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Pilates Movement Principles and Beginner Exercises

I have been receiving some feedback that many who wish to try pilates are feeling intimidated because there is a lot of verbiage/talk of activating certain muscle groups and areas of the body that are completely foreign to those who(m?) are unfamiliar with pilates basics.

There are 10 Pilates Movement Principles, each of which are equally important to understand as you begin your pilates journey.

Here are four of them, and some ways to practice activating different muscle groups/structures within your body.

Follow along with my downloadable graphic, and scroll to the bottom of the page to view a video of the workout. If you want to do this without hearing me yap at you, follow along with the instructions below!

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  • 1. Core Activation

The core is different from the abdominals, and activating the core takes a little bit of mind-body connection, a little practice, and a lot of Pilates 🙂 Follow these exercises to learn how and to practice core activation.

Breathing

  •  Lying supine (on your back) with your knees bent, feet on the floor hip-width. Place your hands on each sides of your belly button about where your waistband is. Inhale, filling your belly up with air, pressing the belly into your hands. Exhale, feel the air leave your belly.
  • Inhale once more, again pressing your belly into your hands. This time when you exhale, try to keep the belly expanded, pressing into your palms. Feel your belly bracing to keep the pressure against your hands! This bracing sensation is the feeling of your core activating! YAY

Table-top Bracing

  • Lying supine on the floor, bring one leg at a time into ‘table-top‘ position. Keeping knees stacked right on top of your hips, press your palms into the outside of your knees, as if trying to push your knees together. At the same time, use your knees to resist your palms out. You will feel your core activating as perform this ‘isometric‘ exercise!
  • Assume the above position, this time place your hands INSIDE your knees and press out as you press your knees in. Brace your core to keep your knees stacked directly on top of your hips.
  • Keep in mind; this exercise can be performed with head, neck and shoulders flat on the mat OR while holding an abdominal curl. If you choose to hold head neck and shoulder up, remember:
    • 1. Drop your belly button to the floor,
    • 2. Keep your chin lifted away from your chest
    • 3. Keep the shoulder blades adducted and sliding away from your ears
    • 4. keep the heart-center open and the chest lifted towards the knees
  • 2. Abdominal Strengthening

Abdominal strength (as well as core strength) is important for posture, protecting against back injury, balance and stability, and overall longevity.

Basic crunch (Upper Abdominals)

  • Assume the position described in ‘core activation,’ table top legs with abdominal crunch.
    • Circle the arms around and cradle the back of the head in the hands
    • Keep the elbows wide, pointing out perpendicular to the neck and shoulders.
    • Knees hip-width, bent and stacked directly above the hips.
  • Pulse the chest up a few inches towards the knees, while keeping the chin lifted away from the chest and the elbows wide, holding the legs perfectly still, and then release back down. REPEAT

Toe-tap (optional ab curl), (Lower abdominals)

  • Lying supine, head neck and shoulders relaxed, arms long by your side. Press the whole spine into the floor, knees bent hip-width apart. Point the toes and rest them lightly on the mat. From this position you will already feel the lower abdominals engaging just from holding the toes lightly on the floor (imagine if the floor fell out from under your feet, they would not move – that’s how lightly they are resting on the floor). One at a time, without changing the angle of the bend in your knee, pull one knee in towards the belly, and then tap it back down. Repeat side to side.
  • Once you feel comfortable with this motion, try lifting both knees together as one into the belly. Remember:
    • Keep all parts of the spine pressed into the floor
    • Keep the shoulders relaxed, chin away from chest.
    • Knees remain hip-width
    • Angle of the bend in your knees remains the same
    • Toes tap LIGHTLY back to the floor

Criss-cross, (optional ab curl), (obliques/transverse abdominals)

