PILATES-INSPIRED FREE MOVEMENT

A Toronto-based dancer demos a unique hybrid flow.

“As toddlers we learn to move from curiosity and necessity, developing movement skills through play,” says Natalya Sebastian, Pilates manager and lead teacher trainer at Equinox locations in Toronto. “At some point as adolescents and adults we lose this incredibly inherent and creative way to exist in the world. Movement becomes formalized as exercise that takes place under certain parameters.” 

Having a macro and micro plan for your workouts is important but there’s a case to be built for just moving your body in whatever way feels good for you. Crawl, stretch, run, jump, lunge, hang, kick, or spin—it’s all good, according to Sebastian. Her favorite form of free movement is during her “jam sessions”, often with fellow Equinox Pilates and barre instructor Paulina Witkowski, or solo. “I take various things from my toolbox—barre, Pilates, contemporary dance, and yoga—and play,” she says. 

Take some inspiration from Sebastian in the video above. Then, try it for yourself. (If you need some more structure to get started, try this Pilates workout with a dance-like vibe.) Here, her tips for making the most of a session:

Choose a location.
“Find a space you feel comfortable in that doesn’t limit your movement or creativity,” says Sebastian, who recommends a park or empty studio. 

Set the tone. 
“Pick a song that lights you up—the kind you can’t help but sing to and spontaneously makes your body crave to move and dance,” says Sebastian. While everyone’s preference will be unique, Sebastian says tunes from Massive Attack and Lykke Li are on her current playlist. 

Warm up.
Ideally, jam after other exercise like running, strength training, or Pilates. That way, your heart rate is already elevated, muscles are warm, and endorphins are flowing.

Start with what you know.
“Take movements you know and try to link them together without judgement,” says Sebastian. For example, experiment with fluidly moving from a pistol squat to lying on your stomach or move from a single-leg balance to a plank.

Try not to think. 
“It’s called free movement so that you feel free and empowered to move without boundaries, or structure,” says Sebastian. “Just breathe and move.”

Video by Peter Tamlin. Art directed by Kathryn Marx.