Pilates Mat Exercise #3: The Roll Over

Pilates Mat Exercise #3:The Roll Over

I happen to be MAD about both The Roll Up and The Roll Over.

What a pair!

The first thing I have to say is

1. Don't be in a hurry.

Yes, it's the third exercise, but you may do Pilates for a while (even a long while) before you do it.

And that's okay.

Just like other challenging exercises where you must lift yourself off the Mat, The Roll Over improves over time and requires a strong foundation in many of the other exercises.

Please notice that I use the word ‘lift.'

2. Lift vs. Fold

Lift: to raise to a higher level

very different from

Heave: haul (a heavy thing) with great effort

No snark here, your lower body is a large proportion of your total body weight.

Fling: move or push suddenly or violently

Throw: push or force violently and suddenly into a particular physical position.

Easy on the violence, babe…

What about our other contender?

Fold: bend over on itself so that one part covers another

That's not it either, right?

Let's take a look at the difference…

Pilates Mat Exercise #3: The Roll Over



Pilates Mat Exercise #3: The Roll Over

Folded…what. is. going. on?

This is when the whole Contrology thing really comes in handy. You must strive for control. Now.

 3. A Starting Point

You may have seen students and teachers perform this exercise, their feet reaching all the way to the floor behind them. While yes, if you can reach the floor, you should, I did this exercise for more than a year before my feet got anywhere near the mat behind me.

It's the quality of the journey on the way back there that counts.

You will cultivate the important skills necessary to complete the exercise safely and effectively. Moreover,

Just because your feet don't reach the floor doesn't mean you're not doing the exercise.

Where will you find your very first lifting skills in your Pilates Mat workout?

Roll Like a Ball! Look at that lift!

Spoiler Alert: Now in the Roll Over you just have to get the lift without momentum…

Remember, if you are just beginning to work on this exercise, today's goal may not be to touch your feet to the floor over your head.

Today's goal is control. Check back tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure the goal will remain unchanged.

Pilates Mat Exercise #3: The Roll Over

Just so we're clear.

At the risk of giving this exercise tool a fancy name, I like to call this ‘Tiny Roll-Over'. It's packed with just the essentials and plenty of lift. You may find it to be helpful as you work on the Corkscrew as well.

  1. Keep your legs at 90 degrees and lock them together at the heels, inner thighs and buttocks.
  2. Aim for the ceiling and lift just the tailbone and maybe a couple lower vertebrae off the mat.
  3. Hover. Show off your fabulous willpower over your body. Open the Legs. Did you wiggle?
  4. SLOWLY, lengthen down back onto the mat. Zip the legs together again.
  5. Repeat 3x each direction.

See how you do. You may find this version to be equally as challenging as the full Roll Over, so I urge all you feet-reaching-the-floor-folk to try it as well.

Share your successes in a comment below.


3 Amazing Words = 1 New Pilates Equation

3 Amazing Words = 1 New Pilates Equation

The original Pilates equation we all know.

Strength + Stretch = Control

I propose an additional one.

Pilates: Focus+Flow=Excellence

An article by Janice L. Marturano found me this week.

It got me thinking about Pilates. Imagine that.

1. Focus


(OH yeah)

Concentration. Attention.

Pilates trains the mind as well as the body. As a teacher and practitioner of the Pilates Method I must show up and respond during my workday and I must pay attention during my workout. Pilates requires one to focus on the task at hand.

We are born with the capacity to be present.

When we train this capacity of the mind, we are learning to cultivate the space we need to make conscious decisions about how we spend our time.

It is in this space that we can bring all of our experiences, education and inner wisdom to the moment.

It is in this space that we begin to reveal our humanity and embody our passion to make a difference, to lead with excellence.

The more focus, the more one is truly present and therefore the greater the capacity for excellence.

Even the Pilates environment is conducive to focus. A place for everything and everything in its place. Pilates allows you to give yourself and your clients the respect of being present and engaged in what is going on right now in front of you.

3 Amazing Words = 1 New Pilates Equation

Eckhart Tolle has a lot to say about savoring the present moment.

As you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease…whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care and love – even the most simple action.

So our ‘simple action' is the Hundred and what follows it on any given day.

2. Flow

Flux. Circulation.



To honor the present moment is to be in the psychological state known as flow.

From Wikipedia:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning.

In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.

That's me, positive and aligned… So in this state of flow we engage in our flowing movement. Trippy.

3. Excellence


You've done something.


It's good.


Remarkably good.

3 Amazing Words = 1 New Pilates Equation

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3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and So Much More

“You can say what Pilates is in three words. Stretch with Strength and Control. And the control part is the most important because that makes you use your mind.”  Romana Kryzanowska

Strength + Stretch = Control.

Stretch beyond your next workout. Examine the Strength of your convictions and marvel at the depth of the Pilates Method. What else is well within your Control? The answers may surprise you.


3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and so Much More

The common thought on the common matter: pure physical prowess.

Health. Power. Vigor. Stamina.

Okay, pretty straightforward, but how about another angle?

Resilience. Courage. Strength of character. Spirit.

And Joe Pilates would love a look at the super-serious nature of strength:

Skill. Supremacy. Puissance. Backbone. Guts!

The uncommon thought on the common matter: what else is in the realm of strength? Strength + Control =

Calm. Stillness. Composure.

Just a shout-out to all you strong, silent types.

As a new apprentice I remember watching one of my first teachers, Dianne Garrett, give a correction in mat class for the Side Kicks. Using her hands on the trunk of the student’s body to keep it still, Dianne was adamant about the position of the hip and firmly delivered her direction. She had a wonderful, enviable confidence.

Yeah. I want that.

Stretch3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and so Much More

First and foremost:

Suppleness. Resilience. Bounce. Spring!

Now let’s go all humanity on it.

Latitude. Space. Freedom. Tolerance.

Adapt or perish. Move it or lose it. “IN wit the air and OUT wit the air!”

Kathy Grant stated that Pilates is “for the unexpected.” As an 84 year-old woman with decades of Pilates under her belt she was able to avoid serious injury after a fall on a New York City subway platform. It was her Pilates training that enabled her to “bend easily without breaking” and “adapt to different circumstances.”

Control3 Amazing Words that Define Pilates and so Much More


Okay, take it easy…

Command. Mastery. Direction.

Nerve Center. Composure. Cool.

Yeah…Pilates is cool…

Control Yourself!

Joe Pilates named his exercise method Contrology, or the study of control. Heed this word only and you can't go wrong. Total Control shall be the fruit of your sweaty labors.

Information Central

The Pilates method gives us a wealth of information about our bodies. It is truly amazing what you can discover by simply paying attention. Pilates helps us control our physical lives and can often direct the future of our movements. We can retain our composure in the face of life’s upheavals and stay grounded in our central command post. Our bodies and minds deserve to be top of the list of controllable items!


Transitions in Pilates can be challenging, intricate, vexing and the perfect moment for the body to want to poop out.

During the exercises

Have you found control or it's shiny alter-ego, momentum? (ominous sound-effect here…)

Why does each moment matter so much? Control. But I want to whip my leg around in Single Leg Circles…Nope. Control. Contrology remember? You are in control at all times, not just during the exercises, but in the moments in between as well, linking each exercise seamlessly and efficiently to the next. You are in control not just at the beginning and end of your leg circle, but at every single point along the way. Even that hard part when your foot is really far away from you…why is it so far away if you are not in control? Who's in charge here, you or your leg?

This is Pilates. You might have to use your stomach.


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