Pilates Warm Up Set

Center and Align with These Easy Exercises

Pilates is a method of training the body and mind to work together to create an efficient, integrated, movement experience -- both on the workout mat and as you move through daily life.

Awareness of the quality of your presence in your body is an essential part of Pilates workout preparation. These five simple exercises build on the Pilates fundamentals. They will help you align and center yourself as you move toward a more challenging workout.

Read more about Pilates integrative approach to exercise in Pilates Principles

Teenage girl doing gymnastics
STOCK4B-RF/Getty Images

Imprinting may be the most basic Pilates exercise there is, yet it also can be one of the most profound. Imprinting is deeply relaxing and centering. It is wonderful for stress reduction, and as a way to center yourself before beginning any exercise routine.


pilates arms
Arms Reach and Pull. (c)2009, Marguerite Ogle

Whether you are doing a Pilates mat or equipment workout, you are going to be working to keep your shoulder area stable throughout. The arm reach and pull exercise is wonderful for helping you establish the placement of your arms and shoulders.


pilates photo
Peter Kramer, Courtesy of Kolesar Studios

Pelvic curl is often used in Pilates classes as a gentle warm-up for the spine and abdominal muscles. You can also use pelvic curl to check in with your alignment. Focus on awareness of the center line and balance between two sides of the body.


pilates swan
Swan Prep. (c)2008, Marguerite Ogle

When you do swan prep as a warm up you will start very small. It's just about getting the spine ready to do some back extension(back bending) types of exercises, getting the abs engaged for support, and coordinating with the breath.


pilates roll down
Standing Wall Roll Down. (c)2007, Marguerite Ogle
Wall roll down stretches and stimulates the spine, and gets your abs warmed up too. It is an excellent exercise to use as a transition from the floor to standing, or standing to the floor. Here we use the wall to help establish good alignment.
You can use this exercise as a quick tune up at home or at the office.


Now that you are warmed up, you can start your workout. As you do, you will see that many Pilates exercises build on the moves you have just done.