Circa 1920s. From my vintage exercise collection.

Circa 1920s. From my vintage exercise collection.

Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, “Physical Culture” became hugely popular — think Indian clubs, hanging rings, and calesthenics. Joseph Pilates’ system, which he called “Contrology,” was an offshoot of this trend. This month, I’m sharing some photos from my vintage collection.


A) Begin face-down with your head on your hands. Scoop your navel in toward your spine and press your front hipbones down into the mat.  Don’t squeeze your bum, do glue your legs together. (gosh this all harder, didn’t it?)

B) Lengthen your spine as you lift your chest up. Think about getting longer in both the front and back of your body.

C) In your “float” position, reach your arms wide. Make like Dorothy, and keep those heels clicked together. (for my non-USA readers, that’s a reference to a character in the “Wizard of Oz” movie.)

TIP: The movement should happen in your ribcage and thoracic vertebra, not in your low back. Yup, same-same for “Pulling Straps” on the reformer.  Can’t do it this way? Come see me, you may have a locked ribcage. We can fix that in 5 minutes, I promise.