Category Archives: Pilates Exercises

Pilates can be intimidating. It’s easy to see how a beginner may see the exercises as too difficult. However there are some easy, effective and fun exercises for Pilates beginners that are accessible for even those who have never stepped onto a mat.

To show you just how accessible Pilates is for newcomers, here are the six best Pilates exercises for beginners.

1. Rolling like a ball

Starting off with whimsy is never a bad idea. This move is playful and simple, not to mention it offers a great massage for tight back muscles and a perfect warm-up for those abs. One reason that it’s great for beginners in particular is that it teaches you how to get that rounded spinal shape that is central to Pilates. The core engagement is also phenomenal, pulling in the muscles all the way around the midsection.

  • Sit down just forward of center on the mat, knees bent and feed pointed. Toes should be barely touching the floor.
  • Place the hands on the back of the thighs, then lift the legs slightly off of the floor. Ensure that the knees remain shoulder width apart.
  • Lower the head slightly between the knees and inhale as you pull the belly button towards the spine.
  • Stay in this position for two cycles of breath.
  • On the inhale, rock back all the way to the upper back and shoulders, stopping before the neck while keeping the head off of the floor.
  • Exhale, rocking back up to the seated balance position.
  • Repeat four more times for five total reps.

 

2. The Saw

Learning how to form a solid base can be a challenge for beginners, but the Saw offers a perfect way to practice that skill. Posture is a key ingredient to great Pilates. The Saw also loosens the shoulders and upper back, opening up the chest to allow for easier breathing.

  • Sit upright in the center of the mat, legs straight out with feet touching either side.
  • Extend the arms out from the body to the sides, straight and with fingers pointing. Inhale deeply.
  • Exhale, and in one fluid motion twist to the left as the right arm stretches toward the left foot, pulsing three times.
  • Inhale, pulling back up to center.
  • Repeat to the opposite side, then repeat the whole cycle twice more for three total reps.

 

3. The Criss-Cross

Pilates doesn’t have to be a complicated or heavy kind of workout. The great thing about this exercise is it involves simple movements – with profound effects.

  • Lie on your back on the mat, pulling your knees to your chest with your hands behind your head (or place a towel underneath to give a bit more of a boost).
  • Extend the right leg out straight, keeping that left leg bent as you inhale.
  • Exhale as you twist toward the left leg, engaging the core to draw the upper body off the ground.
  • Inhale back down as you switch legs.
  • Repeat three times to each side.

 

4. The Mermaid

The sides of the body are often neglected and easy to ignore, but stretching them out can feel positively magical. Relieving tension and offering a wonderful lengthening to the side body, the Mermaid not only does some great toning bout also feels fantastic.

  • Sit down on the mat with the right hip towards the ground, legs folded to the left side.
  • Place the left hand around the ankles, then inhale as you reach the right arm up into the air with the upper arm next to the ear.
  • Exhale as you pull the straight right arm forward, then swoop it out to the left as you feel the stretch in your side body.
  • Repeat twice on this side.
  • Staying in the same position, reach your right hand down to the ground and do the same movement with your left hand.
  • Switch your legs to the other side and repeat the entire sequence in reverse.

 

5. Single-Leg Circles

A big trick to Pilates is keeping those abs engaged while the body is moving. That’s no small thing to do, but it is a powerful door to unlock. The single leg circle sequence offers a serious boost to the core while also exploring how the legs work together with it. If you need to, it’s okay to bend the leg slightly. In fact it’s better to get a slight bend on the leg than it is to lift the hip off of the floor at all. Another option is to bend the stationary leg that’s on the floor, offering a bit more stability and grounding.

  • Lie down on the mat, legs either bent with feet on the ground or extended out straight and together.
  • Extend the right leg straight up towards the sky as you inhale.
  • Exhale, circling the leg across the body towards the left edge of the mat and back around to the right edge, stopping center.
  • Inhale has you pause, consciously keeping the abdominals fully engaged.
  • Repeat five times, then switch legs.

 

6. The Hundred

There’s no way around it – the hundred is a core of every Pilates practice.  This movement is a challenge for many beginners, but it keeps the blood pumping and is a perfect warm-up. If one hundred reps proves to be too ambitious at the beginning, then it’s absolutely permissible to keep it to fifty, then work up to the full 100.

