A Pilates-based warm-up is an effective way to integrate body awareness and an effective lead-in to a training session. The following series can be adjusted for 15-20 minutes at the beginning of your training session.


Have your client lie flat on the floor with knees bent, feet 12-18 inches away from the buttocks. Encourage your client to inhale through the nose and expand the rib cage three-dimensionally, especially laterally. Have them exhale through pursed lips, like blowing on a pinwheel and blowing out all the three-dimensional air out of the torso while maintaining a neutral lumbar spine.

Toe taps

Have your client lie flat on their back and rock the pelvis into an imprint (bringing the hip bones closer to the ribs) and bring legs into table top. Alternate toe taps to the floor while maintaining the imprint and abdominal connection. Repeat four times.

Basic abdominal flexion: Place hands behind the head and have your client maintain a neutral lumbar spine and flex the abdominals on the exhale and lower the torso on the inhale. Repeat four to eight times.

Hip rolls

Have your client lie on their back, feet hip-width apart in the same position as previously performed during the breathing. Inhale to prepare, on an exhale gently roll into an imprinted spine and articulate the spine on the mat starting from the sacrum up. Inhale to stay at the top and exhale to sequentially roll the spine back down returning the pelvis to neutral. Repeat four to eight times.

Breath stroke preparation

Lie prone on the mat with both hands fingertips in front of the eyebrows, legs together or hip-width apart and toes on the ground. Inhale to prepare, exhale to knit the ribs and hover the upper body including the arms off the mat. While doing this, make sure the client engages the belly button and keeps their toes on the floor. Repeat four to eight times.

Shell stretch

Have the client press their back into the commonly-known child’s pose position except they will keep more of a rounded shape in their back and abs as if rounded over a beach ball. Inhale to prepare and encourage the client to pull their abdominals in toward their back on the exhale to stretch the back muscles.

Add any new exercises you learn in your favorite Pilates class and start the client’s planned program.

For more ways to integrate Pilates into your clients’ program, read Phyl’s feature article in our September-October 2013 issue of PFP.

View additional Pilates-based workouts: http://www.youtube.com/user/phyllislondon