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The Complete Workout

Designed by Alycea Ungaro, owner of Real Pilates in New York City, these 7 exercises are the foundation of Pilates. Eliminates lower back pain. ¿ Strengthens your core.

-Welcome to this low-impact Pilates workout. These 7 mat exercises make up the basic foundation of a Pilates program. It's a great way to eliminate lower back pain. Plus, this workout will help you strengthen your core and work your upper and lower body. You will need an exercise mat or a plush carpet for these Pilates exercises. To get the best results, it's important to do each move using the correct alignment and the proper breathing. Scoop your abs as if trying on a pair of tight jeans and keep them engaged through most of the exercises. Exhale during the exertion or the toughest part of the exercise and then inhale when you are in recovery phase. Press your shoulders down and away from your ears while lifting your chest. Constantly reach out, stretching your hands and feet throughout the workout. When rounding your head forward, maintain a fist distance between your chin and your chest. -The Hundred: Sit tall on the mat with your knees bent by your chest and your hands by your side. Lie down with your knees bent and your palms facing down. Exhale and raise your head and shoulders off the mat. Now, vigorously pump your arms 6 inches up and down while reaching with your fingertips. Inhale for 5 pumps and then exhale for 5 pumps. Be sure to curl your chin towards your chest. Do 100 pumps or 10 full breaths. Try to keep your lower back pressed into the floor and pull your abs in towards your spine. You should keep your abs engaged this way throughout the workout. The hundred works your abs and your inner thighs. The Roll-Down: Sit tall with your knees bent and your feet on the mat. Set your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your thighs, keeping your elbows wide. Inhale and start to roll back on the mat, curling your pelvis under and pressing your lower back into the floor. Stop this roll halfway down with your arms nearly straight. Hold this position for 3 breaths, deepening your abs each time you exhale and then raise yourself back to the start position. Repeat this exercise 3 times. This is a great exercise for working your deepest abdominal muscles. The Single Leg Circle: Lie back on the mat with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down. Begin by pointing your left foot as if reaching out with your toes towards the ceiling and rotate your legs slightly outward. Inhale and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving your whole legs but keeping your hips still. Don't lift your left hip off the floor. Trace the circle on the ceiling 5 times in a clockwise direction then repeat it in a counterclockwise direction. Now, switch legs and repeat the exercise. The single leg circle works your abs, hips, hamstrings, and your inner and outer thighs. Rolling Like A Ball: Sit on the front of your mat with your legs hip-width apart and your hands holding your shins. Round your back, tilting your head in towards your navel and lean back slightly so your weight is balanced just behind your pelvic bones. Begin by inhaling and then rock backward until your shoulder blades touch the mat. Now, exhale and come back to balance in the starting position. You should repeat this exercise 10 times, remaining in a tight ball as you roll. Rolling like a ball targets your abs. The Single Leg Stretch: Lie back in the center of your mat with your knees bent. Lift your head and shoulders and curl your chin in towards your chest. Inhale as you draw your left knee in toward your chest, placing your left hand on your ankle and your right hand on your knee. Lift your right leg about 45 degrees off the floor. Switch legs extending your left leg while hugging your right leg to your chest. Switch hand position each time you switch legs, placing your right hand on your right ankle and your left hand on your right knee. You should do between 5 and 10 reps for each side. The single leg stretch works your abs and your obliques. The Spine Stretch Forward: Sit tall on your mat with your legs extended and your feet flexed and hip-width apart. Extend your arms out in front of your shoulders parallel to the floor, reaching toward your feet with your fingers. Without moving your hips or lower back, exhale and lower your head as if diving through your arms. Round your upper back forward and curl your chin towards your chest. Now, inhale and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 5 times. As you stretch, pull your navel toward your spine and aim the top of your head towards the mat, reaching forward with your fingers and neck. Keep your legs as straight as possible. The spine stretch forward works your abs. Side Kicks Front: Lie down on your mat and roll onto your right side, cradling your head in your hand. Place your left hand in front of you and bring your legs 45 degrees out in front of your body. Raise your left leg to hip height. Inhale as you kick your left leg forward and exhale as you bring it back just slightly behind your body, as far back as your hips will allow without rocking. Keep your knees straight, your foot flexed, and your hips stacked as you continue this exercise for 10 reps. Switch sides and repeat it for your right leg. Remember to bring your leg out in front of you about 45 degrees. Keep your hip stacked, flex your right foot, and don't bend your knees. The side kicks front targets your abs and your butt.