4-Move Motivating Pilates Routine

There are times when workout motivation is lower than normal, days when you either can't get to your workout at all or can't quite push yourself hard enough or long enough. For those days, a few key Pilates moves may be what you need to propel you forward and get you moving.

The below routine is designed to accomplish one of three things. It can provide a warm up to a pending workout It can deliver a little postscript at the end of a less than a satisfying workout. Or it could simply help get you to the gym or onto the mat when you'd rather not do so. As a final bonus, you can use this as a stand-alone routine on any designated non-workout day. With an uptick in your focus, breath and muscle control these exercises alone can provide an antidote for episodes of low motivation.

Mobilize Your Spine

The Roll Down is a key move in the first five exercises of the original Pilates Mat. Designed to mobilize every vertebra of the spine and activate the abdominals, this is an ideal way to wake up your lungs, synchronize your breath and movement and spark a bit of fire in your core.

Sit up tall with your knees bent and feet flat. Hold lightly behind your thighs. Pull your abdominals in and up until you gently curve your spine. Round back aiming your low back to the mat behind you. Lower about halfway down then fix your eyes on your abdominals. Take three deep breaths. With each exhale pull your abdominals in more and more deeply. On the last exhale, round back up to where you began. Stay rounded in the spine and begin again.

Perform three full sets of the Roll Down.

Reverse Your Blood Flow

The Shoulder Bridge is a quick way to fire up your gluteals, hamstrings and more. There are many options for variety in this move but a basic preparation will serve as a great warm up or cool down.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, hip-width apart. Keep your arms long by your sides. Press your hips up towards the sky but keep the spine lengthened. No back bending here. Hold the hips high and dig your heels into the ground to propel your hips up more strongly. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Then take one leg up and straighten it to the sky. Hold for another 3 to 5 breaths and switch legs.

Repeat the cycle three times.

Wake Up Your Back Body and Improve Stamina

The Wall Chair picks up where the Shoulder Bridge left off by graduating the body to an upright position.

Find a Wall to lean against. Then step away with your feet and legs in parallel and hip-width apart. Your head, spine, and hips are pressed against the wall. Your arms can cross over your chest or hang by your sides. Slide down the wall until your legs are in a chair position. You should have a 90-degree angle a the ankles, the knees and the hips. Hold the position for 30 seconds initially. Then slide up and repeat.

Perform three repetitions. Work up to a one minute hold each time.

Stretch It Out

Standing Side Bend leaves you ready for a complete workout or simply readies you for the rest of your day.

Stand tall with your legs tightly together and your abdominals drawn inward and upward. Reach one arm up overhead and press the upper arm against your ear. Stretch your waist and reach up even higher before bending slightly over. Lengthen your waist, arm, and fingertips to reach upwards for two full breaths in and out. Then return upright before switching sides.

Repeat three full sets or six repetitions.

Final Advice

Whether you use this routine as a warm-up or a cool down, simplified Pilates routines like these can round out your normal workout routine. Make this part of your daily practice!

By Alycea Ungaro, PT, MS
Alycea Ungaro, PT, MS, holds a Pilates certification through the Pilates Method Alliance and a master's degree in clinical nutrition.