Hi everyone, I will be on a vacation for these 2 weeks. I may or may not post depending on the situation. Have a great holiday!


Pilates Training – Leg Pull Back/Supine

In a Pilates training program, you would always find yourselves working the whole body and this mat Pilates exercise really does that for us. I am going to talk about the “MAGIC 3″ (Steve Jobs often emphasize the 3 main points in his presentations) areas this Pilates Mat exercises encompass. Practise this mat Pilates exercise with these 3 things in mind and most likely you would be doing it better than ever.

1. The core stabilizing muscles

2. The Leg muscles

3. The upper back muscles

Pilates Training has to involve the Core

Most people associate Pilates Training with core training and is evident in the Leg Pull Back/Supine. Our deep abdominals (transverse abdominis), the obliques and rectus abdominis all helps to stabilize the front of the spine, while the back muscles like the erector spinae stabilizes the back of the spine. Together they form the core of the body. Hence when doing this piece, Pilates breathing is really important. Please go to Pilates Breathing to revise before you attempt this piece. In that breathing video, I mentioned how the breathing allows us to form a brace around our body (that acts like a girdle or corset around our waist). It is this technique that can help you involve the core yet moving the limbs with ease. Most people who can’t keep their back straight in this exercise probably did not breathe to help make this exercise easier.

and Pilates Training does not neglect our legs

In any Pilates training, I always like to tell my students that our body is like a building and our legs are the foundation. Those that you see being constructed during the piling period of a construction. When there is misalignment in the legs, there is a high chance of a misalignment in the rest of the upper body. In this Pilates mat exercise, there are 2 things happening at the same time. The leg on the floor recruits the hip extensor muscles such as our butt (gluteus maximus) and back of the thigh (hamstrings). The leg in the air allows us to work our hip flexors. When you do this piece, please press your feet into the Pilates mat to emphasize the use of the hip extensors. It will really help your body stay in a straight line.

A good pair of arms will help with your Pilates Training

Finally having a good pair of arms really is essential if you want to eventually go on to more advanced Pilates mat exercises. When I talk about arms, I always like to bring the focus to our back muscles, specifically those that helps with stabilizing our shoulder blades. Without that, our shoulders will be shrug up in this exercise. While you focus on pressing the foot onto the mat, keep your shoulder blades down and back. This is especially important in this exercise because we have a tendency to elevate our shoulder blades when our arms goes behind our bodies (shoulder extension). If you are familiar with muscles, you would want to think about your lower trapezius and latissimus dorsi to help you. I would say the more you do these, the lesser you would feel in your wrist.

This piece is always challenging but I believe you have what it takes to do it well. Review the 3 areas above for BEST results!

Enjoy this Pilates training video and give us your comments on what you experience!


Pilates – Mat Or Machines?

Pilates Mat is so common that a lot of people think that is the only thing that exist for Pilates but most of you who have been following this site knows that Pilates machines are an alternative. I feel this article that I came across may be a good start to realising the Pilates mat is only a part of what Mr. Joseph Pilates created. I agree with the author that mat Pilates may not be the best for Pilates beginners. In fact there are better places to start especially if you happen to have tightness in your shoulders or neck. However in my opinion the ped-a-pul may not be a good solution from my personal experience of teaching it. I think the Towelwork or Floorwork created by Master Teacher Ron Fletcher, could be a great place to start instead. With the ped-a-pul, there is already spring resistance which most people with shoulder issues may not be able handle adequately. I feel rather than thinking Mat or Machine, we should access what our intentions and goals of practising Pilates are. In this post, I shall talk about what there is other than Pilates Mat, but not the Pilates machine yet.

Pilates Mat & Fletcher Floorwork

While many people with neck issues find it difficult to cope with curling forward on the Pilates mat, the Floorwork has many exercises that allows you to exercise seated or kneeling which takes the tension off the neck. It is great for people with back problems as the seated exercises can help to strengthen their backs. It also promotes a balance between strength and flexibility to give a good Pilates work out, yet not compensating on their problems. I think lying down for prolong period may not be an ideal situation for a well balanced exercise problems, hence I love to combine the Pilates Mat with the Fletcher Floorwork as such a Pilates class ensures you move in a mixture of supine, prone, side, seated and kneeling positions. The Floorwork is simple yet can be difficult if done correctly, and it is dynamic with graceful movements that can entice you to want to move.

