I like the idea of using the jumpboard in Reformer class—it’s a fun cardio workout— but what’s the secret to keeping the apparatus from moving?
A. Although I don’t believe I ever saw a photo of Joseph Pilates using a jumpboard—or foot platform—I did see one owned by Eve Gentry, one of the great Pilates Elders. It was built for her by her husband well before Pilates equipment manufacturing became an industry. The jumpboard can be a valuable tool not only for jumping, but also for people who are unable to do footwork on a regular footbar. The foot platform simulates the floor, and offers much more stability and comfort than the footbar.
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With that said, there is more to jumping than meets the eye. True, it is a fun cardio workout and adds variety to a Reformer class. However, jumping requires a great deal of skill and practice. Good technique not only helps achieve the desired goal of a high or far jump, but it also helps prevent injury. The secret to keeping the apparatus from moving is…jumping correctly. Both the take off and the landing are very important in keeping the apparatus from inching forward. When it does move, that’s an indication that the takeoff, landing or both of these phases aren’t optimal. Simply telling students to “take off lightly, and put the energy into the jump while in the air” will often prevent the common mistake of pushing down into the platform as opposed to lifting off the platform. In the former example, all the energy is absorbed by the platform and when the Reformer moves, the jumper does not go very high (or far); in the latter, the Reformer remains still while the body travels high, with efficiency and calm. The same goes for the landing. If the landing is hard, there will be a thud and the Reformer will move, but if it’s soft and efficient, there will be no movement.
Physiologically, it comes down to using the many joints and muscles involved in jumping sequentially. The importance of the foot, and its many joints, can’t be overemphasized in both takeoff and landing. In addition, both the concentric and eccentric phases of muscle action are vital for successful jumping; often, the eccentric phase is not stressed enough. Finally, attention must be placed on the suspension in the air—the most enjoyable part of jumping. This phase relies on stabilization of the entire body. (Have you ever held a baby in your arms while she is awake, and then falls asleep? It feels like her weight has doubled.) The better the body is stabilized, the more efficient and effective the jump will be. Still having trouble? I highly recommend watching an online workshop/webinar by BASI Senior Faculty Cindy Reid on basipilates.com. It will teach you all you need to know about jumping on a Reformer. I assure you your Reformer will not be moving after participating. (Editor’s note: Want more jumping tips? Flip to page 56!)
Rael Isacowitz, MA, has been practicing Pilates for more than 35 years, and is the founder and director of BASI Pilates, a comprehensive Pilates education organization established in 1989 that spans the globe. Rael designed the concepts for BASI Systems equipment and was a driving force in founding the company. He also created Pilates Interactive, the one-of-a-kind e-learning software, and has authored two best-selling books, Pilates and Pilates Anatomy (Human Kinetics), the latter co-authored with Karen Clippinger.
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