  • Lie down flat on the mat, drawing both legs up to the chest and rolling the head and upper back up to create a tight ball as you inhale.
  • Exhale, pulling the legs up to a tabletop position with the knees directly over the hips and the shins parallel to the floor.
  • Stretch the arms out by the sides and pulse them ten times, inhaling for five and exhaling for five counts.
  • Repeat the pumping nine more times without a break, for a total of ten reps and one hundred counts.
  • Inhale as you roll your head and shoulders back down the floor and rest your head flat.

 

Pilates Exercises can be Easy!

Pilates is a form of exercise that truly should be accessible to everyone, no matter what their level or comfort. Starting something is always the hardest part, but with these moves it doesn’t have to be overwhelming!

The First Step on your Pilates Journey

Another easy way to begin your Pilates journey is with a single step – downloading our 100 day challenge app! We provide you with a simple, but impactful, short exercise video each day with a new Pilates move. At the end of 100 days, see what benefits your mind and body have unlocked!

 

 

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The 100 is an exercise that is simultaneously simple and intimidating. It’s a defining exercise for Pilates and the heart of the mat workout.

The Basics of the 100

First off, let’s lay out how to do the 100.

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent to form a right angle and hips at a right angle, or for the advanced form with legs outstretched and feet six to eight inches off the floor. Toes pointed.
  2. Inhale as you reach your arms out.
  3. Exhale as you roll your head, neck and upper shoulders off the floor, imagining an orange between your chin and chest. Draw your belly button towards the floor to engage your abdominals.
  4. Inhale deeply as you pump your arms for five controlled beats, pulling the air deep into your lungs as your ribcage expands laterally.
  5. Exhale for five beats with control as you pump your arms with each beat, using percussive breaths as you say “shh, shh, shh, shh, shh.” Be sure to completely empty your lungs by the fifth exhale.
  6. Continue this cycle nine more times for a total of ten cycles and 100 beats. Again, keeping the movements controlled and rhythmic.
  7. Slowly lower your head and shoulders to the floor, then your arms, and finally your legs.

If this exercise seems familiar, it’s because you see an animation of it at the beginning of each 100s to Happiness challenge!

It’s common for those who are new to the practice of the hundred to find that their neck and shoulders become strained. To prevent this, focus on using the core to pull the head and neck off of the ground.

Breathing for Pilates exercises

Breath is extremely important in Pilates exercises. In fact, breath control is a pillar of the system as a whole. That importance is very much true when it comes to the hundred, as it encourages practitioners to engage breath in a focused way during a challenging exercise.

In the 100, breath becomes a tool for empowerment, pulling you through the exercise. Rather than being an overwhelming beast of one hundred counts, the hundred is boiled down to just twenty breaths – ten in and ten out. When viewed from that lens, the whole thing doesn’t seem nearly so intimidating. Exercise is in many ways about perspective, so changing perspective through the use of breath control offers a way to look at things in a whole new way.

Deep breathing encourages slower and more controlled movements. It releases tension, allowing the body to work more efficiently and with less strain. Pilates is all about control and precision, things that are greatly improved with proper breathing.

Another piece here is that deep, lateral breathing during the hundred pushes oxygen to all parts of the body. Flooding the body with oxygen during a tough exercise allows you to have a greater ability to go further and to feel better through exercise.

Controlling the breath through this strenuous exercise pulls the mind and the body closer in sync with one another. It focuses the mind on the task at hand, and pushing out all other distractions.

The Mechanics of the Pilates 100

Starting off a workout with this exercise is a great idea, because it offers a full body warm up. When done correctly, the 100 pulls in all of the major muscle groups and pushes them to get to the next level. It’s one of the reasons that beginners find the hundred to be so challenging, but by that same token it’s the thing that makes the hundred so wonderful. Arms pumping, legs engaged, head up, toes pointed and core on fire, the hundred is fittingly a centerpiece of the mat workout, though it’s great to do any time with any fitness routine to get you started and ready to go.

What makes the 100 different from other ab exercises is that it uses both the upper and lower body to create resistance for the core.

Think about the 100 in contrast to a sit-up, where the lower body stays still and only the upper body moves. By only engaging half of the body, only half of the core is utilized. The same is true for a move like flutter kicks, which only use the lower portion of the body and therefore only engage the lower half of the abs. By using both the upper and lower parts of the body, the 100 engages more than either one on its own.

