There are over 500 exercises in the classical Pilates method, yet the Roll Up remains among my top five. And for good reason. It challenges the entire length of your abdominals while simultaneously giving you a lovely stretch. Pilates promises to length and strengthen; the Roll Up does just that. Enjoy.
P.S. If the Roll Up doesn’t do it for you, click here for a few other Pilates hits.
Roll Up (5 + reps)
1. Begin by lying flat on the mat in one long line, arms stretched over your head. Legs are straight and squeezed together. On an inhale, reach your arms up to the ceiling to prepare.2. Tucking your chin to your chest, begin to roll up to sitting, one vertebrae at a time. Arms are long and strong, legs are straight and squeezed together, tummy is pulled in flat.3. Exhale, continuing to curl your body up and over toward your toes. Pull in your abs as you exhale. That’s what gets you up, as opposed to momentum. Keeping the chin tucked, the tummy pulled in tight, and the back rounded, take a big stretch for your toes.4. On your inhale, pull your lower abs in, tuck your tail bone under, and begin to unravel your spine (basically reversing the movement), vertebrae by vertebrae, down to the floor. Keep you legs on the floor. Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and down away from your ears. The inhale initiates this motion until you are about half way down.
5. Exhale, continuing to lie down one vertebrae after another on the floor. Roll down slowly, with control. Your arms are still long and strong as you roll down. Once your shoulders touch the floor, your arms go with the head as you continue to roll down to the mat, returning to your start position. Repeat for a minimum of 5 reps.
Things to keep in mind
-Don’t allow your lower back to arch off of the mat.
-Shoulders down, out of your ears. You should always have a neck.
-Legs and butt strong and squeezed together throughout.
-Tummy pulled in nice and flat. Imagine zipping on those skinny jeans. You know the pair. Where you have to pull your tummy both in and up. Now do that throughout the exercise. We want to work on building your abdominal muscles in, not out.
– Start in a seated position, knees bent, feet flat on the mat. Grabbing your hands on to the backs of your thighs, slowly begin to roll down, using your arms to help you. When you reach a place that is challenging, climb your hands back up your legs to your start position.
-Reduce the number of repetitions and don’t be afraid to take breaks. Proper form is more important than risking the integrity of your body.
-Vary the speed. Slow can be very challenging here.
-Interlace your hands behind your head. Without the weight of your arms, your tummy has to work extra hard.
-Increase the number of reps.
Photos by Michele LoBosco