Pelvic Curl & Lifts

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A gentle warm-up exercise for the spine and the abdominal muscles. It strengthens the lower body and helps coordinate breath with movement. For those with upper back or neck problems, you may practise engaging and releasing the pelvic tilt or roll up just part of the way. Shoulders and neck should remain relaxed throughout the exercise.

Instructions:

  1. Set Up
    Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your feet, ankles, and knees are aligned and hip-distance apart. This exercise starts in neutral spine. In neutral spine, the natural curves of the spine are present so the lower back is not pressed into the mat.
  2. Begin Sequential Breathing
    Bring your breath into your chest, then belly, and down to the pelvic floor. Exhale. Release the breath from the pelvic bowl, the belly, and then the chest. Inhale again.
  3. Exhale
    Do a pelvic tilt by engaging the abdominal muscles and pulling your belly-button down toward your spine. Let that action continue so that the abs press the lower spine into the floor. In the pelvic tilt position, your back is very long against the floor and the pelvis is tilted so that the pubic bone is a little higher than the hip bones.
  4. Inhale
    Press down through your feet allowing the tailbone to begin to curl up toward the ceiling. The hips raise, then the lower spine, and, finally, the middle spine. Keep your legs parallel all the way through. You will come to rest between your shoulder blades, with a nice straight line from your hips to your shoulders. Do not arch beyond this point. Be sure to support this movement with the abdominals and hamstrings.
  5. Exhale
    As you let your breath go, use abdominal control to roll the spine back down to the floor.
  6. Inhale
    Release to neutral spine. Prepare to repeat the exercise by initiating the pelvic tilt on the exhale. Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times.

 

Pilates Chest Lift and Single Leg Stretch

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This is a powerful duo in targeting your lower abs which results in the flatter tummy everyone desires.

The Chest Lift creates a deep curve of the abdominals down toward the mat. It is done very slowly with the breath and no momentum is used.

The Single Leg Stretch teaches you to move from the centre. It trains the abdominals to initiate movement, and to support and stabilize the trunk as the arms and legs are in motion. Especially helpful in targeting the lower abs, good coordination is achieved as well.

When you build abdominal strength and understand the lengthening move of the Pilates Chest Lift, you will have a good foundation for working with many of the forward flexion Pilates exercises like the Single Leg Stretch and The Hundred.

Instructions:

  1. Lie on the back with both feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Adjust shoulder blades so that they are lying flat on the floor. Inhale to prepare. On the exhale, draw the navel in toward your spine and lift your head, shoulders and feet off the floor.
  2. Place the right hand on right ankle, left hand on right knee, and keep the elbows lifted on the inhale.
  3. Exhale and extend the left leg straight in front of left hip, as close to the floor as possible without letting the back arch away from the floor or the hips sway away from centre.
  4. Inhale and switch legs, but be sure to keep your belly scooped inward as you do this.
  5. Clasp left hand on left ankle and right hand on left knee as you make the switch.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

 

Standing Pilates Squat

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This exercise aims to tone leg muscles and provides a great workout for the core muscles and the entire lower body. It looks simple but should be executed with control and awareness. It can be made more challenging by incorporating small weighted Pilates balls, which will work to tone the shoulders as well.

Instructions:

  • Stand up straight with the feet about hip-width apart and the toes pointing forward. Tighten the abdominal and buttocks muscles. Stretch the arms out to the side, shoulder height with the palms facing down.
  • Bend the knees and come into a squat. Stick the hips back as if you are about to sit on a chair.
  • Press your heels into the floor, stand back up and lift your right leg up. The toes should be facing forward. Do not turn the leg out or in.
  • Lower the right leg slowly and with control so that the toes touch first and the heel last. Make sure you do not just drop the leg back down.
  • Squat down again and this time, lift the left leg as you stand back up.
  • Go back and forth for 8 to 12 repetitions. Do this with control.
  • To make this exercise more challenging, hold a weighted Pilates ball in your hand. As you lift the right leg, lift your right arm up to shoulder height, palm facing down as you hold the ball. Squat and lower both arms down. Pass the ball to your left hand. As you stand up and lift the left leg, lift your left arm up shoulder height.

