On Neutral Ground

Fear of falling in Pilates, be it off the Reformer or Chair, is an issue that many clients face. Here’s how to maintain the integrity of the method’s more challenging balance exercises while forgetting the height—and the worry.

By Emma Kumley • Edited by Amanda Altman

I have the privilege of owning The Movement Studio, located very near The Villages, Florida, which is the largest retirement community in the U.S. (if not the world). But before you get visions of white-haired ladies spending their days slowly rocking on front porches with bottomless lemonade, know that retirement here is anything but slow and boring. My clients are active! They play endless golf, hours of pickleball and walk miles upon miles of trails, dance nightly—all with zero intention of stopping anytime soon. They come to the studio to continue to be able to do the activities that they love, and to do them better.

Here a sneak peek of an exercise that aims to honor and maintain the intention of the original, but simply bring the movement closer to the ground. Even in their modified form, the following exercises require clients to have a good grasp of the Pilates principles and basic, balanced strength and body awareness.

Mountain Climb Down from the Floor

SPRING SETTING 1 high spring 

HOW TO GROUND THIS EXERCISE Standing beside the Chair, place your near foot on the pedal with your heel lifted and your arms stacked in front of your chest Round your spine, engage your abdominals and begin to pump the pedal up and down with control. Do 8 reps on both sides.

VARIATIONS This may also be done on a flat standing foot or with a lifted heel to begin to challenge balance. Another option is to perform with unfurling spine as in Mountain Climber. Note: Do 8 reps in each spine position if doing an unfurling of the spine.


Get the full article and exercises plus so much more in the January/February 2020 issue. 

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