sical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Pilates is a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance movements. The Pilates program mainly focuses on proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance. It’s time to skip boring crunches and planks! The core Pilates series will rock your daily workout routine to help you get a flat, toned, and strong core.

  1. THE 100

The Pilates method is full of wonderful ab exercises, and the 100s is no exception. The 100 exercise is designed to get your blood pumping and warm you up. It helps to get the blood circulating through your body to prepare you for the workout to come.

Step-to-step instruction

START: Lie on your back with your legs in tabletop position (hips and knees at right angles). Engage your deep abs to round your lower spine into the floor. Make sure you are not “pooching” your abs, which means you are just working the top layer of abs – a definite no-no in Pilates.

FINISH: Exhale and lift your upper back off the floor, until the bottom tips of your shoulder blades are just off the floor. Reach your arms toward your feet. Your arms will be about two inches off the floor. Pump your arms up and down with a small range of motion, keeping your elbows straight. Inhale for five arm pumps and exhale for five pumps. That completes one set or cycle. Repeat cycle nine more times for a total of 100 pumps. If you are struggling to make it to the end of this move, making this a “50” instead.

  1. ROLLING LIKE A BALL

Don’t take yourself too seriously. This playful move is actually a simple way to massage your back muscles simultaneously while also working your abs. The rounded shape of your spine helps teach you how to engage the core muscles properly and effectively while challenging them to work hard.

Step-to-step instruction

START: Sit on your mat and clasp your hands over your shins, just above the ankle. Drop your shoulders, widen your back, deepen your abdominals and make a nice curve of your spine. Don’t tuck your head; your neck is part of the long curve. You may want to review the C-Curve.

FINISH: Lift your feet off the mat and balance on—or just behind—your sit bones. Pull the lower abs in and up to get yourself going and roll back on your inhale. Roll only to the shoulders. Do not roll onto the neck. Pause. Stay deeply scooped with your spine curved. Use your exhale and abdominals to return to upright. Repeat 5 to 6 times.

  1. SINGLE LEG CIRCLE

The Single Leg Circle is one of the best Pilates exercises for challenging your core strength and pelvic stability. The abdominal muscles must work hard to keep the entire torso controlled despite the circular movement of the leg in the hip socket. The Single Leg Circle also strengthens the quads and hamstrings at the same time as it promotes a healthy hip joint.

Step-to-step instruction

 

START: Lie on your back with legs extended on the floor, arms by your sides. The legs are taut and held together. The arms press into the floor energetically. The abdominals are pulled inward and upward. Pull your abdominals in, anchoring the pelvis and shoulders. Draw one knee in towards the chest and then extend it straight toward the ceiling. If it doesn’t go up that high simply lower the leg and do your best.

FINISH: Lower the leg down towards the centerline in a circling motion. Use control as you carry the open the leg out to the side and then sweep it around back to centre at your starting position. Be sure to keep your shoulders and pelvis level. This is more important than extending the leg fully or making big circles. It is in keeping the pelvis stable that your abdominals get their workout. Repeat 5 to 6 times and then switch leg.

  1. SINGLE LEG TEASER

The single-leg teaser is an easy way to get your body prepared for the more advanced regular Pilates teaser — in which both legs are extended in the air. This Pilates move requires coordination and balance and will quickly help you develop core strength.

Step-to-step instruction

 

START: Lie on your back, walk your feet in closer together, with your legs at a longer angle (not right in near your hands). Extend one leg out, tightly hugging your inner thighs and knees together. Reach your fingers for your toes.

FINISH: Slowly round your body up reaching for those toes. Roll down only to your shoulder tips, come right back up and reach. Repeat four times. Place that foot down, send the other one out, and repeat 4 times.

  1. SAW

If you tend to shy away from traditional ab work (like crunches), this move might be your new go-to. The Saw is a classical Pilates exercise that strengthens the spine, tones the waistline, and stretches the hamstrings and hips.

Step-to-step instruction

START: Sit at the top of your mat with your legs extended in front of you and your hands resting at your sides. Sit up as tall as possible, pressing your weight evenly across both sit bones. Flex your feet and spread your toes. Pull your navel in toward your spine, strongly engaging your abdominal muscles. Spread your legs as wide apart as your shoulders. Raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height. Keeping your palms facing down, extend outward through your fingertips.

FINISH: Pull your navel in toward your spine and lift it up. Imagine you are lengthening your entire torso and spine up to the ceiling through the crown of your head. Initiating the movement from your torso, twist to the right as far as possible. Reach forward and downward as far as you can until your left hand crosses over your right foot, brushing your left pinkie finger past your right baby toe. Your legs should be completely straight and your right arm should remain lifted. Exhale slowly as you stretch your body forward in three gentle, saw-like sliding motions. Inhale as you draw your torso upright and return to centre, keeping your arms extended. Twist to the left and repeat the sequence. Complete four full rounds, reaching farther forward with each repetition.

  1. MERMAID

The Mermaid Stretch is a great exercise. Primarily, it unilaterally stretches and engages your intercostal muscles – which are primary breathing muscles – your back extensor muscles and your Quadratus Lomborum. There is also a minimal abdominal engagement to maintain the integrity of the torso.

Step-to-step instruction

START: Rest on your right hip in a seated position, with your legs folded together to the left side like a mermaid. Place your left hand around your ankles, and hold your right arm straight up in the air, grazing your ear.

FINISH: Keeping your abdominals engaged, reach your right arm towards the ceiling, and then out and over to the left, making sure your arm stays straight. You should feel a stretch along the right side of your body. Repeat twice. For a counter-stretch, place your right hand on the mat, bending it slightly. Lift your left arm up near your ear, and stretch to the right. Spin your legs around, and repeat on the opposite side.

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