This Week’s Actual Pilates: The Sequence of Joseph Pilates Mat Exercises

The original sequence of exercises as written in his book titled : “Return to Life Through Contrology” by Joseph Pilates.

Students who participate in my classes often ask me for the list of exercises we do on a twice weekly basis. I think you should have this list exactly as written by the creator of the actual Pilates exercises.

The sequence in which they are to be performed was created with the intent that each exercise prepares the body for the next level of difficulty. The original name for this sequence was Contrology.

In recent years, there has been much confusion about what Pilates actually is, and unfortunately within the industry itself, you will find a wide variety of things being taught in Pilates studios and gyms being labeled as ‘Pilates’ that are in reality just a compilation of core based gym exercises. It is my passion to help you understand what actual Pilates is, to bring a higher level of health and renewed energy to your body. Within the instructions, photos and video clips provided throughout my posts, it is my sincere hope that people will learn to differentiate between the classes that are titled ‘Pilates’, those that are and those that are not following the methodology of JP originally intended or created. Experiencing authentic Pilates will influence your mind about this amazing modality, it will definitely change your body for the better.

Therefore, I encourage you to locate of a copy of the book, “Return to Life Through Contrology, By Joseph Pilates”, read and keep it around for your own personal reference and discernment to the original methodology and science behind the creation of this marvelous work.

The sequence doesn’t change, the sequence is not to be mixed up, we don’t use huge fitness balls, we don’t include ‘planks’, or other ‘gym exercises’. His methodology changes the body when done in his named order of sequence on a regular basis and can be done daily without harm. Below you will find the list and in future posts, you will find instructions with photos and video clips on how to properly perform these exercises.

Here is the list in the Joseph Pilates mat exercises order of sequence:

The Hundred, The Roll Up, The Roll Over with Legs Spread (both ways), One Leg Circle (both ways), Rolling Back (like a ball), One Leg Stretch, The Double Leg Stretch, The Spine Stretch, Rocker with Open Legs, The Corkscrew, The Saw, The Swan Dive, The One Leg Kick, The Double Kick, The Neck Pull, The Scissors, The Bicycle, The Shoulder Bridge, The Spine Twist, The Jack Knife, The Side Leg Kick (Series), The Teaser, The Hip Twist with Stretched Arms (Hip Circles), Swimming, The Leg Pull Front, The Leg Pull, The Side Kick Kneeling, The Side Bend, The Boomerang, The Seal, The Crab, The Rocking, The Control Balance, The Push Up.

You may notice that a magic circle (the Pilates ring), very light 1-2lb weights could be used for some of the exercises or a weighted bar for the roll up, and on a classical mat, you would have the foot strap, side boxes and optional handles. As a modification, you might find a small squishy ball, wedge, extra pads or theraband used. No other equipment is used in a traditional method Mat Pilates Class.

Here are quotes taken directly from the book titled “Return to Life Through Contrology, By Joseph Pilates”

“The only unchanging rules you must conscientiously obey are that you must faithfully and without deviation, follow the instructions accompanying the exercises and always keep your mind wholly concentrated on the purpose of the exercises as you perform them.” (page 20)

“The benefits of Contrology depend on solely upon your performing the exercises according to instructions — and not otherwise.” (page 20)

“BE SURE NEVER TO REPEAT THE SELECTED EXERCISE(S) MORE THAN THE PRESCIBED NUMER OF TIMES since more harm will result than good by your unwittingly or intentionally disregarding this most important advice and direction. Why? Because this infraction causes muscular fatigue-poison. There is really no need for tired muscles. Judicious selection of special Contrology exercises will accomplish more for your health and body condition, in conjunction with the foregoing advice, than all else combined.” (page 31)

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 is located in Somerset Meadows, Longmont, CO for more information regarding schedule, classes, One-on-One Private Sessions, Duets, Rates etc. Email natalie@strategicpilates.com Call or text Natalie @ 831-241-8097

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