March Matness: Our Favorite Pilates Mat Exercises

In honor of March Matness, we asked our instructors to share their favorite and least favorite Pilates mat exercises. See which ones they love (and love to hate!) below.

Kneeling Side Kicks: some love it, some hate it. Can you tell from Mariska's expression that she's not a fan?

Mariska
Favorite: Double Leg Stretch. It really is the definition of Pilates – stabilization, a two-way stretch, a huge reach. It also feels great!

Least favorite: Kneeling Side Kicks! It’s the exercise that is the most challenging for me (I should do it all the time).

Day 7 of #marchmatness2016 is the #doublelegstretch ✔️ Video sped up x2 to show two fun variations: an oblique version (arms extend to the right as legs go left & vice versa) and one with bent knees that gets deep into the lower #abdominals. #abseries #marchmatness #pilateseveryday

“Day 7 of #marchmatness2016 is the #doublelegstretch ✔️ Video sped up x2 to show two fun variations: an oblique version (arms extend to the right as legs…”


Addie
Favorite: Kneeling Side Kick is my favorite because it works so many muscle groups to stabilize and it burns in the glutes so nicely.

Least favorite: Leg Pull Back because I feel like I can never get my hips high enough and my legs feel so heavy.

Jocelyn makes Leg Pull look easy...it's not!

Laci
Favorite: I love Rollovers because of the spinal articulation combined with ab work. Unlike the yoga “plow pose,” the emphasis is on abdominal strength to keep the legs parallel to the floor versus trying to get the toes to the ground. Flex the feet, and the spinal traction feels amazing while the abs shake from controlling the movement, keeping the shape and the space between the thighs and chest consistent throughout the exercise. It’s a pure exercise of strength and control.

Least favorite: Kneeling Side Kicks…ugh. They are so effective, digging into all the muscles of the glutes while challenging the obliques. “Push the floor away, lift the side waist, keep the hips and shoulders stacked…oh, and move your leg.” It’s a full body workout disguised as a casual leg swing. Rude. Only acceptable to the beats of Pitbull.

#marchmatness2016 day 3 is the #rollover! Try it at home: 1) Lie on your back with arms by your sides or overhead 2) Use your low abs to lift your legs up and overhead 3) Open your legs hips distance 4) Lower down slowly Works your #abs, #back & #glutes! Try it with bent knees for an even deeper #abdominal challenge!

“#marchmatness2016 day 3 is the #rollover! Try it at home: 1) Lie on your back with arms by your sides or overhead 2) Use your low abs to lift your legs…”



Clare
Favorite: I love love love Boomerang.

Least favorite: I hate Hip Circles on the mat. (But I love them on the reformer!)

#HappyFriday Fusers! Grab a mat and try today’s #marchmatness2016 #exercise – the #onelegcircle! Make sure your lifted leg is stacked knee over hip, and that your #hips and #shoulders stay stable throughout the move. Find a point on the ceiling for your foot to come back to on each rotation. Experiencing a “popping” sensation in your hip with this exercise? Try making your circle smaller, pulling your abs in deeper and slightly engaging your glutes. With correct form this one is more challenging than it looks!

“#HappyFriday Fusers! Grab a mat and try today’s #marchmatness2016 #exercise – the #onelegcircle! Make sure your lifted leg is stacked knee over hip, and…”


Jen
Favorite: I think the Rollover – love the way it works my back and my abs!

Least favorite: Anything with a glute focus. Ugh!

Try Abe’s Glute Challenge Mini-Workout 

Try doing a Rollover with bent knees to deepen the challenge on your abdominals.

Meredith
Favorite: Probably be a tie between Side Kick Series–I love how the side lying position allows me to focus on my glutes and obliques (and okay, it is kind of nice to feel like you are resting and exercising at the same time), and Boomerang because it combines several great exercises into one and is just fun.

Least favorite: Neck Pull. Terrible name, and I have a hard time relaxing my neck and shoulders to let my head rest in my hands.

Halfway through #marchmatness2016 and today’s #exercise is a doozy! Despite the name, avoid pulling on your neck during #neckpull – if you feel like you’re starting to pull on your neck, release your hands forward and do a traditional #rollup then bring your hands back behind your head at the top before leaning back. This move is great for #abdominal #strengthening (especially those #upperabs!). @apahern

“Halfway through #marchmatness2016 and today’s #exercise is a doozy! Despite the name, avoid pulling on your neck during #neckpull – if you feel like…”


Lisa

Favorite: Neck Pull. I know people hate it, but I love how it focuses both on elongating your spine and spinal articulation. I also love how it works your entire body and it is CHALLENGING!

Least favorite: Pushups. Mainly because I am not good at doing them. I know they are so important, though!

Pushups are a mat move you can take anywhere.

Laura
Favorite: Shoulder Bridge. It’s great for strengthening your glutes and hamstrings and I love the variations that are possible.

Least favorite: Rollups. I have a long torso and short legs so it’s an exercise I do not do with ease. I’m working on it!

Lift a leg in Shoulder Bridge to add an extra challenge for your hips and obliques.

Anita
Favorite: A tie between Jack Knife and Boomerang (because they both require tremendous amounts of control, strength, and patience, and subtle adjustments can lead to huge change).

Least favorite: Saw (because it has always been my nemesis!).

Patience, strength, AND control...yep, Pilates is hard!

Rumer
Favorite: Teaser!

Least favorite: Leg Pulls. My hip flexors do not like this! It’s a work in progress.

Raise your hand if you love teasers!

Want to see how challenging mat can be? Check out a Fuse Pilates mat class in action:

Think you’re ready to try a class? Snag one of our new students specials, then register for a session online! Be sure to follow us on Instagram and YouTube for more mat moves you can try at home.

 

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