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The Classical Mat Series: #1 The One Hundred

The One Hundred

– breathe and pump and work those abdominals, inner thighs and butt!!

To see a video of this exercise and much more, enroll onto the Courses (Pilates Basics) here.

Strengthens your core and breathing! ⁠

  • Learning to create stability in your body whilst limbs are moving.
  • Strengthening the abdominals and ability to lift the legs (hip flexors).
  • Increasing flexibility of your upper spine.
  • Learning to lengthen  your limbs.
  • Learning to connect your arms to your shoulders and and your legs to your butt (glutes).
  • Breathing and breath control.
  • It’s a watershed exercise in Pilates – you’ll learn to love it!

This is the first exercise in the Traditional Mat Series (aka “The work”) published in Return to Life 1945.  Consider this you warm up.  It takes strength, understanding  and control and these things will all stand you in good stead for your continuing Pilates journey through the series…

The how to …

Inhale. Lie on the Mat with your legs stretched out and away from you.  Your lower ribs and tailbone should be connected to the mat with the slightest of gaps between the mat and your lower spine.
Exhale. Reach your arms forward towards your outreached heels and allow our heart & rib cage to come upwards and forwards.   Squeezing your inner thighs and butt will help you lift your legs off the ground, your heels are together and your big toes are separated.
Inhale. Pause.  Deepen your abdominal contraction further by pressing your navel in towards your spine,your lower spine should now be pressed against the floor – if not, raise your legs higher.
Exhale. Pump your arms up and down in a small rhythmic motion for five counts.
Inhale. Continue pumping your arms up and down for five more counts. repeat this for 10 breath cycles making a total of one hundred counts.

Deeper Challenges

1. Traditional: breathing for five arm pumps and breathe out for five arm pumps whilst holding your legs at the height that works for you.
2. Expand your lungs: breathe in for two counts and breathe out for eight.
3. Beats: beat your heels together. When you have sufficient coordination add in the arm pumping. Try pointing your feet on the exhalation and flexing your feet on the inhalation.
4. Walking/wrap around: alternate crossing your inner thighs one over the other so that the heel of 1 foot goes into the arch of the other. Try printing your feet on the exhalation and flexing your feet on the inhalation.
5. Walking and scissors combination: on the in breath ultimate crossing your inner thighs on the out breath perform small scissors movements with your legs.

Hints and Tips

  • Practise at home on a mat – everyday!
  • Engage the abdominals at the beginning and keep them engaged throughout.  No ballooning abdominals.
  • Never allow your lower back to arch off the mat as you lift your legs.
  • Keep your navel pulled in.
  • Lower your legs only as far as your lower back can stay on the mat.
  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Keep the bottom of your shoulder blades on the mat.
  • Only the arms should be moving keep everything else absolutely and utterly stock still!

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