What's the point of the Hundred in Classical Pilates?

The Hundred, our great warming exercise.

So often though it looks like a fight for people.  Too often we forget that the Hundred is the beginning of a sequence, a sequence that should see our body open up more as we work through it, see us arrive more limber, longer, and stronger by the end (not necessarily the beginning!).

As teachers we need to be really sure that the version of the Hundred we are giving our client is one that supports them in not just warming up the body, but also in opening up the back chain.  We need to remember that following on in our Classical Pilates sequences, whether on the Reformer or the Mat, we are moving into rolling exercises, or those which require a supple spine for success.

Legs being too low, or above us with no real sense of a strong centre, is defeating us and making it less possible to feel how the back needs to open to allow us to roll.  Of course everything also comes down to the make up of the individual in front of us.

Trevor demonstrating The Hundred on the Universal Reformer at Proper Pilates Melbourne

Instead of just cuing a shape, what we should be working for in the client is a reach out of the centre of the back in two directions (aha!  Two way stretch!).

Try getting your clients to feel that instead of locking their legs for length, or clamping their spine to the Mat, that they reach from the centre of their back through the back of the hips and legs and away...while at the same time lengthening from the centre of the back out and away through the back of the neck and skull.  Often I tell people it's like lying in a hammock that's being pulled out from under you at either end.

If we can build a sense of this stretch in the Hundred, then inevitably the client will move into the Roll Up or Short Spine/Overhead with a spine that reaches into its 'C' curve rather than 'crashing' and 'crushing' into it.

Think of the ongoing benefits- arriving at Roll Over and not crushing the neck, but feeling the back open...and don't get me started on how it can help Rolling Like a Ball and Teaser.

Next time you teach it, think about how we should coach length and not just 'lock,' then step back and watch the amazing flow on effect.

Wade Edwell, Director, Proper Pilates