Pilates exercises (not for first timers!)

A little routine for my own clients, please do not use this if you do not normally do Pilates with us at BackFit. This is a mix of exercise to practice and perfect at home. Good luck, do not strain or push past your normal ability; everything will improve with practice, determination and continual repetition.

One of the most frequently asked questions about Pilates is: Will Pilates help me lose weight? The short answer is yes, Pilates is supportive of weight loss. In many cases just beginning Pilates class, or a home routine, is enough to jump start weight loss. However, as time goes by you may find that your body becomes accustomed to your workout level. Then, you will need to increase the intensity of your workout enough to help you continue to burn extra calories. Here are some ideas to help you amp up your workout:

1. Pelvic Tilt from a neutral position

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
The warm-up exercises are very important in teaching the foundations of Pilates movement. They also prepare the body for safely executing more challenging exercises later. I suggest that you choose at least two or three to begin each Pilates routine you do.

2. Chest Lift

 (by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Muscular focus: abdominals - especially upper abs
Tips: This is not a crunch. The abdominals must be pulled way down into a deep scoop as you use them to control a slow, smooth curl up and roll down.

3. The Hundred

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
Beginners please use the knees in a table top position.
Muscular focus: abdominals, breathing
Tips: Your abdominals will be deeply pulled in, so you will have to use your full lung capacity by breathing into your back and lower ribs. Use your abs to hold yourself up--don't get caught up in your shoulders and neck.

4. The Roll Up 

 ((c)2006 Marguerite Ogle)
Beginners please bend your knees
Muscular focus: abdominals
Tips: Use your abdominals to roll up and down with control. Do not rely on momentum or letting your legs lift off the mat.

5. One Leg Circle

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
Beginners bend the non active leg.
Muscular focus: abdominals, thighs, hip flexors
Tips: The abdominals keep the pelvis stable as the leg moves. No rocking and rolling!

6. Rolling Like a Ball

  (by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Beginners put your hands behind the thighs. Round the back and breath in as you roll back, breath out on the return to balance point.
Muscular focus: abdominals
Tips: Stay in your curve for the whole exercise. Initiate the roll back with the abs and not by throwing the upper body back.

7. Open Leg Balance

 (courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Practice from the balance point you used with the roll back position and start by straightening one leg at a time.
Muscular focus: abdominals, hamstring stretch
Tips: Use you abdominals to control the pose. Try not to pull on your legs for balance.

8. The Side Kick Series

  (by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios)
Do not over stretch the leg, focus on keeping the leg long and strong.
Muscular focus: abdominals, all thigh muscles - especially inner thigh
Tips: The ribs should stay lifted throughout each exercise. Do not let them sink to the mat.

9. Front Support/Plank  the press up the position.

 (courtesy of Peak Pilates)
Muscular focus: back extensors, abdominals, shoulders, arms
Tips: Stay in one line from your heels to your ears. Though the focus is somewhat on the upper body, if you engage the legs and imagine squeezing the sit bones together, the exercise will be easier.

10. Saw 

 ((c)2006, Marguerite Ogle)
Beginners can soften at the knee and just do rotation, without the flexion (moving forward to the toe)
Muscular focus: hamstrings, inner thigh, oblique abdominals, back stretch
Tips: Keep your hips anchored and level as you turn to the side. Extend energy through the back arm even as you reach forward.

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