One of the elements differentiating classical Pilates from other variations is following the order of the exercises, as originally intended and designed by Joseph Pilates.
This is not to say that we do things the way we do just because “that’s how Joe did it.” And the beauty of pilates is that we can modify or omit certain exercises depending on a person’s needs. However, as Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, two students of Romana Kryzanowska (one of Joe’s protégées) say in their book, “The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning:”
“Nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment."
And this brings us back to why the order of the exercises important. First, the progression allows for a proper warm-up (the 100 makes the blood circulate!) before working out and allows for a cool down (running and pelvic lift on the reformer.)
Also, the order–whether on the mat or the reformer—encompasses the five ways of moving, which involve flexion, extension, side-bending, twisting and inversion.
It also allows us to make connections between each exercise. For example, rolling like a ball, which comes early in the sequence, is the foundation for the teaser, which comes at the end. The transitions between the exercises also allows for flow (another tenet of pilates, but we’ll tackle that another time!) and limits muscle exertion.
And finally, the progression enables us to connect to our own bodies, to inhabit them mindfully, to make our own connections and discover the layers.
Let’s remember that the method was originally named “Contrology,” because Joe wanted to emphasize the importance of “complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”