The Guillotine

Scared of the beast at Fitzroy North? Fear your head will end up on a pike? Only if you have a zipper on your activewear … There are only a few Classical Pilates Guillotines in Victoria and probably less than ten in Australia but as TMR is a fully equipped studio, Nicholson Street was destined to decapitate. 

This apparatus is our most recent major acquisition and is nothing to be afraid of. It’s part Cadillac and part monkey bars. Essentially it’s a massive aluminium letter H. It is related to Joe Pilates’ doorway in a gym … one of his earlier ‘home exercise’ inventions which you know would have been sold on late night TV given half the chance.

The Guillotine however is not a doorway apparatus but a fully-fledged apparatus which is bolted to both the ceiling and floor for security because it needs to be rock solid to provide our clients a safe working environment from which to swing and play from. 

Running up from the floor along the vertical frame you’ll notice a series of hooks/eyelets and these are for the arm or leg springs. When lying on the upholstered mat, you can execute any of the leg spring exercises from the Cadillac. Or in supine or standing, you can go through the Cadillac arm spring work. 

However the real star of this (not so French) revolution is of course the horizontal bars, one is fixed and one is sprung. Similarly to the Push Through Bar on the Cadillac/Tower, you’ll notice that this sprung bar runs along a vertical track system. What’s fantastic/maddening is that when you press the bar it responds to your pressure or how you press it. Because it is on a vertical track it almost acts like a see-saw, so when you’re doing a simple leg press and you work your dominant leg earlier or with more gusto, the bar drops on the opposite side and often gets stuck in the tracks. This provides a litmus test on your asymmetry and real-time Pilates feedback as to what is going on in your regimen. The other apparatus I hate to say, let you get away with it. 

Favourite exercises to work through with the bar

1 Footwork – single leg especially 

2 Tower – see above 

3 Monkey

4 The mat single leg and double leg stretch

5 Teaser

6 Big and fun semi-circle standing up on the bars

7 Hanging leg raises 

Ready for my last pun? Heads will roll if the bar gets stuck, so best go slowly and considerately.