First, let me say that there should really be a video to illustrate, because words alone cannot begin to explain what you are seeing. Secondly, everything you see has multiple moving parts and is spring loaded.
I know it looks like this lady is just pulling on a couple of ropes, but what you don't see/don't know is that the ropes are attached to giant tension springs, and the board she 'appears' to be resting on, is actually on rollers, so it gives a double-whammy action-reaction. At the same time, there are breathing techniques, arm rotations, and leg- extension movements being given by the instructor. When done properly, it is almost like a beautiful ballet. However, when done by a beginner it is Cirque du Soleil 'Behind The Scenes' edition. Just getting into some of the contraptions takes two people.
I'm always 'talking' about dieting and getting in shape, so one of my dearest friends (Gina), who is a level-twelve, advanced pilates contortionist, told me to 'put my money where my mouth was' and take a pilates class with her. So, I began a pilates class a couple of months ago - not knowing a thing about what my 'money' was getting me into.
At various times during a class session, I find that the only way I can get through (survive) a particular movement/exercise is to focus my mind totally away from what it is I'm trying to do. My latest trick or mind game is to try to think of words that describe what I'm doing or words that should be plastered on the studio sign as warnings for newcomers. 'Torture' was the very first word I 'mentally' spoke. So far, here's the list of words that I've created as a means of diverting my attention when I close my eyes and go into survival mode:
armed and dangerous
news headlines "unfortunate accident"
I fear that at any given moment, I am only one little muscle quiver from being napped into a pretzel or sent sailing through the plate glass studio storefront.