Today we dive in the world of less common Pilates equipment, and there's some weird ones. Learn what they are, what they do, and why they're an important accessory to your Pilates practice!
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[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.
Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. It is officially March and in the Pilates community, we celebrate March MATness. So all month long on Instagram, we will be [00:01:00] honoring the classical 34 mat Pilates exercises. I am aware that there are only 31 days in March. Some days get a double up on exercises. But it's a really fun time.
I'm not doing it on Pilates Students' Manual's, Instagram, but I am doing it on my personal one at @OliviaBioniWellness. So I think that that's really fun and I hope that you join in. And if we learned anything in 2020, it's that mat Pilates is pretty awesome. So check that out.
Today we are building on last episode about more common Pilates equipment, and we are diving into the weird, wacky, wonderful world of less common Pilates equipment. Pretty much there's a piece of Pilates equipment for everything. That's, it's almost a joke, but it's very real that there are lots of quirky, strange, little tools and props and adventures, some designed by Joseph Pilates and some that [00:02:00] we've just added to the work. I'm going to be focusing on more of Joe's equipment today. But we know from previous episodes talking about props and talking about you know, fusion forms of exercise that you can really use lots of pieces of equipment with Pilates.
So the pieces that we're going to be talking about today are the spine corrector, the foot corrector, the toe corrector. I know. So much correcting going on. The pedipole, the neck stretcher, the breath-a-cizer and the bean bag roll up device, which I was just looking into weird Pilates equipment and came across that and wanted to share that with you. All the first few pieces of equipment that I'll be talking about, I have actually played on, I can testify that they are real things that you can play with.
I haven't played with the next stretcher, breath a cizer, or the beanbag roll up device, but they seem [00:03:00] pretty legit, but I'll be sharing about that. And just to reiterate the Pilates equipment again, I joke how weird it is and how wacky it is, which it is, but it exists to give us feedback to kind of fill a need that we have, that we can't do with our own body weight, or even in some cases with the bigger pieces of equipment, like the reformer or the tower. A lot of these pieces of equipment are focusing on very small body parts. Not the spine corrector, not the pedipole, but I mean, generally some of these pieces are really about fine tuning, these really small muscles in our hand or in our foot or in our arch and our toes.
So diving right in to the corrector bit, the spine corrector kind of looks like uneven humps of a camel and one of the humps is a little bit wider. And the other hump is a little bit smaller. And the space between the humps is [00:04:00] called the well, and you can sit there very nicely and kind of lie back over the, the wider of the camel humps. It's a really nice little device, spine corrector.
There's also, you might have seen in a studio, the arc, it's a very similar adventure. It's a little bit lighter. The spine corrector is like wood and leather, camel humps, and the arc can be in like foam, which is much lighter for sure. And, it's nice when you're lying on it as I described. It puts your thoracic spine into extension. So you're doing a back bend instead of a rounding shape, which is really nice.
Some of the arcs have little spots for the shoulder blocks. So you can actually put the arc on top of the reformer and that is a party. I really like to end class on the arc because a lot of Pilates exercises, you know, especially as we're going through the classical [00:05:00] repertoire right now for March matness, there's a lot of spinal flection happening and spinal flection is great, but it's not the only way that our spine moves.
So being able to explore that extension is nice. And of course you can lie on the spine corrector, but you can also sit on the spine corrector and sit on your side and lie on your stomach. It's a really fun piece of equipment that. Gives you nice feedback for when you're doing things like rolling up or rolling down because it has that curve. It does give you a little bit of different feedback, which is really nice. And a lot of clients one year got arcs for Christmas, and I can also attest that cats love to sit in the well. As well. So that's kind of fun.
The foot corrector kind of is like a rounded stirrup. So if you think of like riding a horse and like what you're putting your foot in, it is similar to that, but it's like a little metal arch [00:06:00] and. Usually your heel rests on the ground, and then you're putting your foot on top of that little metal arch and it has a spring resistance. So you're trying to press the arch towards the ground. So your foot's like your toes are higher than your heel. And then you're trying to really press down through the ball of the foot and then you do it in different foot positions. You do it on the arch, you do it on the heel as well with the ball of foot down in the heel higher.
It's a really cool little device to help you articulate at the foot. And if we're thinking about the people that Joseph Pilates was working with, he was working with a lot of dancers and Joseph Pilates was an inventor. He invented lots of pieces of equipment, and necessity is the mother of invention. So he's working with these dancers who need to be very articulate at their feet. And so he pretty much created devices that help to strengthen and articulate the intrinsic muscles of the foot.
