A Beginner Pilates Workout You Can Do Right in Your Living Room

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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You don’t need to visit a studio or hop on a fancy Reformer to give Pilates a try. With a no-equipment, beginner Pilates workout, you can dabble in this popular form of movement right from the comfort of your living room—and we have a pretty awesome routine right here that fits that exact bill.

Pilates is a great exercise choice for pretty much everyone, Jill Rothenberg, a Boston-based certified Pilates instructor and founder of Movement with Jill, tells SELF. That’s because there’s a strong emphasis on proper form, mind-body connection, and core stability. All this means you’re intentionally moving in ways that feel good for your body, rather than mindlessly busting out a bunch of reps in ways that may not work for your joints or muscles. Plus, Pilates is a pretty stellar way to get stronger, especially if your goal is to help your muscles work for longer without needing to lift a bunch of heavy weights.

Another benefit of Pilates: There are lots of ways to “layer” exercises—meaning, make them easier for folks just getting started, or harder for people wanting more of a challenge. This means Pilates is accessible to a wide range of fitness levels—including, yup, beginners.

Take the classic single-leg stretch exercise, for example. This core-centric move can be modified by placing your head on the ground or bringing one leg back into your chest before extending the other. Or, it can be made more challenging by curling your head, neck, and shoulders up and doing reps from that position so that your abs take on more work, or by simultaneously extending one leg as the other starts to come back toward your chest, Rothenberg says.

“The first layer will be really mindful, where you make sure you’re doing the right form, your hips aren’t rocking side to side, your range of motion feels right for you,” she explains. “And then we take it to the next step where you’re still keeping those same foundational cues and moves and sensations, but we’re just making it a little bit more intense.”

With that in mind, Rothenberg designed the five-move Pilates workout for SELF below that’s beginner-friendly and includes lots of ways to tweak the difficulty based on your exact fitness level. Centered on classic bodyweight moves—including the famous single-leg stretch, as well as bird-dog, toe tap, leg circle, and quarter-squat star toe touch—the routine has you working a bunch of muscles, including your legs, glutes, shoulders, arms, and back. And the entire time, you’ll seriously challenge your core, too.

That final piece is a key, defining component of Pilates. “Your core should be active in every single Pilates thing you do,” Rothenberg explains, since a strong, stable midsection helps protect your spine and allows you to use your limbs efficiently and effectively in a variety of scenarios, whether you’re moving them during a workout (as in the bird-dog exercise or toe touch, for example), or using them to complete daily tasks (like hauling a bag of groceries, or wrangling a fussy child.)

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