People new to exercise often get intimidated by the mention of doing core exercises. This is one reason why Pilates can be a good place to begin if you want to develop a strong and toned core. Pilates can be done by anyone regardless of their current fitness level, and with some basic Pilates for beginners exercises, you don’t any equipment other than an exercise mat. Here are four effective yet easy exercises that newbies can do right away, proving that toning your core doesn’t have to be hard core! Pilates Northern Beaches offers an extensive range of graded Pilates classes and Zumba suitable for men and women of all levels of fitness.
1. The Pilates 100
This exercise is the core of most Pilates sequences and is designed to warm you up and your blood pumping.
- Lie on your back, your arms by your side.
- Bend both knees into your chest, and curl your spine, bringing your head and shoulders up. Look towards your belly button.
- Then, extend your legs slightly such that your knees are above the hips and the shins are parallel to the floor.
- Deepen your curl by hollowing out your abdomen, hands behind your thighs.
- Keeping your torso and legs where they are, move your hands to hover around two inches off the mat.
- Begin to pump your arms up and down, five counts for each inhale, five counts for each exhale. Repeat this movement continuously until you count to 100.
This exercise can be further modified for beginners if the exercise is still too difficult. One modification is to have the head on the floor instead of curling up. Another modification would be to count up to 50, take a couple breaths rest, then do another 50. Whichever option you choose, keep your focus on engaging your abdominals and keep your breathing even and complete.
2. One Leg Circle
This Pilates for beginners exercise develops your ability to engage your abs as you move your legs.
- Start by lying down on the mat with your shoulders down and your back flat.
- Extend the right leg to point to the ceiling, with the left leg bent, keeping your left foot flat on the mat.
- Move your right leg in a circle, starting by moving towards your left shoulder, rounding clockwise to the right, then stopping at a point in line with your nose.
- Repeat this movement five times, and then reverse with circling the leg counterclockwise.
- Switch legs.
Tips and modification for beginners: Keep your focus on scooping in your abdominals. Prioritise having both hips on the mat as you circle the legs instead of keeping the lifted leg straight. If a hip lifts off the mat as you circle the leg, try going for a little bend in the knee to keep the hip in place.
3. Criss Cross Crunches
Criss cross crunches are amazingly simple and yet they work your whole mid-section. Here’s how to do them:
- Start by lying down on your back.
- Then, bring your knees towards your chest with your hands under the base of your head.
- With your left leg bent, extend your right leg, twisting towards your left, chest facing the left knee, and hold for three counts.
- Switch legs, this time with your right knee bent and your chest facing the right knee, holding for three counts as well.
- Repeat for four more sets.
Options and tips: You can do the movements faster, with shorter holds as you twist. If you have difficulty lifting your head, roll up a towel and place it under your neck for support. This way, your will still be engaging your abdominals without having unnecessary tension in your neck.
4. The Saw
The Saw is a favorite in most Pilates classes especially with people who still want to work their core but are disinclined to do crunches.
- Start by sitting on your mat with your legs spread wide.
- Lift your arms to the sides, shoulder level, and twist to face your left leg.
- Bring your right hand to lightly touch your left foot and pulse three times.
- Roll up back to center, then repeat the movement on the other side.
- Do four more sets.
Beginners find this very easy to do, and at the same time gives them a good foundation for strengthening their core while giving a good stretch to their legs, shoulders, and upper back.