By Kathryn Ross-Nash • Edited by Amanda Altman • Modeled by Stacy Geant Hughes, Lorin DeMase and Katie Yip
Every piece of Pilates apparatus has a purpose—just like every exercise.
Each exercise on the apparatus is a broken-down mat exercise with the sole purpose of helping you to build a better mat.
We turn to the Wunda Chair to build the strength needed to execute the exercises of the Reformer and the mat. The Wunda Chair offers zero support or “box” awareness (the box is created from two parallel lines, one from shoulder to shoulder, and another from hip to hip), let alone any stability or alignment information. The Wunda is there to work on the strength, but only once the alignment has been developed.
Translating many of the Wunda exercises, even at the most foundational level, to the High Chair will give you the stability you need for your powerhouse and box. It will help you develop the understanding of what is needed to perform the exercises on the Wunda Chair.
The following exercises, which are of all levels, will help you grasp why doing them on the High Chair provides you the support required for correct execution. Remember that the more correct the alignment on the apparatus, the better the balance of muscular development in the body!
Going Up Front (Foundational)
WHY IT WORKS WUNDAS: The support of the knee against the Chair back, and the hands/wrists on the top of the frame, allow you to gradually develop strength needed in a stable, supported environment. The placement of the knee against the Chair back also works on the knee alignment and balance required for Front Splits on the Reformer.
BEGINNER: Place your wrists or hands on top of the Chair back to assist balance.
INTERMEDIATE: Gradually remove the support of your hands as your balance increases. Start by placing one hand behind your head, leaving the other on the Chair back.
INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED: The “goal exercise” prepares you for the Wunda by developing the stability, alignment and strength needed in a stable environment. Place your hands behind your head.
MODIFICATION: Place the Kuna Board, as shown throughout, under the pedal to decrease the range for smaller people.
Going Up Side (Core)
WHY IT WORKS WUNDAS: Like with Going Up Front, the support of the knee against the Chair back, and the hands on top of the frame or handle, allow you to gradually develop strength. The placement of the knee against the Chair back trains the proper placement needed for the Wunda while enhancing the stability of the knee and balance for Gondola on the Reformer.
BEGINNER: Start with one hand slightly in front of your shoulder on top of the frame, and one hand on the handle to assist balance.
INTERMEDIATE: The “goal exercise” prepares you for the Wunda by helping to increase the stability, alignment and strength needed in a supported environment. Extend your outside arm to your side at shoulder level.
INTERMEDIATE: Once balance is achieved with both hands, add challenge by placing one hand behind your head.
MODIFICATION: Place the Kuna Board, as shown throughout, under the pedal for smaller people.
ADVANCED: Place your hands behind your head, and turn your gaze forward to challenge the alignment of your box.
Side Pull Up (Core)
WHY IT WORKS WUNDAS: The pole of the handle assists in keeping a square box, and the larger pedal provides a larger base on which to stand. The Chair back prevents you from shifting too much, and the narrow width between the pedal and seat really puts the work where it should be—in the hip.
SETUP: You have two options for hand position.
BEGINNER: Prepare to lift your inner side with the side-by-side lift. Stagger your outside leg directly on top of your inside leg while keeping your box square.
INTERMEDIATE: Challenge the stability of your hip by working with your feet together, with just your inside foot on the pedal. Keep your leg in line with your hip.
ADVANCED: For even more challenge, extend your outside leg to the side at hip level.
Kathryn high-chair photos by Joseph Deruvo; other exercise photos by Kathryn Ross-Nash