Pilates exercise was one of last year’s most popular sweat sessions — searches for Pilates on Google are on the breakout, and the Pilates hashtag currently has 23.4 billion views on TikTok.
Celebrities are fans, too: Model Lori Harvey dedicated an entire TikTok video to her love of the workout, and Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner are regularly seen participating in Reformer Pilates. (opens in new tab) classes together.
Pilates actually got its name from its original creator, Joseph Pilates. Joseph created the Pilates practice to train his body and mind, shares Amanda Baracho, master trainer and co-founder x pilates,
According to Baracho, more than twelve million people practice Pilates worldwide, and while many people confuse Pilates versus yoga, they are actually very different.
Originally called ControlHe recognized the true power of the workout when he started using it to rehabilitate soldiers coming back from WWI,” she adds.
Interested in practicing Pilates? Keep scrolling as Baracho and Hollie Grant, award-winning Pilates instructor and founder of Pilates PT (opens in new tab) His go-to moves are explained, plus how to perfect them at home.
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Pilates Exercises: Your Guide
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a training method that aims to build a strong, functional body “by reducing muscle imbalances and increasing core strength”.
“Pilates exercises can be done using body weight alone, but there is Pilates equipment you can use in a studio or even at home, such as a Cadillac, Reformer or a Wunda Chair,” Grant continues.
The workout is unique in the sense that it works your body and mind at the same time, creating a strong mind-body connection, shares Baracho. How? Well, you have to focus on each move and make good form a priority during each session, which means both your brain and body are getting a good workout.
“A Pilates exercise always blends six key principles: concentration, control, centering, flow, precision, and breathing. It demands your full concentration, building your mind-body connection,” says Baracho.
Pilates has many benefits (opens in new tab)As our specialty highlights.
Along with boosting musculoskeletal strength to make you stronger, more mobile, and improve your posture, it can also strengthen your core, increase your energy, and improve your breathing.
We especially love the fact that Pilates works on both the body and the mind as well. “Pilates forces you to move in a conscious way,” shares Baracho. “It will help you to recognize the tension in your body and learn how to release it.”
Ready to scroll through her go-to Pilates exercises? You are at right place.
Pilates Exercises: The 7 Best to Try, Recommended by Experts
Below, Baracho demonstrates her go-to Pilates exercises.
1. Roll Down
The roll down is a Pilates exercise that is ideal for people with lower back strain because it helps open the postural chain. It can also promote mobility of the spine.
How to do? Start with a long, neutral spine, feet parallel and hip-width apart. Then exhale in and out as you roll your entire spine forward and down. Roll as far as you can without your hips swaying, suggests Baracho. “Breathe in as you begin to roll your pelvis under you, and take each vertebra back one by one as you roll back through your spine,” she continues.
how long is? Aim for 60 seconds and repeat ten times.
Next up: The Hundred, a classic Pilates mat exercise and usually one of the first in a Pilates class.
How to do? Begin by lying on your back and focus on your breath. Then, “as you exhale, curl your neck and shoulders upward. Keeping arms length, lift them slightly off the mat.” Engage the core, and breathe for five seconds while staying in the bent position. Then, “beat your arms up and down five times,” suggests Baracho. Exhale for a count of five.
how long is? Every ten seconds, but repeat ten full breaths to reach one hundred.
Want to challenge yourself? Baracho’s challenge is, “Lift your feet onto a double tabletop and lengthen your legs, keeping the connection in your inner thighs.”
The Mermaid is a mat exercise that promises to open up and lengthen the side body and hips.
How to do? Begin in a seated position and lift your spine above your center,” share the expert. Then inhale and lift your left arm up and out to the side. As you exhale, reach up and up , Curl your spine out to the side. Focus. After inhaling, advises Baracho. “Then, exhale as you straighten the left arm and return the spine back to a vertical position.”
how long is? Repeat five times before switching to work the other side.
4. The Open Leg Rocker
What it’s supposed to be: While targeting and strengthening the abdominal muscles as well as stimulating the spine, the Open Leg Rocker can improve balance, coordination and flexibility.
How to do? ,Begin in a C-curve position, seated by rolling your pelvis under you,” the experts share. Then, holding your ankles, lift your feet off the mat and your chest at the same time to find balance.” Breathe in and lift your legs up in a ‘V’ shape, and as you exhale, rock back onto your back, she continues. Remember to be gentle.
how long is? Hold for 30 seconds and repeat five times.
5. Single Straight Leg Stretch
According to Grant it is a spice. “Clients love them because they give an instant burn,” she shares. It’s also great for challenging pelvic stability.
How to do? Begin by lying on the mat. Curl up and engage core. Lower the left leg, drawing it in line with the hip and simultaneously pulling the right leg toward you with a controlled double pulse, advises Baracho. Change legs as you inhale – only one leg at a time.
how long is? Aim for 60 seconds, rest and repeat five times.
6. Shoulder Bridge
This Pilates exercise works on everything. It can help to move the spine, work the glutes, core and back muscles as well.
How to do? Lie on your back, and engage glutes as you lift your hips off the mat and hold them in the air. “Be careful not to put any weight on the head or neck,” Baracho warns. Hold for 60 seconds (or as long as you’re able), and then lower back down to the mat.
how long is? 60 seconds – Repeat up to ten times.
7. Four Point Kneeling
The purpose of this Pilates exercise is to strengthen the hips, pelvis and shoulders. Baracho breaks it down for us.
How to do? Begin on your hands and knees. while maintaining an engaged core, pelvis and spine. Lift one leg behind you, keeping it in line with the hip. At the same time, raise the opposite arm in line with your shoulder. Breathe out and get back on hands and knees before repeating with the opposite arm and leg.
how long is? 30 seconds – Repeat five times on each side.