Pilates Mat & Fletcher Towelwork

While the author talks about the ped-a-pull, I personally like the Towelwork. Firstly the towel is light so it gives you an opportunity to learn how to move your arms efficiently without any tension or compensation. If you have to struggle with the resistance of the ped-a-pull, it is difficult to learn the basics of shoulder girdle movement. With movements in a standing position, it gives you a good alternative to the Pilates mat and Fletcher Floorwork. However I’m not saying the ped-a-pull is not good, it is great at a later time for someone with shoulder and neck tension.

Pilates Mat is great. So is the Towelwork & Floorwork!

When it comes to the non machine Pilates work, I think doing these 3 can give MASSIVE benefits to our bodies and I highly advocate and encourage you to do them. I think in a 2 hours Pilates work out, you could do these 3 and have a complete work out for the body. I’m excited by what these 3 together will bring to you and will continue to tell you more about it and introduce you to these amazing exercise routine. For now, practise your Pilates mat well with the mat Pilates videos I have shown you and have a new body!


Are you confused about the difference between mat Pilates and Pilates on all those fancy machines? Are you wondering which one you should try first? I know it can be confusing when you first start Pilates and it seems the majority of people think mat Pilates is the best for beginners. It’s true Joseph Pilates conceived of the matwork first, but he designed the equipment when he realized not many people could do it correctly.

The springs of the equipment are designed to hold you up and help you access your deep muscles. The reformer is great because it helps people release those often overworked and tight quads and hip flexors and instead access the psoas and hamstrings. I find a lot of people aren’t getting the benefits of Pilates because they’re doing mat classes without any props and therefore end up using their muscles that are already strong which doesn’t facilitate change.

The majority of us have tight upper trapezius muscles and our shoulders are tensed up to our ears causing lots of neck and upper back pain. It’s very difficult to relax this large muscle and move from another place when you have no idea what that feels like. That’s where a piece of equipment called the ped-a-pole comes in handy. You place your hands in the handles, hold your arms out to the side and your shoulders can then melt down your back. Once your upper traps are relaxed you can then practice moving your arms without this muscle. Your neck and shoulders are now free and will love it. You can then focus on other things like the breath and lifting the ribs, decompressing the spine etc… instead of being in agony over burning traps.

So if you feel like you’re not getting any benefits from your Pilates mat classes, why not try the equipment? There are lots of studios that offer group reformer, chair and tower classes. I recommend taking a few privates first so you can really understand how to work with the equipment and not against it. Pilates is an amazing way to connect to and change your body.

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Pilates Mat – Leg Pull Front/Prone

This Pilates Mat exercise is one that I commonly teach. I teach this a lot because there are so many benefits to the body with this. One big benefit of practising this piece is you develop a stronger core. I once came across a research that says that a strong core is one that can stay in the full plank position for 3 minutes. And if you have attempted that, you will realise it is no easy feat, ESPECIALLY if you do it properly.

Pilates Mat can really strengthen your core muscles

This statement is so so true, especially in my own opinion. When I first started practising Pilates Mat work, I often found it challenging to do any mat exercise. I wonder if it was because every exercise was difficult? Then I realised that it wasn’t that every exercise was difficult, just so my core/abdominals were weak. When we use our core/abdominals effectively, we can be really efficient and find an exercise easier. I think when we talk about core muscles, we usually think lots of crunches will help. In actual fact, that helps with our rectus abdominis (6 packs) but not the deep abdominals, Transverse Abdominis (TA). The TA is what is really useful to us and strengthens our posture and back.

This Pilates mat exercise really strengthens our TA

The Leg Pull Front gives us a chance to really work our TA, only if we use it consciously. I would encourage you to review our breathing video which was posted in April. Click Here for breathing video! When you practise this breathing in Leg Pull Front, you end up really working those deep abdominal muscles. However I have seen too many people doing this Pilates mat exercise without engaging the TA and they really struggle to even stay up. But if you really use the TA, you can be up for so long that it may just surprise you!

but Pilates Mat does not only work our TA, there are other benefits

The arms are also involved a lot. And what keeps the arms stable are our shoulder blades that glides down (More specifically internally rotate) during the movement. The Achilles tendon are also given a stretch here while giving us a chance to also work on our balance when 1 leg is lifted off. Oh and when 1 leg lifts off, because the pelvis stays at the same height without moving, the back of the thigh (hamstrings) and butt (gluts) also get a chance to work! Pilates Mat really works many body parts but yet as one unit. Hence I believe if you start practising it, you will experience significant changes to your bodies and life!

Enjoy this Pilates Mat video and give your comments on your experience!