Thursday, 29 January 2015


Wow! It seems part one of this post was a very popular one - i'm glad you all loved Katie's post about the benefits of Pilates, I hope it inspired some of you to try it. As promised, here's the second part of Katie's two part special - a few exercises you can try at home before your try Pilates or Aerial, or if you already do either these are some great exercises to do in-between classes to keep you strong! Now i'm going to pass you back over to Katie… 

The 100 

 The hundred is a classic Pilates mat exercise. It requires that you coordinate your breath with the movement, and be strong and graceful at the same time. It is challenging, but the hundred is an easy exercise to modify.  


-Lie on your back with your legs bent in tabletop position with your shins and ankles parallel to the floor/ceiling. 
 -Exhale, bring your head up with your chin down and, using your abdominal muscles, curl your upper spine up off the floor to the base of your shoulder blades. Keep the shoulders sliding down and engaged in the back. Your gaze is down into the scoop of the abs. 
-Exhale, at the same time, deepen the pull of the abs and extend your arms and legs. Your legs reach toward where the wall and ceiling meet in front of you. You can adjust them higher if need be, or lower for more advanced work. 
-Your legs only be as low as you can go without shaking and without the lower spine pulling up off the mat.  
-Your arms extend straight and low, just a few inches off floor, with the fingertips reaching for the far wall.  
-Hold your position. 
-Take five short breaths in and five short breaths out (like sniffing in and puffing out). While doing so, move your arms in a controlled up and down manner - a small but dynamic pumping of the arms. 
-Be sure to keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. It is the abdominal muscles that should be doing all the work. ---Try to pump the arms for 100 pats. 


-Arch your lower back
-Strain your neck
-Have one leg higher than the other  

Make it easier:

-You can keep your legs in tabletop position. You can also do the exercise with your knees bent and the feet flat on the floor, lifting only the upper body. 

The Double Leg Stretch  

This exercise increases the strength and range of motion in your shoulder girdle, so you can reach higher, lift more efficiently, and maintain better strength and balance in every extended movement you make. The Double Leg Stretch is also a terrific way to build strength and flexibility in your hips.  


-Lie on your back with your shins in table top position, parallel to the floor/ceiling. 
-Exhale, pull your abdominal muscles in to curve your upper body up off the floor. Deepen the abs, bringing your forehead toward your knees.  
-Grasp your shins or ankles. 
-Inhale, your shoulders stay away from your ears, and your abs stay pulled in, as you simultaneously reach your arms and legs in opposite directions. Extend as far as possible while keeping your abs pulled in and the lower back on the mat.  
-Your upper body stays lifted as you reach 
- Do not let the extension of the arms drop the level of the chest.  
-You might need to adjust the height of your arms and legs as you reach. The lower they are, the more difficult it is to keep your lower back on the mat. 
-Exhale, as you sweep your arms out to the sides and reach around to grasp your shins, your abs deepening and pulling the legs in to centre. 


-Drop your upper body curve. Your chest and head remain lifted for the duration of the exercise.  

Make it easier:

-Do it with one leg. 
-Keep your head on the floor. 
-Make the range of movement smaller. 


 The Plank 

The Plank is a balance and core conditioning exercise. There are two major types of planks, the full plank, where you balance on both arms, and the side plank, where you balance on one arm. 


-Lower both your forearms to the ground so that both your elbows and fists are flat to the ground. Your fists should be directly underneath your shoulders. 
-Curl your toes under and engage your abs by tilting your pelvis (find your neutral spine) and pull your belly button towards your spine. 
-Straighten your body but keep your neck and spine neutral. Imagine that you’re a plank of wood, and that you’re straight as an arrow!  
-Flex your abdominals and squeeze your glutes ( your bum! ) These are the two major muscle groups you’ll be working out in this exercise. 
-Hold this position ideally for at least 1mim, or until after the burning begins. 
-Keep your eyes on the floor in front of you.  


-Let your butt lift or sag (dip the lower back). 
-Lift your head.  

 Make it easier: 

-Hold the position for a shorter period of time. 


 Shoulder bridge  

The Bridge is an excellent Pilates torso stability exercise. This means that one of your goals is to keep your torso really still during the exercise. This exercise strengthens the butt and the back of the legs and teaches core stability. 


-Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, approximately hip distance apart. 
-Your feet should be in a comfortable position — not too close to your butt and not too far away. You should be able to easily find the neutral spine. 
-Experiment with different placements of your feet to find the best fit!

Inhale, take a deep breath in, expanding into your back and your lungs. 
-Exhale, keeping your torso in one flat piece, press your feet into the mat and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips up off the mat.
Come up high enough that your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. 
-Don’t press up so high that you can’t see your knees.  
-Inhale, maintain the Bridge position. 
-Exhale, still holding the bridge, think of knitting your ribs down to your belly, squeeze your butt, and try to lengthen through the front of your hips. 
-Inhale, hold the Bridge position. 
-Once comfortable here, trying squeezing the knees together and release (x 4) 
-Exhale, maintain neutral spine as you come back down to the mat. 


-Stop contracting your abs. 
-Push your hips so high that the neutral position of your hips and back becomes compromised. 

 Make it easier: 

Make the range of movement smaller 

There we have it, just a few exercises from Katie to get you started!

If you want to find more about Katie's classes, you can find out more here. 

Thanks for reading!

Natalie and Katie x 

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