So [00:07:00] that foot corrector is a little bit of a trip. You'd think that it's going to be easier to lift and lower that little metal spring set arc, but it's quite challenging. And especially to press down in a totally centered way without, you know, going pressing more into one side or the other side or more forward and back. It's one of those, again, little devices that is quite challenging to play with.
Well, the toe corrector also known as Joe's toe gizmo, which I think we should keep that name instead. Correcting sounds like really aggressive, but I'll keep Joe's toe gizmo. And it's very similar to the foot corrector except. It is working the muscles of your toes. So instead of that metal arch, it's actually two loops that are attached by a spring. And there's like a frame that kind of goes around it like a diamond frame that also attaches to the loop. But pretty much you can pull the [00:08:00] loops apart by extending the spring and then the spring will pull those loops back together. Right.
And so you loop one of the loops around your toe and you can do it on all of your toes. And then you can hold the other loop with your hand and. The spring will lift your toe, like off of the ground. And then you want to press your toe back to the ground. So those muscles are all, you know, very small muscles that are leading into our arch of our foot. And the toe corrector helps you to strengthen and also isolate moving each of your toes individually.
You can do some other exercises where you loop it around both of your big toes, and then you can do some like some movements and some pivots there as well. But I really like it. I did a workshop with Marimba Gold Watts at Momentum Fest. And we did a low tech toe corrector, which is just like a rubber band from broccoli. Like those thicker blue, rubber bands. If I don't know what broccoli is packaged like in other countries, but in the United States, we [00:09:00] usually wrap them in little broccoli bunches with these thick blue, rubber bands. And you can use that as well to kind of articulate at the toes.
Last one I'm going to be sharing before the break is the pedipole, which has some discrepancy in how we spell that.
I've seen it as the ped, like ped like foot, o pull. Like foot Oh, pull. Right. And I've also seen the pedipole, like pedi, like pedicure and then pole, like it is also a pole. I'm not really crazy about either spelling and just like we have Joe's toe gizmo, I would really like to find a better name for this one.
What the pedipole is, is a wooden platform and a vertical pole that is attached to that platform. That's about, I dunno, seven, eight feet, taller than you are for sure. And there's a little horizontal pole that attaches to the top of the [00:10:00] vertical pole. And there are springs that hang from either side of that horizontal pole.
So the way it works is that you stand against the pole on the platform and there's handles on those springs that are hanging from the horizontal pole and you want to stand in neutral spine so that the back of the head, the space between the shoulder blades back of the pelvis and possibly even your heels are against the pole. And then we're trying to do arm choreography. We're pressing the arms, you know, out to the side and down to the hips. We're bringing the arms, you know, forward in front of the shoulders and then down to the hips and we're drawing circles.
And you can do things where you lift your heels and then you bend your knees, so you're doing like a plie pretty much as your doing these arm exercises. And it's really challenging. I can tell you that that is a huge balance challenge because you can see [00:11:00] very quickly where your body wants to compensate for the work that you're doing in your arms and your back to move the springs and how your spine wants to change shape and result of that effort.
So it's, it's a really tricky piece of equipment. It's fun. I have played on it. One of the studios I worked at did have a pedipole. And like, I don't think that it's a piece of exercise- I don't think any of these pieces of exercises like, Oh, well now I have to go to like my pedipole class. It's really an accessory piece of equipment that gives you again, different feedback being up against the pole, different challenges in terms of balance and whatever.
It's- I like this piece of equipment a lot because it gets you standing. And a lot of Pilates exercises do not have you standing. But we spend more of our life standing than we do lying down. And I recognize that lying down is really important in terms of building the foundation and being supported and understanding how we're moving. But in terms of like what we do in our life, [00:12:00] we do a lot of it upright. So I really do appreciate that about the pedipole.
Coming up after the break, I'm going to talk about three wacky pieces of equipment that I haven't played with, but I would like to, and just like more fun adventuring and Pilates. That's coming up next.
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Members get some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates and check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. [00:13:00] Now, back to the show.
All right, friends, hold onto your socks. It's about to get a little bit weirder .So these next pieces of equipment are, you know, highly specialized and wonderful. This one I actually saw on Instagram because one of the accounts I follow, @sizediversepilates had gotten one and I was like, what the heck is that?
