The hidden benefit of the Pilates matwork…

So first up- OMG! A new blog post! What is going on? Who is this?

I know, it’s been a while. But here I am! Hopefully contributing a little more often from now on.

So moving right along…

I spent this weekend educating at the Polestar Pilates studio course. I had attended this particular module a number of times and the lecture given was all about imagery.

For any of you who know the main educator Dav Cohen, you will know he has the most marvellous way of not only keeping information you’ve heard many times over fresh but also inspiring new thoughts.

During the lecture, Dav posed the question “is it better to cue more or less? What is your ultimate goal?”  We talked about our cues becoming in time less and less invasive until eventually our Pilates clients embody the work so well they don’t need our cues. Eventually we are just holding the space for them to explore this amazing work themselves.

I came to realise the interesting interaction between the traditional apparatus and the Pilates matwork in a studio environment in relation to cueing. 

The wonderous thing about the mat work for me is that it really is just you, the mat and gravity. It is a powerful minimalist practice. There are times that we (or our clients) are just not ready for a particular exercise which is where the apparatus is so useful.

There is no disputing how much I love working on the apparatus and how restorative I find it. The apparatus also has the capacity to take an exercise to another level providing a new neuromuscular experience to the body.

The question I’m asking is, are we robbing ourselves or our clients from an opportunity to progress by omitting mat work in a studio session. I think so.

My goal is to include as much mat in a studio session as there is work on the reformer and Trapeze Table/Cadillac- as appropriate for the person. Doing away with springs and ropes and feedback from the equipment generally puts the onus on the mind/body connection. How well has that particular exercise been integrated by the person attempting it?

I know that an understanding of the mat work allows for the client to take things home with them to practice. But I think this is about more than that. I think it is important for our clients (and ourselves) to place equal value on an exercise that can be done on the bare earth (potentially) as an exercise done on an apparatus worth thousands of dollars.

What do you think? How much mat repertoire do you include in your studio sessions?

2 thoughts on “The hidden benefit of the Pilates matwork…

  1. Melissa Turnock October 19, 2016 / 2:46 am

    Hi gorgeous Jo, thanks for starting the discussion, working alone in my home studio on the insular peninsula I miss the banter of my peeps.

    I teach privates and nearly always start sessions on the mat, for a number of reasons.

    1. I want to give the client an understanding that they can do some of this themselves at home, I offer to film or take pics of the mat exercises they do so that there’s something they can do independently.
    2. It’s a great way to warm up and really feel the relationship between their controlled movement and gravity, without the extra variable of resistance.
    3. I try to make my sessions as functional as possible and can easily relate the matwork to everyday movements, for example, we do the mat exercise and then stand up to translate that into a functional movement so the link is made at a conscious and neuromuscular level.
    4. Most of my clients come to me with rehab needs so I want them to learn as quickly as possible that pain free movement is possible and is under their control. This can be achieved on the mat with simple props and breath awareness and doesn’t need equipment to replicate.

    Love love love what I do.

  2. spiritedpilates October 19, 2016 / 8:22 am

    Hey Mel,

    I love your third comment about immediate linking a Pilates movement to a functional movement. So important and in keeping with Joseph Pilates’ goal of having a brand new body!

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