It is getting harder to come up with Pilates themes as the classical system is limited in terms of themes, especially in comparison to yoga where there are infinite possibilities for teaching themes, so I have decided to go into fundamentals of individual exercises and building them up. You can do one exercise like this each class to improve your students’ mastery of that exercise, or you can teach a whole class that is fundamentals focused. This type of class is less vigorous but its always great to review fundamentals; even if you are physically fit, you can always refine and improve execution and self-awareness.This season I am focusing on ‘The Hundred’. I should have started with ‘The Hundred’ in the spring as it is the first exercise; I did ‘Roll-Up’ instead, but from now on I will go in order.
To build fundamentals for The Hundred, then once you have completed the ‘Pillar Warm-Up’ move into 5 count ribcage breathing as preparation for the rhythm of the breathing in ‘The Hundred’.
Then, it is important that everyone understands how to do a proper ‘C-Scoop’ as this is the first exercise in the mat-work and is done in c-scoop, it make sense to teach ‘C-Scoop’ as a fundamental warm-up if you are emphasizing fundamentals of this exercise.
This includes explaining how to engage the lats and how to do chin nod and then combining both hugging the body with ‘ab curls’ for 3-5 reps. Then you can use the ‘Arms Up/Down’ warm up from fingers to ceiling to the sides of the body on an exhale and then combine with ‘C-Scoop’ to teach how the arms move in one single movement into position next to pelvis when you lift the 5th press point off the floor into ‘C-Scoop’ and repeat this 3-5 reps checking to see that your students are starting with a ‘Chin Nod’ first and are lifting from the 5th press point and not the head.
Then start the actual ‘Hundred’ exercise and walk around to check that everyone’s 5th press-point is off the floor. If it is not, put your hand behind their back between the shoulder blades and lift the 5th press point up. Also check that everyone is looking at their navel (‘Chin Nod’) and remind them to check neutral pelvis; the tendency is to tilt the pelvis into a posterior tilt, so if that is happening the student should press their pubic bone to their tailbone so that the front seam of their pants is level to the floor. Also get them to look at the abdomen and to aim to draw the navel to the spine as they inhale so that they are hallowing or flattening the lower belly during inhalation. This is the essence of pilates breathing and is really emphasized in ‘Ab Curls’ but is done in all the exercises and is especially difficult in
The last thing to check for is the arm movement, make sure that the upper body is not moving, it is still so that the ‘S-Scoop’ position of the body is frozen in space and only the arms move. I also check to see the size of the arm movement and place my hands between the person’s hands about 8 inches apart and tell them hit my bottom and top hand to make sure they are using the right range of motion.
Finally, I also cue that it is like their arms are moving through molasses or a think substances so the arm movement is firm and strong to engage a circulatory warm-up as ‘The Hundred’ is the circulatory warm-up.
Once you cue your students to come out of the ‘C-Scoop’ after 10 sets or 10 arm pumps, then you get everyone to relax the next either by doing neck rolls or chin nods or circles to release any tension in the next to complete ‘The Hundred’ exercise.