Do you ever wonder why it matters how you hold both handles in one hand or why we are so precise when telling you how to mount or dismount your apparatus?
Transitions are what elevate your practice and raise your performance from novice to intermediate to advanced. Think of Pilates as one big dance and the transitions are steps as important as the big finale exercise itself.
Let’s look at the first and most common transition in your mat work. A roll up or rock up to a seated position from laying down.
It’s not just a transition. It’s one of the exercises but at many points in the workout we will use it to weave other movements together seamlessly. The net effect is more practice on your rollup and building skill and muscle memory.
Some people have difficulty with the roll-up. It comes early in the workout and they may not be warm enough yet to flow through it smoothly. By keeping them coming every time you go from lying down to sitting up, you build strength and stamina and will see the immediate result of your efforts by the end of the mat work.
Probably my favorite is the teaser up on the reformer to drop springs. You do it first right after the hundred from the carriage to drop springs for either leg circles, short spine, or overhead depending on where you are in your practice. You’ll do it again to turn around for rowing and then take it up to the box and do it between backstroke and the actual teaser. All these transitions are building strength, stability, and control as you stabilize the moving carriage.
When I was recently teaching a twist teaser on the Wunda Chair, I explained that this diagonal teaser is basically what they do every time they teaser up off the box. Suddenly, the up on the twist got much better. So, transitions also serve as a frame of reference for other exercises in the system.
Safety is always paramount, but I love a great combo exercise full of beautiful transitions. Let’s take standing pumping to going up front to mountain climber on the Wunda Chair. You thread these together with transitions, so you never need to step off. But a lot of work needs to be done to get proficient enough to do that safely. That’s why I love to just work a piece of the movement sometimes. I love to work the mount and dismount to the top as an exercise in between the standing work and going up front to help people find it in their bodies now that it may be done in a way that is unfamiliar to them. We do a drill of about 5 and then they are off to the races.
Another sequence to love is push through to mermaid to reverse push through to the other side and back to the center. Almost around the world in one exercise. Here the transitions create concentration and add some variety to well-loved exercise.
As an instructor, you always want to know where you are going so that there is no hang time or down time before the transition, or your client will lose the thread. Just like a dance, you are often preparing for the next move within the current one.
When I was a trainee in my 4th training program, I used transitions to help me memorize what might have been a slightly different order within the Classical system.
For example, I would get hung up on the advanced mat order somewhere in the middle. Teaser, Can-Can, Hip Circles, and then I would often brain fart. Until I used a thread of the previous 2 exercises and that it made sense that swimming would come after them because of the intense shoulder work. So, roll down (reverse roll up) after either or both exercises and flip onto your belly and swim!
What transitions can we help you with?