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Pilates Reformer Exercise Instructions for The Rowings 5 and 6

Contributed by Alisa Wyatt


Updated July 03, 2013

There are six rowing exercises in the classical Pilates rowings sequence. Below are instructions for rowings 5 and 6. The instructions for the rowings 5 (shaving) and 6 (hug) below are meant to support your Pilates reformer class experience with them. Please see Pilates reformer rowings 1 and 2 and rowings 3 and 4. Of course the rowings are usually done in the context of a full Pilates reformer workout.

We are fortunate to have photos and exercise instructions here from popular Pilates instructor and founder of Pilatesology.com, Alisa Wyatt. (more below). From Alisa: "The rowing series is all about connecting to your center and radiating the strength from the base of your hips up your back and out your arms. The arms are only as strong as your connection to your center so the more you can lengthen and surround your spine with strength, the better you'll move."

This sequence is shown in a way that allows you to see the flow of the exercises. Please click on each image to enlarge it and learn more about performing each move with good form. All exercises use 1 spring.

Reformer Rowing Exercise 5 - Shaving - Step 1

Pilates reformer rowing
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt, licensed to About.com
Sit upright with crossed legs. Elbows at your sides, turn the palms up to face ceiling as pictured.

Rowing 5 - Step 2

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt, licensed to About.com
Lean your body slightly forward and lift your spine as tall as possible.
Extend your arms in front you at forehead level.

Rowing 5 - Step 3

pilates rowing exercise
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt, licensed to About.com
Turn your palms over so that index fingers and thumbs join to make a 'diamond' shape. The thumbs and fingers should press into each other so there is integrity to the shape, it should not come apart.

Bend your arms behind your head as if shaving the back of the neck, elbows remain wide and behind the ears if possible.

Rowing 5 - Step 4

The rowings - Pilates
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt, licensed to About.com
Reach up and out with the diamond shape still pressed together. This is not just a movement of the arms, the lower back is driving the lift.
. Repeat 5x

Finish by opening the arms into the Hug position of the next exercise, switching the legs so the other one is crossed in front.

Reformer Exercise Rowing 6 - Hug [a Tree] - Step 1

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt, licensed to About.com
Sitting upright and cross legged with bottom against the shoulder blocks: Begin with arms open [within peripheral vision] as if getting ready to give a bear a hug. Palms face front, elbows slightly lifted. The curve of the arms should be even, sternum lifted, shoulders wide.

Rowing 6 - Step 2

Reformer hug a tree
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt, licensed to About.com
Inhale as you keep the hug shape and bring the arms toward each other. Think of opening the upper back.

Rowing 6 - Step 3

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt, licensed to About.com
Exhale to open the arms, opening the chest.

Repeat 3x.

For the second set of 3x, switch the breath to begin with an exhale.

Reformer Rowing Notes

Also See:
Pilates reformer rowings 1 and 2
rowings 3 and 4

A big thanks goes to Alisa Wyatt for providing us with the Pilates reformer rowings sequence. Alisa is a co-founder of Pilatesology.com, offering subscription Pilates classes online. She is also a widely known Pilates instructor who has published four Pilates DVDs: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Pilates Workout and Pilates for Men
see reviews:
Advanced Pilates DVD
Intermediate Pilates DVD

Alisa Wyatt is also featured in the instructions for Pilates mat exercise neck pull and her Notes from the Masters on Pilates neck pull have been a significant contribution here at pilates.about.com.

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