Got 10 mins? 3 essential Pilates moves you’ll love.  

It’s been a long day.  No time for the gym, your boss dumped a mess onto your lap an hour before time to go and now you’ve got to get the kids to practice, magically create a healthy dinner and hopefully sit down for just a few minutes before collapsing into bed to do it all over tomorrow.

Sometimes it’s hard to find time for yourself and scheduling an extra something just isn’t possible.  But if you’re only getting 6 hours of sleep what difference does it make if it’s 10 minutes less?  Try this quick and easy routine below and feel longer stronger and refreshed.

1.  The Roll-UP

I love this move since it stretches and strengthens the front and back side of your entire body.  It’s a seriously effective move that gets it all.  The full version detailed below takes dedication and years to learn and execute properly.  Luckily there are lots of ways to modify it and you can work your way up up the full exercise.

Set up:

  • Sit on the floor legs out straight in front of you.
  • Feet about a fist width apart.
  • Arms straight out and level with your legs.
  • Make a C-Curve shape with your spine.

C-Curve? -What’s that, You ask?! Why, only one of the most important positions used in Pilates! Master this one.  You use it a lot in Pilates and once you get the hang of it you’ll really start to see some results.

AND now we digress.   “How do I make a C-curve?”  Well, pull your navel to your spine and tip the front part of your ribs down and back.  Pull your navel even farther IN AND UNDER your ribs.  You might feel a widening of the back of your ribs and a stretching in your spine.  Picture someone grabbing your waist and pulling it back.  Feel your stomach pulling back and lifting up!  This will form a shape in your spine not much different from a capital “C”.  And now you get the name.  Practice this position often.

And now, Back to the Roll-up.


  • Keep the C-curve shape of your spine and roll all the way down to the floor.

Easier said than done,  

  • Try to move with control and try to feel each vertebrae articulate.
  • Make your way all the way down.  Arms go up in the air toward the ceiling and then up and over your head.
  • Reverse it all and come up:
  • Arms go up to the ceiling,
  • Nod your chin to your chest, pull your stomach in and under your ribs and curl up.

Rinse and repeat 5-8 times.

Need to work your way up to this?

Break it down.  Start small and work up to a full roll up.

Start from the top, roll down only half way and curl up.  Bend your knees half way with keep your feet flat on the floor.  Hold on to the backs of your thighs for assistance in curling yourself back up.  Feet lifting off the floor?  Place some books or a firm pillow underneath your feet.

The trick is to emphasize proper form so you are really working  on your C-curve while doing this exercise.  And Remember!  Stomach pulls in and up under your rib cage!

Again, as with everything Pilates, the emphasis is on proper form.  Proper form Proper form!  Over time you will get stronger and get better at this one. The better you get at it, the better it feels, and the more it works your body!

 2.  Swimming

I love this one because it reverses all the forward slumping we do when we sit. and when we drive and when we work at a desk.  So much slumping.  Pretty much what we do in modern day life.  This exercise improves posture and strengthens your back and core all at once.  After the roll up, this one and the next is easy!

Set up:

  • Lay on your stomach with forehead on the mat.
  • Arms are stretched out straight next to your ears and reaching forward.
  • Legs are stretching long -away from your center and are about shoulder width apart.


  • Pull your stomach in and away from the mat and raise your chest and arms off the floor.
  • Keep your gaze on the floor in front of you.
  • Stretch your legs so far away from your center that they lift off the mat.  (Thats my fancy way of saying use your entire body back side -try not to just squeeze the bum and bend the low back to get your legs off the floor.)
  • Lift your right arm and left leg up even higher and switch arms and legs.  Keep alternating arms and legs.  Gradually swim faster and faster.

Try not to wobble from side to side when moving.  Do this for about 30 seconds.  Grow longer in your spine.  Reach farther with your legs!  Rest when done.

 3. Side leg series

Not just for dancers.  Side leg exercises strengthen your abdominals, hips, glutes and legs.  AND they do it all at once!  I love exercises that multi-task.  But then again, thats what I love about every Pilates exercise.  While doing this exercise (just like every other Pilates exercise), search to find a feeling of length through the legs and spine.


  • Lay on the outside edge of your mat facing in.  Line up your hips and shoulders with the edge.  Bring your legs forward to the edge of the mat in front of you.
  • Stretch your bottom arm long underneath your head to form a little pillow.  Place your top arm in front of you next to your navel.  Fingertips point to your head.
  • Lift up the top leg and bring it back in line with your body.  Leg stays at hip height.


  • Forward and back.  Move leg forward and stretch it back.  Do this 8 times.
  • Up and down.  Move leg up and “press a great weight down”.  Do this 8 times.
  • Inner thigh (bottom leg).  Bend your top knee and place foot flat on the floor by hip.  Hold on to your ankle.  Straighten bottom leg out in line with your body.  Lift the lower leg up and back down.  Do this 8 times.
  • Now roll over and do the other side.  Forward and back, up and down, inner thigh.

The trick to this exercise is to REALLLLLY engage your core. Pull your stomach in so much that there is a space between the small of your waist and the mat.  DONT move your hips while you are moving your leg.  ALWAYS reach your leg long away.  Search for length and you will find it.

So thats the “short and sweet” 10 min fix.  It is my hope that these moves leave you feeling energized and refreshed, lengthened and focused.

You spend so many minutes -even hours focusing on all the loved ones in your life.  Take just 10 minutes out of your day every day for yourself.  It will keep you balanced and better equipped for all the rest.

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