In Pilates, the hundreds are a great way to start a session. Whether on the mat or on the reformer, most practitioners use it to get the blood going and start a mild sweat. There are some things to monitor when doing Pilates however, and this exercise is no exception. Specific cuing can help a student visualize what their body is supposed to be doing. Cuing is truly an art form since the right cue will engage the proper muscle groups. Just like other exercises, some modifications may be implemented to keep injuries or pains from disrupting a workout. On the opposite end, variations are a good way to keep movements fresh and stimulating. The body will quickly adapt to any exercise and variations will ensure the muscles keep growing.
To anyone who’s watching the hundreds seems like a very simple exercise. The body doesn’t move while the arms pump up and down in a brisk pace. The inner workings of the movement are a lot more complex however. A trained instructor will spot neck tension in someone who tends to be stiff. This habit is one of the more prevalent ones at the studio. People who have tight scalenes and those who jut their head forward usually have a very hard time keeping their neck out of abdominal exercises. Another common body part to monitor is the transverse abdominus (TA). If this muscle is kept tight throughout the entire movement, then the ribs will not flare. This is essential for optimal core work.
Cues are especially helpful in a group class setting since there are too many people to approach for every exercise. They can also be implemented in private sessions as well. One of my favorite cues is to tell people “smile across your belly”. This simple silly cue is a reminder to pull the abs in tight and feel the wrapping effect. Another one I like to use, especially with someone with tight pectoral muscles is to tell them to keep their chest open. Tight chest muscles happen to office workers who sit at desks or at the wheel of their car for a very long time. The deep back muscle layers become stretched and weak while the chest becomes to tight. The result is someone who suffers from a forward shoulder roll. Very severe rolling of the shoulders can have a kyphotic look to them. My favorite cue is to tell my client to imagine pressing a ball down against the floor as they pump their arm. This seems to work wonders on abdominal engagement.