The Table and The Tower: Cadillac and Guillotine

Hello all!
I received an email a few days ago about the next workshop: The Table – Wall Unit – Guillotine and to my surprise the person who wrote it didn’t know that the Table is actually the Cadillac. We are talking about a trainer… Of course I am not blaming anyone for not knowing something, I just find it rather weird that the person was never told by their teacher trainers, so I decided to explain a little more about it since maybe others out there do not know and would like to know.

Joseph referred to the Cadillac always as the Table and some people -like Romana- would also do so though she also called it ‘the Trap-Table’ and ‘the Cadillac’ too. The Table (Cadillac) as we know it today, was one of Joseph’s last additions to the equipment, quite a bit after the rest of the equipment. Yes, not a bed from the camps… not by a mile. In fact it is not even his invention, nor he ever said it was or claimed/patented it. Yes, it was inspired -another word for ‘copy’- in the hospital beds that have a canopy and that is where he probably got the idea from, and yes, he did already have a few beds of his own: The Massage-Rehabilitation Table, the ‘V’ bed and other earlier inventions. But none of them actually had a canopy, a trapeze or a Push Through Bar, a bar which is in many ways the last of his best inventions. The original ‘Cadillac’ had actually many more elements but as we know Joseph always gravitated towards economy and many didn’t make it through time. So it was a new ‘extension’ of his Massage-Rehabilitation bed which already included the ‘Roll Back’ side, so to speak, with an increase in height and the addition of many things, from which the Trapeze, the ‘fuzzies’ and the Push Through Bar made it through -no pun intended :-)- after he didn’t find other ‘attachments’ either necessary or interesting. So, resuming, the Table was an ever changing piece of equipment but the Cadillac in its current incarnation is a much later piece of equipment and not really Joe’s creation entirely though based in his earlier versions.

So were did the word ‘Cadillac’ come from? Well, as we all know, when we start learning Pilates the ‘nicest’ exercises are on the Table. In the 50′s the best car you could have in the US was a Cadillac so at one point someone stated that the Table was the “Cadillac” of the equipment. And the name stuck.

The Tower (Guillotine) is actually much older than the Table (again, the Table as we know it today) and, as some of you have guessed, some of the exercises that we do on the Table actually come from the Tower. Teaser, Monkey and of course The Tower were originally Tower exercises (You did the Tower in the Tower…) The exercises transferred nicely to the Push Through Bar -unless you are tall, then the Guillotine is way better- though some of their characteristics and feeling are different since the bar moves just vertically -you go UP, more of a Jackknife/Balance Control feeling- and with the bar you describe an arch -more of a Short Spine feeling- with the Teaser you have to work harder in the Table to feel it -unless you set it like the Guillotine- while in the Guillotine it finds you before you need to look for it. Everyone should at one point try the exercises in the Tower since those versions are the ones that define them, especially for men.

Again, some myths -like the one about beds/springs/internment camps- grow through time and are assimilated as knowledge. Suffice to say that the beds in the camps had no springs -straw was used and you had to watch that they didn’t steal it- and even middle class people in the free world didn’t have springs in their beds.

Most studios lack a Guillotine and their beds are too wide – Joe actually reduced the width through time since it adapted better to the general public not challenging the shoulders too much in things like the Arm Springs- so the feel is different. That is not a criticism is just a logical end when you eliminate some things and put emphasis on others: nowadays we tend to try to account with people with wider shoulders in things like the Push Through, creating wider bars. On Joe’s day you needed to straddle the Table for quite a few exercises so the wider tables don’t allow many to do so well. Also there were many more Arm Spring exercises than the ones practiced today and the separation of the poles it too wide for them. But since those exercises are not done -even known to most- it makes sense that they change the equipment since they don’t need it for the original exercises, they are actually not missing any features in the Cadillac and maybe is better that those exercises are not done in the new versions of the equipment.

Often Romana will point out how much safer the Tower was than the Push Through Bar for things like the Teaser, Monkey and Tower. Also the extra width of the Tower challenged men better in the Arm Spring Series -which has more exercises than the Mat…- and the ladies should practice them outside the Table since the poles are closer together.

The only draw back introduced by the Cadillac was the fact that because of the increase in height many of the exercises became very hard and fell into disuse. Needless to say that we will be bringing them back… 🙂

Also names like the Electric Chair and the Baby Chair are ‘familiar’ denominations for the High Chair and the Small Chair. Again, there is nothing wrong with calling them that way but it is always nice to know the original names.

Well, that is just about it…


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