  • Supine, knees bent in front of you, feet. Press all parts of the spine into the floor, circle hands around the back of the head and hold elbows wide. Maintaining bend in knee, pull the left knee towards the chest and lift the right shoulder to the left knee, (imagine your trying to press the left hip bone and the right-side rib cage together). Release back down, repeat with right knee, left shoulder. and switch.
  • To start, relax head/neck/shoulders down in between rotation.
  • As you grow more comfortable with the exercise, try lifting up into an abdominal curl and bringing knees to table top. As you reach shoulder towards bent knee, straighten the other leg long away from you. Switch. Try to do the exercise SLOW and with CONTROL.
  • 3. Lumbopelvic Stability

The lumbopelvic region, or the pelvic girdle, is made up of the pelvic floor muscles, multifidus, transverse abdominis, and psoas major. In Pilates, we refer to the lumbopelvic region and its connection to the pelvic floor. Because back injury is such a common ailment, the pilates method teaches stabilization and strengthening of this region to protect against injury!

Pelvic Clock

  • Lying supine, knees bent. Arch your back, pressing the tailbone down. Now press your lower back down, tucking the pelvis and lifting the tailbone up. Massage the lumbar spine back and forth. Now come to stillness in the middle of these two articulations. Tip your hips to the left, flattening one side of your back into the floor and allowing the other side to tip up. Rock your hips from side-to-side. Now combine the two movements, tipping the back from 12, to 3, to 6, to 9 (the pelvic ‘clock’).
  • Circle the hips around and come to stillness in the exact middle fo this rotation; this is your ‘neutral pelvis

Marching + Leg Extension

  • Practice holding the hips completely still in your neutral position as you lift one knee into the chest at a time, as if you are marching
  • Find your neutral spine, practice reaching one leg long away from you at a time, again keeping the hips, pelvic floor, and lumbar spine perfectly still.
  • You will need to ENGAGE THE CORE in order to achieve this stillness in your hips! Drop the belly button to the spine, brace the belly (you might try the breathing exercise we did at the beginning).

Bridging

  • From your neutral pelvic position, press all four corners of the feet evenly into the floor. Arms reach long at your side and pull the shoulder blades down the back. keeping that stillness throughout the pelvic floor, engage the quads, the glutes and the hamstring as you brace your core, LIFTING the hips up towards the sky. hold at the top, keeping the hips still. slowly lower the hips back down. Repeat.
  • 4. Scapular Stability + Mobility

Baseball, tennis, golf, even hockey, ping pong (table tennis), and more athletic ventures result in countless shoulder, rotator cuff, and elbow (tennis elbow) injuries. By strengthening the scapula (shoulder blades) and practicing scapular mobility, we can prevent these types of debilitating and painful injuries!

Scapula Push-up (practice from all fours, plank-position, or against a wall!)

  • From an all-fours position with hands stacked directly underneath shoulders, pull the belly button up and align the back of the neck with the spine. find your ‘neutral spine position. keeping the arms straight, drop your chest down towards the floor, keeping the neck lengthened, adducting the shoulder blades (squeezing them together). Puff up between the shoulder blades to lift the chest away from the floor (abducting the shoulder blades). Repeat.

Overhead Arm-reach

  • Lying supine, legs long in front of you or bent with feet flat on the floor. Make sure the spine is in neutral. One are at a time slowly reaches up towards the sky, and then continues back reaching long overhead behind you, staying parallel with the torso. As we reach the arm up and over, feel how your shoulder blades moves on the floor. As the arm continues overhead, work to keep the shoulder down. As soon as you feel your shoulder creeping up towards your ears, hold your arm still. this is the limit of your range of motion.

Angel Arms

  • From your supine position (legs either bent with feet on floor, or lengthened with body in one long line), open one arm at a time out to the side so it moves perpendicular to the torso. As you reach your arms out perspectively, feel the movement of your shoulder blade on the ground, and notice how one scapula squeezes in towards the other. As your arm come closer to shoulder-height, notice when your shoulder starts to creep up and try to pull the shoulder blade down as the arm extends out and up. repeat side to side.

 

 

❤ Cammy

 

Featured

Lazy Day Legs and Dogs

Good Morning Readers!

