Pilates Workout with the TRIAD Ball, Level I

Michael Fritzke, Ton Voogt
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Pilates/Core Strength

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Website: http://www.zenirgy.com/

Space requirements: enough room to move comfortably on a mat
Equipment: thick mat, the TRIAD ball

Caveat: If you are in the market for quick Pilates add-ons or body-part specific practices, this set may not appeal to you. But if you are looking for pure full-body Pilates taught by agreeable, pedigreed tutors, please read on – particularly if spinal alignment and core strength are your goals.

General overview: Michael and Ton alternate coaching the workout while simultaneously performing the exercises. Background exercisers are present but do not vocally participate. The set of this music-free DVD is rather clinical - white background with black mats. Cueing is top notch, every breath and movement is taught as though you were in a live class. Runs about 50 minutes, I’ve not checked for chaptering because I just do it. The sturdy purple TRIAD ball is inflated with a little straw, stopper included, about 8” in diameter and should be squishy-but-firm. This restorative routine (sprinkled with some challenging zingers) is suitable for beginners, people with bad backs or a day when you just want to regroup and get back in alignment. A big plus for people with wrist or feet problems is that there are no planking type exercises or positions requiring you to balance body weight on bent toes and palms.

Personally, I’m loving it because you get an expensive studio class in your living room. The lack of music and gentle, melodic cueing make it perfect for early morning or late evening, and the practice makes my bad back shut up and behave. The routine and the ball are very kind to my problematic spine. I’m looking forward to trying Level II and hope we will see more of this “pure Pilates,” professional, hype free style from Michael and Ton.

Breakdown – a lot of exercises done at a temperate pace:

- opening breath work and standing stretches
- seated lumbar release, ball behind back, into supine imprinting rolling ball out with feet
- ball behind head for 100 (at first I thought “Oh good, a little pillow” – but it creates a challenge)
- squeezing ball between knees, then modified rollup from same position
- single leg circles with ball under bottom leg
- rolling like a ball, between knees

- Series of 5, ball behind head (again, adding stability challenge) – single leg stretch, double leg stretch, scissors, double straight leg and the criss cross squeezing ball between elbows and knees while switching – tricky

- Sit up for spine stretch, ball in hands
- between ankles for open leg rocker balance (I found challenging)
- supine for corkscrew, ball stays between ankles
- between knees for tick tock, bent legs going slowly side to side (wonderful spine release)
- seated in straddle, side stretches over ball (AAAHH)
- prone for “Flying Eagle,” rolling ball forward with hands while arching upper spine backward, then into child pose

- Supine for “one-half neck pull,” similar to Ab Prep but ball between ankles, rolling up and down between scissoring legs
- pelvic lifts, ball between knees, then lumbar stretch back over ball
- spine twist, ball under knees
- hamstring stretch over ball on lap
- ball behind mid-back for long range crunches with back stretch

- Side kick series: propped up with ball under hip: forward and back then two variations of pulling the top leg back and up in what feels like a straight leg version of Pretzel (hmm … Pretzel Rods?)

- Supine for “Teaser crunch,” rather gentle Teaser prep rolling ball up thighs, perfect for beginners
- prop ball under butt for frogs and double leg circles
- Butterfly – on side, ball between knees, squeezing while upper body twists back
- roll to prone, arms on ball and swim, then into child pose over ball
- Seal, ball between arches
- final delightful stretches get you rolled up to your feet again

Instructor Comments:
Instructors: On my first spin with this practice, Michael and Ton struck me as possibly dancers, and obviously accomplished tutors of Pilates. Sure enough, according to the bio link on www.zenirgy.com, they are “certified in the Pilates method under the sole tutelage of Romana Kryzanowska.” Both have pleasant, mildly accented voices, and have choreographed this routine “to a T” with no choppiness or chatter. At times, Ton’s melodic, careful articulation becomes hypnotic and dreamy; Michael is a bit brisker and wakes you up again.