Pilates is a popular, core-strengthening workout involves a series of controlled movements coupled with breathing patterns. Here are some great exercises to get you started on different areas of your body.
Exercise #1: Watchdog
Done on all fours on a mat, this exercise challenges back strength and stability, and works the long extensors of the spine, glutes, back and shoulder muscles. The goal here is to stabilise the spine in neutral, counterbalancing against the weight of your arms and legs.
- Prepare by having your shoulders flexed and arms straight with your wrists under your shoulders. Knees should be separated (hip-width apart) and bent directly under your hips. Once you’re ready in this position, inhale.
- Exhale, and simultaneously lift your left arm and right leg so that they are straight and parallel to the floor. Do not allow your back to arch or the pelvis to rotate.
- Inhale, and bring your left arm and right leg back to starting position.
- Repeat the process with your right arm and left leg.
Exercise #2: Spine twist
This exercise, which works the obliques and multifidus (a deep muscle along the back of the spine), can be done seated on a chair. The goal is to mobilise the spine in rotation.
- Prepare by stretching your arms out on both sides with palms facing downward.
- Inhale as you rotate to one side for three steady pulses, trying to rotate a little further with each pulse. Keep the spine lengthened.
- Exhale as you “de-rotate” back to the centre.
- Repeat on the other side. Remember to keep the spine in neutral.
Tip: Try to do five to eight reps of this exercise!
Options Pilates Studio Singapore
- Ground Floor, One Oxley Rise, Oxley Rise Road
- *#08-08 International Building, 360 Orchard Road
- * #03-03 Sime Darby Centre, 896 Dunearn Road
- * The American Club Singapore
6235 9725 | options-studio.com
Exercise #3: Scissors
This is great for strengthening those deep abdominal muscles, controlling your hips and preventing back pain. Done correctly, it’s a challenging exercise; and you should feel it in your abs, not the front of your thighs!
- Lie on your back with your spine in neutral, knees bent and feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Breathe in to prepare.
- Breathing out, float your legs one at a time into table-top position. Keep your pelvis still, and try not arch your back; you will need to engage your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles here.
- Breathe in and hold this position.
- Breathing out, lower the right leg, tapping the tips of your toes onto the mat without arching your back.
- Breathe in and float the right leg back into table-top position.
- Repeat this process, alternating legs.
Tip: Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth – make the shape of the letter O with your mouth, and engage your pelvic floor each time.
Exercise #4: Shoulder bridge
This is useful for strengthening the glutes, working the core muscles, mobilising the spine and stabilising the hips. It’s not a backbend, so try to maintain a neutral spine by not arching it.
- Lie on your back with your spine in neutral, knees bent and feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Breath in to prepare.
- Breathe out and gently roll your lower back into the mat, pressing the weight through your heels and engaging your glutes; scoop your tailbone upwards and continue to peel your spine off the mat, bone by bone, until you’re resting on your shoulder blades.
- Breathe in and hold this position – keep pressing through the heels and squeezing the glutes!
- Breathe out and lower yourself, peeling back onto the mat bone by bone, beginning with the midback and finishing with your tailbone; return to neutral position.
UFIT Clinic Raffles Quay
#14-02, 6 Raffles Quay
6532 2025 | ufitclinic.com/pilates
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This article first appeared in the April 2018 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!