Half and Full Plank

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half-full-plank

This is one of the most popular Pilates exercises for developing your core strength and stability. The plank is known to target abdominal muscles and shoulder stability. Full optimization is achieved through the integration of the core stabilization muscles in the pelvic-lumbar region and the shoulder girdle. Good
alignment and solid stabilization must be present. The arms, glutes and legs should be active as well.

The most common plank is the front plank which is held in a push-up position with the body’s weight borne on forearms, elbows and toes. You will identify that a plank is successfully performed when good form is achieved (the body is in a straight line from head to toe), you can feel your core (center) is working and your hands are directly under your shoulders.

Pilates Criss Cross

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pilates-criss-cross

The Pilates Criss Cross focuses on the abdominal muscles with emphasis on the obliques. This exercise involves flexion and rotation of the spine, develops pelvic stabilization and trunk rotation, and defines your waist.

Tip: Always keep a lot of length between your shoulders and your ears. Imagine that your back is very wide and that your shoulder blades are sliding down your back as you raise yourself off the mat. Keep your elbows wide and stable. Rotate from the waist.

Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back and draw your knees to your chest in table-top position. Your knees are bent and your fingers laced behind your head.
  2. Lift your shoulder blades off the mat and exhale to twist your right shoulder toward your left knee as you extend and straighten the right leg out, rotating the trunk toward the bent knee.
  3. Come back to centre on the inhale and then exhale to twist to the other side, changing legs simultaneously as the trunk passes through the centre.
  4. Work up to 15 reps on each side.

 

Standing Leg Stretch & Roll Down

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standing-leg-stretch-roll-down

Often used as a warm-up and cool-down exercise to relieve tension, restore body balance and stretch your legs. The rolling motion strengthens the abdominal muscles and improves blood circulation throughout your body. It also stretches and increases mobility in the back, spine, neck and hamstrings and works on improving your posture.

Instructions:

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your spine in neutral position. Your legs and feet should be parallel to each other. Let your arms relax along the sides your body.
  2. Inhale and lengthen your spine as you prepare to move. Scoop in your abs; you will keep them pulled in throughout the exercise.
  3. In the exhalation, tuck your chin under and lengthen the back of your neck. Nod your head forward and let your shoulders drop forward as you start bending your upper back. Bend your knees slightly and continue rolling your entire spine forward and down, one vertebra at a time. Roll down as far as you comfortably can go while keeping your neck, head, and shoulders relaxed. Your arms should dangle from your shoulders.
  4. Keeping your abs scooped and your body draped forward, inhale and tuck your pelvis slightly. Then exhale and begin to reverse the movement, slowly rolling back up, one vertebra at a time. Keep your navel pulled in deeply as you roll your torso back upright.
  5. Return to your starting position. Then repeat the move 5-10 times.

 

Pilates Swimming Exercise

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pilates-swimming

The Pilates swimming exercise strengthens the muscles on the back of your body including the butt, thighs and your back muscles. Keep your head and your neck working as extensions of your spine and don’t break the line at the neck. Shoulders are relaxed throughout and abdominals engaged and lifted off the mat.

Instructions:

  1. Lie flat on your belly with your arms stretched out in front of you and legs outstretched behind you. Squeeze your inner thighs and heels together. If this position feels too compressive on your lower back, allow your legs to open slightly but still keep them turned out, with your heels dropped toward each other and your knees facing away from each other.
  2. Breathing continuously: Pull your navel up and off the mat and raise your head off the mat slightly as you simultaneously lift your right arm and your left leg off the mat. Squeeze your butt and try to keep pressing your pubic bone down the mat.
  3. Switch arms and legs and begin an even rhythm of swimming, alternating arms and legs. Think of reaching your arms and legs long away from yourself, extending your body as much as possible.
  4. Swim continuously for a total of 24 total beats (6 full breaths). Try to complete 4 swimming beats on the exhale and 4 beats on the inhale.
  5. Finish by pressing back to rest position, sitting on your heels to release your back.

