DIGGING DEEPER - Get to know your Pilates exercises

Going Up Front on the Electric Chair

By Amanda Turner

Hi Everyone! This month I thought it would be fun to learn about an exercise on a piece of apparatus!! It also goes by another name, The High Chair. You might hear them used interchangeably. Going Up Front on the Electric Chair is one of the first exercises you’ll learn when being introduced to the apparatus.


This exercise is great for balance and strengthening the glutes and inner thighs. You might also feel a really nice stretch over the hip flexors depending on your flexibility. It’s a helpful exercise in showing imbalances in the body, if for example, your right side is stronger than your left, you’ll be able to notice here.


I love the first reaction everyone seems to have: “Wow - it really does look like an electric chair!!” The other response I can always count on: once I’ve explained how to execute the exercise, the student will look at me full of shock, doubt and confusion and say, “Wait, you want me to do what??” Let’s clear up all that now:


Set up:


Stand facing the front of the chair, feet completely on the floor. Hands hold the handles. Step one foot on the pedal (it covers the base completely, make sure your other foot isn’t touching the base so you don’t pinch your toes) press the pedal to the base, and step the other foot on.


  1. Step your right foot up on the right side of the center divider and slide your toes against the back edge and shift your weight forward so your knee is against the back of the chair.
  2. The back leg is straight and strong and that heel is lifted high (this will help to engage the glute on the left side.)
  3. Choose the hand position for your level (beginning hands will hold the handles, Intermediate hands on the top bar, advanced hands will be overlapped behind the head)
  4. Scoop the abs off the thigh and USE THE POWERHOUSE TO START TO LIFT pressing the right foot into the chair to begin to straighten the right leg, your pedal will lift at this time. 3-5 reps
  5. To switch sides, hands will come to the handles if they are not there already. The right foot will come down the the pedal and the left foot will come to the top of the chair, left side of the center divider, toes against the back edge, knee pressed against the back board. Repeat.
  6. To get off, hands to the handles step one foot to the floor (be mindful the pedal spring is very heavy and, if you're not careful, will fling you backwards) use control to close the pedal completely. Step that foot off.

Common cues:

~ keep the back heel lifted high

~ keep your body upright, not leaning forward so you don’t bump your head or chin

~ hips stay square, not sticking your butt out or shifting your hips up

~look up

~scoop the abs in and up


Exercises that will help strengthen this exercise:

Ascending and Descending to the Mat

Footwork on the Reformer

Stomach Massage Series on the Reformer

Leg Springs

Standing Footwork

Footwork on the Wunda Chair


What does this prepare you for:

Ascending and descending to the Mat

Going up Side on the Electric Chair

Going Up Front on the Wunda Chair