Pilates strengthens your core unlike any other exercise and also increases your flexibility. It’s one of the most important things that anyone can do to maintain a healthy, flexible body that feels good.
If you have a flat surface and any sort of yoga mat, you can do Pilates. The mat workout is the most basic, but is actually the hardest type of Pilates workout (Later on you can add things like rings and balls and bands, but we’re just going to stick with the basics here).
The first most important exercise is called The Hundred exercise. To begin, lay down on the mat on your back and bring your knees toward your chest but above your hips with your stomach pulled in. Think about keeping the small of your back connected to the mat. Lift your head up into an upper body curl and keep your legs at a 45 degree angle (If you have a strong back you can extend your legs upward with your heels upward and your toes out like a V). Then you would reach your arms straight out, reaching through your fingertips, and start to pump just your arms up and down. Do five counts on an inhale and five counts on an exhale. Do this until you’ve done 100 pumps. You want to do this before you do any other Pilates exercise as it gets your blood flowing. The number one benefit of The Hundred is core strength.
The second exercise I would recommend is the Roll Up. Your legs lie long on the mat with your arms reaching up to 90 degrees. You then lift your head up and peel your spine off the mat similar to how you do against the wall, but this time you’re working against gravity. You have to use your core to come up. You stretch over while reaching your arms out over your toes and then as you are pulling your stomach in, move backwards into a C-like position. Then roll down back to the mat one vertebrae at a time.
The third most important exercise for Pilates for Dummies would be Rolling Like A Ball. Sit up in a seated position and then take your feet off the ground, wrapping your arms around your legs. Then, as you are putting your head right between your knees, you would roll back and roll up. Do this five to eight times. Have fun with feeling like you’re massaging your spine, down on to the mat as you roll back, and when you come up, you’re using your abdominal muscles (As I discussed before, this is the number one benefit of Pilates). Rolling Like A Ball should just be fun. You could also do this one any time if your back is feeling tight.