We love the Mat and we love the family of Pilates small barrels. How lucky are we now that we can incorporate the challenges of the Mat (the hardest work in the Pilates method) and the support and the gentleness (softness/smoothness) of the work on the barrels. The contour Mat has been recently put back in production at Gratz and Pilates-ology is featuring a workout Class taught by Kathi Ross Nash on how to use it and how to make the most out of it.
You can see how in this position the weight of the head is into the stomach. That allows the neck to be in the correct position, thanks to the support offered by the small hump. This wonderful variation can be utilized for the 100 and for the abdominal series. For your beginner clients (or delicate necks) this is the perfect way to get strong in the upper abdominals and learn the proper posture of the exercise. It looks easier but you are actually forced to work correctly, giving neophytes a real possibility to get strong.
Barrels are the ideal place to get the chest to open with support and safety. Now with this “revival” Mat, you will have the possibility of doing that during the mat routine, with flow and continuity. This will be beneficial to all those clients that have the tendency to stay rounded in the upper back and out of alignment with their necks. Also tightness at the hip flexors can be addressed using the hump for the leg series of the small barrel and spine corrector.
The height of the hump allows the rungs to be higher than the level of the mat. The regular mat unfortunately doesn’t suit many practitioners that have limited flexibility in the shoulder joint. If you look sideways to a regular Mat the height of the rungs is BELOW the level of the shoulder (out of the joints, out of the box). In the Contour Mat instead, the hands will hold the rungs higher up, avoiding any type of strain and increasing the level of stability.