The Forward Step Up on the Chair is no easy task; the stability of the front leg while moving the body forward and up then backward and down while controlling the pedal demands focus, strength, balance and proprioception: all things Pilates.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible. 

For clients who are working towards a greater range of motion and level of strength and aren’t restricted in building either, the Forward Step Up is a great exercise to add into a workout because of its functionality and applicability. 

Having taught it to many clients who have found great satisfaction in being able to do it strongly and with control, I have found (like many things) that the more intense the exercise becomes, the more intense and fixated is their stare. 

And it makes sense. 

Because often times when there is focus, there’s also intensity. And with challenging balance sequences we all tend to start at one spot ahead of us as if all our balance and control depended on it. 

So instead of constantly cueing clients to ‘relax their eyes (and jaw and neck)’,  I started to play around with the idea of disrupting where they were looking with the goal of increasing their ability to balance well through functional movements instead of making the movement more difficult. 

Take a look at the video below and watch how Sarah masterfully moves through a variation on the Forward Step Up that emphasizes a moving gaze; just one of the more subtle but effective ways that we can challenge our clients in the studio. 

Remember to encourage clients to have a soft gaze as they move their torso, head and eyes through the rotation. 

Cueing them to scan the horizon instead of focusing on 2 particular end points might initially create instability. But in the long run, there is more opportunity for a relaxed upper spine and shoulder girdle. 

And while Sarah is demoing it with the arms and then eventually without use of the handle, it can be regressed by keeping both hands on the handle through the rotation and just beginning with the head and torso rotation. 

Have fun and let us know how it goes!