Pilates Mat – Crab

This Pilates video shows an advanced Fletcher Pilates mat exercise called Crab. In this piece you will experience a dynamic stretch of the back of the body and also challenge your balance with the use of your abdominals. However I have to stress that this piece is not suitable if you are practicing Pilates for beginners but great if you are already skilled in the Seal and Rolling like a ball. If you are someone with knee or neck problems, I would recommend you not to do this piece as well as it may aggravate your condition.

Tips when doing this Pilates Mat piece

1. USe your abdominals to create a C-curve from the head to your tailbone.

2. Maintain the shape of this C so that the rolling will be smooth.

3. Lift the pelvis higher when rolling back down to the ground while maintaining control.

4. As you roll forward and onto your head, lift the pelvis up and over the knees.

5. As you roll onto the knees and back to the ground, engage the muscles on the back of your thighs to protect the knees.

Pilates Mat preparation for the Crab

1. Rolling like a ball

2. Seal

3. Open Leg Rocker

Potential risk to this Pilates Mat piece

I think this Pilates mat exercise is a fun piece but I rarely teach it in a group class setting. I personally feel it can be risky to the neck or the knee when a person does it mindlessly. This is especially so when the head lands on the floor. A lot of people are very eager to roll forward and to the extent that they roll with speed and cannot control the amount of force they land on their head which may be too much for the vertebrae of the neck. This piece requires a lot of core control to keep one safe and graceful. It is not about just creating the shape to look good but to move with control. Enjoy this mat Pilates exercise and be careful if you are practising Pilates at home or learning Pilates online.

After watching this video, please comment on your experience of this Pilates mat exercise.


Pilates Classes – Side Twist

Today I’m going to introduce you a piece which I like to teach in my Pilates classes, called the Side Twist. I like this Pilates mat exercise because there aren’t many exercises that involves spinal rotation in mat Pilates, hence this gives balance to a mat Pilates workout. In addition, it is a challenging exercise which includes a large number of muscles in the different parts of this movement.

Tips when doing the Side Twist in Pilates classes

1. Press the support arm into the Pilates mat to reach your weight back towards the legs.

2. Think about lifting and rotating the pelvis up then rotating the lowering the pelvis back down.

3. Rotate the ribcage more to reach the arms when up.

4. Keep the pelvis high up to allow for more rotation.

5. Keep the legs straight to allow stretch to the back and outside of the standing leg.

Why rotate in Pilates classes?

With the massive usage of computers at work, a normal working person could be facing one direction for hours. This means the spine does not get any other movement other than bending forward to look at the screen closely. Hence rotating from side to side gives the spine another direction of movement. In Pilates classes, most teachers emphasize on doing the exercises equally on both sides and so this will allow both sides to be equally flexible. A very effective way of increasing flexibility is when you are in a ‘closed loop’ when exercising, which allows you to be at your end-range of movement and this exercise allows that.

There are also another group of people who needs this; those who love sports such as golf or tennis. They may be fanatics who play more than once a week and these sports involve a lot of rotation or twisting. Since these sports are typically power driven, it is easy to get injured if you over-exert yourself without being flexible or good in rotating. It is more crucial to have a good range in rotation than a pair of strong arms when generating power on the ball hence I highly recommend this piece!

What if I don’t do the Side Twist in Pilates classes?

Well you can do other mat Pilates exercises that are similar such as the Saw, Spine Twist, Criss Cross and Corkscrew. However I personally feel there are a whole lot of Pilates exercises that involves twisting the body if you are not restricted to just the Pilates mat workout. There are many Pilates equipment such as the Pilates reformer, Pilates chair, Cadillac, Spine corrector or even the signature Towelwork and Floorwork from Fletcher Pilates. There is so much more out there so don’t miss them!

After watching this video, please comment on your experience of this piece in your Pilates classes.


Pilates Class – Side Bend

This Pilates video shows a Pilates Mat exercise that I love to teach in a Pilates class. There are not many mat Pilates piece that works on our sides and this piece stretches as well as strengthens our sides. Compared to the other side exercises in mat Pilates such as the Side Kick and Side Kick Kneeling, the Side bend is a more difficult piece. This is especially in terms of stabilization to our trunk and the fact that only a feet and arm supports the body. However this is extremely effective!

Strengthen & Stretch your sides in a Pilates Class!

