Stripped down simplicity. The Contrology Ped-o-Pul is the very essence of a piece of classical Pilates apparatus. A board, two lengths of pipe, and a set of springs, but as with all things Pilates, the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts.
Instrumental in Eve Gentry’s rehab work and used extensively by noted vocal coach William Pierce Herman, this simple apparatus strengthens the back connection, opens the chest, assists in breath training, and helps students find that elusive two-way stretch.
The pole acts as a guide for the spine. By design, it has a little swing and a little sway which requires the student to use their center and find those all-important stabilizing muscles. It is also the only place where we can do arm work with the spring resistance coming from above.
Here are a few of my favorite exercises on the Ped-o-Pul
(General Precautions – Always stand securely on the base while doing any exercise or the pole may tip over.)
Arm Circles – Stand on the base with your spine lengthened against the pole. Place hands in the handles palms down. Reach them out to your sides at shoulder height and just at the periphery of your vision. You want to feel the engagement in your back and an opening in the chest. Bring your feet into “Pilates position (heels together – toes apart) and walk them away from the pole only as far as you need to get the pelvis and ribcage lengthened along the pole.
Engage the spring and press the arms down towards your sides. Circle the arms towards the front, bring them up to shoulder height, and return to the first position. Allow the natural movement of the circle and control the spring as you bring the arms up in front of you and back to shoulder height.
Repeat three to five times and reverse.
Centering – From the Arm Circles -Bring the hands out to your sides at shoulder height, and using the spring for support, lift onto the balls of your feet.
Bend your knees and lower yourself down the pole into a supported knee bend, keeping your arms at shoulder height the whole time. When you get to the end of your range, bring the arms down to your sides. Press into the handles, lift from your waist, and lengthen yourself back into the starting position.
Repeat three times and then reverse the arms. Have them reach by your side as you lengthen down the pole, and then bring them out to shoulder height as you return to the starting position. At the end of the sequence, stretch the heels down to the base with control.
Butterfly – Bring the hands out to your sides at shoulder height, and using the spring for support, lift onto the balls of your feet. Keep your hips square, exhale, and rotate the ribcage around the pole. Imagine you’re following the contours of a giant ball or colossal satellite dish. Bring your left arm up and forward towards the top of the ball and the lower arm down towards the bottom. Inhale as you return to the center and repeat on the other side.
Recommended sets – three
Chest Expansion –
Stand on the base facing the pole with the heels towards the back edge. (NOTE: you must have your entire foot on the platform or the apparatus can tip over). Reach for handles and bring the arms out in front of you at shoulder width and height.
Inhale, bring the arms by the sides, lift onto the balls of the feet and open the chest.
Reach a little more into the springs and turn your head to the right, look center, turn your head to the left, and look center again. Exhale as you lower your heels and return to the starting position.
Recommended sets – two