 

Standing Pilates Lunge

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The Pilates lunge is a favoured exercise to strengthen the quadriceps muscles, gluteal muscles and hamstrings muscles. It also aids in hip stabilization and knee strengthening. Moreover, this routine also helps you gain a better sense of balance and an increased awareness of your body.

Instructions:

  1. Start in a position where your right heel touches the inside of the left foot, your right knee should be looking to the right.
  2. Take the right leg out diagonally in a wide stance and lower the hips to come into a lunge position. This will bring the bent leg into a 90-degree angle. Allow the back leg to stretch out with your foot and heel on the floor.
  3. Bring both arms to stretch above you next to your ears. The body now is in one straight diagonal line from the fingers down to the heel of the back leg.
  4. Hold this position for 5 counts then push up from your right bent leg and take the leg diagonally behind you, do a curtsey taking the body down.
  5. Push up and come to standing third dance position. Repeat 3 times with each leg.
  6. Do not allow the knee to go beyond the toes; keep the knee in line with the ankle when in a lunge position.

 

Turbocharge your run with these Pilates exercise moves from PowerMoves Pilates Studios :)

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Runners, listen up: it’s time to step away from those speed sessions, and focus on building up the key muscle groups that power your run – your core, hips, hamstrings and lower back. The stronger they are, the more effective your strides will be. And you will be far less likely to get injuries.

On non-running days, do these Pilates moves – recommended by Claudel Kuek, CEO and founder of PowerMoves Pilates Lifestyle in Singapore – and you will soon see a huge improvement in your posture and stamina. “For all exercises, remember to draw your shoulders away from your ears, and keep your abdominal muscles engaged while lengthening your waist.”

One in fitness with you,
PowerMoves Pilates Lifestyle Singapore

Pilates is not Yoga

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So you have heard that Pilates and Yoga are similar in many ways. Yes, both disciplines help you create greater awareness of your body’s posture and its alignment. Yes, both disciplines improve and enhance flexibility and strength. Pilates and Yoga also emphasize coordinating breath with movement.

Both these disciplines of Pilates and Yoga have amazing benefits. They are both fitness regimes that are integrative; they are associated with stress reduction and increased well-being. They can both also be adjusted to a wide range of people and fitness levels, and both support the achievement of very high levels of body, mind and spiritual fitness.

Pilates aims to reach high levels of fitness goals for the mind and body, however, through a series of controlled movements. The Pilates technique not only has a full complement of matwork exercises, but it incorporates work on Pilates machines as well.

Pilates is a series of controlled movements; movements that are not performed rapidly and/or excessively. The focus is on the quality of the movement and not the quantity or the repetitions. There are additional exercise equipment like the magic circle, elastic band and foam roller one could use to add resistance to help make your workouts more challenging. Pilates has several machines designed to achieve its purpose such as the reformer, the wunda chair, the ladder barrel and the cadillac. Pilates exercises on these Pilates equipment machines are designed to cater to every individual’s needs.

The emphasis of Pilates exercises is to strengthen the abdominals, improve posture, stabilize and lengthen the spine, improve balance, flexibility and overall strength. Pilates gives you a long and lean, evenly-muscled look. Pilates works the whole body; emphasizing control, precision and concentration in both the mind and the body.

Whereas Pilates is scientific-based and its movements are always dynamic and in a flow; Yoga is spiritual-based involving meditation and reflection and its exercises are held in poses.

The abdominal muscles, lower back and butt muscles serve as the center of all movement. In Pilates, this is called the core or the powerhouse. This focus on core stabilization makes one stronger from the inside out and allows the rest of the body to move freely. The low-impact nature of Pilates makes it ideal also for injury prevention, rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

All Pilates exercises are formulated on the six principles of breathing, concentration, control, centering, precision and flow. These principles train the body to move efficiently and expertly with minimal stress on its joints and with maximum benefits on the entire physiology of the body. The Pilates method and using it regularly creates a healthy, vivacious and more symmetrical body which results in a lean, balanced, strong and supple body with very efficient and well-toned muscle groups.

