Essential Pilates Exercises for Beginners

Originally called “Contrology,” Pilates is a method of whole-body exercise designed to improve daily activities and livelihood. A Pilates workout is often performed on a mat or in a chair and includes many strength and flexibility exercises. Pilates looks deceptively easy. But the often-tiny movements improve balance and core strength.

There are a few elements that make Pilates unique. First, the method encourages participants to focus on breathing and cultivate a mind-body connection, paying particular attention to how all movement stems from the core. Exercises are repeated in sets that strategically work the muscles without exhausting them. Pilates reinforces the bond between mind and muscles, helping people engage the right muscles in the core. This leads to better posture and control over the body’s movements.

What are its benefits?

Pilates can be tailored to a spectrum of fitness goals, ages, and abilities. Anybody can do it. Pilates has the ability to improve core stability, balance, flexibility, and posture. Let us dig into a few benefits:

  • It increases core strength

The core is called the powerhouse and Pilates emphasizes the core — the center of the body from which all movement stems. The core is all of the surrounding muscles of the trunk that when strengthened and pliable, support and stabilize the body.

  • It improves posture

Pilates focuses on the full body’s alignment, the ideal range of motion at the joints, and a balance of all opposing muscles. It improves posture by bringing awareness to your alignment.

  • It improves flexibility and mobility

Flexibility is the amount of passive stretch in a muscle. Mobility is the range of motion at a joint. Good mobility requires flexibility but also strength. A Pilates practice keeps moving with smooth transitions between precise and slow, controlled movements. It is a combination, which improves strength, flexibility, and mobility.

  • It improves balance

Balance is important at any age and necessary for everyday activities involving coordination. Pilates improves balance and gait not only through core strengthening but because of its focus on alignment.

  • It prevents injuries

Muscles that are too loose and weak or too tight and rigid can make the body more susceptible to injury. Pilates focuses on developing dynamic strength, which means it balances the muscles of the body so that they are neither loose and weak nor tight and rigid.

This set of Pilates exercises is designed to provide you with an at-home Pilates routine and help you build familiarity with Pilates mat exercises, whether you are new or experienced. These exercises develop the core strength, stability, and flexibility for which Pilates is famous. If you’re new to these exercises, try doing a move for 30 seconds, working your way up to a minute.

  • Leg Circle
  • Lie face up with your arms by your sides, palms down.
  • Bend your left knee and place your left foot flat on the floor. Extend your right leg up so that it’s perpendicular to the floor.
  • Circle your right leg out to the side, down toward the ground, and return to your starting position. Make the circle as big as you can while still keeping your lower back on the floor.
  • Reverse the circle. 
  • Complete all reps on one leg, then repeat on the other.
  • Pilates One Hundred
    • Lie face up.
    • Lift both legs up toward the ceiling and lower them halfway, so that they’re at an angle.
    • Curl your head up, reaching your arms long alongside your body, palms down.
    • Pump your arms up and down as you inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts.
    • Repeat this breathing pattern 10 times while holding the position.
  • Single-Leg Stretch
    • Lie face up.
    • Bring both knees in toward your chest, place your hands on your shins, and curl your head up off the floor.
    • Extend one leg out at a time, alternating sides.
    • Keep your lower back on the floor and your core engaged throughout.
  • Criss-Cross
    • Lie face up and bring both knees in toward your chest.
    • Place your hands on the back of your head, keeping your elbows wide. Curl your head up.
    • Bring your left shoulder toward your right knee as you extend your left leg. Then bring your right shoulder toward your left knee as you extend your right leg.
    • Continue alternating sides.
  • Pendulum
    • Lie face up with your arms extended out to your sides. Bend your knees over your hips and lift your feet off the mat.
    • Let both knees fall to the right, keeping your lower back on the floor.
    • Return to starting position, and then repeat on the other side.
  • Scissor Kick
    • Lie face up.
    • Extend your right leg up so that it’s perpendicular to the floor. Bring your hands behind your right leg, pulling them toward your face, and curl your head up. Lift your left leg off the floor a few inches.
    • Switch legs, pulling your left leg in toward you and letting your right leg hover above the floor.
    • Continue switching your legs.
  • Roll Up
    • Lie face up with your arms extended above your head, resting on the floor.
    • Float your arms up so your wrists are directly over your shoulders, and begin to slowly curl your spine up and off the floor, starting with your shoulders and ending with your lower back.
    • Curl up to a seated position, and then continue to fold your torso over your legs, keeping your core tight the entire time.
    • Reverse the movement to roll back down to the floor, lowering from your lower back to your shoulders.
  • Toe Tap
    • Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, and arms at your sides. Your back should be flat on the floor.
    • Bring your knees up to a 90-degree angle. This is starting position.
    • Slowly bring your feet down so your toes can tap the floor. Reverse the movement to return to starting position. This is one rep.

Why not mix and match Wizard Women Vent Racy Mid Waist Legging [4] with Wizard Women Impact Seamless Charm Crop Top [5] and start your Pilate journey? One piece of advice: Please be patient. If you stick to the basics, strength will come in order to add variety and creativity in the future. Give these exercises a try and let me know how it goes in the comment section.


  2. Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T.

Poovamma C K

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