Pilates Block System

BASI is one of the many disciplines of Pilates training, and the founder of BASI , Rael Isacowitz created the Block System . The Block System breaks down each Pilates session to address and work the body as a whole. It is a twelve-part system, and below we outline a little bit of why we do this. When you come to a class, you know you can expect these blocks in your workout: • Warm Up: We begin with a warm up that sets our minds to move intentionally and to move the body in different planes of motion to prepare for the session. • Foot Work: This is not just a basic exercise: It is important work for correcting and maintaining foot, ankle, knee, and hip alignment; proper muscle development; and increasing flexibility and range of motion in our lower limbs. • Abdominal Work: Here is where we strengthen our abdominals with things like chest lift, chest lift with rotation, the hundred, or single leg stretch (just a few examples). Joseph Pilates believed that if we have a strong core, our whole body and our limbs would move with more strength and coordination. Abdominal work is the foundation of core strengthening and conditioning. • Hip Work: In a reformer class, this is the work we do with our feet in the straps, such as frog and hip circles. Hip work helps us to move our hip joints in the full range of motion. We spend so much of our day in flexion--driving in the car, sitting at our desks, or relaxing on the couch at the end of the day. Giving our hips a chance to move in a full range of motion will give us happier hip joints. • Spinal Articulation: Basically, this means that we are able to move each vertebrae of our spinal column in sequence from the head all the way through our tailbone, whether we are moving from neutral into flexion or extension, or passing through those planes from one to the other. Joseph Pilates said, “If your spine is inflexible and stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” These exercises--such as pelvic curls, bottom lift, semi-circle--are accomplished by using the core muscles to articulate the vertebrae and support movement of the spine.​

​ • Stretches: We all know stretching is good for us, but coupled with dynamic movement, stretching helps us to gain more flexibility and control in our bodies. In a Pilates class, you’ll also find that stretching includes work like stabilizing and balance in order to experience the proper stretch. Exercises include kneeling or standing lunge. • Full Body Integration (Intermediate and Advanced): These exercises are more advanced, and only begin when you’ve attended for at least ten sessions (or when your instructor sees that you can accomplish these difficult exercises!). Full body integration requires great body awareness and control, coupled with mindful movement. You’ll enjoy the intense, whole-body work required to complete Elephant or Down Stretch on the Reformer.​

​ • Arm Work: This is not just working our biceps and triceps, like lifting in the gym. While arm work strengthens the muscles of the arms and shoulders, it also helps us find awareness in movement of the arms, proper shoulder placement and mobility, and even strength in our wrists.​

​ • Leg Work: A similar principle applies to leg work as to arm work: Of course we are strengthening the legs, but we are strengthening with intention in regards to our hips, knees, and ankles/feet. Proper mobility, alignment, and use of the joints of our legs is key in these exercises. • Lateral Flexion/Rotation: This simply means that we are moving our bodies in a new plane. We typically function in one or two planes of movement in our daily life, and this helps train our bodies to move in a more dynamic way, in the lateral plane (side-to-side, adduction and abduction) and in rotation. Exercises in this block include mermaid or side over on the short box.​

​ • Back Extension: Unless we are intentional about moving our backs into extension, most of us probably do not go into extension, and it is of great benefit to do so. We are constantly typing, texting, driving, sitting forward, and this can easily result in poor posture (forward head and/or rounded shoulders). Moving the back into extension helps us to develop key muscles that improve our posture and help prevent back pain. Exercises include basic back extension, swan, or pulling straps. Each exercise block has a goal for the body and works it in all ranges of motion. If all blocks are covered, no part of the body is left out and you leave your Pilates class feeling refreshed and strong. The Block System helps to develop a uniform body; this way one part of your body is not overdeveloped or under worked.

When the body is addressed as a whole, alignment comes and ailments go. The beautiful symmetry and strength that comes from working the body in the Block system is what creates the Pilates body.

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