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The Legendary OG 34 (March Matness 2020)


Did you know that Pilates matwork is an actual “thing”? That it’s not just a random bunch of clamshells or sit ups? Joe actually had a very specific sequence of 34 exercises, which is published in his book Return to Life. Eventually, other exercises were added and there were variations created (by him and others), but at the core of the matwork is always the original 34.

If you didn’t know that, you’re not alone. I went to Pilates classes for 10 years and didn’t know that. Also... (Ssssh don’t tell 👀) Return to Life wasn’t actually required reading to pass my contemporary Pilates teaching cert. I didn’t pick up Joe’s book on HIS method until I had been teaching for over a year, and man, did it rock my world! I have been so inspired by the classic method — the exercises, the sequence, the logic, the ingenuity — that it literally changed how I teach and how I practise Pilates. When I actually started doing all the OG 34 exercises in order regularly, my body completely changed... and that’s on TOP of already having an existing contemporary practice!! The OG method rocks... so I am excited to be participating in the 2020 #marchmatness marathon to highlight these fabulous (and challenging!!) movements that Joe was so excited about.

If you're unfamiliar with March Matness, essentially for every day in March, Pilates peeps all over the world highlight a specific exercise from the original matwork for each day of the month, and post it to social media. So it really is a marathon -- particular all the social media posting lol

The original exercises and posting schedule is as follows:

March 1: #hundred

March 2: #rollup

March 3: #rollover

March 4: #onelegcircle

March 5: #rollingback

March 6: #onelegstretch

March 7: #doublelegstretch

March 8: #spinestretch

March 9: #rockerwithopenlegs

March 10: #corkscrew

March 11: #saw

March 12: #swandive

March 13: #onelegkick

March 14: #doublelegkick

March 15: #neckpull

March 16: #scissors and #bicycle

March 17: #shoulderbridge

March 18: #spinetwist

March 19: #jackknife

March 20: #sidekick

March 21: #teaser

March 22: #hiptwist

March 23: #swimming

March 24: #legpulls (front and back)

March 25: #kneelingsidekick

March 26: #sidebend

March 27: #boomerang

March 28: #seal and #crab

March 29: #rocking

March 30: #controlbalance

March 31: #pushup

There are definitely some moves in there that are ones that I love and ones that I... do not love. But that I need to do. Be cause they're good for me. It's all about that "progress, not perfection" thing.

An interesting point as well is that some of these exercises are not actually part of some contemporary Pilates methods. Stott Pilates (which I am certified to teach) doesn't actually teach the crab, for instance. So some of these exercises have been really unfamiliar to me and they definitely feel like a work in progress. Others are just plain difficult for me... Like rocking, high bicycle and scissors, or leg pull back (idk about you but I'm sensing a theme... it's almost like my hamstrings and glutes complain a lot or something...). Do you have favourite exercises? Do you have some not favourite exercises? I want to know! Have you done the original 34 exercises in order before (modified or not)? How did you like it?

Join me for March Matness this month and let's do some Pilates!! If you'd like to work out with me or send me photos or videos, please do! I'd be thrilled to share your successes or learning opportunities as part of my marathon. Have fun!

If you'd like to pick up a copy of Joe's Return to Life Through Contrology, here's a link from Amazon. :) Enjoy!