Corrective Exercise - Before the 100's

Before the 100's - Step 1

Before the 100's - Number 3
Bridge Pilates

I am thrilled to include this guest post by my colleague and esteemed Pilates professional Blossom Leilani Crawford. Blossom is the owner and director of Bridge Pilates in Brooklyn, New York. She is known for her playful and powerful teaching methods, which she developed during the seventeen years she worked with Pilates Elder Kathleen Stanford Grant. Blossom was introduced to Pilates by Kathy Grant in 1993, during her first year as a dance student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. A venerated teacher, Kathy was one of only two people to personally receive her Pilates teaching certification from Joseph Pilates himself. Blossom was impressed by the effect that Kathy's exacting and intuitive approach to Pilates had on maintaining and healing her body, and continued to study with her throughout her rigorous dance program.  Since then, Blossom has made it her mission to expose each one of her students to the joy and satisfaction that comes from intelligent exercise.


I recently taught a new client who happened to be a veteran Pilates teacher.

As I watched her go through her workout, I realized she had no idea where her head was or what to do with it. I know that sounds ridiculous, but she agreed.

It inspired me to reach into my toolbox of work I learned from Kathy Grant, work she referred to as Before the 100s. Before the 100s is a series of warm-up exercises that prepares you both mentally and physically to do Mr. Pilates traditional Mat work. So many of the traditional exercises require some kind of a head lift and I think this action deserves a closer look.

The most common mistake made when lifting your head in Pilates is lifting from your neck rather than from your "core". Remember, Pilates is about strengthening the core while finding freedom of movement in the limbs. Here are some great tools that you can use to help your head lift. 



Begin lying on your mat with the knees bent, the arms down by your sides.


Connect the lifting of the head to the torso.


Imagine you are wearing a button down shirt that buttons all the way up to the base of the neck. Counting from the neck down, find your 3rd button - we will call this #3. 

On an exhale, think of exhaling through an imaginary hole at #3 while you lift your head up and look at your knees.  Count out loud slowly from 1 to 5.

On the next exhale, slowly lie down.

Repeat 3-5 times.


The tips of the shoulder blades should stay on the floor (so don't lift too high). Think of sending the effort of the head lift down to your navel. Try not to engage the hips.

Before the 100's - Step 2

Before the 100's Arm Assist
Bridge Pilates



Begin lying on the mat with the knees bent. One hand is behind the neck and the other hand on the rib cage. The elbows can be lifted off the ground and you shoulders should be comfortable.


Connect lifting of the head to the torso.


On an exhale, lift your head with the assistance of the hand behind the neck and a gentle press down on the rib cage with the other hand. Look right between the knees.


Think of creating a fold right below the breasts or pecs when lifting the head. The hand on the rib cage is a reminder that the head lift connects to the torso.

When working on your head lift, using your hands can help you feel the connection to the rest of the body more deeply or assist you in lifting your head higher in order to strengthen a different part of the torso. 

Play around with which hand goes behind the head. Sometimes, changing which hand is supporting your neck can be a great challenge for our often asymmetrical torsos.

This is the first part of a series of exercises by Blossom Leilani Crawford to be continued in future articles

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