Sick of the same old workout routine? Enter: Pilates. This invigorating program really does live up to the hype. A regular Pilates routine can help you redefine your feelings on fitness and wellness.
Here’s the ultimate 30-day Pilates boot camp for beginners.
What is it?
- Pilates is a fitness system that was created by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century.
- In addition to body movement, the main principles include breath work, concentration, muscle control, and mindfulness.
- Research suggests that a regular Pilates practice can help improve functional movement, balance, and flexibility.
What equipment do I need?
- improve your mood
- ease lower back pain
- increase your overall muscle strength, balance, and flexibility
More good news: It’s a very adaptable fitness system, so you can adjust it to your fitness level and needs. You can even do it at home!
This 1-month routine is all about building a foundation with Pilates basics. The moves get gradually more intense each week, but the plan is def geared toward beginners.
Even though it’s a 30-day program, feel free to tweak it to fit your schedule and goals. You can stick to the program once a week, every day, or anything in between. (FYI: The sweet spot for a lot of people is 3 or 4 days a week.)
If you haven’t exercised in a long time or if you’re recovering from an illness or injury, give your doctor a heads-up before starting this program.
This week is about getting comfy with the fundamentals of Pilates. Let’s take it step by step.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Relax your whole back into the floor.
- Take a deep breath.
- Slightly lift tailbone to scoop your belly and press lower back into the floor.
- When you unscoop your belly and lower your tailbone, you’ve found your neutral spine position.
Pro tip: Practice this a few times. There should be space between your neck and the floor when you’re relaxed and your spine is in neutral position.
- Lie on your back with a neutral spine (like in the last exercise), knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms by your sides with palms facing down.
- As you inhale, lengthen the back of your neck.
- Lower your chin.
- Exhale and return head to neutral.
- Lie on the floor with legs extended and arms at your sides.
- Keeping arms floating just above the floor, inhale and spread arms out to the sides and over your head (like you’re making snow angels 😇).
- Return arms to the starting position as you exhale.
Pro tip: Keep your ribs stationary as you move.
- Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat, and arms at your sides.
- Keep knees stable and in line with hips.
- Imagine a clock on your lower belly, with 12 at your belly button and 6 at your pubic bone. Pretend there’s a marble at 12, against the rim of the clock.
- Slowly tilt your pelvis to roll the imaginary marble from 12 to 1… to 2… to 3… and all the way back around to 12. This movement might be so subtle you can barely see it!
- Repeat a few times.
- Roll the marble in the opposite direction, from 12 to 11 to 10, etc.
- Repeat a few times.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Keep spine and pelvis stable.
- As you exhale, lift one leg until your lower leg is like the top of a table, with knee bent at 90 degrees.
- Lower your leg back to the floor.
- Exhale and lift the other leg.
- Lower and repeat. Continue alternating sides.
Arm Reach and Pull
- Stand up straight with shoulders relaxed and arms hanging at your sides.
- Lift arms straight in front of you (like a zombie).
- Breathe deeply and reach arms forward.
- Pull arms back and squeeze shoulder blades together.
- Stand with your back to a wall and your heels about 6 inches from the wall.
- Gently press head and back against the wall.
- Drop head to chest.
- Pull belly button in.
- Slowly roll your spine down, one vertebra at a time. Arms should hang down as you roll in a forward bend as far as you can.
- Shift your weight over the balls of your feet and straighten knees as hips pull away from the wall.
- Reverse the sequence.
Are you warmed up? Now let’s add a few classic Pilates moves!
- Lie on your back.
- Lift feet off the floor with knees bent or straight.
- Lift head and shoulders off the floor.
- Extend arms straight ahead, next to your thighs.
- Inhale to a count of 5 while pulsing arms up and down.
- Exhale to a count of 5, pulsing arms.
- Repeat inhale and exhale cycle 9 more times for a total of 100 beats.
Pro tip: Straighten your knees and move your legs closer to the floor for a bigger challenge.
- Lie on the floor with knees bent.
- Place hands on the sides of your thighs.
- Start to roll up from your head, curving neck and spine one vertebra at a time.
- Slowly roll back down.
Pro tip: Put your hands behind your thighs for a helpful push.
- Lie on your back with legs extended.
- Lift one knee and extend foot straight up toward the ceiling.
- Point your toe and turn knee slightly outward.
- Draw a half circle with your toe, rotating leg in toward the center, down, and back up.
- Repeat several times.
