The Pilates Trapeze Table comes loaded with everything you could want in an exercise apparatus. The Trapeze Table is another direct descendant of that early Pilates experiment in fitness equipment invention back in the World War I internment camp.
The Trapeze Table consists of a rectangular upholstered platform with metal poles at each corner; the corner poles are connected together at the top by a frame canopy (see FIGURE 6-2). At one end of the Trapeze Table is a swinging wooden rectangle called the Push Through Bar, which attaches with springs to either the platform or the poles. On the other end, a wooden bar called the Roll Down Bar hangs from the Arm Springs, which are attached to the canopy frame. A set of heavier springs, called the Leg Springs, attach to a series of eye hooks located at varying heights along the support poles. A padded Breathing or Trapeze Bar is connected by springs to a sliding pole on the canopy. A variety of cloth and fleece straps are attached to various places on the Trapeze Table's canopy and platform.
The height of the Trapeze Table platform helps instructors support and assist students as they move through the exercises. The Trapeze Table's straps and bars also work toward this effort, and combine to make the Trapeze Table a perfect tool for injury rehabilitation.
Joseph Pilates created more than eighty exercises for this versatile piece of equipment. Unlike the Reformer exercises, students needn't do all the Trapeze Table exercises in any specific order. The Trapeze Table exercises are designed to correct particular imbalances, and to help students move more quickly toward a uniformly developed body. Like the Reformer, the Trapeze Table exercises build leg strength, upper body power, spinal mobility, and stability, always with a strong focus on core or Powerhouse strength.
Pilates allowed his students to name many exercises and pieces of equipment, so it's not uncommon at all to run across several names for the same item. The Trapeze Table for example, is also referred to as the Trap, or Therapy Table, or the Cadillac.
The direct way in which the student's body interacts with the Trapeze Table's springs concentrates the power and effect of each assisted movement specifically in the area of the body the student needs to strengthen or retrain. The Trapeze Table's upper canopy, springs, and straps provide for movement possibilities that enable you to engage in exercises ranging from the most gentle to the most extreme—depending upon your needs and abilities.
The Wall Unit or Pole System
The Wall Unit or Pole System (see FIGURE 6-3) is an adaptation of the Trapeze Table for small spaces, low ceilings, or group classes. These smaller pieces of equipment are appropriate for most of the Trapeze Table exercises, with the exception of those that use the upper parallel bars or canopy frame.