Personal Best Pilates Studio


Basic Pilates Exercises

Taking a Pilates class (mat or equipment) is not like taking an aerobics or spinning class – you can't just jump in to the middle.  In order to get the best results and to avoid injury, you really need to master the fundamentals before moving into more advanced Pilates, regardless of fitness level.  Basic Pilates exercises do more than just teach the basics, they truly help you develop a deeper understanding your own body and how your body moves.  Following are a few examples of Fundamental, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Pilates Mat exercises that you will be practicing at Personal Best Pilates Studio.  Please remember that proper form is KEY, and these exercises should be practiced under the guidance of a certified Pilates teacher.  

Fundamental Pilates Mat Exercises

Neutral Pelvis Stability Series

Lying in the neutral position, Engage the TVA to stabilize the spine. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to lift the right leg to table top position and inhale to return the leg to the floor. Exhale to lift the left leg to table top and inhale to return.

Pelvic Tilt

Lying in the neutral position, inhale to tip the tailbone towards the floor creating a small space under the lumbar spine. Exhale to tip the tailbone towards the ceiling, pulling the navel to the spine and eliminating the small space under the lumbar spine. Repeat with the next breath cycle.

Ab Prep

Lying in the neutral position, inhale to prepare. Exhale to curl the head, shoulders and shoulder blades off the mat without pressing the low back into the mat. Inhale for a pause while maintaining the curl, exhale to lower to the mat.


From a neutral prone position, inhale to lift the breast bone and forehead away from the mat. Exhale to lower back down.



Lying in the neutral position, inhale to prepare. Exhale to perform a pelvic tilt and continue rolling up the spine to an elevated shoulder plank. Inhale for a pause at the top and exhale to roll back down the spine.

Beginning Pilates Mat Exercises

Half Roll Down

Sitting in a neutral position, inhale to prepare. Exhale to engage the TVA, scoop the abdominals and spine into a "C" shape and round back towards the floor. Inhale while maintaining the scooped position, do not let the TVA release. Exhale to return maintaining the "C" shape. Inhale to straighten to neutral.

The Hundred

Lying in the neutral or table top position, inhale to prepare. Exhale to perform an ab prep curling the shoulder blades off the mat. Begin lightly pumping the arms from the shoulder joint to a count of 5 inhale breaths and 5 exhale breaths. Complete 10 sets of the breath work for a count of 100 breaths.

Leg Circle

Lying in the neutral position extend the right leg straight to the ceiling. Inhale to circle the leg across the left and down. Exhale to circle the leg away from the left and up. Repeat several times in this direction and then reverse directions and breath. Switch legs and repeat with the left. Maintain a neutral or slight imprint with the spine. Extend the support leg as shown in
the picture once strength develops.

Rolling (Like a Ball)

From a neutral seated position, lift legs off the mat and scoop the abs to balance on the rear. Inhale to roll back to the base of the shoulder blades. Exhale to roll back to the balance position. Do not release the abs during the entire exercise. Change the breath to exhale to roll, inhale to pause and exhale to return once strength develops.


Lying in the neutral, prone position extend arms overhead to the corners of the mat.  Inhale to lift breast bone, forehead, arms and thighs off the mat.  Exhale to lower the right arm and left leg to tap the floor.  Inhale to lift and exhale to repeat with the opposites. 

Intermediate Pilates Mat Exercises

Double Leg Stretch

From the neutral table top position, exhale to curl into the ab prep position reaching the arms to ankles. Inhale to extend the legs at a 45 degree angle and the arms overhead. Exhale to return to the beginning position.






Lying in the neutral table top position, exhale to extend the legs out to a 45 degree angle. Inhale to lift the legs to a 90 degree angle over the hips. Exhale to roll up the spine to rest on the base of the shoulder blades. Inhale to open the legs slightly and flex the feet. Exhale to roll back down the spine and circle the legs to 45 degrees. Begin again with an inhale. Move the arms over head when strength increases.

Criss Cross

Lying in the neutral table top position, bring the hands behind the head, elbows reaching away. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to curl into the ab prep position. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to rotate the right armpit towards the left thigh while extending the right leg. Inhale to return to center maintaining the ab prep position. Exhale to rotate the left armpit to the right leg while extending the left leg. Do not allow the elbows to creep towards the knees or the shoulders to rest down.

Open Leg Rocker

Sitting in the Rolling Like a Ball position, stay balanced while extending the legs. Engage the abdominals to scoop the abs and round the back. Exhale to roll back to the shoulder blades. Inhale for a pause and exhale to roll back to the beginning position. Bend the knees and hold under the knees for a modified position.





Sitting in the long sit position, move the legs about 12 – 18 inches apart. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to rotate and flex the spine forward to reach the right arm towards the little toe on the left foot. Inhale to return and straighten. Keep shoulder blades from hunching, look back at the back hand. Do not allow the pelvis to move.