Why 100?

One hundred of anything is a big number, and that’s part of the magic of this exercise.

The hundred is different from everything else that Pilates created in his exercise system, which he called “Contrology.” His emphasis in every other exercise was on doing just a few repetitions, but doing them with absolutely perfect form so as to get the most out of the body. The hundred is the only exercise he created that pushes repetition to such a high level. It’s important to recognize that though the exercise goes to a high number, perfect form is still of central importance. Arm pumps should be controlled and rhythmic, body still and breaths deep.

Joseph Pilates was a master not only of the science of exercise, but also of the science of motivation. A central reason for the success of his system is that he captured what makes us want to get things done, what motivates us to mold our bodies.

Mastering the 100 pushes us to see how amazing our bodies are, what incredible things they’re capable of. Though for beginners the movement can seem intimidating, with practice it quickly becomes a comfortable and wonderfully awakening exercise. By breaking it down into just twenty breaths, Pilates offers students a way to see things in a new light, empowering them to get more out of their bodies.

The uniqueness of the 100 is part of the reason that we love it so much. Doing the 100 every day is not only a way to a fit body, it’s also a way to a fit and empowered mind. In fact, it’s what our 100s to Happiness app is named after. Check out our app for 100 days of Pilates exercises just like this — if you can do this, then you can do anything. The hundred can really take you to happiness!

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Many athletes are surprised to discover that a basic groundwork in Pilates provides many benefits across a great number of sports, including tennis. In fact, incorporating cross training with Pilates can help tennis players to improve their speed, stamina, balance and control. Whether casual tennis players or competitive athletes, there are lots of great reasons that that Pilates and tennis work well together.

Here are four Pilates exercises for tennis players you can try right now!

These four mat based exercises will help tennis players to get more out of their game. None of these moves requires anything in the way of equipment – other than the mat. For great results, use these exercises to form a mini-routine that you practice every day or a few times a week. With just a few minutes of effort, tennis players will find that they get a great bang for their buck in the pursuit of making their tennis game better.

1.   Hip Circles

Stability on the court is an essential part of the puzzle for tennis players in order to prevent injury and to allow for more controlled movement in pursuit of the ball. Hip Circles will help tennis players to strengthen the upper body as well as the core and thighs.

  • Sit on the mat, arms bent behind you at shoulder width. Palms are on the floor with fingers pointed back, away from the body.
  • Bend the knees and shift the weight to the arms as you pull your belly button towards your spine.
  • Pull the legs in firmly together, inhaling as you draw your legs up towards the ceiling until they are at a 45 degree angle.
  • Extend the arms behind you and press the palms down into the mat, fingers still pointed behind you.
  • Point the toes straight up towards the ceiling and exhale as you swing the legs together in a clockwise motion towards the floor but not touching it. Inhale as they come back around in a large arc towards the starting position.
  • Repeat the same process going counterclockwise for one full cycle.
  • Start by completing three total cycles, pushing yourself to ten over time. Each circle should be bigger than the previous one, with more stability in the upper body.

 

2.  Side Bend

The Side Bend helps tennis players to take better advantage of lateral movement through improved core and inner thigh strength. This is another move that improves stability, which again is a key to great tennis.

  • Sit on the mat, legs folded in to one side.
  • Extend the legs out, placing the top foot on the floor in front of the bottom foot.
  • Place the palm of the lower arm on the floor.
  • Push down from the hips, using the top arm for stability.
  • Pulling in the abs in, allow the shoulders to drop down and the spine to lengthen.
  • Inhale, pressing the lower palm into the mat as you lift the upper arm and straighten the legs to lift the pelvis off of the mat.
  • Preserve that long line, exhaling as you reach the top arm in a wide arc over your head. Pull the shoulder blades back as your arm reaches the top.
  • Be careful not to either lock or hyper-extend the elbow of the lower arm.
  • Inhale, lowering the arm and gently returning the hips to the starting position.
  • Repeat 5 times on each side.

 

3. Pilates Push-up

Great tennis is all about powerful, controlled movement. This variation on the classic push-up will give tennis players stronger core muscles, shoulders, back and legs for total body challenge that will offer more speed and control on the court.

