There are many different free Pilates exercises to try out in the comfort of your home. Start out with a few basic moves and then use free videos online to really work your body and gain some additional Pilates expertise.
Sculpt Your Body With Pilates Exercises
For the first two of these exercises, you will need an exercise mat. If you don't have one, a yoga sticky mat will work too. A towel may not provide enough padding for you to feel comfortable.
For the final two exercises, you don't necessarily need a mat since you'll be standing up.
Roll-ups are a good substitute for abdominal crunches. To do them, follow these steps:
- Lie down on the mat in the Pilates posture, except put your feet together and point your toes.
- Keeping your arms straight, move them back until your hands are above your head. Stretch out your fingers like you're trying to touch the wall behind you.
- Put your chin into your chest and begin to roll up, letting your arms naturally reach forward. Do not untuck your abdominals. Your spine will begin to curve when you get to the point where your fingers point to the wall in front of you.
- To roll back down, simply reverse the motion. Let your back reconnect with the mat one vertebrae at a time. When your shoulders hit the mat, raise your arms back to your starting position. Untuck your chin last.
- Repeat the exercise six times. Don't use momentum to roll yourself up. Use your abs.
Criss crosses work the obliques, the muscles on the sides of the abs to help improve that hourglass shape. They are similar to a movement called "the bicycle" that you may remember from elementary school.
- Lie down on your mat as in the first step of the roll-up.
- Bend your hips and knees so that they both form right angles and put your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides.
- Lift up your chin and shoulders as you lift your head off the mat until your neck is at the same level as your shoulder blades.
- Extend one leg so that it makes a 45-degree angle to your core. At the same time, pull the opposite leg in toward your chest. Tilt your upper body towards the bent leg without dropping your head.
- Return your body to center, and then repeat the movement on the other side.
This exercise works the calves, and it is super easy to do.
- First, go back to that basic Pilates stance again, and then put your feet together at both heels and toes.
- Lift up your toes, putting your weight on the balls of your feet entirely.
- Hold the lift for five seconds and repeat it 15 times. Lift the toes of both feet at once.
Like roll-ups, standing rolls target your core muscles, giving you a stronger body overall.
- Face away from the wall at about a one-inch distance from it. Lean until your back and shoulders are on the wall with your feet still away from it.
- Lift your arms straight above your head with your fingers meeting at the center line of your body.
- Roll down as far as possible without losing your connection with the wall at your hips and buttocks.
- Roll up one vertebrae at a time. Then repeat the exercise seven more times.
Free Pilates Exercises Online
If the instructional video that came with your Pilates kit isn't enjoyable or challenging anymore, you can try one of the free videos or tutorials online. Here are just a few of the many websites that provide Pilates exercises:
- Easy Vigour is a New Zealand site with pictures and instructions for more than 75 Pilates exercises. It starts out with 10 basic introductory exercises, including how to stand tall and breathe properly, making this a great destination for beginners.
- My Fit has a smaller but still good database of Pilates exercises, complete with pictures that rotate to illustrate the different parts of the pose. This can be a little distracting and there's no way to pause it, but they're still fun to look at.
- Jillian Hessel is a Pilates instructor in Los Angeles, and her site includes a couple of exercises, links to articles about Pilates and video clips from her DVDs, and a brief video of Joseph Pilates doing twists.
When Doing Pilates
With basic moves and a selection of online videos, you can sculpt your whole body with Pilates. Incorporate a healthy diet and cardio for best results. It's normal to tire when performing these exercises, but you should not experience pain. If you do, consult a doctor. You may need to make modifications.