- Reverse the direction of your half circle.
- Repeat several times.
- Bend your knee and lower your leg to the floor.
- Lift opposite knee and straighten leg.
- Repeat half circles on that side.
Pro tip: Focus on the stability of your pelvis and the rest of your body so only your active leg is moving.
This week you’ll build on the basics and progress into more challenging positions.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and spine neutral.
- Lift your tailbone off the floor, tilting pelvis up.
- Continue to lift one vertebra at a time, up to your rib cage. (Your body will look like a straight line from knees to chest.)
- Slowly reverse the movement to lower.
- Lie facedown with hands next to your ribs, palms down.
- Lift your face off the floor so ears are in line with shoulders.
- Lift head, neck, and chest.
- Face forward.
- Roll down in reverse, lowering chest, shoulders, and face.
Teaser with One Leg
This will look just like the beginner Roll-Up, but with one leg extended up.
- Lie on your back with knees bent.
- Extend arms over your head.
- Keeping knees together, straighten one leg with toe pointed.
- Turn knee outward slightly.
- Roll up slowly from neck to chest to hips.
- Reach for your extended toe.
- Slowly roll back down.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Lie facedown with arms extended in front of you.
- Lift legs and arms a few inches off the floor at the same time. Keep your neck straight, your face down, and your head slightly elevated.
- Lift right hand and left leg while slightly lowering left hand and right leg.
- Lift and lower opposite arm and leg in rhythm so it looks like you’re (you guessed it) swimming!
Pro tip: Focus on keeping your hips and shoulders stable so only your limbs are moving.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Lift head and neck slightly.
- Extend arms forward beside knees.
- Lift one knee toward chest, reaching for leg with your hands while the other leg moves toward the floor.
- Alternate legs in a fluid motion.
If you’re slaying all these moves, it’s time to level up. But you can still stick to the routine from Week 1 or Week 2 if that’s more your vibe. This is your Pilates, babe.
- Start on hands and knees like a tabletop.
- Tuck tailbone and chin in while rounding your back (like a cat).
- Return to neutral.
- Drop belly while lifting tailbone and chest (like a cow?).
- Alternate Cat and Cow.
- Sit with knees bent and feet together.
- Widen your knees to shoulder width.
- Reach through your legs and hold ankles from underneath.
- Lean back and balance so feet are slightly off the floor.
- Roll back onto shoulder blades and tap heels together (yes, like a seal).
- Roll back up to balance on your tailbone.
- Lie on your back with knees bent at 90 degrees.
- Lift head and neck slightly.
- Place hands behind head and hold elbows out wide.
- Alternate extending each leg and pulling the opposite knee in toward chest.
- As you pull each knee in, twist your upper torso so the opposite elbow reaches across your body toward your knee. Continue to alternate sides.
Leg Pull Front
- Start in a plank position.
- Lift one leg a few inches while holding the rest of your body as stable as possible.
- Lower that leg and lift the other one.
- Alternate legs a few times.
You’ve been doing Pilates so long it’s practically a habit! This week, pick and choose your faves from previous weeks and add a few new moves.
- Sit with legs extended in front of you, feet shoulder-width apart, and spine tall and straight.
- Extend arms out to your sides at shoulder height.
- Twist to one side so one arm is stretched toward the opposite foot and other arm is behind.
- Lean forward to “saw” your little toe with your fingertips while reaching up and back with opposite hand.
- Draw upper body back up and untwist.
- Twist to the other side and repeat.
Pro tip: Keep your hips stable and your spine straight.
- While standing, inhale and lift arms over your head.
- Fold into a forward bend and place hands on the floor.
- Walk hands out in front of you, maintaining stable hips.
- Once you reach plank position, lower yourself into a push-up, keeping elbows close to body.
- Push up.
- Walk hands back toward feet.
- Roll up to the starting position with hands overhead.
Double-Leg Lower Lift
- Lie on your back with legs lifted straight up and feet flexed.
- Lift head and shoulders a few inches off the floor and hold.
- Slowly lower both legs toward the floor, then lift again.
Pro tip: Move only your legs. The rest of your body should be stable.
If you finished this 30-day Pilates program and still want more, congrats! You’re a #PilatesPerson now. Welcome to the team.
You can continue your home Pilates routine with the help of online classes, videos, or a fitness app. Or you can opt for in-person classes at your local gym or wellness center. Either way, you’ll be getting a great workout for your body and your mind.