  • Stand up tall on the mat, arms straight overhead.
  • With control, allow your arms to lead your head, neck and shoulders as you roll down towards the mat.
  • Tighten the core muscles as you roll, pulling the abs in towards the spine.
  • As your arms reach the ground, bend your knees and walk your hands forward, inhaling deeply and slowly.
  • Exhale when you reach plank position.
  • Inhale, bending the arms straight back along your ribs. Keep shoulder blades steady and firm on the back. Controlling this part of the exercise will improve stability in the shoulders and torso.
  • Exhale, lifting the abs and push up slowly, the body in one continuous line.
  • Inhale, pushing up and walking the hands back as you reverse the movement. Try to keep the legs as straight as possible. Extend the arms all the way above the head
  • Repeat for ten total reps.

 

4.   Rocker with open legs

To finish off this mini workout, the rocker with open legs is a lot of fun. The core is the focus of this movement, and building these muscles will help to preserve the muscles through strenuous exercises like tennis. Fatigue is a serious issue for tennis players, and it’s important to build the right muscle groups in order to keep that stamina.

  • Sit up on the mat, back straight, legs long in front of you and arms to the side.
  • Bend the knees, then scoop out the stomach by pulling the belly button towards the back.
  • Grab your ankles and lift first one leg, then the other.
  • Maintain head and neck control, with both staying up.
  • Inhale, rolling back towards and then onto your shoulders, keeping that belly button pulled in.
  • Exhale, rolling back up and balance, legs extended up.
  • Repeat 8 times, then bring the leg back down.

 

Final thoughts

Pilates exercises are focused on control of the body and should push to the point of being a challenge, but never to the point of pain. Take as much time as you need to with each exercise and keep it slow and simple. Slow down and ease up if you feel that an exercise is too much for your body, then build up to more challenging movements.

Though tennis is a fast-paced game, Pilates is a slow jam that allows players to learn control of movement in an environment that’s far less stressful and hard on both the body and mind. Regular Pilates is a wonderful way for tennis players to enrich their game. Improved bodily awareness, stability and control, along with a tremendous boost in mental clarity mean that tennis players not only get a better game with Pilates, but also that they enjoy themselves on the court even more.

Try spending as little as 5 minutes a day for the next 100 days, and let us know how it improves your game!

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Lightweight, portable, inexpensive and challenging, the Pilates Magic Circle is a great addition to the repertoire of anyone who wants to help center themselves and get a great workout at the same time.

This flexible ring was created by Joseph Pilates as a way to create balance and encourage even development of muscles and control. At 12-14 inches in diameter, the ring is small and lightweight, made of plastic, metal or rubber and features to side handles to allow you to squeeze it between the arms and/or legs. While building tone and core strength, the Pilates magic circle is fun addition to any routine. Also known as the Pilates circle, exercise ring and fitness ring, the magic ring has a lot to offer.

Look for a circle that gives mild resistance, but isn’t too difficult to squeeze. If possible, it’s great to try out the Pilates circle before purchasing. There are a wide variety of brands that each have slightly different padding configurations and styling. However all of one thing in common – they bring added challenges and stability to classic Pilates movements.

Eight-Step Pilates Ring Workout

One of the most innovative things about the Pilates magic circle is that it allows for variations on familiar exercises like the hundred and the roll back. It can also provide some structure for those who are new to Pilates but who aren’t ready to dig into more complex equipment work.

Check out these eight Pilates ring exercises to get started.

Upper body sequence

  • Standing tall, engage the core and place the circle between both palms, even with the waist.
  • Slowly and with control, push the circle in rhythmically for ten reps, holding for just a moment at the closest point.
  • Moving up the body, repeat at chest height, at shoulder height, and over your head while constantly engaging the core.

 

Magic Circle Pilates hundred

  • Lie down on the back on the mat.
  • Extend both legs, placing the circle between them and just above the ankles, squeezing slightly.
  • Raise legs to a ninety degree angle, rolling the head, neck and chest up as well as you gaze toward your navel.
  • Lifting the hands off the floor, pump the arms up and down for 100 reps, inhaling for five count and exhaling for a five count.
  • To increase difficulty, try lowering the legs down to 45 degrees.

 

Straight arms

  • Standing with feet together, squeeze the inner thighs together while pulling the navel towards the spine.
  • Hold the circle with both hands, directly in front of the chest, hands open with fingertips pointing away and elbows slightly bent. Don’t squeeze the circle.
  • Press the circle in with control for ten reps.
  • Next, squeeze the circle as you count to ten and move the circle above your head, reaching ten when it’s directly overhead.
  • Lower the circle down towards the hips while counting to ten. Repeat four times for five total cycles.

