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7 Basic Pilates Moves
Pilates is a mind-body exercise system that combines breathing and body movement to reduce back and neck pain, strengthen the core muscles, build flexibility and balance, and results in slender thighs and a flat tummy. Pilates teaches good posture and a wide range of motion and is used by people of all ages. In order to start pilates, it is important to understand the basic exercises.
1 The Hundred
- Works the abs and inner thighs.
- Start Position: Lie down and place your hands at your sides. Straighten your legs and point your toes. Exhale as you lift your feet and head off the ground. You arms should raise off the floor 2-3 inches, remaining parallel with the floor. Your chin should be curled in toward your chest.
- The Move: Pump your arms up and down rapidly 100 times. Inhaling for 5 pumps then exhale for 5 pumps. Keep your abs engaged throughout the workout.
2 The Roll Down
- Works the abs and lower back.
- Start Position: Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. Sit tall with a straight back.
- The Move: Grasp under your thighs and use your arms and lower back to gently roll down toward the floor halfway, pressing your lower back into the floor. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds then come back into the seated position. Repeat this 5 times.
3 The Single Leg Circle
- Works the abs, hips, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs.
- Starting Position: Lie on your back with your arms comfortably laying at your sides. Your legs should be fully extended and your toes should point away from you. Use your ab muscles to bring your left leg up so the toes now point to the ceiling.
- The Move: Rotate your leg outward and swing it in a wide circle before returning it toward the ceiling. Pause for 1-2 seconds at the top of the circle. Rotate your leg without moving your hips. Rotate your leg 5 times in a clockwise direction then 5 times in a counter-clockwise direction. Switch legs and repeat.
4 Rolling Like a Ball
- Works the abs.
- Starting Position: Sit on the edge of the mat with your back straight and your knees tucked up into your chest. Place your hands on your shins. Raise your feet off the ground keeping your back straight and balance on your sit bones. Round your back and bring your forehead close to your knees.
- The Move: Inhale as you rock back until your shoulder blades touch the mat. Exhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat the roll down 10 times.
5 Single Leg Stretch
- Works the abs and obliques.
- Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Your arms should be at your sides. Curl your chin into your chest.
- The Move: Lift your right knee in towards your chest while holding your left leg in a straightened position a few inches off the floor with the toes pointed. Grasp the right ankle with your right hand and place your left hand on the knee hugging the knee close to your chest. Hold it for 1-2 seconds. Alternate, drawing your left knee into your chest and straightening your right leg. Place your left hand on the ankle and your right hand on the knee. Hold for 1-2 seconds. Do 5-10 reps on each side.
6 Spine Stretch Forward
- Works the abs.
- Starting Position: Sit tall with your back straight and your legs extended in front. Flex your feet so the toes point toward the ceiling. Your arms should also extend out from the shoulders parallel with the floor.
- The Move: Round your back and drop your head like you are diving through your arms. Hold this position for 3-4 seconds before returning to the start position. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
7 Side Kick Front
- Works the abs & butt.
- Starting Position: Lie on your left side and cradle your head with your left hand. Place your right hand on the floor in front of you for balance. Bring both legs to a 45 degree angle from your body.
- The Move: Lift your right leg off the ground so it is parallel with the floor and swing it toward your chest then toward your back, pulsing it forward then backward 2-3 times. Keep your legs straight and kick back and forth as far as your hips allow without rocking. Repeat this 10 times (back and forth is 1 time) on each side.