Round two of fitness videos with the worst lighting. Literally the worst, it’s just terrible.

Not too much to add today except that I am feeling very sluggish, sleepy, and a little fluffy. All I really want to do is snuggle, and apparently my dog Gavin shares feels the same, as you will see in the video So what to do when you want to curl up but know you need to move your body around a little? I’ll tell you.

Pick 5-10 of your favorite exercises and tell yourself you will do X number of reps for each exercise. For my this is usually legs. Legs are my fav. Love leg day.

When I’m feeling excited and super motivated about my daily workout I set a timer on my phone (30-45 minutes, including cardio) and just go for it. On days like today when I want to work out as much as Gavin does, this method does not work. I end up sitting there, doing anything but my workout.

Setting a goal of a certain amount of reps on your off days means that the workout is over when you finish the whole thing, not when the timer goes off.

A word of caution: If your rep-goal is too high and you’re already feeling lazy, you may find yourself rushing to finish which absolutely will affect your form. If the choice is injury or fewer reps, do yourself a favor and make the smart choice.

On to it:

Favorite Leg and Bum exercises

I did a few balance exercises in the beginning of this workout, but I almost fell over a few times so they got edited out. I really feel like a lazy day workout should be mostly exercises that are done lying down anyways. 

Single leg circles – Inner and outer thigh, lower abdominals

10x each direction, each side.

Side lying leg lifts – Outer thigh

20x each side

Side leg circles – Inner and outer thigh, bum

10x each direction, each side

Clam shells – Outer thigh and bum

3 variations, 10x each, each side.

These are a few of my favorite staple leg exercises.  Squats are great too because they require basically no coordination and add in a cardio element.

 

Until next time ❤

 

Cammy

 

 

5 Best Combination Exercises

One of my favorite way to exercise when it comes to functional workouts is with combination exercises.

Combination exercises are, you guessed it, routines that incorporate multiple movements into one grande, all encompassing exercise. Many of us (myself included) have a small window in which to squeeze in a daily workout (fondly referred to as being ‘time-poor’). Instead of taking a minute for squats, a minute for leg lifts, a minute for lunges, etc… combining them cuts back on time without sacrificing any muscle groups!

Time-poor or not, however, I really like combination exercises because they keep things interesting. I am not an overly evolved or enlightened individual, i hate to say, and I get bored. Fast. Really fast. Sometimes working out is boring (cardio?), but switching it up and giving yourself something to think about while you move is a great distraction.

Check out some of these combo moves I came up with this morning!

Give mine a try, or take your favorite aspects of each and make your own! If it’s hard, makes you sweat, and your muscles burn, then it’s a good workout…that’s my rule of thumb.

I had fun with the names.

  1. Booty burner: Curtsey squat – squat – side leg lift

 

2. Core stabilizer + Butt blaster + Quad Killer: Rear lunge – single leg pivot – toe tap

 

3. Inner Thigh, I Died: Sumo squat ankle reaches – heel raise – sumo squat

 

4. Abs of Steel: Straight leg criss cross – double leg lift – ab curl

 

5. Arm/Butt/Shoulder Extravaganza: Kneeling toe pulse – shoulder tap – push-up

 

Al righty Y’all…I am very aware that my descriptions are lacking…but that’s what the videos are for.

 

I’d love to hear how you did, or maybe what you came up with for your own combo moves!

 

Until next time,

❤ Cammy

Pilates Series of 5 – Ab and Booty Flow

Morning friends!

 

The Pilates Series of 5 flow is an great abdominal workout and incorporates 5 quintessential exercises from the pilates world.

  1. Single-leg stretch
  2. Double-leg stretch
  3. Double straight-leg stretch
  4. Single straight-leg stretch
  5. Criss cross

Modifications are always available to you as you work your way up to the full movement.

