The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in Your First Lesson

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

The Pilates Method is systematic and cumulative.

The skills you'll learn in your very first lesson will lay the foundation toward greater and refined proficiency. Collectively, these skills will serve you well as you progress to the more difficult exercises.

Early on in your Pilates lessons you will learn Footwork and Elephant in your order of the Reformer exercises.

In your order of the Mat exercises you will learn Roll Like a Ball.

Footwork, Elephant and Roll Like a Ball are on our list of “basic” exercises.

Remember: depending on who you are, the Footwork, the Elephant and Roll Like a Ball may be not so “basic.” Tight folks may roll like a brick for a while…the carriage may bang on the Elephant or it may not close at all.

Even these fundamental exercises provide years of challenge for most of us.

But what are we learning in these 3 exercises?

1. Footwork

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

We could discuss the purpose of the Footwork for years. There's a lot going on in these first 4 Reformer exercises.

For our purposes the Footwork serves to warm up the lower body.

Using the lower body as a whole is a skill we'll repeat in every other exercise.

Let's follow our Footwork skill through a Reformer workout.

Think of the integrated lower body movement in the following exercises…

The Hundred

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Frog and Circles

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Overhead

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Coordination

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Swan

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Teaser

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Stomach Massage Series

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

and so SO many more… it's no wonder we start off with the Footwork!

The lower body is learning how to move as a unit.

What about exercises in which the lower body is not the moving part of the body?

Guess what? The lower body must work fiercely in these exercises as well.

Rowing

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Short Box Series

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Chest Expansion

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

The lower body is working as a solid unit to allow freedom of movement elsewhere.

And it all begins with Footwork.

2. Elephant

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

The skill of closing the carriage in the Elephant will repeat over and over again throughout our workout.

Pretty much every time you are facing the carriage and closing it with your whole body you are using the skill of the Elephant.

Let's follow our Elephant skill through a Reformer workout.

Here's a just a few examples of where your mad Elephant skills will come in handy…

Up Stretch

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Up Stretch Combo

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Tendon Stretch

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Headstand 1

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Snake/Twist

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Russian Splits

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

And the beat goes on…

La-di-da-di-DEE…

La-di-da-di-DAH…

3. Roll Like a Ball

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Roll Like a Ball is the first place you will learn to lift your bottom off the mat without assistance.

It's more than likely you'll learn it in your first lesson.

This is a crucial skill you must collect to perform the difficult “advanced” exercises.

Let's follow the skill of lifting your bottom through a Pilates Mat workout. 

Here's just a few times you'll need to lift your popo.

Roll Over

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Open Leg Rocker

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

High Scissors/Bicycle

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Crab

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

Control Balance

The Pilates System: 3 Mad Skills to Start in your First Lesson

And so many MANY more…

You got skills, Baby!

Footwork, Elephant and Roll Like a Ball represent just 3 skills you'll encounter throughout your Pilates workout.

See what you think in your next workout.

Of course you'll find other skills that repeat and increase in difficulty as you proceed through your exercises as well.

It wouldn't be Pilates if you didn't!

Wanna experience the blog live and in person? Join me this fall!

Upcoming Fall Workshops

Saturday November 27 Studio B Pilates+Barre, Tyler TX

You'll love this jam-packed day of Pilates Continuing Education: I'll be offering private lessons, a Mat class plus 2 workshops: A Cadillac Refresher – the Unsung Heroes (3 PMA CECs) and Strategies and Exercises on the Wunda Chair (3 PMA CECs)Register today

Thursday-Saturday December 1-3 Excel Pilates, Washington, DC

Join me for my post popular posts Live! and in person: On the Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises (4 PMA CECs) and On the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises (2 PMA CECs). I'll be teaching my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and Progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs) as well as a Mat class, private and semi-private lessons. Register today

Saturday December 17 LauraBPilates Studio, Raleigh, NC

In Raleigh we'll have a full day of Pilates Continuing Education: private lessons and my favorite Cadillac workshop: The Unsung Heroes and progressions to Standing Arm Springs (3 PMA CECs)Register today

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Comments

  1. Hi Andrea! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge so freely. I have a question please. Do you teach the basic mat to most of your beginner students to do as homework? Is that why you included Rolling like a Ball ?

    Love you,
    Leslie Watts

    • Hi Leslie – thank you so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts and questions here. I do give clients some Mat exercises to be used for homework. Some really take to it and build up their own Mat practice over time to complement their studio lessons, but others really come to me because they do not do anything by themselves at home.

      I chose Roll Like a Ball really for the hip lifting skill as it is so necessary for advancing toward more challenging repertoire. For some people this may be one their only bottom lifting exercises for a while.

      Oooh, thank you – I love you too!
      xo
      Andrea

  2. Hey! I’m home! Missing LA already! But full of fond Pilates memories! #pilatesgeeksontour????
    Thanks for yet another great post! Coincidentally, I was teaching this morning and was thinking how much I love footwork! Looks so simple, but Soooo much going on in one exercise!! Good to be reminded how it links into so much of the repertoire….. I’m loving elephant at the moment (think I may have mentioned that before LOL) and I hadn’t thought of rolling like a ball (or a brick!) as lifting your bottom up in the air????, #bottomsup???? #rockon Andrea!!
    By the way, as a suggestion, have you any thought about a tutorial on rowing….? Another favourite of mine but super challenging!! (You’ve seen my active shoulders!!)
    Looking forward to your next post!! XOXO????

    • Hi Alessandra 🙂

      Glad to know you are back in London safe and sound – it was such a pleasure to see you and get to work with you a bit. Thanks again for the kind words on this week’s post and yes, a Rowing tutorial would be a nice addition…I will put that on the list 🙂 I always think we will never stop learning about the Footwork series or the Rowing Series… thanks for reading and looking forward to our weekly chats here! xox #pilatesrules

  3. Loved this post and seeing all the connections these “simple” (ha!) first three exercises have in relation to sooo many more. Just three beginning exercises that still challenge me in every session and will for the next twenty years because #you.never.get.bored.with.Pilates. xo!

    • I agree. All three of these “basic” exercises continue to challenge me too! Welcome to years of Pilates exercise connections inside and out 🙂 Very much looking forward to seeing you on Friday – xo

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