 

Behind the back

  • Standing with feet together, squeeze the inner thighs together while pulling the navel towards the spine.
  • Hold the circle with both hands, directly behind the back, hands open with fingertips pointing down towards the ground and elbows slightly bent. Don’t squeeze the circle.
  • Press the circle in with control for ten reps.
  • Next, squeeze the circle as you count to ten and move the circle up as high as it will go, reaching ten when it’s at its peak.
  • Lower the circle down towards the hips while counting to ten. Repeat four times for five total cycles.

 

Side leg press

  • Lying on your side, bend the elbow closest to the floor and rest the head on the hand.
  • Placing the circle just above your ankles, stretch the legs down and point the toes away. Stack the hips vertically, with legs slightly in front of the body.
  • Draw the navel towards the spine, fully engaging the core.
  • Reach the top arm up and out, stretching the full length of the side body and further engaging the core and back.
  • Inhale, then exhale and squeeze the circle as much as possible. Inhale to release.
  • Repeat ten times then switch sides.

 

Roll back

  • Sit down on the mat, bending the legs in front with the feet flat on the ground.
  • Place the circle between the legs, just above the knees.
  • Sitting tall and with arms straight out in front, inhale deeply.
  • Exhale, tucking the lower back and pelvis under as the abs pull in.
  • Squeeze the circle between the legs as you lower down until the spine touches the ground and the air is fully released.
  • Inhale and exhale.
  • Inhale as you roll back up with control.
  • Repeat for ten total reps.

 

Whole body raise

  • Lying on your back, place the circle just about the ankles between the legs.
  • Pull the legs up to a ninety degree angle.
  • Draw the arms behind the head, supporting, but not pulling in any way.
  • Gently raise the head, neck and shoulders off the floor as you gaze into your navel without straining the next or back muscles.
  • Inhale, lowering the legs down halfway to a forty-five degree angle.
  • Exhale, bringing them back up to 90 degrees as you pull your abs in toward the spine.
  • Repeat for a total of ten reps.

 

Bridge

  • Lie down flat, resting the arms by the side and placing the feet flat on the floor.
  • Place the circle between the legs, just above the knees.
  • Inhale, squeezing the circle in.
  • Exhale, lifting the hips towards the ceiling.
  • Hold at the top, inhaling to squeeze the circle even tighter. For more of a challenge, hold for three breaths.
  • Exhale, lowering back down with control as one vertebrae lowers to the floor at a time until the bottom is resting on the floor.
  • Repeat for twelve total reps.

 

With the Pilates ring, it’s important to focus on form. Allow the ring to act as an extension of the body, increasing awareness and moving towards a more centered practice. Then take it with you anywhere, along with the 100s to Happiness digital app for your smartphone or tablet, to help build on and improve your Pilates routine.

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Though Pilates can involve lots of equipment that’s been specially designed to push the body and make it do more, it turns out that you don’t need much of anything in the way of equipment to get a great workout.

Mat Pilates is done on the floor using a yoga or exercise mat, sometimes in conjunction with some basic equipment like a Pilates ring, weighted ball, and resistance bands. Through the use of controlled breathing and resistance movements that rely on the weight of the body itself, mat Pilates builds core strength, flexibility and tone all over the body. The exercises support lower back health, balance, improved sports performance and mind-body awareness.

In mat Pilates, movements are slow and controlled. Precision is fundamental and completing a mat routine involves building concentration.

Something that most people don’t realize is that Joseph Pilates himself, the founder of the Pilates Method, developed the mat exercises based on the work done on Pilates machines like the Cadillac, the Chair, the Reformer and the Barrel. Mat workouts challenge the muscles in different ways and originally the mat workout was designed as a compliment to the machine work. Taking the mat workout away from the studio for an isolated routine is a relatively new concept in terms of the overall development of Pilates, but the versatility, rigor and accessibility of these routines have proved to be very valuable.

The best part about Pilates mat workouts are that they can be done literally anywhere. They’re great in group settings and through online instruction, which make them wonderfully affordable. What many people don’t realize is that Pilates mat workouts are often more challenging than machine workouts, as learning to isolate the muscles of the core and other parts of the body aren’t quite as easy.

