Pilates Method

Pilates Plank on Real Alignment Mat


Pilates plank on Real Alignment Mat is a fabulous, full-body, core strengthening exercise.

I posted a little while ago about Pilates being a full body system that includes all of the usual exercise suspects, including lots of planks.

My colleague Alycea Ungaro has developed a mat that is beautiful and shows where to place your body parts for optimal alignment when doing any exercises.

Now, you can do this pilates plank anywhere, but it is interesting to see how Tori is able to maintain such good alignment due to the layout of the mat.

Try it!


Pilates Double Leg Kick


Pilates double leg kick will help stretch your quads, open your chest, and strengthen the posterior chain (back of the body).

I am always giving my clients homework of exercises that strengthen the backs of their bodies.

We tend to always focus front, since that is what we can see easily. Unfortunately, it is the muscles in our backs that really help hold us up.

The pilates double leg kick works to strengthen those back, butt, and hamstring muscles while helping to open the hips and shoulders. As always in Pilates, the abs work to support the spine.

Here is my colleague Mikiko Baba demonstrating the Pilates double leg kick.

This is a beginning exercise, so anyone can do!


Pilates Side-lying Front Kicks


Pilates Side-lying Front Kicks are a great beginner exercise for hip stability and abdominal, hip flexor, and side body strength.

The other day I posted the advanced pilates kneeling side kicks. They are great, but very difficult to do.

Here is my colleague Bridget Casey-Insana demonstrating a more beginner-friendly version of the side-lying kicks.

This is a wonderful exercise for hip stability!


Pilates Kneeling Side Kicks


Pilates Kneeling Side Kicks - an advanced Pilates mat exercise to strengthen torso stability and sides of the body.

If I hear Pilates Plus and SLT described one more time as "Pilates on steroids" I am going to pull out what little, short hair I have on my head.

Why does this make me so angry?

Pilates in and of itself is so hard! Most people never experience the advanced exercises, and these are where the rest of the work comes together into some crazy hard, good strength exercises.

One of those is the Kneeling Side Kicks. Basically, this is a longer lever side plank with added hip flexion and extension. You balance on one knee one hand as you kick your straight leg without moving anything but your leg. It is challenging and really good for you.

Here is my Real Pilates colleague Emily Hoffman demonstrating the Pilates Kneeling Side Kicks.

Try it and let me know what you think!



Practicing Pilates


Practicing Pilates is like practicing anything. The more you do it, the better it gets!

The word practice is an interesting one. Somehow in our culture we tend to think of practicing as something that comes before, to get you ready for the real thing.

You practice until you get it right.

But we use the word for some pretty important things.

Doctors practice medicine, dentists practice dentistry, and engineers practice engineering. Do they ever get it right? Does the practice ever end?

I would say no, practice should never end. There is always more to feel, find, understand, and practice.

Practicing Pilates is similar. Some days Pilates is easy and some days not so much.

Some days I can find a nuance of an exercise that changes everything, and then I am off practicing again.

Some days the workout flows and I feel like practicing Pilates has paid off, and other days not so much.

How about you? Do you have any things that you practice? And are you happy practicing, or do you feel the need to get it right?


Pilates Plank - Leg Pull Front


The Pilates Plank is called Leg Pull Front, and can involved lifting one leg and working the calf.

I always say that Pilates contains all of the basic body weight exercises within the system - including squats, planks, side planks, bridges, and push ups. And there are also plenty of squats and lunges to make everyone happy.

In my last video post of the Daily Core Exercises, many people commented that they were starting to do planks for full body and core strengthening.

I have a video for that! The Pilates plank shows up twice in the mat - leg pull front and the push-up.

Presenting my video on Planking - how to properly execute, modify, and add variation to make the basic exercise harder.

If you are adding the plank to your workout, this shows you how to do it correctly.



Politics and Diversity In Pilates


Pilates has gotten way too political and divisive over the past 15 years. Can't we just get along?

About 15 years ago there was a huge and extremely divisive lawsuit in the Pilates community. A physical therapist who we call X bought the Pilates trademark, which had existed but was never actively protected, and started to sue people.

In fact, he sent "Cease and Desist" letters to every single Pilates teacher and studio he could find in the US. He claimed control and ownership of the Pilates work, and demanded that everyone either join him by re-certifying and paying fees, or risk being sued and shuttered.

Most of us responded by taking the word out of our marketing materials, instead using ungraceful terminology like, "exercise based on the work of Joseph Pilates".

While this was going on, there was a lot of anger and animosity among camps of Pilates teachers, many of whom felt very threatened (me included). It was a stressful time.

X lost the trademark in a class action lawsuit in 2000, when the term was upheld to be generic.

And we had about 12 blissful years of community rebuilding and reconnecting. Of meeting others from different backgrounds, working on different apparatus, and exploring.

Until one day the nasty letters and emails started to re-appear - this time directed at anyone who used any materials (photos, quotes, manuals) that X acquired when he bought the mark.

In one particular Pilates teacher forum on Facebook, his presence and animosity managed to cause such tension among a previously open and sharing group that many of us chose to leave, rather than be upset on a daily basis.

My thoughts: Pilates has evolved. There are fabulous teachers in all areas, and fabulous equipment developed. We have fought so long for connection. There is no reason for bitterness or division. Just teach, help others, and pass on good Pilates!