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 the 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 4 exercises in the Pilates Powerhouse series, you can find it under Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Single Straight Leg Stretch and Double Straight Leg Stretch.
Here is already the analysis of the 5th and last exercise of the Pilates Powerhouse series – the Criss Cross – performed by my son César.
The Pilates Criss Cross is the last obstacle in climbing the Flexion Mountain, so to speak. There we see exactly who has followed their self-will (aka habit) and who has followed their will (aka awareness).
In any Pilates studio, after this last hurdle, we hear sighs and groans. Burn belly burns! But is that necessary? I don’t think so. Unless of course you’re hanging around at home a bit down, drinking beer and watching season after season of Games of Thrones, and for some crazy reason decide to do the Powerhouse Series… well, then! :)) Jokes aside and back to my son’s adventure.
The toned-down Pilates Powerhouse Series
Let’s take a look at César’s video of the Powerhouse series right below. From 01:34 the Criss Cross begins. Click and enjoy!
Pilates Criss Cross – The facts
Most of the things we discussed in the first exercise – the Single Leg Stretch – we also need to integrate in the Pilates Criss Cross. Especially the axial lengthening, which is achieved by the opposing work of our DMCS – deep muscle corset system – and shoulder girdle. Equally essential is the integration of the DMCS and iliopsoas when alternating legs. There is one thing, however, that the Single Leg Stretch does not and never will have: The twist – the ‘killer’ straight out of the Israeli army! Not really, but that’s how many feel about it. We can, however, defuse the ‘rotating’ killer.
Disarming the ‘rotating’ killer
How? We need a lot of stretching and lifting. The only way to make the rotation effortless is to follow that sequence: lift – stretch – flex = effortless Pilates Criss Cross!
In greater detail: The stretching must precede the flexion of the upper body. The lifting must precede the stretching. In order to maintain the lift and extension, the elbow must be projected upwards towards the sky on its journey to the knees, meanwhile the shoulder girdle presses downwards and elongates; the elbow must never go inwards towards the body. Keep that in mind;)
My conclusion: Lack of lifting and extending
The maladaptive flexion of Cesar’s upper body overrides the pulling and lifting action of his DMCS – his powerhouse. This means that due to the lack of lift and extension, his chest instead of his DMCS – powerhouse – controls the movement. Unfortunately, this leads to him not being able to perceive the lightness of the exercise.
For comparison, watch me in the video below performing the Pilates Powerhouse series. From 01:38 you can watch the Criss Cross. Click and enjoy!
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 on 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 the Criss Cross to the Pilates Saw exercise 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.
Check it & fly with it!
I’m closing the case and thank you for reading and sharing 🙂 .
Did you like our blog post? Then kindly support us and share it on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, group forums, blogs and – all the retro way – personally among friends. We also highly appreciate your feedback on our exercises and posts.