It's called the next stretcher. And it's very similar to the toe corrector or the Joe's toe gizmo in that it's a spring and it has a hook on one end of the [00:14:00] spring and then a really big loop on the other end of the spring. And from what I could see of her playing with it is that you put the bigger loop around your head and then you attach the other end of the spring to I saw her playing with it on the Cadillac.
And what it allows you to do is kind of lean back in a way that that spring resistance gives you feedback about your neck and like where your head is relative to the rest of your spine. Because I don't know with, March matness and just seeing more pictures of myself doing the exercises. It's always weird seeing yourself do the exercise cause sometimes it feels very different in your body, from how it looks when you look at a picture of it.
But it's difficult to know where in space you want your neck to be. And so having this spring resistance and like a little bit of play, but also a little bit of support from that spring, [00:15:00] it helps you feel out your head in space. And when you're doing exercises like thigh stretch, where you're kind of leaning backwards in a plank or anything like that, it just helps you find your head and your neck in relation to your spine. So that's kind of a fun one.
The beanbag roll up device I had never heard of. And I was on Gratz's website. Gratz is a Pilates equipment company that really specializes in like the classical reformer, it's like the leather straps, the wooden handles the like very firm reformer carriage, and like very unforgiving foot bar. I don't know. It does not very cushioned. You can have a cushion on it, but it's, it's pretty stern equipment, but it's like the classical Pilates equipment.
And I was looking at their accessories. And so this beanbag roll-up device is literally a wooden dowel attached by string to a beanbag that's like filled with sand or rice or something. [00:16:00] And it's this action of rolling the rope onto the dowel to like bring the bean bag up and then unrolling it. Slowly, you know, with your hands to lower the beanbag down.
And it's a hand strengthener, a forearm, a wrist strengthener, and it's like a very precise movement, you know, rolling this little dowel rod with this like weighted beanbag at the end of that rope. So I think that that's kind of a fun way to build hand strength.
And this last one, it, it reminds me of, I don't know if you've ever been tested for asthma or I've just have a memory as a child of blowing into a tube and I was trying to like lift a ball or something. This is like way back in the memory banks. That's Olivia at like nine or 10 years old. And so Joe has a version of that called the breath a cizer, [00:17:00] and it's supposed to, you know, help build the strength in your lungs and your diaphragm and like your breathing capacity.
It's pretty much a straw that is held in place. You hold it, it's like similar to a pinwheel. It's like holding a pinwheel and there is like a little metal pinwheel, but then there's like a little straw and you blow through the straw. Straw not included. You have to provide your own. And it spins the metal pinwheel.
And I don't know if the goal is to, you know, make it spin longer or faster exactly what it is. But we do know that Joe was very interested in breathing and us breathing correctly and breathing strongly. And you've seen the picture of him standing on the woman who's doing the hundred, which I do not recommend as a way to strengthen your breathing for everybody.
But just like a fun little device. It almost looks like a metal spur, again from like cowboy boots. It looks like a spur, but it's a pinwheel and there's a [00:18:00] straw and you blow on it. I don't know, man. It's wonderful. So these are very specialized pieces of equipment that you may not have seen ever before.
As I'm saying, I hadn't until, you know, the wild world of Instagram introduced me to them. But the same way my mom played violin and she had like a finger strengthener that was like a ball that had all these buttons that you could push down on. That was be the same as your hand, pressing on the strings. Like every person who does something as more than a hobby and wants to like really improve at it and get better at something, or in our case, a lot with movement to recover from injury or to get stronger or to either rehabilitate or retrain our muscles to work in a different way that, of course we're going to have this like really highly specialized equipment.
So I hope that that piqued your interest. I do recommend that you Google anyone's that I didn't describe well, because they're, they're pretty weird and there's not a lot of things that are like them for [00:19:00] sure.
I do want to say a big thank you to my supporters on Buy Me a Coffee, especially to our newest member, Christine. I really appreciate you joining the project and supporting it. So many good things coming up in March, we do have another zoom chat. So if you're interested in chatting with the Pilates teacher, visit that Buy Me a Coffee page and make a donation and you will get the invite. Thank you so much, everybody for listening, for tuning in. Have a great week and I'll talk to you again soon.
Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates too? Check out Pilates Teachers' [00:20:00] Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
I hope to see you next episode. Until next time.