4 Dancer-Friendly Pilates Mat Exercises

Photo by Jayme Thornton

Fitness fads come and go, but one has stood the test of time: Pilates. Dancers swear by this full-body workout as an effective cross-training regimen. The low-impact moves are easy on any nagging injuries and help keep you lean, toned, centered, and flexible. Dance Spirit turned to Youn Kyung Lee, owner of 21 Pilates in NYC, for four mat-based exercises that'll serve your dancer bod best.

Photos by Jayme Thornton. Modeled by Alicia McGinty.

The Pilates Hundred 

This essential Pilates move regulates your breathing, conditions your abs, and helps your alignment.

1. Start on your back with your knees pulled into your chest.

The Roll-Up

Think of this core-strengthening move stretches your spine while strengthening your abs, and promotes proper spinal alignment.

1. Start on your back with your legs straight in front of you, your feet flexed, and your arms extended straight up.

The Clam

This move helps stabilize your spine and pelvis, while strengthening your hips while promoting proper turnout.

1. Start on your right side. Extend your right arm past your head, and rest your head on top of it. Place your left hand on the floor in front of you.

The Single-Leg Kick

This exercise is great for hip stability, and strengthens and stretches your back and abdominal muscles.

1. Start on your stomach with your legs together. Hold your upper body up with your forearms, keeping them shoulder-width apart, and make fists with your hands. Keep your head raised and your gaze directed forward. Keeping your neck extended and your inner thighs activated, pull your abs in, up, and away from the mat. Imagine that your belly button is being pulled into your spine.

A version of this story appeared in the September 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Take It to the Mat."

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