The Side Bend gives you a great opportunity to target your Obliques (Side Abdominal muscles) and transverse abdominis (Deep Abdominal muscles) which are a favourite with people who love the idea of a slim waist! I agree that this is a good exercise to include in your Pilates workout or Pilates class if that is your goal. However there are more benefits than just that. The muscles of our shoulders and back that are responsible for abducting our shoulders and depressing & abducting our shoulder blades are all working here (This includes at least 5 different muscles). I always say if you do not have much time to exercise every day, practise Pilates for the simple reason: You work many body parts in an hour of Pilates class.

Few pieces with arm work in mat Pilates Class

I often get questions by my clients who does mat Pilates Class regularly if there were more arm work or why they were not getting much arm exercises. Well the first reason has got to be there is not many in the first place. Even there were pieces with arm work, they were all more advanced and may not be done all at the same time for a class with Pilates beginners. Many new students struggle coping with exercises which required them to have their hand on the floor. Probably most people do not have much upper body strength? I’m not sure if it is due to our culture in Singapore, but many struggle with exercises that involve a fair amount of arm strength. I often joked with my female clients that they did not have to do housework since they employed maids. So no sweeping, mopping, cleaning chore with the arms. Some of them agreed! On the other hand I feel it is because many people do not want bulky arms and they associate that with arm work. However having a competent arm and shoulder is necessary to enjoy the benefits of an exercise like the Side Bend. I personally feel having a balanced and toned body is important but not to the extend that we potentially hurt ourselves during fatigue.

Things to note for this piece in a Pilates Class

In a Pilates class, Think about creating an arc from the head to the foot on the floor by pressing the support hand and foot against the ground as this helps to stretch the side that is facing the ceiling. Be careful not to go into a hyper-extension of the elbow for the support arm. The lowering of the trunk is not a drop but a controlled lowering. Think of yourself as a piece of bread in a toaster slot, where your whole side is in line and not deviated from centre.


Enjoy this Pilates video and share with us your experience practising this piece!



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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How to do Pilates Mat – Hip Circles?

Most people will think since Pilates Mat is readily available, it must be a beginners work. Unfortunately about 1/3 of the mat Pilates exercises are not beginner exercises. We have come to the 2nd half of the Pilates mat exercises where there are more interesting pieces. The hip circles is just one example and commonly done just after the Teaser. This exercise focus a lot on the obliques (commonly known as sides of the waist) which most people do not exercise enough unless you do a lot of exercises that require you to twist. If you are ever thinking of a slimmer waist, this is one exercise you do not want to miss.

Pilates works your whole body

We do not really think just obliques alone to do the hip circles well. Our deep abdominal muscles (Transverse abdominis) and back muscles (Erector spinae) play an important role in keeping our body stabilized to doing this piece well. Without working these muscles, what we commonly see is a lower back that arch and tilts as we circle. This can cause lower back pain or aches which is unnecessary and not needed in this piece. At the same time, the shoulders are another area of concern. As our shoulders are in an end range of extension, we also need to pull our shoulder blades down slightly to limit our tendency to elevate it. Our inner thighs are also pulled together, knee extensors working to keep the legs fully straight and feet pointed. That is why we say Pilates works the whole body.

so it is important that Pilates beginners take a progressive approach

With so many things to focus on, it makes sense to break the hip circles down to simpler parts. I would encourage you to practise the simplified version of the Corkscrew, Saw, Single leg circles, Spine Twist and Teaser first before attempting the hip circles. With the simplified Corkscrew, you could concentrate on the lower half of the body (Master Teacher Ron Fletcher called it the lower hemisphere), while the upper half (upper hemisphere) is stable on the ground. With such approach you will find yourself improving your Pilates consistently.

Can we modify Pilates exercises?

Yes of course you can! I always feel that if you are having a lot of difficulty doing something, then it makes perfect sense to modify it. So in the hip circles, some modifications you may want to consider is performing this piece with slightly bent knees. However this does not mean you stop working hard on your obliques. You still want to do this piece as if your legs were fully straight. Another modification could be leaning further back to be on your elbows. Usually people with tight hamstrings will feel the need to take these modifications since it would be really difficult to keep the legs up. However having said that, if you really need to modify a lot, you may not be ready for this piece and better off practising the other similar pieces.

Have fun practising this Pilates mat piece and share your experiences!



