One of the coolest and most fun aspects of the Cadillac is the Trapeze bar. Just the name alone makes it sound either really great or really scary. Well, if you've been practicing pilates, you know that what initially sounds really scary is actually usually really great!
There are many exercises with the Trapeze that are either done laying down on the Cadillac, standing up on the Cadillac, or hanging from the Trapeze and the bars. One of the most basic, and fundamental, exercises with the Trapeze is Breathing . Done laying down with hands holding the Roll Back Bar and feet in the Trapeze loop, Breathing incorporates everything about pilates- coordination, breath, movement, core connection, articulation, and lengthening. If you only have a tower, or even just a Springboard, don't fear- you can do breathing with just the Roll Back Bar and feet flat on the mat as a substitute for the full Breathing exercise.
If you're curious about what exactly Breathing is, ask your teacher to teach it to you!
The Trapeze is a really awesome way to stretch your legs, and I actually think its one of the best ways. Ballet Stretches , commonly done on the Ladder Barrel, can also be done with the Trapeze. Stretching the legs with the Trapeze feels different than with the Barrels- I actually think that its more possible to release and relax while stretching on the Trapeze because of its hanging quality. You aren't really bracing your muscles against anything, you're letting gravity help to release your muscles. The swinging movement of the Trapeze also adds to the stretch- you can swing it further from you for more length in the muscle, or swing it towards the body to "plug" the bones into the sockets.
The Trapeze also offers some of the most amazing extension exercises and the most fluid movement in pilates. You can see that this hanging exercise incorporates both flexion and extension with fluid movement of the spine.
She starts in a flexed position, hanging the weight of the lower spine towards the mat and releasing tension there. From here, as you can see below, she lifts her hips up and stretches the spine back into extension. This is a great way to release neck tension as well as stretch the whole spine and abdominals. Its really a perfect way to end a pilates session- after all the core work that we do in pilates, it feels so good to really just stretch it all out!
Using the Trapeze can feel like you're a little kid again, taking a gymnastics class or hanging from the monkey bars. In the first picture all the way at the top of this post, you can see me getting ready to do a split on top of the Cadillac bars, its not only fun but its an awesome hamstring stretch and neck release.
There are quite a few more exercises that can be done with the Trapeze, they can be very advanced! There is the Back Walkover, Squirrel, Candle, "Chiropractor" ,... the list goes on. If you want to see some amazing, super advanced work on the Trapeze, click on the link below to one of my older posts which shows the video. Toward the end of the video, you'll see it.