider if that position is uncomfortable; both are challenging!


Single-Leg Extension

Purpose: works on hip stability as well as pelvic stability and mobility
Setup: Same as Cat.

1. Lean forward into a slight spinal extension, extending one leg behind you at hip height.
2. Stabilize your body, using both your arm and hip strength.
3. Using your glute and hamstring, lift your extended leg; bend your knee to return to the starting position. Do 3 reps of steps 1–3 on each side.

Tips: Don’t freak out about being too unstable. Allow yourself to move slowly and experiment a bit at first; you can always try again and fine-tune.


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