My son, César Sampson, send me the video below of himself performing the Pilates Stomach Series, and asked me if I would like to comment on it for Facebook.
Well, after looking at it, I thought … does he know what he is asking me? … he is either a true warrior or a true masochist! Also, he didn’t even want to review my findings. So, thumbs up for my son, César, and his remarkably altruistic gesture.
Maybe what he had in mind and wanted to remind us of, was this quote by an African master teacher “Sometimes it is better to expose ourselves to the will of others than to impose ourselves on our self-will.”
Howsoever … let’s get started. As Pilates-afficionados know, the Pilates Stomach Series consists of 5 exercises. So, to not overwhelm you with the in-depth analyses of all 5 exercises at once, I decided to post one exercise per week.
In case you haven’t read my analysis of the first 4 exercises of the Pilates Powerhouse Series – you find them under Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Single Straight Leg Stretch and Double Straight Leg Stretch.
And here already my analysis of the last exercise of the Pilates Stomach Series – the Criss Cross – performed by my son César.
Here we are at the last hurdle to the top of the mountain of flexion. This is where we see who has been following self-will (aka force and habit) and who will (aka awareness).
Go to any Pilates studio and you will hear sounds similar to that of child birth after this last hurdle. Burn belly, burn!
Is this really necessary? I don’t think so. Unless, of course, you have been depressed at home drinking beer and watching Games of Thrones, and for whatever crazy reason decided to do the Powerhouse Series, … but, come on, really! Joke aside and back to my son’s adventure.
Pilates Stomach Series diminished
Check César’s video of the whole series above. The Criss Cross starts at 01:34;)
Pilates Criss Cross – Facts
Most of the content of the first exercise – the Single Leg Stretch – also needs to be integrated in the Pilates Criss Cross, especially the axial elongation (via the opposing engagement of the DMCS and shoulder girdle) and the implementation of the DMCS and iliopsoas when alternating the legs. However, one thing the Single Leg Stretch does not and will never have is the twisting part – the “killer” straight from Israel military! Not really, but this is how the general public feels about it. To the rescue …
Let us disarm the twisting “killer”. To disarm the twisting “killer” there must be sufficient elongation and elevation. The elongation must precede the flexion of the torso, and the elevation must precede the elongation of the torso because this is what makes the twist effortless. So, the sequence is: elevation – elongation – flexion -> effortless Pilates Criss Cross;)
Additionally, to maintain the elevation and elongation, the elbow must be projected upwards to the sky on its journey towards the knee as the shoulder girdle protracts and depresses; the elbow does not go inwards to the body.
The bottom line: The maladaptive flexion of my son’s torso is overriding the pulling and lifting work of his DMCS. In fact, through the missing elevation and elongation, his chest is attempting to do the work his DMCS should do, which in turn inhibits him to experience the aerial perception; the very means to disarm the “killer”.
For comparison, check the video below, in which I do the Pilates Powerhouse Series. The Criss Cross starts at 01:38.
Stomach Series enhanced
And last but definitely not least, let us bring some awareness into this analysis …
Awareness vs. Right-Wrong
The analysis of César’s interpretation of the Pilates Stomach Series is not based on a right-wrong-perspective but from the point of view of awareness and functionality.
By this I mean
1. how many of the errors mentioned is my son aware of when doing the exercises and
2. can he transfer the position he is currently in, into another position? For example, can he go from the Criss Cross to the Saw without any modification, compensation or adjustment?
Seen from a subjective point of view who is to say, that the way my son is performing the Pilates Stomach Series is wrong? For sure, there are many people, inside and outside the Pilates community, who claim to “feel good” while doing it this way. And there are even some people who would say their back problems got much better since then.
This may well be the case. But are they aware of how they are doing these exercises? Could they do them another way if they chose to do so? Could you?
See, awareness (aka will) and functionality are a matter of having choice, but habit (aka self-will) and force are a matter of “feeling”.
So, to my son; correcting the errors mentioned, will give him more choice in his movements; the way he is doing them in the video, gives him less choice.
Check it & fly with it!
I close my case and highly appreciate your participation.
Your honourebel Samu Rii
How did you like our blog posts on the Pilates Powerhouse Series? Has it helped you in any way; especially in terms of awareness and functionality? Is there anything you would do differently now? We would love to hear any thoughts and comments from you.
As always, if you find our post useful and would like to share it with someone, we’d be forever grateful!