A – Abdominals 

We all want nice abs!

We all want nice abs!

What often brings people to a Pilates class is, they want to strengthen their core.  But it’s not all about the abs and crunches.  Pilates has a large repertoire that challenges the entire body head to toe. 

 

 

 

 

 

B – Balance

Balance is an important factor especially as we age

Balance is an important factor especially as we age

Your balance will be challenged because Pilates requires stability and control of the body.  Not only does one’s balance improve, but also their body awareness. 

 

 

 

 

C- Control

To execute advance exercises properly we need to have control

To execute advance exercises properly we need to have control

Leg circles is a great example of control in Pilates.  Anyone can swing their leg around in a circle while lying on the floor.  But when you need to create stability in the pelvis and make the femur rotate slow and controlled in the hip socket without tensing the upper body it can be quite challenging. 

 

 

D – Dolphin

Can be done on the reformer or on the mat

Can be done on the reformer or on the mat

One of my favourite exercises, whether on the mat or reformer.  It is a great challenge for the abdominals, but also shoulder stabilization and strength. 

 

 

E – Elephant

Hang your head like a rag doll to release neck tension

Hang your head like a rag doll to release neck tension

This exercises does require hamstring flexibility, but is a great stretch.  I actually love this exercise because it is a chance to get rid of neck tension in the round back position.

 

 

 

F – Footwork

Whether done on the chair on the reformer, it's not about leg strength but about what our feet are doing.

Whether done on the chair on the reformer, it’s not about leg strength but about what our feet are doing.

A lot of people get focused on the legs during footwork and then think it’s all about the amount of springs we add on.  But we should be focusing on what our feet are doing and whether we can produce the proper foot placement.  Are your heels staying still in space?  Are you spreading the weight across the balls of your toes? 

 

G – Gait

How we walk affects the whole body

How we walk affects the whole body

Our gait is how we walk or run, the pattern, which our body moves.  Poor biomechanics, can affect our gait, which in the long run can cause injury.  Since Pilates is focused on form, proper alignment and simulating regular movement patterns it can help improve our gait pattern if the workout is gear towards it. 

 

 

 

 H – Hip rolls/Hamstrings


I personally find hip rolls and shoulder bridge variations VERY challenging.  These exercises are great for focusing on the hamstring and glute activation.

I – Imagery 

Hang your head like a rag doll

Hang your head like a rag doll

Is used to help participants execute exercises more accurately, such as;  relax your head and neck like a ragdoll.   

 

 

J – Jump board

Is a great way to get cardio into your reformer classes.   Plus, its just FUN! 

 

Jumping challenges strength, stability and endurance

Jumping challenges strength, stability and endurance

 

 

 

 

 

K – Karate Kick

I love side kick series because no matter what you always get a good butt burn!  One of my favourite is Karate kick because a simple change such as the direction/height of the kick can change the exercise. 

L – Long box

Is a position for placing the box on the reformer carriage lengthwise

M – Mermaid 

You can sit cross legged, straight legs, on a box.  Chose the modification appropriate for your hips.

You can sit cross legged, straight legs, on a box. Chose the modification appropriate for your hips.

This exercise is great for lateral stretches.  Modifications may be necessary for hips if they are not very flexible to be in the position.

 

These tell us what your body is feeling and doing

These tell us what your body is feeling and doing

N – Nerves

Pilates teaches one a mind-body connection.  Our nerves allow us to develop the proper motor response by stimulating the nervous system and teaching it how we should feel.

 

 

Essential for life

Essential for life

O – Oxygen

Our bodies need oxygen to function.  Holding our breath can hinder the execution of an exercise.  The breath in Pilates is used to help us perform the exercises more efficiently and assist in contracting the abdominals.

 

 

P – Pelvic neutral 

Is the most shock absorbing position for the body.  We focus on building strength and stability while in this position so we can perform our exercises with more ease.

 

Q – Quality vs. Quantity

The number of repetitions is not important in Pilates.  Form or quality of the exercises is what we like to focus on.  If the body is tired after 4 repetitions and you no longer can maintain proper alignment, then it is time to move on.

R – Roll up

Roll up is a fun exercises because there are so many variations one can do. This video just show a few of the possibilities. 

 

S – Side splits

Great way to work those inner thighs

Great way to work those inner thighs

This standing series on the reformer is great.  People love to work their inner thighs and they will definitely be targeted during this series.

 

T – Tree 

Requires Hamstring flexibility

Requires Hamstring flexibility

A challenging exercises on the reformer, but a great exercise to work on hamstring flexibility.  This exercises is better to teach one-on-one so you spot your clients while seated on the box.

 

U – Up Stretch

Build upper body strength

Build upper body strength

Up stretch a great exercise that requires strong scapular stabilization.  Exercises such as long stretch, up stretch, elephant all helped me make my push ups stronger.

 

V – Pilates V

Foot position

Foot position

 

Foot stance also know as frogie position.

 

W – Weight

Springs are challenging to control

Springs are challenging to control

Pilates equipment doesn’t use weights, but they use springs as resistance on the reformer, chair and Cadillac.  Although some exercises require holding your own body weight or using light weights or resistance props.  

 

X – Cross straps

Crossing straps on the reformer,  can increase the tension making an exercise more difficult or provide with the support you need because of the angle of strap is in relation to the body. 

Doing single leg strap work, take the right strap and place it on the left foot.  Right leg is free in the air.

Doing single leg strap work, take the right strap and place it on the left foot. Right leg is free in the air.

 

 

Y – Y’sY

This is a great rotator cuff exercise.  Facing backwards on the reformer, with a light spring you are pulling upwards making a Y with your arms.  Make sure not to lean backwards to make the movement, it is all about rotation through the shoulders.

 

Z – Zzzz’s 

We all need our sleep

We all need our sleep

People have told me they find their sleep has improved once they start Pilates, which is great because we need our rest to repair our bodies.

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