This Week’s Actual Pilates: The Hundred

The Hundred is the first exercise seen in the Return to Life through Contrology book by Joseph Pilates. This is the exercise that follows the footwork on the apparatus and the advanced mat. The Hundred is done in the Pilates session to warm and prepare the body for the exercises to follow, increasing fitness and detoxifying the body.

At first you will notice that the Pilates Hundred focuses on the breath but is without a doubt, a full body integration exercise that wakes up the body by getting the blood pumping and oxygenated, stimulates the nervous system, uses frontline activation, increases dynamic stability, leg strength, and encourages control of body, mind and spirit through deep focus and mindful movement.

Though the Hundred exercise appears to be something relatively simple to look at, there are many muscles active and involved throughout the entire body. Here is a list of some of the major players in this wonderful exercise:

rectus abdominus, rectus obliques, serratus anterior, deltoids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, transverse abdmoninus, iliopsoas, scalene, rectus femorus, sternocleidomastoid, tensor fasciae latae, gluteus maximus, extensor digitorum, biceps brachii, triceps brachii

Let’s discuss the importance of correct breathing. Breathing is the first and last thing you do when you are born and when you die. Joseph Pilates put a great emphasis on the breath in his methodology of exercises. The capacity to efficiently use oxygen is dependent on the respiratory system’s ability to collect oxygen and the cardiovascular system’s ability to absorb and transport it to the tissues of the body. When we exercise, we must breathe well. Abnormal and difficult breathing patterns can affect the normal response to exercise, human movement patterns, circulation, stress and sleep.

How to do the Hundred: Place the body supine on a flat padded surface such as a Pilates mat. (The current photo is showing the Hundred exercise done on the reformer) Inhale and lift the head so that you are resting on the tips of the shoulder blades, bringing the chin toward the chest. Lift the legs, toes are ideally at eye level, the arms long and straight and start to pump vigorously 5 arm pumps for one sustained deep inhale, 5 arm pumps for one sustained deep exhale. Repeat this sequence for 10 cycles until you reach a total of 100. Modification Options: Knees bent, less reps, support legs, support head.

Natalie Shook PMA-NCPT is a graduate of Advanced Program at The Pilates Center in Boulder and a Host Advisor for the TPC Teacher Training Program. Strategic Pilates Studio is located in Somerset Meadows, Longmont, CO for more information regarding schedule, classes, one on one, etc. Email Call or text Natalie @ 831-241-8097

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