Looking for all-around strength and flexibility this year? Check out these beginner Pilates workouts, which may well help with your fitness goals. Pilates — invented by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s — involves a variety of exercises that help in strengthening and toning your entire body and improve overall posture. According to Andrea Speir, Daily Burn Pilates instructor, “Pilates is a full-body form of exercise, so everything is targeted.” “Classical Pilates consists of over 600 exercises, all of which have modifications and variations,” she adds. Speir also clarifies that the practice is open to people across levels. There are two types of routines — some Pilates exercises at home only need a yoga mat or towel and can be done at home, while the other uses large apparatus usually found at Pilates studios. More so, these exercises can help you de-stress, become fitter and feel energised. Promoting balance and coordination, Pilates can also boost mind-body connection. However, before beginning any workout, it is advised to consult a physician or a professional trainer to identify the kind of training you need. So what are you waiting for?
Try out these eight beginner Pilates workouts at home
The hundred is one of the most dynamic exercises that suits any fitness level. It gets the name because you do the exercise for 100 beats. Roll out your yoga mat and lay on your back. Lift your legs to a 45-degree angle and point your toes. Now lift your upper back using your abdominal muscles, while keeping your arms alongside your body. Remember to not arch your back when you are getting into this position. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it till the count of five, and raise your arms to a 45-degree angle. Then exhale from your mouth and put your arms down. To make this exercise more challenging, try flapping your arms while breathing simultaneously. This is one cycle of The Hundred. Do 10 repetitions of this exercise. Beginner’s Tip: You can bend your knees if you cannot keep them raised straight. Follow this video to do The Hundred.
On your yoga mat, lay on your back with your arms in line with your body. Place your palms flat on the mat and lift your right leg to a 90-degree angle. Keep it slightly away from your body for more balance. With the help of your abdominal muscles, start rotating your right leg anti-clockwise, without moving your hips. Complete five-leg circles and repeat the exercise five times clockwise. Do the same with your left leg. Perform five reps for each leg in both directions. Beginner’s Tip: Bend both your knees slightly and make sure that your left foot or the lower leg is on the mat when doing this exercise.
One of the easiest beginner Pilates workouts to do. To begin this workout, come to a table-top position and place your hands shoulder-width wide and your knees right below your hips. Lift your knees off the mat to get into a straight-arm plank position. Keeping your core engaged, bring your right knee to your right elbow as much as you can and go back to its starting position. Repeat on the other side. Begin slowly and alternate for 10-20 reps and complete 3 sets. Beginner’s Tip: Don't bounce on your toes while doing this workout and go slow. Each rep should take 2 seconds. Watch how to do Mountain Climbers here.
Lie down with your back on the ground. Raise your knees to 90 degrees and keep your toes pointed. Next, take a deep breath to activate your core and exhale. As you breathe out, dip your knees to your right and then to your left. Remember to maintain the table-top position of your legs through this workout, and that you should only move your lower body, keeping the rest stationary. Start with 10-20 reps of this exercise, and you can aim for three sets. Beginner’s Tip: Keep your core engagement game strong, with your lower back firmly on the floor.
To begin this exercise, you need to first lie with your stomach facing down on the mat. Extend your arms and legs, forming a long line. Draw your abdominal muscles towards your spine and lift your right leg and left hand off the floor simultaneously. Now switch sides, meaning, lift your left leg and right arm at the same time. Keep alternating sides with quick movements as if you were swimming. Remember to keep your core engaged and do not hunch your shoulders. Do the exercise for 30-60 seconds. Beginner’s Tip: While doing this, keep your head parallel to the floor and concentrate on a point.
Kneeling arm and leg reach
Get on all fours on your mat and bring your hands beneath your shoulders so that they are at a 90-degree angle with the floor. Your knees should also be beneath your hips and keep your spine straight. Inhale and exhale. As you exhale, extend your left arm in front of you so that it's right next to your ear. Simultaneously, raise your leg on the opposite side and keep it straight. Point your toes of the leg that is raised. Hold for a breath for a couple of seconds, ensuring that your body is in a straight line. Now, bring your arm and leg back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side, with 8-10 reps on each side for three sets. Beginner’s Tip: Maintain your balance through the workout. To avoid losing balance, lift one leg or an arm at a time instead of doing it together.
Lay flat on the mat. Place your legs slightly outward and keep your feet hip-width apart. Keep your palms next to your chest and your elbows plastered to the sides of your body. Now press into them and lift your upper body off the mat. When your arms are straight and your upper body is completely off the mat, drop your shoulders, look straight, without straining your neck muscles. Draw support from your lower and mid-back muscles, but do not strain them. The tops of your feet, your thighs and pelvic bone must be pressed firmly into the mat so that you can experience maximum core strength. Keeping your core engaged at all times, maintain your posture. Now, bring your upper body back to the mat slowly. Do this six times. Beginner’s Tip: Don’t stay in the swan position for too long. Start with short durations. Check out the Swan workout here.
This exercise is also known as a side plank and has many variations. The below exercise is an easy way to get started. Lie on one side of your body with your feet stacked. Keep your elbow below under your shoulder, perpendicular to the mat, for a forearm variation. Now lift your hips off the mat for about two seconds and then bring them back to the mat. Do this 10-20 times and switch to the opposite side. Do three sets of this pilates routine. Beginner’s Tip: For more support, you can place the top foot on the ground behind you. For better form, watch this video. Features and Hero Image Credits: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India.