Consider trying some of these!

for Single-leg stretch: Keep the head down and start with marching, bringing the legs to tabletop and tapping one toe lightly to the floor at a time. as you get comfortable with this, extend one leg out long as you hug the opposite knee in. THEN we progress to holding the abdominal curl.

Double-leg stretch: keep upper body relaxed on the met. begin with legs in table top, and tap both toes down keeping the knees at 90 degrees. Progress to sending both legs out long, parallel to the floor. THEN we progress to the ab curl!

Double & Single straight-leg stretch: Keep the head down, knees bent.

Criss Cross: instead of extending opposite leg long, try from a bent-knee, feet on the mat position, and lifting one knee to the chest at a time.

 

Without further ado…

Enjoy!

Pilates Abdominal Series of 5 and Butt Work

 

 

Until next time

❤ Cammy

 

Warm-up & Cool-down Stretches

Hey all,

Finally seeing the hint of Spring in the air…it’s been a long time coming.

I probably have mentioned this before, but I am not the biggest fan of stretching. Because I usually have such a small amount of time to workout in the morning before life takes over, I am always so reluctant to dedicate 10 minutes of my precious workout time to stretching, cooling down, and warming up.

Guys…it is so worth it. This flow just feels amazing. Now, sometimes I just drop down on to the carpet and do a few of these moves while the child is eating lunch or whatnot.

Because I have nothing else to do I am also dedicating this time [of confinement] to increasing my flexibility. I have always had tight muscles (probably because I don’t stretch enough…) but I am always envious of people who DO dedicate a certain amount of time to stretching. So I am going to become one of them. And you should try it too 🙂

 

These videos are sped up X2, so take your time!

 

Warm-up & cool-down stretches ~ Pilates Flow

 

Warm-up & cool-down stretches ~ Pilates Flow

 

 

Until next time!

 

❤ Cammy

Killer Bum Workout

Hello friends!

Welcome to your killer booty workout of the day! The first two videos below will work the ever loving crap out of your butt 🙂 because yay! The third is a cool down series that targets the glutes – because I’m nice and I want you to be able to sit for the rest of the day.

Start standing with this Squat Series to get your heart rate up.

There are two variations that involve jumping here, if you prefer low-impact, simply omit the jumps! I promise it will still burn like cray-zay!

Squat Variations Workout for the Booty

 

Now that your heart rate is a-pumpin, let’s work those deep, inner, hard-to-get-at booty muscles.

 

All fours Butt workout

 

You are possibly questioning your ability to stand or sit for the rest of today and tomorrow…no problem! Join my partner and I for some lovely cool-down stretching.

I am not a huge fan of stretching, I have to force myself to do it. However, I hear it’s important.

It’s important.

Force yourself to stretch. I find that moving while I stretch is far more tolerable than just a static (unmoving) stretch. Try wiggling around a little bit, or pulsing into the stretch slightly.

Cool down Stretches

 

You did it!

As always, I love comments, questions, and feedback. How did this workout work out for you? Hah.

 

Until next time…

❤ Cammy

Side Plank Series

Hello there –

What’s your workout style?? Do you like to work your whole body or focus on a different muscle group each day? Are you a cardio freak or couldn’t get caught within 10 feet of a treadmill? Body weight workout or weight training? Or perhaps you take the more natural route; biking, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing…surfing?????? UGH! Why, New England? Why?

Well I like to do all of the above (minus the outdoor stuff…I’ve discovered over the years that I’m slightly less of a nature girl…beaching aside:-D). Weight training, Pilates, Body-weight-based strength training, running, walking, spinning, you name it! I have to switch it up because otherwise ***SNORE*** I get bored. What I don’t do that some people are crazy about it designate different body parts to different workouts..for instance ‘leg day.’

My friends, if you do cardio, pretty much every day is leg day. You ever notice that most cardio pursuits are lower-body focused??? Rock climbing, rowing, boating…Yeah, I know not all, MOST! Leave me alone.

