Pilates 101

Dating back to the 1920s, pilates began when a physical trainer saw the need for rehabilitation exercise. This form of exercise focuses on self-resistance, also known as dynamic tension, to increase flexibility, build strength, and increase control of your mind and body. Joseph Pilates helped various people heal their ailing bodies with this practice including war veterans who had just returned home.

If you picture pilates as an exercise involving bizarre metal springs, handles, and straps, you’re not alone. What you may not know is that pilates moves can be modified and most of them can be performed in the comfort of your own home! Below are five pilates exercises designed for beginners. Be sure to practice each move carefully to ensure you are working the correct muscles efficiently.

  1. The Hundred
    1. Begin by lying on your back and bring your knees into a table-top position. Next, scoop the tummy in tight and lift your head and neck from the ground. Then, raise your straightened arms 3-5 inches off the ground. Pulse your arms up and down for your desired number of reps.
  2. Side Kicks
    1. Start by lying on your side with hips and shoulders aligned. Position your pointed toes a bit in front of your hips to balance. With your head and neck rested on the bottom arm, take your top leg and raise it to the same level as the hip and then swing it back and forth. Place your hands on the floor for stability if needed.
  3. The Saw
    1. Begin by sitting up straight with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width (or a bit further) apart. Next, stretch your arms out straight to both sides. Finally, with arms and legs extended, twist to one side as far as you can before returning to the initial position. Then, twist to the other side in the same fashion.
  4. Pilates Push-Up
    1. Begin by standing up straight, feet shoulder-width apart, and arms extend high above your head. Next, bend at the waist and place your palms on the floor slightly in front of your toes. Then, walk your feet back until you are in a push-up position, bend your elbows and hold for a few seconds, then return to the push-up position. Walk your feet back in and slowly roll back up to the starting position, but keep hands by your sides.
  5. Roll-Up
    1. Start by lying on your back with your legs straight. Then, slowly reach your arms and pointed fingers to the sky. Keep your arms straight and extended while you allow your upper body to roll off the ground into a “C” curve. Reach for your toes to then slowly uncurl your body back to the starting position (lying flat on your back).

Pilates proves beneficial for mobility, flexibility, and much more. While equipment can be useful, there are plenty of moves that can be done at home.

Which at-home pilates exercises do you enjoy most?


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