Top 5 Pilates exercises you can do anywhere

Pilates is amazing. You can incorporate it into your life and do it anywhere any time, which is why it fits so brilliantly with everything else.

School Of Pilates Posted Jun 10, 2016 Future Fit Training

Pilates is an awareness system involving your mind, your body and challenging both with movement.  If you are able to be body aware enough to find your optimal postural position for the exercise, and mindful enough to maintain it, the physical challenge of remaining stable posturally while moving a limb is immense.  There’s nothing like it.  Challenging all your competitive thoughts into being still rather than doing the biggest movement is a real ‘penny drop’ moment in understanding, and once you have it, there’s no looking back in terms of what you can do anywhere.

Here are my top 5 moves to do anywhere:

Mobility Squat

Ok, so this isn’t strictly one of Joseph Pilates 34 exercises, but it is hugely important in today’s society.  This is ‘how do I pick up an object without injuring my knees or my back’, which is so useful for your clients.  As an instructor, this is your opportunity to educate your class and make a difference.  If they can do this with good technique, you know they have enough awareness to do other Pilates moves with good technique.  This would normally be part of your mobility section, however your clients should be encouraged to do this picking up paper for the photocopier, lifting a child, carrying shopping etc.   This really is injury prevention and posture education at it’s best and can be done literally anywhere.

Swan Dive

This is a fabulous ‘kyphosis prevention’ move to realign anyone who has spent time sitting (at a desk, in the car, on the sofa....) so everyone really. This requires enough floor space to lie down, but otherwise can be done anywhere.  The key to success with this move is to really spend time on the initial shoulder set up.  Make that your first layer (shoulders back and down as if trying to put your shoulder blades in your back pockets).  Repeat that several times before adding on the lifting head and chest layer as it’s that initial posture set up that makes the most difference to your kyphotic (or potentially kyphotic) clients.  Make sure you re-set the shoulders for every repetition for absolute maximum benefit.

Spine Twist

Stiff back?  For a lot of people, the answer will be “yes”.  Spine twist is most definitely in the top 5 exercises as it helps to mobilise your spine, keeps your disks healthy, encourages you to sit with good posture whenever you do it, and can help ease general niggles and aches.  This can be done in any seated position such as on an office chair.  Take time to set your posture, then enjoy mobilising your spine.

Shoulder Bridge

This is simply the key to unlocking spine mobility.  I love this exercise.  Not the fancy layers, just the basic roll up to a bridge one vertebrae at a time.  It doesn’t sound like much, but if you really focus (and I mean really focus) on moving each vertebrae individually, then wow...  This is the difference between crawling out of bed and taking 5 minutes to be vertical, and leaping up with a spring in your step.  You need enough room to lie down, but it’s worth finding that space to get the benefit of a really controlled shoulder bridge.

One Hundred

When it comes to ‘core stability’ this exercise has it all.  In the space needed to lie down, you can challenge your core to it’s maximum with a variety of options, and strengthen your abdominals.  The main reason this is absolutely in the top 5 is you learn so much from this.  You learn how to activate your transverse abdominis muscle (TVA), and what neutral spine in this position feels like.  You learn to keep both of those stable while challenging them with the weight of your leg.  You learn imprint, a technique to help make lifting both legs achievable without your TVA popping up or doming, and you have the opportunity to add a crunch manoeuvre to strengthen your abdominals as well.  Phew!  This requires technique, thought, awareness and control, but once you have it, the benefits will be worth it.

So there you have it.  With enough space to lie down, you really can make a difference.  So go on, treat yourself.  Lie down....!

Written by Heather Oakes