Finding the Back Connection with Arms by Sides

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One of the main concepts that First Generation teacher Jay Grimes teaches is that the arms begin way down in your lower back and that finding this "back connection" to support arm movement is key to using your body correctly. In this short video, Karen explores ways to help you find the connection of arms to your back while the arms are by your sides—which feels very different than when the arms are overhead. Karen takes her student Paula from the Pull Straps on the Reformer to Chest Expansion and Thigh Stretch on the Cadillac to illustrate how the back should work with the arms. She then demonstrates how to continue the theme in more challenging exercises such as Balance Control on the Reformer and more. If you have trouble feeling where your arms connect, this class can help. Filmed at Vintage Pilates in West Los Angeles, CA.

What Others Are Saying


  1. Great cues! Felt the connection in my work out today! Thank you so much! Please keep this tapes coming 😉 Ivana

  2. leslie 8 years ago

    Thank you Karen. I love you guys.

    • Karen Frischmann
      Karen Frischmann 8 years ago

      You are welcome! Thanks for watching.

  3. joesmat 8 years ago

    I believe these exercises cannot also be done on the mat?
    Any reason why one could not do the same exercises using appropriately weighted hand weights, depending on how strong the person is?
    Although you don’t get the feeling of the springs or straps, as the case may be, if the weights are challenging you enough, you still have to work the arms deep in your back body, but, always maintaining good form throughout?
    Am I talking nonsense?
    Thank you very much.

    • Karen Frischmann
      Karen Frischmann 8 years ago

      Hi, Thanks for your comment. Some of these exercises can be done on the mat, like the chest expansion, the thigh stretch and the leg pull front (as a substitute for the control balance pushup). They have a different feel on the mat and I often find that if someone is having trouble finding the back connection the use of the springs and straps on the Reformer and the Cadillac can really help. It helps to strengthen that awareness and build the muscles that are needed to perform the mat exercises better. Weights would help to add resistance, but since they are “free” it would be a different feeling than having the bar on the Cadillac, or the straps on the Reformer which give you something to both reach into and lift away from.

      I hope that helps answer your questions. If not let me know.


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