“The Constant” in Pilates

Becky Phares, PMA®-CPT is a Polestar Pilates Graduate, Practitioner and contributor to the Polestar Life Weekly Blog.  With more than 10 years of teaching Becky teaches at her studio The Body Initiative Pilates Studio in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Find Becky and her Studio on Facebook: The body Initiative Pilates Studio and Instagram @the_body_initiative_ .

“The Constant”

I have a new theme… “The Constant” . This term shows itself in multiple different ways throughout society. The dictionary defines it as occurring continuously over a period of time or unchanged through time and space. In math constants are parts of algebraic expressions that do not change. In science it is referred to as properties that do not change. If you were to google the word constant you may come up with: a constant burden, constant bickering or constant chatter. Constant is even a name given to babies; in 2016 it was ranked #16,656 for popularity for girls and #13,558 for boys. But what in the world does that have to do with Pilates? Well, it shows up EVERYWHERE in our system. Let’s take a look: In the exercise the hundred, the shape of your spine and legs stay constant as your arms pump. In foot work your spine stays in a constant shape as your hips and knees flex and extend, even though it is moving with the carriage. In rolling like a ball, the whole shape of the body is constant even though the shape changes orientation. But why is it important? I feel that this gives some of my clients feedback if I give them “the constant.” For example during long stretch the spine and pelvis stay constant. The first part of long stretch, the plank position, is fairly easy to keep the shape. However, once you stretch your body back and your arms forward, your spine and pelvis want to change. Because of where gravity is sitting, I get a lot of people who like to create a bigger, lordotic curve in this exercise. It’s understandable because the body goes in the path of least resistance. So could an instructor benefit from cueing the constant? Absolutely! It could help the client understand that the shape does not change even though the spine is in a greater challenge. The constant may change orientation, like tendon stretch and thigh stretch. Sometimes the constant stays in the same orientation but moves along with the carriage such as in stomach massage and feet in straps. Other times the constant stays absolutely stable in space and time but progresses in difficulty because of outside forces, such as leg pull front and chest lift. **see pictures below So is this a new theory? Absolutely not! I’m just sharing different terms that I am currently using with my clients. I like this word/concept because regular people walking through my door easily comprehend it. Other relatable terms are dissociation and stability. We all use what works for each individual client. Try this on and see if it works for you.

**The constant is shown in white**

Exercises that the constant changes orientation to gravity:

Thigh Stretch
Tendon Stretch

Exercises that the constant stays in the same orientation to gravity but moves with the carriage:

Feet in Straps
Stomach Massage

Exercises that the constant stays the same in space but grow more difficult through the series:

Leg Pull Front
Chest Lift
  Find Becky and her Studio on Facebook: The body Initiative Pilates Studio and Instagram @the_body_initiative_ . Like our Blog? Subscribe to the Newsletter and be the first in the know!      

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