Pilates is about strength, balance, and flexibility. It’s a tough but approachable form of exercise that is rooted in controlled movements with an emphasis on alignment, breath control, and core strength. While we don’t teach Pilates at The REBEL Workout, we do use some of the same exercises and KNOW that Pilates can be a great addition to your overall wellness!
We love Pilates so much that we asked two of our favorite studio owners to share their favorite moves that can be completed anywhere, with little to no equipment. These experts shared their favorite moves, along with instructions on how to complete them on your own. Keep reading to learn some of their best tips and tricks so that you can jump into Pilates no matter where you are at this very moment.
Clara, The Pilates Collective
Clara, as she mentions below, is the founder of The Pilates Collective, which is a collaborative, inclusive studio that focuses on using Pilates to better our lives. Her unique space allows all of her studio’s members the ability to better their core strength and muscle coordination, no matter their current fitness level. Clara is constantly learning and constantly evolving her teaching style to help bring out the best in her students.
To learn more about Clara and The Pilates Collective, click here.
Tell us a little about yourself...
I started teaching Pilates right after the birth of my first son, and now I’ve been teaching Pilates in the Denver area for about nine years. I opened up my studio, The Pilates Collective, in January of 2016.
To me, Pilates is all about gaining more knowledge about your own body. The exercises and core concepts we work on are best used when we are able to use them outside of the studio and can apply them to other parts of our day. Whether it’s thinking about sitting up straighter when working at our desks, keeping better alignment during other workouts, or just breathing more deeply, Pilates is a tool that will keep your body working for you.
Here are a few of of my favorite Pilates exercises for at-home workouts. The key for all of these exercises is to move through them deliberately and try to stay in touch with how your body is feeling the whole time. All of these, when done correctly, will help with general postural alignment and stability:
Tuck / Neutral
This is a great exercise to do at the end of a long day, after travelling, or prior to working on more intensive core exercises. While doing this exercise, be mindful of your lower back and make sure that the movement feels supported and good on the spine.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Relax your arms by your sides and have your heels in as close to your butt as feels comfortable. On an inhale, find your neutral pelvis, allowing your tailbone to drop down towards the floor and a small space to come between your lower back and the mat. On your exhale, find your tuck position, pulling your belly button down towards your spine and getting rid of that space under your low back.
Rock back and forth, inhaling as you find neutral and exhaling as you tuck, about 10 times.
The slower you complete this move, the better. A slower speed will allow you to really feel the movement in your spine and the engagement in your abdominals.
Neutral is subtle, so be careful not to rock so far forward that you go into an arch.
Don’t let your ribs flare open, especially in your neutral position.
This exercise is ideal for anyone working on stability. It will help keep your hips stable when working on lunges, squats, or any exercise single legged.
Start laying down with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your neutral pelvis and take an inhale.
On the exhale, pull your navel into your spine and start to peel your spine off the floor, one vertebra at a time, until your hips are lifted. Take an inhale at the top, thinking about pulling your hip bones towards your lowest ribs and vice versa. On your exhale, roll down through your spine one vertebrae at a time. Try for 10 of these, focusing on your breath.
Keep your weight distributed through all 10 toes (not just the pinky toe edge of the foot)
Keep your abdominals strong to protect your lower back from overworking
Don’t let your lower ribs flare apart. Instead, think of knitting your ribs closer together.
While this exercise may seem like a small movement, when done correctly, it’s the best way to work on thoracic extension. This is not a “backbend,” but rather a way to create space in the upper back, to stretch out the chest, and to engage the core by helping you find more space in your spine.
Lay down on your stomach with your legs stretched out behind you and your hands planted by your shoulders. Think about pressing your pubic bone into the floor and pulling your navel up towards your spine. Lift the fronts of your shoulders away from the floor and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
On an inhale, begin lifting the back of your head and your upper spine off the floor as you press your hands into the mat. Exhale to lower back down. Do 5-10 repetitions.
Press the tops of your feet firmly into the mat and squeeze your legs together.
It doesn’t matter how high you lift your head and back off the ground. It’s more important that you keep your abdominals engaged and that you feel your upper back working.
In between repetitions, rock your hips from side to side to make sure your lower back isn’t tightening up.
Yael, Terrafly Pilates
Being a third-generation Denver native, Yael actually learned about Pilates in 2008 when she was living in Argentina. But her practice was honed throughout several studios in the Denver and Boulder area after the mountains called her back home in 2009.
Leading classically-inspired Pilates, Yael is a master of connecting breath to movement and inspires her students to work hard to improve their strength, flexibility, and balance. She opened Terrafly with the idea that all students should connect to two things - our roots and our wings. Our roots being our family, community, and space of groundedness, and our wings being places in our life where we grow to experiment and learn to feel free.
Tell us a little about your studio…
Just a few blocks from REBEL, Terrafly Pilates is a boutique Pilates studio that offers small group classes, kids’ classes, and private sessions. We also run a fully comprehensive training program for those individuals that are interested in expanding their Pilates practice or becoming teachers.
All of the moves I’ve shared are regularly used in our studio and are excellent variations on spinal mobility.:
Similar to Bridge, which Clara shared above, start laying down with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your neutral pelvis and take an inhale.
On the exhale, pull your navel into your spine and start to peel your spine off the floor, one vertebra at a time, until your hips are lifted. Take an inhale at the top, thinking about pulling your hip bones towards your lowest ribs and vice versa.
Tabletop your right leg, then extend that leg to the sky, similar to the picture on the left above. Lower your extended leg to even with your opposite knee, such as shown in the picture on the right above. Lift and lower your leg three times, then repeat on the left.
After you have completed all repetitions, exhale and roll your back to the ground one vertebrae at a time.
Spine Stretch Forward
Start seated with your legs in front of you just wider than hip width apart and your arms extended in front of you, such as shown in the picture on the left above. With a very straight back, hinge towards your feet, reaching as close to your toes as possible without breaking your form, such as shown in the picture on the right..
Inhale and exhale, resting in that position for a moment. Then slowly sit back up, stacking one vertebrae at a time until you are back into your seated position. Repeat 5-10 repetitions, keeping good form.
Remaining seated in the same starting position as your spine stretch, keep your back straight and your arms wide out to the sides, Maintaining your straight spine, twist slowly to the right until you are facing the side wall. Slowly hinge forward, allowing your left hand to slice across the outside of your right toes, such as shown in the picture above.
Sit back up by slowly stacking your spine, one vertebrae at a time and untwisting to face forward. Repeat on the opposite side, reaching your right hand across your left toes. Repeat 3 times on each side.
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