by Sunni Almond
Never underestimate the power of the super light springs in Pilates.
The light spring’s weakness should never be mistaken for kindness, yes there is the inherent ability to help less strong or frail people regain the strength to use the stronger springs…. But the real beauty is in the ability to work the smaller muscle groups that are overlooked by going heavier, and recruiting just the show off muscles.
The gym rat may have a hard time finding these smaller muscle groups and not ‘get’ the extra strength, range of motion, and complete control you can achieve in every fiber of your being by paying attention to all the usually left out parts.
The light spring lets you get in deeper as in kneeling side bends on the Wunda chair for instance. Just that one middle spring, you can push the floor away opening up the opposite side of the rib cage like an accordion, and really digging deeper into the side of the body facing the chair.
Pull ups on a lighter spring on the Wunda chair will take you to your leader begging for mercy and the strength to even move the pedal up. How deep must you dig to accomplish that?!?!
Small example, my husband is the epitome of the gym rat/bodybuilder type. He wanted to humor me and let me give him one of those stretchy, easy-peasy girlie exercises so he could prove to me once and for all, that the heavy stuff he does at the gym is the shizzz, and I can’t possibly give him anything that his 3000 crunch ab routine couldn’t easily handle. I am here to tell you that I gave him 2 heavy springs, the highest setting on my chair…and it was all I could do not to fly off as I showed him the form I was looking for. He pushed me aside and jumped on the chair not knowing how in hades to pull that pedal up. Well he jumped it, and landed upside down, elbow into the wall and a little bloody, but definitely humbled as I knocked out about a zillion of them with ease on one high and one low spring. Then the competition came….I could manage to do them on one middle spring. The goal is one light. Not in my current world, but maybe you can ;))
The big strong guys don’t know where in their 6 pack to bring that from – it is deeper. Deeper than they have ever worked. My husband made up his own muscle name The Rectus Obliquetus to describe anything he can’t figure out that has to do with abdominals. He’s convinced the answer lies there. At least I can get him into the studio now.
Ah, now it gets interesting, we have their attention. They understand bigger isn’t necessarily better, all that brawn will not move that pedal without deep abdominal strength. So let’s build it. Short box to the rescue, and the power of the mat with no springs for help.
Slow someone down who just keeps wanting to power through it? Go ahead and remove springs, it’ll only take a moment for the message to sink in. Where’s their stability and fearlssness now? Long stretch on the Reformer for example, 1 spring definitely changes things. Maybe not in the best way as it changes where the exercise comes from. How about pulling straps, it is done on one spring, but the big guy asks for 2… Not really possible to keep the correct emphasis on the smaller muscle groups.
The light spring is the higher power, use it cautiously, but never fear to unleash it’s goodness when necessary.
Sunni Almond is a true believer in the power of Classical Pilates, the one that came from Joe and Clara Pilates. She teaches Classical Pilates on classical apparatus in her studio Studio S Pilates in Temecula, CA. Check out Sunny’s studio or contact her to schedule a session – click here.