feet on a pilates apparatus

Tiger Claws?

A few weeks ago I was at my regular private session at the pod with Michelle. This particular week she had lost her voice so we decided we would work our way through the intermediate reformer order that I know well and would require less verbal instruction

I’m stuck into my footwork, desperately trying to centre myself and stop my butt levitating off the reformer which is usually how footwork starts for me. I glance over at Michelle, when I realise she appears to be trying to communicate with me through the medium of mime! I look at her frantic hand actions and crazy eyebrow; what is she trying to say?

Claws? I say.
She shakes her head frantically.
Ummmm I don’t know, tiger ? Is there a tiger behind me ? What’s going on?

Then finally the penny drops (it takes a while !)
Suction cups ! I shout.

Michelle smiles nods vigorously and I employ my imaginary suction cups in my feet, making the bit between my heel and my toes pull upwards to activate my arches. I immediately feel the connection travel up my legs into my butt, and my bum cheeks seem to smile. It helps me to connect my inner thighs, ground my sacrum, connect my ribcage and basically switch on all the lights in my internal house.

Magic ! 

We are away and proceed to have an awesome session where my my new arches make magical relationships to my arses! Who knew they were connected?!

I sweat and shake mentally and physically, we also laugh a lot too, I leave my session feeling renewed and ready to go back out into the world feeling stronger, more centred and ready to take on the rest of the week. 

My feet are basically a bit of a mess!

I’m a matwork teacher myself, drawn to Pilates the same way many teachers are from a dance background.

Over the years my feet have taken some real punishment from dance and are basically a bit of a mess! They had pretty much collapsed, my arches ruined and my ankles sprained repeatedly. I felt useless to the point where I couldn’t wear high heels any more because my feet would just roll in causing me to fall over before even one drink had passed my lips, when I stepped out the shower the footprint on the bathroom floor resembled a sad shapeless splat. 

So when I started having one to ones with Michelle with the intention of learning more about the equipment other then just Reformer and becoming a more rounded teacher. After watching me move on the Reformer from the beginning with footwork, she suggested we focus on my feet and we hoped off to work on the Foot Corrector straight away.

Inwardly I groaned and told her they were a hopeless case. Nothing spurs a good teacher on like a hopeless case! Feet became the thread for a lot of our sessions (not the only thread as let’s just say I’ve got a lot to work on !) focusing on what Michelle called ‘arches to arses’ throughout every shape on the Reformer, High chair, every time my feet were against the poles on the Cadillac, even when just standing and of course when faced with the Foot Corrector. (a piece of kit I had never come across before that bears a strong resemblance to a pasta machine!)

Who would have thought pumping a spring loaded peddle up and down with different parts of your foot could be so challenging when done from the whole body!

Person doing Pilates on a high chair

Finding this connection from my feet has really been one of the keys to helping me unlock a level of Pilates I never thought I could achieve…

including every teachers nemesis, the pinnacle, the exercise we like to pose doing for our websites the ‘teaser’.  

My one to ones with Michelle or her team when she’s away, are one of the high points of my week and has taught me that carving out that time for my own self practice is absolutely essential to staying fresh and motivated to teach others.

Plus, even cooler things happened. I noticed when I stepped out the shower the other day my footprint was no longer a splat! My feet aren’t a hopeless case after all, they are getting stronger and maybe one day in the future I’ll get those high heels back on.


Written by Guest: Cathryn Jaffray

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