 

Pelvic Curl & Lifts

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pelvic-curl-and-lifts1

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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pilates-chest-lift-single-leg-stretch

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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standing-pliates-squat

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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standing-pilates-lunge-1

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.

 

Best Pilates Studio Singapore Video

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PowerMoves Pilates in the Park

Naturally One of the World’s Most Beautiful Pilates Studios


Singapore
has once again made its mark on the world map. Adding to the string of ‘bests’ and ‘firsts’ earned by our high-achieving little nation, home-grown Pilates studio PowerMoves has been nominated Most Beautiful Studio in the World by Balanced Body®: the foremost Pilates equipment and knowledge provider in the US.

Nestled amongst lush tropical greenery in beautiful Bishan Park, PowerMoves is one of the best-kept secrets of the fitness fraternity. With its wooden parquetry floors and floor-to-ceiling windows admitting gently filtered sunlight on three sides, clients are transported mentally and physically to a resort-like ambience that evokes the best of Bali, Vietnam, Thailand… Privacy is assured by the screen of tall vegetation that surrounds the studio, complete with butterflies that appear as if on cue as a presentiment of the grace and lightness you’re sure to enjoy after just a few sessions of Pilates. Set back from the main road of Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, the hush would almost be unnerving if not for the gentle piped instrumental music that relaxes the mind and body.

Just one visit and it’s plain to see why Balanced Body® was won over by the unique, beautiful and inspiring setting in this tropical resort studio.

Founded and managed by former professional ballerina, Claudel Kuek, PowerMoves has a loyal following of professional men, women and home-makers who are attracted by its personalised services and truly beautiful setting, not to forget its highly effective results. Unlike multi-discipline gymnasiums and fitness centres, PowerMoves offers Pilates and nothing but Pilates.

For those who are familiar with the concept of Pilates, it’s not hard to understand why a ballerina such as Claudel was attracted to the gentle strength-building moves of Pilates. Explained Claudel:

“Pilates was a natural transition for me from ballet. Both emphasise a strong core and require a synchronisation of mind and body. Likewise, the benefits that arise from mastering either ballet or Pilates can enhance many other areas of one’s life, especially the ability to focus.”

Speaking of focus, PowerMoves sets itself apart from other Pilates studios by offering a very personal service that’s focused on the individual. Hence, our Pilates classes centred on the reformer, a sophisticated bench with a system of strings, straps and pulleys that enables more than 100 exercises, are limited to a maximum of four clients per class. Classes centred on mat work are limited to a maximum of six clients per class, and one-on-one private classes are available by arrangement.

All of PowerMoves’ instructors are internationally qualified and registered with many years of experience in teaching Pilates. With a gentle but firm hand, they deftly guide individuals of varying degrees of fitness along the Pilates path to total mind-body wellness. Clients of all ages are welcome, including expecting mothers who wish to tone up in preparation for the rigorous task of childbirth.

Though praise for PowerMoves abounds – the testimonials of satisfied customers can be found on the website at www.powermoves.com.sg, possibly the most compelling endorsement comes from the words of the founding father of Pilates himself, Joseph Pilates:

“In 10 sessions, you’ll feel the difference; in 20, you’ll see the difference; in 30, you’ll have a whole new body.”

For those literally seeking a whole new body, in terms of a complete fitness and aesthetics makeover, PowerMoves is ideally situated next door to Aramsa™ Spa, a botanical sanctuary for the senses fronted by former MediaCorp artiste Jazreel Low. It is part of a larger group, Aramsa™ Spas, which includes two food and beverage outlets, Canopy and The Green Room Café, in the immediate vicinity. Generous discounts for the spa and dining outlets are extended to all clients of PowerMoves.

If you’re thinking of practising Pilates, it’s only natural that you consider one of the most beautiful studios in the world, right here in Singapore at PowerMoves.

By Suzanne Lauridsen
Written for Mrs Claudel Kuek
PowerMoves Pilates Studio Singapore