The Entire Mat is in the Short Box

short box reformer blog

“The Entire Mat is in the Short Box.”

Imagine my delight at hearing Jay Grimes utter this phrase. In any of his workshops, often less than 10 minutes in, a pearl of this caliber is unleashed and I am just so happy to be in the room. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t whoop out loud.

Plus – OMG – it’s about the Short Box and – double OMG – the Mat as well. Two delectable apparatuses totally deserving of my favorite new word:


Now to get my geek on and figure out what the hell he’s talking about

That’s half the fun really. I get it, but it’s one of those where I wanna write it down and chew on it for a while…and it’s a great exercise in “Let’s see how this whole method all hangs together…”


Let’s go for the literal first.

  1. The Roll Up is easy to see in the Round (Hug) exercise, you’ve just got to deal with that box underneath you…Pilatesology-Roll-Up-Round
  2. Single Leg Circles is the ultimate version of the Tree when you’ve got your hands on the floor pushing up into your High Bridge. Okay, yes, but I’ll wager the Tree is helping you with Single Leg Circles way before you even get to the circling leg part…Pilatesology---Single-Leg-Circle-tree
  3. The Side Bend is really the same shape as Side to Side on the Short BoxSide-bend-2

But now to the element of skill-building on the Reformer. All the apparatuses exist simply to serve us and our Mat Exercises, right?

What a perfect job for the mighty Short Box.

Here you sit with a veritable motherload of skills available to you.

  1. Sit up tall in your Tree and reach all the way from your low back to hold the ankle. Lift yourself up here to hold the ankles a la Open Leg Rocker.Pilatesology---OLR
  2. Learn to use the straps in the Short Box effectively to help the lower body connection of The Roll Up and The Neck Pull.Pilatesology-Use-of-Straps
  3. Every exercise is the Double Leg Pull, so there’s that…

When you look at it this way, the Short Box is indispensable to the Method (quel suprise). Oh, and Brilliant! Every skill you need for every exercise in the system is right here on display.

How many Mat exercises can you find? Leave a comment below and share your favorites, especially the ones you love to hate 🙂

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Andrea Maida

Andrea Maida

A native of Pittsburgh, Andrea began her study of the Pilates method in 2000. She holds two comprehensive certifications from Romana’s Pilates in New York and Excel Movement Studios in Washington, DC.  Andrea continues to study with numerous world-class instructors including Romana Kryzanowska, Jay Grimes, Sari Mejia-Santo, Junghee Kallander, Cynthia Lochard, and Kathryn Ross-Nash whenever possible. Andrea was privileged to be in the inaugural class of The Work at Vintage Pilates under the direction of Jay Grimes, 1st Generation Master Teacher and student of Joseph Pilates.

From the Community

  1. Andrea Maida

    Andrea Maida

    Member since 2012

    Ooooh, that’s a good one!

  2. Avatar


    Member since 2012

    Tree is the Control Balance as well

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