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So you want to start doing Pilates? Before you visit a studio, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the most common and effective Pilates exercises. The list below was culled by asking Pilates instructors and experts what they believed were the most essential Pilates exercises. When you’re done reading, get up off the couch and get down to your local Pilates studio to get started!

3 Core Pilates Exercises

  1. The Roll Up. This exercise helps you build core strength. Lie on your back and take a nice long breath through your nose. Place your hands at your sides. Now, float your hands up above your head, take a breath and then pull yourself up into a seated position for four seconds. Breathe out through the mouth. Keep stretching out towards the feet until you are completely out over the feet. Breathe in and slowly, roll back down. You should roll back down so slowly that you can feel each vertebra in your back hit the mat one at a time. The exercise is complete when you have returned to the original position.
  2. The One-Leg Circle. The One-Leg Circle is design to help strengthen your core. In order to do the exercise, you begin on your back with your arms resting at your sides. Beginners should keep one leg bent during this activity. Lift up one of your legs until it is straight and point your toe up. Bring your straight leg down across the other leg. Breathe in deeply. This engages the core. Sweep your leg back down to the starting position very slowly while exhaling. Repeat this five times – changing directions each time with the same leg. Then, do five repetitions with the other leg.
  3. The Hundred. Perhaps the most classic of all Pilates exercises, The Hundred begins with you lying on your back on the mat with hands at your sides. After breathing through your mouth and nose several times, bring your legs up on a 45-degree angle. Then, peel you neck and head up from the mat and raise them up to a comfortable point. This will “engage” your abdominal muscle. You should be looking directly at your abdomen during The Hundred exercise. Breathe repeatedly and then press your hands downward for five seconds. Breathe out for five seconds again. Relax and repeat.

Once you feel comfortable with these exercises, you are ready to begin a professional Pilates program. Class instructors will be able to show you the proper – and most effective – way to take part in these life-changing exercises.


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