A further listing of benefits that you can expect from the Pilates method include long and lean muscles, strong core and stability, injury prevention, better posture, improved balance and coordination, relief from stress and back pains, enhanced athletic performance, effective post-rehabilitation, and increased self-confidence.

Warm Regards,
Mrs Claudel Kuek

NB Click here to find out if Pilates is what you need to create the makeover in you!

Singapore Pilates Mat Exercises for Runners

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Runners usually exhibit great strength in their legs but may have issues with tightness in the hips, with lower back or knee pains, and/or problems with balance. Pilates exercises help runners improve on their core strength allowing them better posture while maintaining the balance in the muscles of the back and hips. Pilates also teaches runners proper breath control which help to increases their stamina and endurance.

The chosen exercises herein are beneficial to the runner because they challenge the core and emphasize the neutral positioning of the pelvis and hips. They also help correct postural imbalances, create flexibility and stretch the lower body.

For all exercises, remember to draw your shoulders down towards your hips and far from your ears, and keep your abdominal muscles engaged while long in the waist.

  • Side Lying Kick (stabilize hips, strengthen hip flexors, abdominals and back extensors)

Lie on one side leaning on the elbow of the lower arm with hands behind your head. Stabilise the bottom leg on the floor and hold the top leg at hip height. Minimise the rocking of your trunk by engaging your abdominal muscles. As you exhale, swing the top leg as far forward as possible with a flexed foot. On your inhale, swing the top leg as far back as possible while pointing your foot and elongating your leg. Keep your pelvis neutral and quiet throughout as you repeat the back-and-forth swing 12 times.

  • Leg circles (stabilize hips, stretch hamstrings, control hip flexors and lengthen hip abductors)

Lie on your back with arms out in a T-position. Legs are together, straight and slightly pointed. Exhale as you bend one leg in toward your chest and straighten it upward, perpendicular to the floor, foot flexed. Keep other leg and pelvis on the mat quiet and stable. Inhale as you circle the raised leg inward past the centre of your body, then down and around. Make your circle only as big as you can without moving your hips and pelvis. Exhale on the next circle, alternating the breathing on each circle. Repeat 10 times before switching to the other leg.

  • Swimming (thoracic extension, stabilize hips and strengthen back extensors)

Lie face down on mat with legs and arms. Inhale as you slowly lift right arm and left leg off mat as high as you can (extending fully your arms and legs away from each other in opposite directions). Hold for one count and then lower to start as you exhale. Repeat on opposite side and work up to 12 reps on each side.

  • Saw (strengthen back extensors, lengthen hamstrings and develop flexibility in rotation and flexion)

Sit upright with straight legs opened slightly beyond shoulder-width, feet flexed. Arms are in T-position reaching far out to the opposite sides. Inhale as you rotate your torso to face the side of room. Keep pelvis anchored as you move the arms and head with the trunk. On the exhale, reach forward long over the leg, left hand extending past small toe of right leg. Inhale to extend farther deepening the stretch of hanstrings and lower back. Exhale to pull yourself back up to sitting tall, rotate back to centre starting position and repeat to the other side. Work up to 6 reps on each side.

  • The Roll-Up (lengthen lower back muscles, articulate vertebrae and strengthen the core muscles)

Lie back with legs straight and arms extended overhead (but not touching the floor). Pull belly button in toward your spine. Exhale as you bring arms overhead and lift shoulder blades off the mat, curling all the way up until arms are parallel to legs. Exhale again as you slowly uncurl back to start. Do this 8 times.

