Strategic Pilates Side Kick Series Part 1

Strategically Kick Your Way to Toned Legs

Pilates leg toning exercises that most everyone can do at home or in a studio setting. All Pilates mat classes should include the side leg kick series. This delightful classical Pilates mat exercise series always shows up in its proper place in the classical Pilates mat sequence. Improved tone in your legs, waistline, hips and buttocks are just a few benefits of this refreshing and progressive Pilates exercise. This exercise series offers the basic few and also many variations. In today’s blog, I will give instructions for the very basics with progressions of the variations to follow in future blogs. If you are curious enough to ask, a well trained Pilates Teacher should be able to tell you why a particular variation was used and what was being sought out by choosing a certain variation. Because this series is performed in a side lying position, your body will experience hip differentiation, sideline activation, and improved dynamic stability. Adding prescribed variations promotes fine tuning of precise movement, balance, agility and strength that becomes part of your every day functional movement.

Strategic Pilates Side Kick Series Basic Instructions Part 1

Forward and Back: lie on your right side, place right arm bent elbow on the mat with hand at side of head, left arm bent at 90 degrees with hand placed at belly level, palm down with fingers facing toward right elbow. Legs positioned slightly forward of your trunk initially stacked, with toes slightly pointed. Keep hips perfectly stacked, ribs stacked and shoulders stacked, and keep this alignment throughout the entire exercise. Be sure your eyes 😳 are looking straight ahead so that your neck is not pulling forward. Stabilize your trunk using your breath, press the bottom leg (right) into the floor and lift the top leg (left) parallel to equal to hip height, no higher. Inhale deeply as you isolate a STRAIGHT LEG swing of the top (left) leg forward hinging at the hip as far as you can go without destabilizing your trunk including your hips, ribs and shoulders and reach a little further. Now begin the isolated STRAIGHT LEG swing back hinging at the hip with a deep exhale drawing the leg as far behind as you can go without destabilizing the trunk, including the hips, ribs and shoulders. Make sure your legs stay straight, imagine you are reaching for something across the room with your legs but don’t grip the muscles. Keeping your legs straight helps you maintain the stability in your hips and also helps to improve tone in the waistline. Are you still as stacked and aligned as when you first began? Repeat this movement 4-8x on each leg.

Side Kick Up and Down: The position is the same (begin by lying on your right side) Slightly externally rotate (slightly turn out) the top leg (left). This is not accomplished just by rolling the foot outward. External leg rotation comes from high up the leg, think ‘hip’ and you’ve got it. This exercise in good form requires your body to resist the urge of rolling the top hip forward because you’ll that perfect stack and be out of alignment, therefore missing the Strategic purpose of the exercise. Inhale as your left leg reaches up to the sky as far as you can go (important to keep the leg very straight) without destabilizing your trunk including hips, ribs and shoulders. check in: where are your eyes looking? With a very deep exhale resist gravity while lowering your left (top) leg to meet the right (bottom) leg and imagine feeling length from your hip all the way down to your toes. It should feel as if someone else was helping you tug that leg across the room. Repeat the exercise 4-8x on each leg. Remember to breathe throughout each exercise. The standard rule is: inhale to begin, exhale to complete. (video coming soon)

Strategic Pilates Mat Exercise Fun

Intermediate/Advanced Level Pilates Mat Exercise-Around the Clock in One Minute

Do you love discovering new excitement in your Pilates practice? If you are at the intermediate/advanced level in Pilates and you ready for a new fun Strategic Pilates mat exercise challenge, then this might be for you! This is an intermediate/advanced level Pilates exercise, do not attempt this exercise if you have injuries or are a beginner.  

Strategic Pilates brings something back from the past and makes it new again! Nothing tones up your abdominal muscles obliques with as much fun as the ‘Around The Clock in One Minute’ exercise from Joseph Pilates 1940’s archival mat exercise selection. In following the traditional or classical order, this exercise would be placed directly after the ‘rolling-like-a-ball exercise. This simple but challenging exercise can be used as a substitute for (or in addition to) the classical Pilates ‘famous 5’ stomach series in the Contrology mat! You will soon feel the burn🔥 in your abdominal region when performing this exercise correctly, and the whole body is very active and engaged.

The general exercise instructions are: Lay supine (on your back) on the mat with head and chest lifted, knees deeply bent and hands at ankles. (see illustration) Keeping the body coiled into the rolling like a ball position as you bump/roll twice clockwise using the muscles of your center and upper body (thoracic spine lift), then stretch limbs straight open reaching away from each other. On your 3rd bump/roll, stay lifted in upper body(thoracic spine) starting from your lumbar spine through the thoracic spine (similar to the teaser and 2 leg stretch exercise position), quickly coil into your ball position and continue the pattern all the way around your clock. Begin the exercise again in the counter clockwise direction following the same instructions. Complete the entire clockwise/counter clockwise cycle within ONE minute. This is Strategic Pilates FUN!😍

 At Strategic Pilates when I teach this exercise to my level 4 and 5 classes, the students break out in laughter and make funny comments as they enjoy progressing through the clockwise and counter clockwise motions. It is one of their favorite exercises so I hope you will enjoy it too! (video coming soon)

Exercise Results

Pilates brings its most defined results when practiced at least 3x per week. As with most anything, the more you practice, the quicker you will see the results. It is easy for anyone to practice the Pilates mat exercises at home with little or no equipment. This allows each student to supplement coming into class and stay consistent with practice. Follow my blogs or enjoy an online zoom class with me to learn and develop your own personalized at-home routine between studio classes or private lesson attendance.

I welcome questions, emails and requests for specific exercises. I will do my best to answer everyone ASAP thru email and requests for new specific exercise instructions in  future blogs. My bio can be found on the ‘About’ page.

6 Basic Pilates Principles

Natalie Shook NCPT                            

6 Basic Pilates Principles

CENTERING: What most people refer to as the “core” is not just the front of the body. It is the entire body from the top of the head, torso, front, back and sides to the bottom of your seat. It is what is known as the ‘Powerhouse’ in Pilates. The limbs work from the center aka powerhouse. The duality of centering refers to both your mind and body by bringing focus of mind into the body.

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