When some people hear the word Pilates, they think it is a gentle exercise and only practised by women. I think this may be true if you are practising the more basic mat Pilates exercises but there are also intermediate and advanced exercises too. However too often, people may not have practised far/long enough to have reached that stage. I think a lot of people just give up when learning becomes difficult, especially when Pilates demands them to be really precise and exercise at a level that is much higher than what they usually do. I personally choose to look at Higher level leading to greater results, and this comes with concentration, focus and determination.

Pilates can be really challenging

We are starting to see some Pilates videos that are more challenging than when I first started posting videos of the Pilates Mat repertoire. I used to be hesitant in introducing challenging pieces to Pilates beginners. I know for sure that a lot of people jump to practising the more challenging ones first and this can have adverse effect on learning if one just gives up easily. Challenging exercises should not be impossible to do and can be done with grace. This is when you are adequately prepared for that. I believe a lot of you have been practising the Pilates video that I posted each week and are in a progressive learning mode so I have confidence these challenging videos will help you.

but Pilates can help you improve exponentially!

I think a common difficulty that most people face when first learning Pilates is having to be aware of so many things at one time. And given that precision is so important, you can find the going really tough at the beginning. But once you get past that stage, improvements are usually exponential. They can be so great that you feel like you should have started when you were a child. When I first started Pilates Mat, I lost 2.5 inches around my waist and 8kg in 6 months. I was of normal body weight so I considered that result amazing.

Read, Watch and Practise Pilates and you would have a new body

I strongly believe if you were to read some Pilates articles or Pilates book, you will have a better understanding of why you do it. Watching Pilates videos gives you a sense of familiarity and gives you a strong visual image of it when you actually do it. Practising Pilates with all the understanding and familiarity allows you to have a really good Pilates work out and enables you to do all the pieces better and with more confidence. On first look, the JackKnife is difficult and looks impossible to do. However if you have been reading this blog and watching the videos, you would be on the right track to doing it well. Just take note that if you have any back or neck issues, you may not want to attempt this piece as it can be demanding on your body.

Enjoy this Pilates video and comment on your experiences here!


Pilates Videos – Real Boon to the Exercisers

When I first started Pilates, I never thought of watching Pilates videos. I did not think that anything can be better than practising the various Pilates mat exercises in Pilates studios. When I started teaching, I recognised that multi-tasking is a challenge to new students. Imagine having to concentrate on the neck alignment, breathing, engaging abdominals, pointing the feet and lengthening the body all at the same time. It can be a lot for newbies! Concentrating on too many things can have an adverse effect on the interest of new students and they may just switch off or give up just because it is too difficult. And I found it an ideal time to touch on the topic of Pilates videos when I chanced upon an article that discussed about it.

You can replay Pilates Videos many times

The biggest benefit to watching Pilates videos is that you can repeat/replay many times. This means you can watch something that you missed earlier, unlike in a class where you cannot revise what you missed. And when you watch something many times, you start to have familiarity in a shorter time frame and this accelerates learning. The other thing is I strongly believe that at different point in time, everyone is at a different stage of learning. Today I may watch something as a Pilates beginners and the Pilates videos that I watch can have one meaning to me. At another time/stage (intermediate stage), the same Pilates videos will hold a different meaning to me. What may be hard to comprehend in the past could be easy to understand in the present and could even be more complex in the future. Hence I feel Pilates videos can have this special effect on learning.

What type of Pilates Videos should I watch?

To a Pilates beginner, I would strongly recommend you to watch Pilates videos that teaches you each individual exercise first. This is so that you can focus on the intention and things to look out for each piece. This focus will enable you to learn all the individual Pilates exercises first. Next it would be a good time to progress to videos that gives you a chance to have a Pilates work out. You can then benefit from continuous movement, which I always strongly believe in. The flow in a Pilates class gives you a full body workout that improves your spinal health. Hence I have been posting individual videos of Mat Pilates so that everyone coming to this website can have a chance to go through this learning process. Some people may not have had the chance to do that before so this is definitely a great opportunity. Although I said it is great for Pilates beginners to start this way, I would still strongly encourage you to watch these videos even if you have been doing Pilates for a long time.

What next after Pilates Videos?

After watching many Pilates videos and Pilates work out videos, it would be great to attend Pilates classes in a Pilates studio where you could get much more teaching cues that can take your learning to the next level. Different people have different learning styles and I feel that a mixture of Pilates at home and at a Pilates class would bring a balance to the visual, audio and kinestatic learning of a person. Meanwhile enjoy the article that I chanced upon below!