Advanced Pilates Mat Exercises


Lie on the mat in neutral with the arms overhead and the legs extended. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to simultaneously sweep the arms along the sides, engage the abdominals to round up in spine flexion and lift the legs in hip flexion. Pause at the top for an inhale with the arms parallel to the legs and the spine in neutral. Exhale to roll down to the starting position.

Hip circles

Sit on the mat with the legs extended and flexed and the arms gently supporting behind. Inhale to move the legs to the right and down, exhale to move the legs to the left and up drawing a circle shape with the legs. Do not bend the elbows or move the shoulders. Keep spine very stable.





Swan dive

Lie in a prone neutral position, engage the abs and lift to starting position shown to right. Inhale to prepare and stabilize the abs, shoulder blades and hip extensors. Exhale to raise the arms over head and "fall" towards the floor remaining very stable in extension. Inhale to replace the arms in the starting position.




A Few Reformer Exercises

Leg Straps

Lie on the carriage with the head on the head rest and the feet on the foot bar, press away from the foot bar to place one foot at a time into the straps. Inhale to lift the legs over the hips while maintaining a neutral spine. Exhale to lower the legs towards the springs while maintaining a neutral spine. Leg positions include but are not limited to: together parallel, apart
parallel, turn-out, frogs, circles, out and in.


Stand beside the Reformer, place the outside foot by the base of the wood rail and the inside foot against the shoulder rest. Place the inside hand on the foot bar and maintain light pressure. Engage the abdominals to align the pelvis in a slight posterior tilt. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to extend the back leg, inhale to return. Repeat several times. Finally, maintain extension in back leg while extending the front leg.

The Hundred

Lie on the carriage with the head in the head rest and the arms in the straps over the chest. Inhale to prepare. Exhale to curl up reaching the arms towards the foot bar and extending the legs to a 45 degree angle. Inhale to lightly pat the arms 5 times, exhale to lightly pat the arms 5 times. Continue for 10 cycles. Keep the chest still and the carriage as still as possible.

Short Box Series

Sit on the short box with feet under strap. Exhale to engage abdominals, scoop the spine into a "C" shape and roll back. Inhale for a pause. Exhale to engage abdominals, maintain the scoop and return to sitting. For flat back engage the abdominals to a slight pelvic tilt, exhale to hinge back from hips. Inhale for a pause and exhale to return. For side off box, sit as depicted in photo, inhale to bend from waist down, exhale to return.






A Few Cadillac (Trapeze Table) Exercises


Lie supine in either regular (for more stretch) or reverse (for less stretch) as indicated by the photos. Place the feet on the foot bar. Inhale to bend at the knee, exhale to straighten the legs. Spine should remaining neutral and pelvis should remain stable.


Lie prone facing the push through bar with arms extended and the hands on the bar. Inhale to elevate the scapula and exhale to depress the scapula. Perform 3-5 reps. Then add thoracic extension and lumbar extension on the exhale. Keep scapula depressed and stable during extension

Oblique Push Through

Lie in side lying alignment with straight arms reaching over head and top hand on the bar. Place feet under the strap with the top leg in front. Inhale to bend the elbow and bring the hand back by the ear. Exhale to straighten the arm and bend at the waist to lift off the table. Inhale to lower back to table. Exhale to straighten the arm back to the starting position. Keep scapula depressed.

Pull Ups

Hang from the top poles with the feet resting on the trapeze. Lower hips into a "V" position and stabilize the scapula in depression. Exhale to perform a posterior pelvic tilt and continue articulating the spine into a plank or spine extension as indicated by the picture at right. Inhale to prepare, exhale to pull the body up so that the breast bone is just under the poles or as high as the hands. Inhale to lower and repeat pulling up on the exhale 3-5 times. Exhale to articulate back to a "V" position. Continue 2-5 times if desired.

A Few Chair Exercises


Sit on the seat of the chair facing to the side with one leg reaching out and resting on the big toe and the other knee bent over the seat of the chair. Extend the arms out to the sides in a "T". Inhale to laterally flex the spine and lower one arm to the foot bar. Exhale to come up slightly without releasing the foot bar and inhale to press again. Repeat 3-5 times finally returning to the starting position on an exhale. Do not allow the shoulders to elevate or the pelvis to move with the spine. Maintain frontal plane movement of the spine with no rotation.


Stand on the top of the chair facing the back. Lightly grasp the handrails and place one foot towards the back of the seat and the other foot on the foot bar plantar flexed if possible. Inhale to lower the foot bar and exhale to lift the foot bar. Use the hip extensors of the "top" leg to initiate movement upward. As Strength and balance improves let go of the hand rails. Add knee flexion by maintaining a lunge position in an isometric contraction with the "top" leg.


Place hands to the back corners of the seat and step onto the foot bar pressing it down slightly or all the way. Inhale to move head forward towards hands, exhale to engage abdominals and lift hips up. Inhale to lower down without touching the wood platform and repeat the pike two to three times on the exhale. Drop head each time to look towards knees. Keep shoulder blades depressed and slightly abducted.


Personal Best Pilates Studio is the ONLY Pilates Studio in the Kansas City area that requires PMA Certification for all our Pilates Teachers.
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