I typically get two requests when I work with a new Pilates client. “I want to strengthen my core” and “I want to work my legs and butt.” Well, I’ve already covered the former pretty extensively with the Pilates Series of Five (Exercises 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) and the Roll Up. This Training Tuesday, let’s begin to work the latter, your legs and booty. Front and Back is the first exercise in the Pilates Side Kick Series and it is literally exactly like it sounds; lying on your side, you kick front and back. In case that wasn’t enough explanation, I break it down for you below.
Side Kick Series- Front & Back (10 reps/leg)
1. To prepare- lie on your right side. Line up your ears, shoulders and hips with the back of your mat. Your feet should be at the front corner of the mat, so that your body is in a moon (or banana) shape. Your shoulders should be stacked one on top of the other, as should your hips. Gently support your head with your right hand. Make sure to lift your ribs away from the mat so that your back and neck stay in alignment and your abdominals are engaged. The left hand rests lightly on the mat, in front of your chest. This should help you with balance, but don’t depend on it. The balance should come from your core. Rotate your legs slightly outward from your hips, in a Pilates (or ballet first) position.
2. Lift your left leg a few inches. On an inhale, with your foot pointed, swing the left leg to the front. At the full length of your kick, do a small pulse kick.
3. On an exhale, keep your toes pointed as you sweep your left leg to the back, again doing a small pulse kick. This front to back represents one rep.4. Continue for 10 reps with the left leg and then repeat the entire series on the other side.
Things to keep in mind
-The only thing moving throughout the exercise should be your working leg. The rest of your body should remain still and stable.
-Do not arch your back as you reach your leg to the back.
-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.
– If your neck is giving you trouble, reach your bottom arm straight out along the mat above your head and resting your head on it.
-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 pace of the exercise. Try some slow and controlled and some more quickly.
-Increase the number of reps.
-Bring the front hand to the back of your head with your elbow pointed toward the ceiling. By taking away the support of your front hand, you will have to rely more heavily upon your core to ensure that your torso remains still.
Photos by Michele LoBosco