Pilates is the new fitness mantra. It is a system of over 500 controlled exercises, which engage the mind and condition the total body. It has challenging moves followed with controlled breathing that strengthens every muscle of the body. It is gaining popularity and is a nice change from frenzy of cardio and strength training.

AS the craze for Pilates exercise is spreading, Pilates videos are becoming more and more popular. They have proven remarkably successful in spreading the word about Pilates and winning new crowds and fans. Although it is a known fact that Pilates is most effective when done in studio or class with a certified instructor, but going there is expensive and time consuming which all cannot afford. Pilates videos allow both the new and the experienced to work on their routines at home at their own time. Videos help the exercisers to get the visual direction while completing their exercises.

If you want to start on a fitness journey Pilates video offers a relatively inexpensive and low risk way to get started. There are literally dozens of Pilates videos on the market, most of which introduce Pilates and help motivate you to keep up with your exercises. Prices generally range from $ 10 to $ 25 USD. You just need to ask yourself are the videos for you? Not everyone likes them but they do offer some advantages over health clubs and outdoor activities.

The Merits of Pilates videos:

1.You have choice to select: There are many varieties of excellent videos on the market. There is something for everyone to suit his or her style and fitness level. All types mat exercises, circle, ball, power step workouts, yoga, they are all available on video.

2.Privacy: Many overweight or rehabilitated individuals feel shy or self-conscious at a gym. They can be themselves and just sweat out at home by no one to comment on you.

3.Inexpensive: Many budgets cannot handle expensive, health clubs, studios, gyms and spas. Many do not want to spend hundred of dollars per year on buying high quality equipment, step bench, shoes, dumbells. Compared to that you can get excellent collection of varied Pilates videos for the fraction of the cost.

As can been seen from above Pilates workout video offers many advantages overall to keep in you great shape.

Cynthia Olga writes about boys hoodies and striped hoodie

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Hence I urge all of you to start watching my Pilates videos because I believe your journey would be an enriching one.


Mat Pilates – Corkscrew

The Corkscrew is a Mat Pilates exercise is a piece where I have always been fond of. Unfortunately I do not teach the full version very often, at least not on a daily affair. I personally feel one has to comfortable with the Roll Over before he/she is ready to do the full version. Otherwise the modified version does serve the purpose of this piece pretty well.

Doing Mat Pilates well is never easy

Mat Pilates is probably the most popular amongst the different equipments/non- equipment Pilates. It may be easy to copy the exercise but doing it well is never a piece of cake. When I first taught this many years ago, the most common approach by students is to throw their body overhead using the help of their hands and bodyweight and then ‘hope for the best’. This can be dangerous for Pilates beginners, which is why it took me a couple of months before introducing this on this website. If you have a back problem/issue, please seek help/assistance before even deciding to attempt it. I would assume you have practised the Roll up and Roll Over for a period of time before attempting this.

Mat Pilates Sequence

I have students who ever asked me: “Do I have to do the Mat Pilates sequence as introduced by Joseph Pilates?” or “Can I mix it up?” YES of course. I have also posted the Mat Pilates videos in a sequence that differs. I think the most important consideration when you practise Pilates at home is: “What is my intention/goal?” If you are someone with a healthy body, free from any sort of problems or issues, you may want to follow the sequence strictly if you want a good workout. However if you have difficulty with that, consider being progressive. Just like I mentioned earlier how Master Teacher Ron Fletcher emphasized strongly on our ABCs, learning in a way that supports progression is just that.

Progression in Mat Pilates

An example would be I start with Spine Stretch, then Roll Up and Saw, Roll Over and finally Corkscrew. This can be a good path to take and ensures you practise a more complex piece in simple parts before the combine the various parts to it. Just remember, not too long ago, we observe how others walk, then we learn how to walk ourselves before we learnt how to run. When you approach Mat Pilates in this manner you enjoy the journey of a free body!

Enjoy this Mat Pilates video and share your comments!


Pilates for Beginners – Side Kick

I started to appreciate side exercises a lot more in recent years. I think in our daily lives we do not do much to our sides often and neglect them. I like to think of it as we have eyes on the front of our bodies and so we tend to place more focus/emphasis on our front a lot more than our back or sides. With the side kicks, I think it is a good opportunity to establish some balance to our bodies and at the same time make your work out more varied. I think a balanced physical body translate to balance to the mental and emotional state. This makes your workout even more meaningful to know that your exercise can improve other aspects of your lives! Enjoy and practice more.