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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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!

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Pilates for Beginners – Roll Over

The next Pilates Mat exercise that I am excited to introduce to you is the Roll Over. If you look at the classical Pilates mat sequence, you would realise that this is the 3rd exercise in the repertoire. However I have taken some time to introduce other exercises in the Pilates mat sequence first before introducing this piece. This is not an easy piece if you do not have a flexible or articulate spine. In fact most people find this difficult for the first time, especially if you learn Pilates online without any guidance. I would encourage you to practise pieces such as the Roll Up, Spine Stretch, Rolling like a ball, Seal, Open Leg Rocker, Pelvic Press and Neck Pull first before practising this.

Pilates for Beginners does not mean you only practise easy Pilates Mat exercises

I think in any learning journey, in this case Pilates Mat, it is important to attempt more difficult exercises at some stage. It is when we practise more difficult exercises that we realise how important it is to have strong fundamentals. I noticed many people finding Pilates Mat exercises either too easy or too difficult and seldom in between. I suppose one reason could be lack of focus on fundamentals when starting out. Then again learning is a process and many people will start to refocus on their basics once they realise that is important to do the more advanced pieces well.

Learn your ABCs well when doing Pilates Mat

ABCs is something Pilates Elder, Master Teacher Ron Fletcher, always emphasized on us learning when I attended his workshops. This applies whether we are practising simple or difficult pieces. His insistence on us focusing on ABCs in any Pilates exercises is to help us get the most out of every exercise we do. This is the only way we can learn Pilates. Pilates is not just an exercise. It is a concept of movement to help us live our lives better and the more we focus our fundamentals/ABCs, the more we get out of our movement, the better we move and with grace.

Pilates Mat is really fantastic

Most people love the idea of convenience and that is why Pilates Mat is the most popular of all the different equipments in the Pilates repertoire. The Pilates repertoire includes other equipments like Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Magic Circle, Spine Corrector, High Barrel, Barre, and the signature Towelwork and Floorwork invented by Ron Fletcher. Since the Pilates Mat is most accessible, I urge you to keep watching the videos I post here and practising it!

I believe these Pilates videos are very helpful to you when you learn Pilates online. I would love to hear your feedback on this Pilates mat video, so please comment below to share your opinion and experiences.

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Pilates for Beginners – Teaser

This Pilates for Beginners video introduces a Pilates mat exercise known as Teaser. If you have practiced this piece in your Pilates classes, you would agree with me this is a difficult piece to do. The difficulty comes from balancing the strength of your abdominals and back. With the right balance between both, you will be able to do this well. Flexible people have it easy with this piece as they can ‘fling’ their bodies into position. However, what you actually want to focus is to articulate the spine and curl one vertebrae at a time using your core.

My Pilates for Beginners advice for you is

FOCUS on how you FEEL, not how you LOOK in the exercise.

I must apologise for the long wait for this video. I’m sure some of you must be wondering day after day when the next Pilates video will be out. I just shifted to a new place and it took me a while to get settled down with everything working well. In the midst of my shifting, it reinforced my emphasis that our core is EXTREMELY important. I needed it when I carried really heavy boxes and I can understand how many can get back aches without engaging their core when carrying heavy stuff. Please use your core well!

and the 1st step is to watch Pilates for Beginners videos at

Pilates for Beginners

Watching Pilates for Beginners video is fun!

Pilates for Beginners videos beats just reading from books where images are static and movements can be difficult to visualise! Most importantly you can replay as many times as you want if you do not get it right the 1st time which often is the case. Repeating makes the changes that you are experience permanent anyway.

I feel this video is very helpful to beginners when they first learn Pilates online. I would love to hear your feedback on this Pilates for beginners video, so please comment below to share your opinion and experiences.

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Pilates for Beginners – Spine Twist

This Pilates mat piece is a good piece to add especially if you practise Pilates at home. I personally think Mat Pilates lacks rotational pieces which is important for most desk-bound people. Desk-bound people are generally tighter in the upper back as a result of a fixed position in front of the computer for long hours. Rotation exercises like the Spine Twist allows you to target the upper back and help increase range of motion and flexibility.

In addition, if you are into rotational sports such as Golf or Tennis, you will find this Pilates mat exercise extremely useful as they improve your rotation which can help improve the Power to your swing or stroke. I also think adults need this exercise because most people generally move lesser than when they were a child (one who jumps around and twist and turn etc. )

Have a good time with this piece!

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