The Classical Pilates Method encourages you to work with a fluid pace and flow. Having an initial introduction to teacher training through a contemporary school, I was not seeing the method as a whole. I was seeing individual exercises to pick and choose. Once I switched to purely Classical Pilates the bells and whistles went off and I understood why it is called a Method. It all works together and it all makes brilliant sense.
Picking up the pace and removing hesitations between reps or exercises so that one movement flows into the next for the entire session was the key that unlocked this discovery for me. I could finally make all those elusive connections and I began to work on a deeper level.
One specific time I remember having a very clear ‘aha’ moment related to pace and flow was working with Clare during a private session via zoom. We came to tendon stretch on the chair. I expressed how I just could not ‘connect’ or ‘get’ this exercise and therefore dreaded it or often just skipped it. Instead of dissecting the exercise in an attempt to figure out what I was doing wrong, with the hopes of improving my connection to the exercise, she said, “Let’s get it over with then.” “Let’s get it over with,” was an entirely new concept for me and it really helped not only my practice but my teaching and therefore my clients’ practice. “Let’s get it over with then,” does not mean to throw the exercise away. It simply means, just do it. The only way you are going to get better at or figure out any of the exercises, is repetition; you have to just do it. That approach became an integral part of my practice. I was amazed to discover that the exercises that I started to, just do it, and not make such a big deal over, I started to connect to and understand and no longer dread.
The flow makes all the difference. I believe the flow truly makes it Pilates, not just separate exercises. I encourage my clients to pick up the pace, see what they find. I will tell my clients the next three exercises coming up and tell them I want them to go from one to the other without stopping. I also incorporate the phrase, “We will get it next time,” into my teaching to keep the flow going. When the wheels are coming off an exercise but I want to keep the pace going I will simply say, “We will get it next time,” or “We will come back to that one later,” if it is something, I want to address that session. And then when I can see my client needs or would like a break, I will go back to it and review it at the slower tempo.
Picking up the pace has also allowed my clients to see that the order of exercises have a reason for that order. They can see, with my guidance, that after an extension exercise comes a good rounding exercise for the spine. This helps them to connect with the goal of the different exercises and it helps them to see how Pilates is a system, not just separate exercises.
I just adore the flow of Pilates it carries you through. On the days I feel like I don’t have it in me I just approach the apparatus and begin. The work is like the current of a river and it is the flow that carries me through. I don’t have to think or dread I just have to ‘trust the work’, like Jay Grimes says. It is a brilliant river that takes my body through the movements it requires to be invigorated and refreshed.