  • Single Leg Kick (stabilize hips, strengthen back extensors and stretch hamstrings)

Lie prone engaging abdominal muscles, lift the chest and extend the back. Your legs are in a straight line behind you, lifted off the mat. Place your elbows directly under the shoulders, your lower arms parallel to each other. On the exhale, bend the right leg and pulse it twice. As you straighten the right leg, bend the left leg to pulse twice on the next exhale. Repeat the pulses while alternating legs working up to 10 sets of pulses each leg.

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10 Tips to Looking and Feeling your Best

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1. Maintain Good Posture

Keep your neck long, your shoulders squarely down and back, your waist long, and your buttock muscles engaged. Having good posture throughout the day is important in maintaining your body’s equilibrium. Good posture gives you proper joint and muscle alignment and also improves your mobility and stability. It increases your breathing capacity and your body’s overall balance and symmetry.

2. Exercise

Commit yourself to small amounts of exercise at least thrice a week. Throw in a cardio workout that you consider fun. Turn up the music indoors and dance while doing your chores. Try brisk-walking in your favourite park or swimming a few laps before the mid-afternoon crash. Step up to moving more no matter what your choice.

3. Build up your abdominal muscles

Contract your abdominal muscles, lifting them in and up your spine. This creates a strong foundation built to withstand the weight of your body and the tasks of everyday living.

4. Strengthen your core

This is vital to achieve ideal alignment of your back and spine that results in a stronger, pain-free back, a more perfect posture and a more elongated you. It makes you appear younger, taller and lighter!

5. Do Pilates

Pilates exercises are great for strengthening and tightening your abdominal muscles. After 3 weeks of working on your abs with the following moves (tips 6, 7, 8), you will be pleased to find that your clothes fit you better around the waist, your stomach is more taut, you become more conscious of the way you hold yourself, and you look and feel wonderful.

6. The Hundred

Lie back with arms by your sides, legs extended in a table-top position. Pull belly button in toward the spine as you lift your shoulder blades off the mat bringing your chin to chest. While in this position, pulse your arms up and down for 100 counts (inhaling for 5 counts, exhaling for 5 counts).

7. Criss Cross

Lie back with your knees bent, fingers laced behind your head. Lift your shoulder blades off the mat and exhale to twist your right shoulder toward your left knee as you extend right leg out. Pause at the inhale and then exhale to twist to the other side. Work up to 15 reps on each side.

8. Plank

Lie face down with your legs extended, forearms resting on the mat shoulder-width apart, hands in fists. Tighten your abs, tuck toes under and lift your hips off the mat so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing normally and then lower to start. Rest before repeating 3 more times.

9. Maintain proper form

When doing your Pilates exercises, focus on doing the moves slowly and with a lot of control. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, your neck and chest relaxed. It is always more effective to do a few good moves than many haphazard ones.

10. You Are What You Eat

You are what you eat – cut back on sweets, fast food and anything deep-fried! Splurge on vegetables and fruits instead. Whole grains and lean protein are great too. Remember that proportion is key; take everything in moderation.

Hollywood celebrities are falling head over heels for Pilates — with a strong following from the likes of Madonna, Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone, Sandra Bullock, Gwenyth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Uma Thurman, Kate Hudson, Joan Collins, Jamie Lee Curtis, Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Grant, Reese Witherspoon, Pippa Middleton — because Pilates works as your only anti-aging exercise form!

Sharing our best with you,
PowerMoves Pilates Singapore 🙂

Pilates at PowerMoves Singapore

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When I moved to Singapore I was keen to try a different form of exercise. After looking around, I decided to join the classes at PowerMoves Pilates in the Park. I’ve been attending classes there regularly for the past two years.

The staff at PowerMoves made me feel welcome from the very beginning. My Pilates instructor instantly recognised my postural type and was able to tailor exercises to suit me. The classes are always varied, well thought out and great fun.

My posture has improved hugely, my back is much stronger and I’m working on a six-pack! I’ve increased my body awareness and I’m able to apply the Pilates principles to other activities I enjoy, like horse riding and running. I’ve also made some great friends! 🙂

Susannah Chamberlain