Transform the pool into a Pilates studio and challenge your students with movements that are typically performed with reformers, Wunda Chairs and mats. Australian AEA Training Specialist, Claire Barker-Hemings, shares Liquid Pilates, a creative exercise routine that uses noodles, hand buoys and the water’s properties to recreate a studio workout.
Fitmotivation subscribers often request video content that includes noodles and hand buoys. The dilemma comes from trying to come up with fresh material that hasn’t already been done ad nauseam. Liquid Pilates achieves this feat by showcasing a fresh, innovative “Pilates Studio” approach to using noodles and hand buoys. As the student in the video, I was blown away by how challenging these slow and controlled movements moves are. (Just look at my face in the video!)
Pilates programs have proven to be quite popular in the water over the last decade. Some programs include equipment, such as tubing, noodles and plastic balls; and others simply use the pool wall or the water’s properties. Claire teaches studio Pilates and has strived to replicate the authenticity of moves you would do in a mat class or with equipment, such as a reformer or Wunda Chair. Since reformers and Wunda Chairs were unknown to me and likely will be to many video viewers, Claire came up with the brilliant idea of filming herself on a reformer and Wunda chair to better visualize the aquatic adaptations.
LIQUID PILATES: VIDEO-AT-A-GLANCE
Warm-ups serve to prepare the body for the rigors of the workout ahead. This prep segment features rhythmic movement that is designed to create thermic warming and dynamic flexibility with special attention given to spinal movements that prepare the core for Pilates exercises.
Rhythmic movement continues in this segment with a focus on Level II (neutral) and Level III (suspended) movements. The arm and leg patterning emanates from core control and postural alignment. The suspended movement also enhances the workload on the torso musculature.
Noodles (Reformer, Wunda Chair and Mat Work)
This segment begins with standing noodle work that is designed to recreate movements performed on a reformer. When using a Pilates reformer from a standing position, one foot is on the moving platform and the other is in a stabilized, supported position. The muscles of the lower body and core are targeted with these exercises. In the pool, the noodle is pressed beneath one foot and in contact with the pool floor to replicate the gliding action of the moving platform. The exercises are meant to glide on the pool floor with slow and controlled movement.
Take a look at three video clips depicting reformer movements that can be adapted to a noodle
Skaters video: Hip abduction and adduction. The noodle glides laterally in this exercise.
Russian Splits forward video: Hip flexion and extension. The noodle glides forward in this exercise.
Russian Splits backwards video: Hip flexion and extension. The noodle glides backwards in this exercise.
In addition to standing noodle work, there is also planking exercises. On a reformer, either one hand or two hands would now be on the reformer platform from a kneeling or planking position. The muscles of the upper body and core would be targeted with these exercises. In the pool, these movements are replicated with front and side planking movements.
Take a look at two video clips depicting reformer exercise that can be adapted with a noodle.
Downstretch video: Shoulder flexion and extension. The body would be in a front plank position, holding noodle with both hands and extending arms forward and then down.
Side plank video: Shoulder abduction and adduction. The body would go from standing to side plank with the noodle.
Liquid Pilates also adapts exercises that would be performed on a Pilates Wunda Chair. The Pilates chair is basically a box with one side that can be pressed down against the resistance of springs, like a large pedal. The muscles of the lower body and core are targeted with these exercises. In the pool, these movements are recreated by placing one foot on the noodle and pressing downwards to create buoyant resistance.
Take a look at two video clips depicting two of these noodle adaptations.
Wunda Chair Video: Hip flexion and extension. This exercise is performed in the pool standing upright with one foot on the noodle pressing down.
Wunda Chair (External) video: Hip flexion and extension with adductor focus. This exercise is performed in the pool standing upright with hip externally rotated and one foot on the noodle pressing down.
Hand Buoys (Mat work)
This segment features hand buoys placed under the knee to provide neutral buoyancy. Kneeling and modified supine positions allow for adaptations of Pilates mat work. These movements target the muscles of the lower body and core. Pilates mat exercises, such as toes taps, double leg stretch, spinal rotation and “rolling like a ball,” get a complete and challenging hand buoy makeover.
Take a look at two video clips that depict Pilates mat work that can be adapted using hand buoys placed behind the knees.
Toe Taps video: Alternating knee lifts that would be performed in the water in modified supine position with buoys under knees.
Side-to-Side video: Spinal rotation performed in the water in modified supine position with buoys under knees.
This Pilates workout targets both upper and lower body with a special emphasis on core training. Therefore this segment is dedicated to providing a total body stretch with rhythmic and soothing movements.
Fitmotivation would like to extend a big thank you to Claire for sharing her Pilates passion and for taking the time to film the studio clips so that subscribers can better understand the adapted movements when viewing the video. Claire is an AEA International Training Specialist based in Melbourne. Stay tuned next month for her video – Aqua Ballet Beats - a rather unique approach to interval training.