As promised to my ongoing Pilates students, here is a pictorial of Joe Pilates’ famous Relaxor Bed exercises. You can see Joe in photo 23! We worked on these in class last week; take a shot at doing 5 reps of each exercise for homework this week.

Pilates Relaxor Bed exercises

Courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections

Joe called this series “The Daily Dozen” — take the hint and shoot for doing this series daily. Or, pick a different homework series from this website each day that you’re not in the studio.  (Type in the word HOMEWORK in the search box)

The exercises for the Daily Dozen are:

  1. Rollup (photos 1-3.) Tip: pull your toes toward your nose and push those legs down into your bed/mat/floor. OK to hook your feet on a piece of furniture, but still press your legs down. That’s a key piece in creating your 2-way reach.
  2. Rollover (photos 4-6.) After the Rollup, which focuses more on the upper Powerhouse, we get to change right away to focusing more on the lower Powerhouse. Tip: find something heavy to grab onto with your hands. If you don’t have anything handy, try putting your hands behind your head. The most challenging position for this exercise involves keeping your arms next to your torso. That version is like having a tiny person on one of the teeter-totter and a heavy person on the other end….
  3. Rollover Reverse (photo 7.) The leg action changes on this exercise — it’s more challenging to lift your legs when they’re separated than when they’re glued together in “power leg position.”
  4. Rolling Back aka: Rolling like a Ball (photos 8 & 9.) After the upper & lower work, we get to move to a rolling exercise. These are so sneaky — your brain tells you it’s just for fun, but in reality, it’s abdominal work that shifts from fiber to fiber through your entire Powerhouse. This is an unusual version of this exercise — Joe says to wrap one arm around your waist and the other around your legs. You’re also allowed to move your shins to create momentum. My note: although his description mentions pushing your head against the bed, I’m ok with you staying 100% off your neck & head!
  5. Single Leg Stretch SLS (photos 10 & 11.) We’re back to upper Powerhouse focus with SLS and DLS. Tip: if you have a sensitive neck, you can do this one with your head down. I’m not sure why the model is looking to the side in photo 11 — don’t do that!
  6. Double Leg Stretch Vintage Style DLS (photos 10 & 12.) This version, just like the one we see in Joe’s book “A Return to Life,” does not include reaching your arms behind your head. Simply shoot your arms & legs forward.

    Pilates Relaxor Bed exercises

    Courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections

  7. Corkscrew (photos 13 & 14.) Ding, ding, time for a Lower Powerhouse focus! Tip: just like Rollover, find something heavy to grab onto with your hands. If you don’t have anything handy, try putting your hands behind your head. The most challenging position for this exercise involves keeping your arms next to your torso. Reality check: the model is performing a giant range of motion. You know how this works: small range of motion = conservative exercise. Start small, play with the range of motion that seems like reasonable work for your body.
  8. Corkscrew Reverse (photo 15.) The direction of your circles changes on the reverse. Don’t do a bunch in one direction and a bunch in the other direction — alternate direction with each circle.
  9. Rotor – aka: Around the World (photos 16-19) This is one of the few photo-documented mat exercises that isn’t included in Joe’s book “A Return to Life.” (You know I love me my Pilates trivia!) Here we go, switching from a lower-body rotational exercise to an upper-body rotational exercise. Much like Corkscrew, I’m going to tell you to be mindful of your range of motion. Start with smaller movements than the model; then see how your body feels with larger movements.
  10. Rotor Reverse (no photos!) I’m gonna call this an editorial glitch. You gotta do Rotor in both directions, not just one direction.
  11. Spine Stretch Forward SSF (photo 20.) This version looks a bit different than modern versions of SSF. Tip: don’t make this about folding or rounding your torso, make it about reaching out of your low back. (think of how we reach forward during Stomach Massage: reach your arms, extend your spine, make space at your low back.)
  12. Open Leg Rocker OLR: I love to finish a series with a rolling exercise to get all the fibers of your Powerhouse kicking in. Plus, rolling instigates laughing and laughing is always good!

MY 2 CENTS:

I’d recommend following this series with a bit of “on your belly” spine extension work to balance out the flexion focus of the Daily Dozen. Choose 1 or 2 of these:

  • Single Leg Kick
  • Double Leg Kick
  • Swimming
  • Swan Prep (aka Sphinx Pose)

A NOTE FOR TEACHERS:

Yep, you just learned something here: Joe did not advocate only doing the mat sequence that we see in “A Return to Life.”  The first 6 exercises in the Relaxor Bed series echo the series shown in “A Return To Life,” then we see a jump to Corkscrew, which normally appears after Spine Stretch Forward and Open Leg Rocker.

Yep, you guessed it, there are ADDITIONAL series of exercises that are used in the Classical lexicon. Classical sequencing takes the guesswork out of session programming. When to move from one exercise to another suddenly makes all the sense in the world. Want to learn more about “the how” and “the why” of Classical sequencing? Shoot me an email and we can set up a Skype or Facetime session.

 

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