Best Pilates Mat Workouts

Getting started with a mat workout can be a challenge, if for no other reason that it’s difficult even to know where to begin! Having a solid routine is incredibly important in terms of getting the results that you’re looking for as well as in terms of having a workout that flows and is easy to do.

Here are three of the best Pilates mat workouts to try, each with its own flair and benefits.

 

  • Pilates mat routine in classical order

Let’s start with the most challenging and comprehensive mat workout.

This is the actual order that Joseph Pilates laid out for the mat exercises and there’s truly something to be said about working the exercises in this order. After all, this is the way that they were created. Pilates created this sequence of exercises in a way that he thought was logical and that worked for the whole body. It starts off by warming up the body, then progresses through to more challenging exercises and finally into cool down exercises as the session comes to its end. No part of the body is left untouched in this comprehensive, whole body Pilates mat workout. Not only is every area specifically targeted, but each is also targeted in every position. This is by far the most complete and comprehensive mat routine available.

You’ll notice quickly that this is an incredibly long version of a mat routine (34 exercises!) and it can be a bit daunting. Keep in mind that these are all of the mat exercises that were created by Joseph Pilates put together in one routine.

 

If you’re wanting to just start off with the classical order but are looking for a routine that’s a bit more manageable and straightforward, then try just doing the first ten exercises and build from there.

  1. The Hundred
  2. Roll Up
  3. Roll Over
  4. Single Leg Circle
  5. Rolling Back (or rolling like a ball)
  6. Single Leg Stretch
  7. Double Leg Stretch
  8. Spine Stretch
  9. Rocker with Open Legs
  10. Corkscrew
  11. Saw
  12. Swan Dive
  13. Single Leg Kick
  14. Double Leg Kick
  15. Neck Pull
  16. Scissors
  17. Bicycle
  18. Shoulder Bridge
  19. Spine Twist
  20. Jack Knife
  21. Side Kick
  22. Teaser
  23. Hip Twist
  24. Swimming
  25. Front Leg Pull
  26. Let Pull
  27. Kneeling Side Kick
  28. Side Bend
  29. Boomerang
  30. Seal
  31. Crab
  32. Rocking
  33. Control Balance
  34. Push Up

2. 20-minute full body routine

Sometimes you’ve only got a few minutes to get a workout in, but that’s not reason not to do one! The best part about this twenty minute routine is that it’s great for both beginners and for advanced practitioners. It challenges literally the entire body to get better, and you’re guaranteed to feel the burn if you take on this routine.

Try fitting it into the morning before you head out to work or pull it up on a lazy weekend afternoon when you have a few minutes to dig in, bringing you a boost of energy before you go out to enjoy your evening. It’s even great to slip in on your lunch break!

  1. Standing Roll-Down – 5 reps
  2. Side Bend – 10 reps per side
  3. Thigh Stretch – 10 reps
  4. Kneeling Side Kick – 10 lifts and 10 circles per leg
  5. Double-Leg Stretch – 10 to 15 reps
  6. Scissors – 10 reps per leg
  7. Hundred – 100 counts
  8. Side Teaser – 5 reps per side
  9. Swan – 5 to 8 reps
  10. Side Leg Series – 10 side leg kicks and 15-20 side leg circles in each direction per side
  11. Roll-Up – 5 reps

3. Mat routine for better abs

Sometimes what you really want to do is to isolate one particular part of the body. Pilates offers some great ways to focus on just one particular part of the body, getting you the exact workout that you need to shape your body into what you want it to be.

This quick ab workout takes just a few minutes and is a perfect addition to any exercise routine. Known as the Series of Five, it’s a perfect challenge for just about anyone.

  1. Single Leg Stretch – 5 to 10 reps per side
  2. Double Leg Stretch – 5 to 10 reps per side
  3. Single Straight Leg Stretch – 5 to 10 reps per side
  4. Double Straight Leg Lower Lift – 5 to 10 reps
  5. Criss Cross – 5 to 10 reps per side 

It’s easy to see just how versatile and easy to do Pilates mat workouts can be. You don’t need to have a great deal of experience with Pilates, nor do you need to have a tremendous amount of equipment to get the results you’re looking for.

Don’t forget to log into you 100s to Happiness app to find even more amazing mat workout tips and routines!

