Ron's Clock

A Breathing Exercise from Fletcher Pilates

Ron's Clock is a breathing exercise that comes to us from Fletcher Pilates. It was designed by Ron Fletcher as an exercise that warms up, as Ron would say, "the breathing apparatus" -- the lungs, the diaphragm, and the intercostals and the deep core musculature. It also teaches the important lesson of letting the breath initiate movement.

This exercise segments the inhales and exhales into parts, building up to a 6-part inhale and 6-part exhale. This is a dynamic way of breathing, and you will feel how it activates the muscles and bones of the torso. This type of breathing is often accompanied by sound that is the result of the activation of the core musculature. Ron Fletcher coined the term Percussive Breathing(TM) for this type of breathing.

Throughout the exercise, the arms elevate a little further with each step as the ribs expand on the inhales and the arms lower as the ribs close on the exhales. Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.

Starting Position - arms at six o'clock

The starting position for Ron's Clock.
The starting position for Ron's Clock.. John Freeman/Getty Images

Stand tall with good posture. Your spine is lengthened and your arms are rounded down by your sides.

Move Arms to 5:30 clock position

Inhale through your nose, expanding your ribs laterally.

Exhale through your mouth, emphasizing the closure of the ribs.

Your arms reflect the movement of your ribs.

Learn about Lateral Breathing

Arms at 5:00

Inhale twice through your nose. Raise your arms slightly with the expansion of the ribs.

Exhale twice through the mouth. Lower your arms with the closing of the ribs.
Again, emphasize opening and closing of the ribs.

The arms will raise a little further with each subsequent set of inhales

Arms at 4:30

Inhale 3 times, through the nose.

Exhale 3 times, through the mouth. This will make it a complete breath cycle.

Arms at 4:00

Inhale through the nose 4 times.

Exhale through the mouth 4 times.

Again, notice how the arms reflect the movement that is initiated by the breath.

Arms at 3:30 clock position

Inhale 5 times.

Exhale 5 times.

This is the Pilates hundreds breathing pattern.

Notice how much more complete your breath is following this progressive warm-up.

Arms at 3:00 clock position

Inhale 6 times.

Exhale 6 times.

That's Ron's Clock through six positions. Do you feel your core, chest, lungs and torso are activated?

You are now ready to begin your Pilates practice!

Learn Pilates Exercises

Advancing this Breathing Exercise

Ultimately, the Ron's Clock exercise breathes the arms up to the 12 o'clock position. You can work your way up to 12 breaths in and 12 breaths out -- without forcing the breath or creating any strain in the neck and shoulders.

Learn more about Fletcher Pilates. It was developed by Pilates Elder Ron Fletcher, who was the first to take the work fully into standing, including moving across the floor, which was probably inspired by his dance background. Fletcher Towelwork(R) features a red braided towel used in coordinated movement and breathing. It helps teach keeping the shoulders stable and using the arms.

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