I like to do a little bit of everything in my workouts. However if you do online workouts, they can get tedious for sure. When I first started working out at home to YouTube videos, I’d spend 10 minutes or so browsing different workouts and I’d pick 4-6 5-10 minute workouts that focused on different areas! This strategy really worked for me and I still do it when I feel like being taught for a change – it keeps me engaged! and it’s such an accomplished feeling ‘x-ing’ out of each completed workout.

Anywho, if you’re looking for a few exercises to add to your repertoire, try these KILLER side plank variations on for size! Three different positions that work the entire side of your body. Seriously, stand next to a mirror and look at your side, these exercises work EVERYTHING that’s there. Shoulders, arms, obliques, side booty, outer thighs. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

Ready to shake and burn? Let’s do this, y’all!

Side Body Plank Workout

 

Until next time!

 

❤ Cammy

 

Beginner Booty Workout

Morning’ friends!

Working out at home takes motivation and compromise. You don’t have the gym-style atmosphere to get you excited, the cardio machine of your choice, or the array of dum bells, straps, benches, bars, and what not. So how can we make the home-workout experience a little better? Well, you gotta start somewhere. Focus on the right side; you can workout in your underwear. You can workout and watch the food network (personal fav). you can workout and do laundry, slightly less fun I know. My point is that working out at home isn’t that bad, and you might even come to love it!

Let’s start by working some big muscle groups to rev up your metabolism and get you burning fat and burning muscle with these beginner lower body (booty) exercises.

What makes this workout ‘beginner’? Simple exercises doesn’t mean they’re easy. It means that they are accessible to a wide variety of people with different fitness levels and different physical limitations. These exercises don’t require lots of flexibility, balance, or a huge amount of strength. But remember a workout is supposed to be challenging! You are supposed to feel muscle burn. It may be uncomfortable at first, but once you start associating the burn with strength and muscle gain, you will come to love the feeling, promise. Simple exercises are made challenging by simply doing more repetitions. So do as many as you can!

Follow along with me and do each exercise x20 and if you really want to feel the burn, consider doing it twice! Ouch..

 

Until next time

❤ Cammy

Full Body 30 Minute Pilates Flow

Good morning friends!

Welcome to my 30 minute Full body Pilates Flow!

Watch the video below for a 15-minute, sped up version (for those of us who get bored)

Or scroll to the bottom and watch the full-length video on my YouTube channel!

A few things to keep in mind while following along with these exercises; They may not be for everyone! Some of these abdominal exercises are fairly advanced (open-leg rocker, for example). Some of these exercises are not ideal for back injuries (Yoga’s wheel pose).

Please leave me a comment, or follow me on Instagram —> and send me a DM if you are interested in modifications!

 

Now onto some thoughts I’ve been having;

For those of you staying home, how are you doing? Let me just go ahead and answer that for you. Not. Well. (randomly thinking of that MCR song from middle school “I’m not OK” for those of us who had a VERY brief emo phase…UGH). Not that I want to relive my pre-teen years, but I am not OK. This is hard. Each day is harder than the next and some days are absolutely terrible. Everything is hard, I’m lonely, I feel a constant type of despair and loss. Anyone else?

❤ Cammy

Pilates Core: Plank Variations and Lower abdominals

Good morning readers!

A little tidbit of Pilates to help you work on that core… and now a few notes on the exercises:

  1. Think of the core as a cylinder..not just the abdominals, but the multifidi, the lumbar spine, the pelvic floor and ALL of those deep, deep abdominals also known as the transverse abdominals.
  2. When you are holding a plank, are you staring under yourself at your toes? Maybe straining your neck to peak out in front of you? I know, it’s tempting, but try your hardest to focus your gaze on your fingertips to keep your neck long and free of strain.
  3. Puff up in between your shoulder blades to keep your ribcage from flaring out, engage your lower back muscles (multifidi) to drop your hips down instead of piking them up to the ceiling.

 

A strong plank takes practice, but you got this

 

 

 

Ta ta for now…

❤ Cammy

 

Lavanda Michelle

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