 

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Getting more out of your life by taking control of the health of your mind and body is within your reach. 100’s to Happiness is here to help you with options that fit your level, your lifestyle and your goals with virtual classes. Virtual classes are a core part of what we’re all about, and with good reason. Flexible and accommodating, challenging and exciting, virtual classes are an interface that work for almost everyone. This is a technology that truly enriches your Pilates practice, helping you to make the most of your hard work.  

There are so many marvelous reasons to subscribe to the on the Go Virtual Classes offered by 100s to Happiness, but here are the top five:

1 – Challenge yourself by going beyond 100

Completing 100 challenges is a solid way to kickstart a change in your lifestyle, but they aren’t the end. In order to keep growing you’ve got to keep going.

The virtual classes offered through 100s to Happiness give you the next step in the process, extending your practice from the mastery of a single exercise to a complete routine. Part of the beauty of Pilates is that it’s a system that’s extensive and varied. Thanks to its long history and rich diversity, you can keep developing your practice with new exercises, variations on current moves, form improvements and dynamic combinations of movement.  

2 – Access them anywhere

Virtual classes can be accessed anywhere – from your phone or on the web. That’s important because it means that you’re not limited in where you’re able to get your workout done! We live in a super busy world, one in which it’s not always possible to get to the gym. With virtual classes that you can access anywhere, you can get your fitness routine in everywhere.

In fact, the workouts included in the virtual classes are specifically designed to be done with minimal or no equipment! You can literally sneak one in anywhere that you’ve got just a bit of space just by pulling up the app on your phone and joining in with the video exercises.

3 – It’s cheaper than the gym

At just $4.99 per month, the On the Go subscription is a steal! Your gym membership is probably at least double that, plus there’s the additional cost of getting yourself there. The On the Go subscription allows you to get fit while minding your budget.

4 – Access to Pilates experts

No matter where you live, no matter what kind of Pilates resources are in your area, you can have access to experts in Pilates through these virtual classes. Whether you’re wanting to refine your techniques or to learn the right way from the start of your Pilates journey, you’ll be able to get access to the expertise that you need to do it all right.

There is no substitute for experience, which is something the creators of 100s to Happiness virtual classes have in spades. The instructors that you see in virtual classes and workshops through our online subscription are PMA certified and masters of this craft.

5 – A healthier you!

Your body matters and so does your mind. Pilates helps you to enrich and support them both, empowering you to improve your overall health. There are so many health benefits for people who practice this amazing form of exercise.

Just in case you needed a reminder, here’s a quick refresher on the benefits that you get with Pilates:

  • Increased muscle tone
  • Core strengthening
  • Improved flexibility
  • Enhanced muscular control
  • Spine stabilization
  • Improved posture
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Injury prevention
  • Increased lung capacity through breath control
  • Stress reduction

 

By expanding your practice with virtual classes, you’ll see your health grow through Pilates by leaps and bounds. You’re taking control of your body, becoming more in tune with who you are and giving you a better understanding of your body and mind. You can do it and virtual Pilates classes will make it easier.

Whether you’ve already joined the 100s to Happiness community or are brand new, you’ll find that signing up for virtual classes is easy! Just login (or quickly create a login) through our website or by downloading the free app on iOS or Android devices. Once you’re registered, you’ll be able to access a free virtual classes so that you can try before you buy. From there you’ll be able to enter your payment information and take your Pilates practice to the next level!

 

 

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Let’s be honest – men can feel a bit intimidated or out of place when it comes to Pilates. Though it was founded by a man, has been pioneered by men and has become a hot trend among football players, there is a nagging notion that Pilates is a workout for starlets, models and dancers. Nothing could be further from the truth! The whole body training that Pilates creates, with its core conditioning and muscle development, is a great fit for people of any gender.

Men can benefit tremendously from a Pilates practice.

4 Pilates exercises to challenge men

The best part of a Pilates workout is that it’s challenging, pushing you to be physically more than you were before. Men who want to take their body to the next level will find plenty of challenge in Pilates, and here are four great exercises to help men get there.

 

Pilates push-ups

The push-up is a classic exercise for men, adding bulk and tone to the arms, shoulders and chest. Think of the Pilates push-up as the next phase in this very traditional exercise, actually improving upon the original and giving you a core workout in addition to the upper body boost.

