Basic Pilates Exercise

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Well if this is the state that you are going through then please go on reading this article because it will have answers to most of these problems.
Personally, as an aerobics instructor my favorite classes where always the cardio type, the ones that lift your heartbeats up and massage your lungs till you almost can’t breathe anymore! (Just joking!) Psychologically, I had this idea that if you don’t get a good sweat and go out of breath you haven’t worked out your body in the best possible way. You know what; I was absolutely wrong. After getting into a series of Pilates exercises I discovered that this is one of the most intense exercises that I have had. It requires total control on your muscles, and since the movements are in slow pace you can never get away with not doing the exercise in the correct posture since you will always be spotted doing the wrong thing. So if you get tired in a Pilates class there is no way out…
One more thing before we start this series about Pilates. Its worth mentioning that Pilates while an intense exercise it is a very relaxing one too. The fact that you don’t have to get out of breath gives you a great chance to focus on your breathing technique. One thing most people don’t know is that breathing is one of the most important energy suppliers to your body! That’s right Oxygen = Energy so the better you breathe the more energy you would have to support yourself through a workout. Don’t be surprised but breathing has a technique and most of us don’t breathe correctly. Throughout Pilates you will learn how to breathe correctly, allowing you to eventually do it subconsciously throughout the day or further while doing a high impact effort.
Of course water is the other most important energy booster so stay hydrated!
After this long introduction I hope I got you exited about knowing more. Well I can’t hear you shout!
Ok: so what is this P-I-L-A-T-E-S?
Pilates is the most talked about workout regime today, it was developed in the 1920’s by the legendary Physical trainer Joseph Pilates (1881-1967). Many artists like Madonna and Julia Roberts do it. Today, it is the fitness secret of dancers, athletes and a wealth of other elite performers.
Pilates is a set of effective, and unique, group of exercises for all individuals looking to take control of their fitness. It is not simple or easy to pick up, and it is through the hard work and dedication that you can see great results.
Why is it good?
Recently emphasis in fitness has been shifted from aerobics to strength training.
The exercises work the deeper muscles together to achieve efficient and graceful movement, improve alignment and breathing, and increase awareness. It is a balanced system that works as well for the very fit individual as it does for the injured and the older population.
Pilates benefits include:
         Increased lung capacity and healthier circulation.
         Trains individuals for deep, healthy breathing.
         Provides strength, flexibility and coordination. As well as balance and control of the body,
         Improves posture, balance, and muscle within your torso and trunk.
         Optimizes both bone density and joint health.
         Many who have never positively experienced body awareness realize this awareness for the first time after Pilates workout.
         The Basic Pilates exercises integrate the use of mind and body movements, creating overall physical benefits, in addition to a new source of self-confidence. Through time you become calm, confident, and contented.
The Pilates Method works from within the body towards the exterior surfaces; unlike a gym where the work is on the exterior muscles to obtain a quick fitness fix that is not long lasting, once you stop going to the gym your body quickly becomes de-conditioned again.
The ultimate benefit is that it is long term. It also focuses your mind and breathing, helps you to have an awareness of your own body, how it functions and where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Classical Pilates for Beginners:

1- The One Hundred
  • Engage the Powerhouse ‘abdominal muscles’, suck your tummy in.
  • Right knee to chest, left knee to chest.
  • Stretch your arms long to your sides.
  • Pulse your hands by moving your arms up and down about 7 inches!
  • Breathe in for five pumps.
  • Breathe out for five pumps!
Repeat for a total of 10 full breaths (100 pumps).
Make sure to:
  • Glue your spine to the mat.
  • Roll your shoulder blades away from your ears.
  • Engage your gluteus, and press your inner thighs together.
2- The Criss Cross
  • Lie on your back.
  • Place your hands under your head, and keep your elbows wide.
  • Bend one knee to your chest and the other leg long.
  • Inhale and bring your armpit up to the opposite knee, look back and hold.
  • Exhale and stay up high to change. And hold…
  • Repeat same movement to the other knee. 3-5 times each side.
Make sure to:
  • Anchor your hips and lower back to the mat.
  • Keep your elbows wide and your shoulder blades down your back.
  • Maintain length in both sides of your torso.
  • Weak neck, abs or sore back, place your feet on the floor, and move with caution!
3 – The One Leg Circle 
  • Anchor your shoulders arms & head to the mat.
  • Right knee to chest, and lengthen the leg long to the ceiling.
  • Turn the whole leg out very slightly, and keep it soft.
  • Breathe in and cross the leg over the body to the opposite shoulder.
  • Breathe out and circle the leg down and around to the start. Five repetitions!
  • Breathe in as you (reverse direction). Leg circles down and across.
  • Breathe out to circle back to the start. Five repetitions!
Make sure to:
  • Suck tummy in and "glue" your shoulders and arms to the mat.
  • Concentrate on a stable pelvis.
  • Finesse the circle: Relax the butt muscles & do not lock the knee.
Repetitions: 6-10.
4- The Rollup
Repetitions: 6-10.
  • Suck tummy in and squeeze the buttocks and inner thighs together.
  • Fully exhale when arms are long in front. Fully exhale when arms are long behind. 
  • Raise your arms long to the ceiling and look through your arms.
  • Roll up vertebra by vertebra: Your neck, upper back, mid back, lower back, sacrum.
  • Keep your spine curled as you flex forward at the hips and reach up and forward forming a C shape.
  • Reverse the motion to roll back down.
  • Keep your mid back glued to the ground as you reach your arms long behind.
Make sure to:
  • Suck tummy in and "glue" your lower chest to the mat as your arms lengthen away to the wall behind.
  • Roll down vertebra by vertebra; Roll up vertebra by vertebra.
Breathing: Please follow the above mentioned for each exercise. As a general rule, you will breathe in to prepare for a movement and breathe out as you execute it. However the breathing technique will be covered thoroughly in the next issues.
We will be presenting you more Pilates exercises we will also talk more about the general guidelines that should be followed to ensure an effective workout. Injuries should never stop anyone from doing effective exercise this is why we will also present the adjustments that could be done in exercises to allow doing an effective safe workout.
Of course as you know this article could be a one-way piece of information. However this is not the point you can get information anywhere can’t you! The main aim is to really connect to our readers. It is very important to get your feedback and comments. Also in case you have any inquiries or questions please share them with us. I will make sure to cover all your questions, worries … etc.
I just can’t end this article without mentioning my favorite quote for the legendary Joseph Pilates:
"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure."  
–  Joseph Pilates
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