In my personal practice, within different exercises, I play with all four movements of a symphony. Which are: brisk and lively, slower and more lyrical, energetic and boisterous play and a rollicking finale. Just as in a symphony when one movement ends, the next begins, so it is with the exercises of a Pilates session. One exercise stands alone but then transitions into the next and the exercises are part of a whole and all relate to each other. The German word Satz, is translated to mean, ‘set’, ‘sentence’, or ‘movement’ (in regards to its musical definition). Combining these ‘sets’, ‘sentences’, or ‘movements’, all containing similar themes and relating back to each other is what comprises the symphony. Likewise, in our Pilates practice it is the combining of the individual exercises, series and movements, all containing similar themes and relating back to each other that comprises the Classical Pilates session.

While I guide a session, I imagine myself the conductor and my clients the musicians.  I tell them they are trying to control their bodies as a musician controls his instrument; holding one note long and strong and another soft and light. When they find such control, the entire body will work together like an orchestra, the result is the flow of their session and the session becomes their unique symphony of movement.

I act out the movement quality that I would like my clients to emulate with my voice, body and hands. I make my voice tilt and light or aggressive and sharp. I will drag out my words to get them to slow down and sing the rhythm and dynamic of the exercise. I will walk, rock and sway forwards and backwards, alongside the reformer to guide the pace and rhythm. I will also encourage them to try a different rhythm and point out how that changes their movement quality.

*On a side note: I often describe teaching new clients or teaching that client that chooses to never take and apply direction like being a violin teacher for the first-year student; all you ever hear is the scratching away at the strings. It can be brutal. 😉