Workout Wednesday: Pilates 101

Workout Wednesday: Pilates 101

We are delighted to introduce Workout Wednesday, a new series we’ve designed to bring you the latest and greatest from the world of fitness! To kick things off, we’ve asked Leila Cunnigham — certified Pilates instructor and Honest Mom —  to demonstrate some Pilates mat basics you can do right at home.

Today we’ll be learning three easy exercises, often performed at the beginning of a Pilates mat class. It only takes 10 minutes to do all three, so you can do them every day to help keep you in shape! These moves will help with flexibility and the strengthening of your core. As you practice them, each will become a smooth, fluid movement.

Pilates 101 - Hundreds, Roll Up, Roll Over

Benefits: Warm up and get blood flowing. Open up and lengthen hamstrings, neck, and back muscles. Strengthen abdominals, pelvic floor muscles, and glutes.

Move 1: Hundreds

[metaslider id=17453]


  1. Lie flat on the mat with your legs in a “table top” (legs bent, knees above the hips) position, heels squeezed together, strong arms by your side.
  2. Curl up your upper body, raising your arms and reaching them forward. Legs extend and are a few inches above the mat. Engage your abdominals; scoop your pelvis (lift tailbone slightly towards the ceiling to protect your lower back). Keep your heels squeezed together, engaging glutes.
  3. Pump your arms up and down with energy as your breathe in and out. Take a long, steady inhale for five pumps and long, steady exhale for five pumps. Ten pumps in total, with ten consecutive sets.
  4. Lay flat on your back and hug your knees into your chest.

Honest Tip: When lifting legs off the mat make sure you feel lift coming from those powerhouse muscles (abdominals, pelvic floor muscles, glutes) not your hips and quads.

Move 2: Roll Up

[metaslider id=17459]


  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms stretched above your head.
  2. Slowly roll up as you curve your spine, reaching for your toes. Be sure to keep your abs in and your ribs down and in. This will engage your transverse muscle which compresses the abdomen and bends the trunk forward in flexion. It also helps close the ribs toward towards the midline.
  3. Then, think of your legs as very long, hugging in toward the midline, and glued to the floor. Inner thigh activation will create a line of energy that helps a lot with the up-and-over quality you need through the upper body.
  4. Keep your feet on the mat and slowly uncurl your body one vertebra at a time.

Honest Tip: If you are having trouble with roll up, go ahead and bend your knees. This will help relieve the over-activity of the hip flexors, allowing you to strengthen and coordinate the transversus abdominis and other ab muscles. Teaching the right muscles to fire in the right order is the fastest way to get to the full roll up.

Move: 3 Roll Over

[metaslider id=17464]


  1. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Keep your legs together and use your lower abs to lift and point them towards the ceiling, forming a 90 degree angle. Keep your shoulders stabilized and firmly planted on the mat, with your chest open.
  2. Continue using your abdominals to bring your hips and legs over until your legs are parallel with your chest. If you can, continue stretching your legs all the way to the floor above your head.
  3. Return your legs to the 90 degree angle by slowly lengthening your spine and laying down each vertebrae, one by one.

Honest Tip: It is tempting to use momentum from your legs to get the hips up and over in roll over, but that's not what the exercise is about. A deepening scoop of the abdominal muscles makes the move work.

~Leila, FitPilates

This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for health advice. Before undertaking any course of exercise, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.

Be sure to join us next time for even more fitness FUN! What sort of workouts would you like to see in this series? Let us know in the comments section below. 

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.