Exploring the Roll Up

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In this brief session Karen illustrates how one exercise – in this case, The Roll Up – is practiced throughout the studio on different apparatus. She works with Dena, who has a tight low back and struggles with finding length in that area as well as the c-curve. Seeing the Roll Up as part of an 'Exercise Family,' in that it can be practiced on different apparatus to target different needs, can help you do it better. For instance, Karen shows how the Roll Up on the mat is the same exercise on the Reformer in the Elephant exercise, where Dena's feet and hands are grounded and she works with a spring. On the Reformer, Dena can feel how the Elephant exercise refers back to the basic exercise on the mat.  

What Others Are Saying


  1. soul_eil

    I liked it, simple and clear cuing. Thank you.

  2. Karen Eccles 6 years ago

    Thank you for an incredibly interesting exploration into a fundamental exercise that as you demonstrate appears in so many others within the repertoire but yet so commonly an area in which people struggle.

  3. joesmat 8 years ago

    Thank you very much for your reply and I appreciate your help. I did of course appreciate that you “cue to press into the back” and the importance of creating the back connection
    and the two way stretch. Most grateful.

  4. Karen Frischmann
    Karen Frischmann 8 years ago

    Thanks for your questions. I don’t think the elephant on the mat would give you the same results or connection as it would on the reformer. Having the hands and the feet on the floor and still maintaining the connection to the powerhouse, the back and and the seat would be difficult, especially for someone with tightness in the back or hamstrings. If you wanted to find a similar effect you could place the hands on a chair or low table for support, but again it would not be exact. Differences in distance from the hand to the feet, the height of the support and not having the springs to assist your movement will all change the experience. As for your second question, I do cue to press into the back. The shoulders and arms come back and down creating the back connection as the abdominals pull in and up. What I am looking for is what we call the two way stretch. This creates a very long, fluid and balanced strength along both sides of the body.

    Hope this helps. Karen

  5. joesmat 8 years ago

    1.Can we also do the Elephant on the mat and still feel the connection through the hands, arms, back, buttock, legs and feet, if you don’t have a Reformer?
    2.On the mat you cue to press into the back to come up, however, if I press into the full length of my back it is restrictive, and I find I need to press into my low back -belly button – sacrum to trigger the articulation. Am I incorrect in my approach or interpretation?
    Thank you.

  6. Ynowak 8 years ago

    I really liked this post of exploring one particular shape. Particularly liked the explanation about how the position of the hands on the bar can tell us how the client may be using their back. I’m going to be watching everyone’s hands in class a lot closer!

    • Karen Frischmann
      Karen Frischmann 8 years ago

      Thanks! Working the exercises around the room is one of my favorite teaching tools. It really helps students advance more quickly and see the “why” behind the exercise. As for the hands, they really inform the teacher into what is going on in the back and often make corrections easier to understand.

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