  • Get on all fours on your mat.
  • Step your feet and hands out until you’re in a long plank, hands directly below the cap of your shoulder and feet flexed as your heels stretch backwards. Pull your head and neck forward in line with your pelvis, so that your body is a perfect line from your heels to the crown of your head. The time here on form is important.
  • Exhaling, pull your stomach muscles in towards your spine, keeping your entire midsection elevated and in line.
  • As you inhale, keep your elbows in tight and lower your entire body towards the floor, being sure to keep it all in line and your core engaged, so that your belly doesn’t come near to touching the floor.
  • Exhale as you straighten your arms back up to plank.
  • Repeat for as many reps as possible while maintaining perfect form.

 

Single leg stretch

This simple but powerful exercise is the perfect way to both tone your calf muscles and to stretch your hamstrings, as well as giving you increased hip flexibility. That’s incredibly important for men, who can carry excess tension in their lower body that leads to an increased risk of injury.

  • Lie on your back on your mat, arms at the side and knees in the air, legs at a right angle with feet on the floor. If you feel a good deal of discomfort in your lower back, roll up a towel and place it under your pelvis to push your hips into the air a few inches, allowing you to get the most out of this exercise. Don’t be afraid to modify exercises when you need to – it’ll give you a greater benefit in the long run.
  • Inhaling deeply, roll your head to your chest and follow with your neck and shoulders until they come off of the floor. Engage your core by pulling your navel towards your spine and holding it.
  • Exhale, using both hands to gently pull your straightened left leg toward your core while straightening the right leg and pulling it up off of the floor several inches.
  • Switch legs, inhaling as you pull your abdominal muscles closer to the floor.
  • Keep your neck, shoulders, core and hips as static as possible while you repeat the scissoring motion. Maintain a smooth and steady motion, repeating the breath pattern again and again.
  • Work to maintain control and form through five to ten full reps (both sides).

 

The Corkscrew

Stabilizing the spine and rooting movement in the core are some of the best benefits of Pilates. The Corkscrew loosens tension throughout the spine while strengthening the muscles that keep it in line, helping men to improve their posture and to feel more solid in their movements. There’s a reason that this exercise is a favorite among everyone – it feels great!

  • Lie on your back, arms at your side with your feet on the floor, legs bent at a right angle. As in the Single Leg Stretch, place a towel under your hips if you feel discomfort or tugging at your lower back.
  • Inhale, anchoring your hip bones and lower back to the mat.
  • Exhale, extending your legs and slowly circling them up to the left as a unit, keeping your pelvis still and not allowing either of your hips to raise up off of the floor.
  • Inhale again as you pull your navel down towards your spine, engaging your abdominal muscles.
  • Exhale, circling your legs together around to the right, again keeping them together as you complete the circle. Be sure to keep your entire torso and both hips on the floor.
  • Repeat five to eight times, then rest for a few moments and reverse the process, circling in the opposite direction.

 

Side plank

The side plank pulls all of the deep muscles of the core, including the obliques. It not only helps to improve tone and shape in the midsection, but also is a tremendous boost for balance and control.

  • Turn on your right side on the mat, pushing up onto your elbow and extending your forearm out perpendicular to your body. Be sure to keep your elbow in line with the top part of your shoulder.
  • Inhale, extending your legs out in line with your torso, feet stacked on top of one another.
  • Exhale, raising your hips and legs upwards toward the ceiling as you form a straight line from your heels to your head, neck in neutral spine. (If this is too challenging, relax your knees and slightly lower your hips.)
  • Allow your breath to come in and out smoothly and deeply, using it as a release to allow you to sustain the position. Imagine that a rope is gently pulling your ribcage towards the sky, keeping your tailbone in line.
  • Try to hold the position for up to a minute, maintaining stillness, spinal alignment and breath control.
  • Lower your hips and knees carefully to the floor.
  • Switch sides and repeat the whole process. Do not repeat.

These four exercises are just the tip of the iceberg for men who are ready to dive in and take control of their health through Pilates. Starting a regular Pilates routine is an incredible way for men to improve their overall muscle tone and control, as well as their flexibility. It’s also a perfect way to stave off injury and for men to get a whole body, core focused workout.

 

 

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Golf is a game of leisure, a pastime that encourages loose movements and long walks. Even with the relaxed pace, golfers are still passionate about making their golf game as great as it can be. The Pilates work that’s done in the studio or on the mat allows golfers to enjoy the game even more and for the long haul.

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