As I’ve said it in most of my mat classes when I teach Open Leg Rocker, I tell my clients- the only time I’ve ever executed this exercise with legs extended was for my test out. I stretched out my hammies good with the magic circle so my legs could extend. I just knew I had 3 reps to complete and then I could move on. From then on, I stayed with modified Open Leg Rocker. “My hamstrings are too tight!” I said. Or so I thought…
WELL… let me tell you! I met Brett Miller in April where he hosted a workshop at Lead. In case you don’t know who that is, he is a renowned Pilates Instructor from Sweden who travels as a guest teacher to many different cities. (Saskatoon made the cut!) Brett also founded Pilates Intel (pilatesintel.com), the weekly Pilates magazine that is highly popular with thousands of Pilates professional and enthusiasts worldwide. I subscribe and find them quite informative! Brett has truly become an inspiration to me. I wanted to absorb every bit of knowledge from him as I could. I left his workshop feeling invigorated, inspired and longing for more. “Brett challenges his students to go beyond the physical exercise to develop a deeper wisdom of the whole being. He encourages each class member to always look for a deeper meaning in each exercise while also developing a stronger technique.”
He only taught a few exercises but in that deeper/ more profound perspective. This forced me to engage my abdominals ten times more! One of those exercises was Open Leg Rocker. Now- pausing here for a moment- this is not a balanced body version but I am digging this version WAY more and here is why!
I can feel my abdominals working so much harder, and I also find there is less of a cheat. The best part?! I can extend my legs fully! How? Because I am focusing less on hamstrings and really finding that scoop of the abdominals. The more scoop, the more abdominals and then the legs just extend naturally. (You could also do this with bent knees) I am not saying this is easier but rather harder in the sense that you need to grasp the mind/body connection to really execute the movement with intention.
I have posted a video of Brett and a video of myself demonstrating this exercise on my Instagram page (@brittanympilates) to really give you the message in this exercise. An important cue is that when you are starting you should feel the legs reaching away the entire time; as they need to stay active. When you roll back, you’ll feel the legs reaching- keeping that activation and when you roll back up the legs still reach but the head also comes with you- if this doesn’t happen then you won’t roll up. Your end point will be much like your start point- you will stay in this abdominal scoop rather than shining the heart forward. So try this out! Start in the set up- where you should be able to just hang out with the legs reaching and abdominals scooping- it’s a nice burn in the abs! See how it feels for you! I am now incorporating it into my mat classes because I loved it so much!
My point of this blog is simple…Don’t ever feel discouraged if you can’t get an exercise. My job is to help you get to where you need to be. That might mean we have to modify something, add a prop, find a different version, or set up a private lesson to really refine the movement. That is when you know you are adding on those layers and you are connecting at a deeper level. You should feel humble and successful. It’s also important to not feel discouraged if you have to use a prop with an exercise. This just means that you may need something to assist you in performing an exercise properly. Hey! I still use two mouse pads for Neck Pull! The best advice I can give you: think of progress over perfection. 🙂