Pacific NW Pilates blog

Exercise Modification Keeps Your Body Surprised

by Trixie on November 12, 2014

” … modifications enable students to get more — not less — benefit 
out of Pilates mat exercise.”

— Leslie Braverman

It has been my experience that students — when introduced to a mat work exercise modification move or prop — will resist. Instead, they try to muster strength for the original version of the exercise even if they are unable to do it well. Many of us are hardwired to believe that doing a partially modified rendition of an exercise is simply not good enough, and it will be better to force doing the “real” thing versus an alternate option. 

Modifications = more benefit

The truth about modifications is that they often enable students to get more — not less — benefit out of the matwork exercise.

In fact, repeating the same exercise with a different stimulus can help you feel muscles working in a different way.  Props and exercise modifications provide variety, protect from injury, and keep your neuromotor system “surprised.” That helps your body to continue to change.

Three ideas to help put the “surprise” in your Pilates workout


1. Add a ball to Rolling Like a Ball

Place a ball between your calves and thighs while you do the Pilates exercise called Rolling Like a Ball. This tactic may help you to control the movement more with your abdominals, and avoid the heave-ho with your legs.

By squeezing the ball with the back of your legs, you encourage your body to remain in one tight ball shape.


2. Add a resistance band to side-lying exercises


The resistance band provides feedback so you can control the movement better, stabilize your back more easily, and use the correct muscles (hip abductors) to lift your leg.


3. Lift your saw


The exercise “saw” combines spinal flexion and rotation. When combined, these motions can create a lot of compression in your back.

Sitting on a small prop or support will enable your back to start in an optimal position before you begin the exercise and allow you to create the length and stretch you desire, without straining your joints.


PNWP’s certified Pilates movement teachers welcome new clients. They will make mat exercise modifications available to you, integrating their training and what they observe in your posture, and your particular abilities and needs.

There is a natural progression in learning movement. Take advantage of all your options. And remember, your body loves to be surprised!

— Leslie Braverman



PNWP Education Grad’s Tacoma Studio

by Trixie November 5, 2014

We’re often asked before a student begins training, “What do certified STOTT PILATES instructors do after they graduate?” The paths people take are as unique as the individual. Pacific NW Pilates (PNWP) Owner Leslie Braverman led PNWP workshops at a former student’s studio in Tacoma, Washington last weekend, which made her think that it’s time […]

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Leslie in Istanbul, May 2013

by Trixie October 30, 2014

Leslie Braverman traveled to Istanbul to teach last year at the invitation of Cin Pilates, owned by Pelin Peremici Cin and Cetin Cin. There’s more to the story, of course, when Leslie or Melanie travels to teach. The sheer pleasure of seeing a new place and sharing it with gracious local Pilates hosts also informs their […]

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Pilates for Scoliosis: Workshop and PNWP Daily Practice

by Melanie Byford-Young October 2, 2014

PNWP’s Scoliosis workshop always attracts a full house. Just last weekend, Jean Leavenworth led a weekend of illustration and practice.    Scoliosis Scoliosis. The word sounds daunting and the diagnosis sounds frightening. In truth, many people have scoliosis and are not aware of it. Pilates exercise is an effective therapeutic treatment. I recently conducted a […]

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Three Things You Won’t Hear Here

by Leslie Braverman September 28, 2014

There are many declarations heard in gyms that you’ll never hear in, say, our PNWP studio. Pilates is simply different. And I’m in truth-teller mode. Here are three things that you’ll never hear me — or any of our certified STOTT PILATES teachers — say to you: “Squeeze your shoulder blades together for good posture.” […]

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Therapeutic Pilates is Built for Injuries and Special Populations

by Melanie Byford-Young September 19, 2014

The longer I work in the movement therapy profession, the more I wonder if anyone is “normal.” What is normal? Why is it that some people who look perfect suffer from more pain and issues than people who have arthritis, joint replacements and scoliosis? Why do so many North Americans have hip and knee replacements? […]

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