Barrels Workshop for a Deeper Mat - Pilatesology

Barrels Workshop for a Deeper Mat

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Join Sandy Shimoda and Karen Frischmann in this fantastic workshop aimed at getting the most out of your mat class with the help of the Barrels - including the Small Barrel, Spine Corrector and Ladder Barrel. They explain the genius behind the Barrels' design and how they allow for opening, strengthening and increasing flexibility of the spine. After explaining why flexibility of the spine is so important, Karen and Sandy share ways to take yourselves and your clients deeper into the matwork and target certain issues in the body that cannot be addressed on the mat alone. Filmed at the 2013 Classical Pilates Convention UK. For information on this annual event, please visit: You can find Karen at: Karen Frischmann Pilates and Sandy at Vintage Pilates.

What Others Are Saying


  1. cokina 9 months ago

    Hello everybody, hope my comment will get an answer even if 3 years later 🙂
    Thanks for all the great stimuli you gave us! Loved this workshop: also because unfortunately I don’t feel “educated” enough to use the barrels appropriately… and I needed these insights!!

    However I’m a little confused when we comes at the Leg Series shown by Sandy… I thought the small barrel had her working more to keep her ribs in and spine protected, and as we said earlier, comfort is not our main concern 😀 … The Spine corrector supported her way more, it’s true… But is that the point here? Hope my question makes sense.


    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Hi cokina,

      So happy that you are finding this workshop useful. I can’t believe it has been over 5 years since we taught it! Sooo, I reviewed the section you had a question about and I would like to take a stab at addressing your inquiry.

      May I start by clarifying that the goal of any apparatus is to increase the body’s ability to connect through its Center. And I should also say that the spine corrector’s goal is not to protect the spine, but to support the spine in a safe and even arch that allows the muscles of the Center to protect and stabilize the spine.

      In this particular workshop, I was able to demonstrate that because of my body’s particular tightness/weakness, having less barrel to press against (on the half barrel) made it harder to connect to and stabilize with my stomach and back. The spine corrector was much better at helping me achieve a strong and stable Center which is the ultimate goal of the apparatus.

      As for comfort? Neither the half barrel nor the spine corrector felt comfortable. Both require so much work to stabilize with.

      Hope this helps. If not, please let me know.

      – Sandy

  2. Alisa Wyatt

    Hi Everyone!
    A couple people have noticed this video stopping. Today is November 14th 2016 and I just adjusted the back end streaming options and hopefully this will fix any issues. PLease email if you do find this video stopping though.

    Oh the woes of technology!


  3. Sandy Shimoda Author

    Dear Authentic1- I inderstand your concern and believe me, the first time I saw Jay teach this exercise to a student with a tight upper back, I think I held my breath the entire time.

    Safety is a main priority in all Pilates exercises and we have been told over and over again that it is not safe to have the neck unsupported. This is where your skill as a teacher comes in to play. You must balance safety with appropriate challenge in order to bring positive change to the body in front of you.

    When taught correctly with movement and flow, and stretching forward between each exercise if needed, I find my tight male clients to be excited to get over the barrel. Please take note that although you are looking at his neck, it is the entir spine that we wish to reteach. I am confident that if Ian did these exercises over the barrel regularly, his neck would elongate and his head would rest on the barrel before you know it!

    Thank you for your comment so we could address this point more deeply.

  4. authentic1
    authentic1 4 years ago

    Oh, goodness! Please support Ian’s neck! You can move gradually from a supported position with stacked pillows/towels, and as he opens through the work gradually remove the support height little by little. I understand that we want him to work, but we need to arrive there safely without compromising cervical disks. Also, the pain of compromising the neck causes a fear/bracing reflex that blocks the intended opening.
    Loved Sandy’s explanation of working with her flaired ribs, rib cage, and scoliosis.

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