A little Pilates history factoid: did you know that “pilates” wasn’t always called “pilates?” Since it was all originally taught by Joseph and Clara Pilates, that’d be like me shaking your hand and saying, “Hi, I’m Christine Binnendyk and we’re going to do Binnendyk Method today.” (There are folks who do this and can carry it off. I’m not one of them — I’d start laughing right away.)
Joe originally called his method “Contrology,” the art of control. So, when you’re practicing what we now call “Pilates,” you’ve also become a Contrologist. In the world of Pilates, being a Control Freak is a good thing and the exercise Boomerang is alllllll about Control.
Traditionally, Boomerang arrives in an advanced Pilates practice. I often teach it at an intermediate level. My two litmus tests:
- Can you do Rolling like a Ball? That’s your first “up & over” to master.
- Can you comfortably sit upright with straight legs pressed into your mat? If you can’t comfortably flatten your legs here, you might not be ready for Boomerang yet, as the tightness in your low back and legs will become a liability in these advanced positions.
Sit upright. In a perfect world, your legs are straight and pressed into your mat, and your spine is stacked up. Cross one leg atop the other and press your hands down into the mat.
- Use a smidge of momentum to rock yourself onto your back, reaching your feet toward the floor. During the rock: shoot energy out through your heels. Your legs are long and strong. No limp noodles! Your arms are also long and strong. In the beginning: it’s ok to press the arms into the floor to assist your Up & Over movement.
- While on your back, open your legs in a “V” position and then switch out the top leg. You now have crossed legs again. Scoop up the kittens while doing this. Keep shooting energy out through your arms and legs.
- After nailing that last position, rock to an upright “V” pose (aka: teaser,) reaching your hands toward your feet. It’s quite a challenge to control your movement and stop here! Keep scooping, keep reaching.
- From that upright “V” pose, slooooooowly float your legs down as you push your arms back. Pretend that you’re moving through jello. Fight gravity! End this fight in a forward fold. I’d like that fold to be a “hip hinge” rather than a rounding of your spine. Reach your legs long as you press them down. (You can see in the photos that this is my kryptonite — this position challenges me even after 20+ years of practicing.) Reach your arms back as if someone was giving them a tug.
- Sweep your arms forward through the jello to reach for your feet.
- Stack up your spine to start all over again.
- In the beginning, use momentum to help you get to each position.
- In the beginning, its ok to “move smaller.” Maybe your toes don’t reach the floor behind your head in your rollover. Maybe your legs are a little lower than mine in the teaser. Maybe you don’t fold over very far — listen to your low back on that one; rounding too much can cause issues.
- As you progress, go slower. Prove that you have control over the movement.
- Strive for 2-way reach in each position. Whenever your legs are on the mat, press those babies down! What would a super hero look like doing Boomerang — channel that fantasy!
- Limit your number of repetitions to 6 total at a maximum (that means you don’t have to 6!) Much like Short Spine on the reformer, over-doing Boomerang can over-stretch your low back. How would you know that’s what happened? If your low-back stiffens up like cold taffy, you over-stretched it. That typically takes 24-48 to recover on its own.