My son, César Sampson, sent me the video below of himself doing the Pilates Powerhouse series. He asked me if I could write a commentary on it for Facebook.
After watching the video, I thought to myself …. does he know what he is asking me to do?… either he is a true warrior or a true masochist!?!? He didn’t even want to read my analysis?!?? All I can say is “thumbs up for my son César and his remarkably selfless gesture.” Perhaps he had the following quote from an African master teacher in mind when he made his decision:
Sometimes it is better to submit to the will of others than to obey your own self-will.
… and wanted to remind us with his selfless act. Brave, brave, my son!
Anyway, let’s start with the analysis. As Pilates aficionados know, the Powerhouse Series consists of 5 exercises, and so that I don’t overwhelm you with in-depth analysis of all 5 exercises at once, I will post the analysis of one exercise each week. If you haven’t read my analysis of the first 2 exercises in the Pilates Powerhouse series, click on Single Leg Stretch and Double Leg Stretch.
Here is already the analysis of the 3rd exercise of the Pilates Powerhouse series – the Single Straight Leg Stretch – performed by my son César.
The toned-down Powerhouse Series
Let’s watch César’s video of the Powerhouse series right below. From 00:47 the Single Straight Leg Stretch begins. Click and enjoy now!
Single Straight Leg Stretch – The facts
As in the Single Leg Stretch, César makes the same fundamental mistake of not bringing his pelvis into a neutral position. This means that the weight of his legs collapses towards the chest instead of being divided between the floor (foundation), iliopsoas (leg control) and his DMCS (pelvic stabilisation).
Another problem arises because he puts his hands behind his knees instead of on the upper half of his calves. This leads to a counterproductive bending of his knees. A feeling of lift in the upper body cannot be achieved because his legs are not properly – functionally – stretched.
My conclusion: Activation of the 2 body centres is incomplete
The 2 body centres – his DMCS (powerhouse) and the shoulder girdle stabilisers – are not sufficiently activated. His legs are not functionally stretched. This means that he cannot counteract gravity harmoniously.
But you know what, try it out for yourself! Do the Single Straight Leg Stretch once with your legs stretched out more than usual and let us know what you notice.
For comparison below is the video of me performing the Pilates Powerhouse Series. The Single Straight Leg Stretch starts at 00:57. Click and enjoy now!
The enriched Powerhouse Series
Awareness vs. right-wrong
Last but not least, let me bring a pinch of awareness to my analysis. The analysis of my son’s interpretation of the Powerhouse Series is NOT based on a right-wrong dichotomy, but from the perspective of awareness and functionality.
By this I mean
- How many of the above ‘mistakes’ is César aware of when he does the exercises?
- Can he transfer one position to another position? For example, can he go from Single Straight Leg Stretch to Side Leg Kick without modification, compensation and adjustment?
Subjectively, who can say that the way my son does the Pilates Powerhouse Series is wrong? I am pretty sure there are many people, inside and outside the Pilates community, who claim to ‘feel good’ while doing the Powerhouse Series the way my son does it. I’m sure there are people who even say their back pain has improved as a result.
This may well be the case but the question is: Do they know what they are doing? Are they aware of what they are doing? Could they do the exercises in a different way if they wanted to? Could you? It is essential that we keep asking ourselves: Are we doing the exercises with awareness or out of habit? Because …
Awareness (aka will) and functionality are based on “I have a choice”. Habit (aka self-will) and pressure are based on “I feel this way”.
Back to my son César: Correcting the above mistakes will give my son more choice in his movements. The way he shows the exercises in the video gives him little freedom of movement. I am closing the case for today.
See you next week when I analyze how my son performs the Pilates Double Straight Leg Stretch.
Check it & fly with it!
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