A new series to accompany the Pilates 101 is the Pilates 34; guiding you through Joseph Pilates’ 34 original exercises. The first is the ‘signature move’, The Hundred. Now many dread this appearing in a class, but it was originally used to warm up the entire body at the start of class. There is scapular and pelvic stability involved, deep abdominal engagement and stamina needed.
The exercise can be performed at varying degrees of difficulty, making it great for mixed ability classes. You can get a real sense of progression as you make the exercise harder and harder, until you reach the full version. Even when you’ve reached that level there will be plenty to work on as we are using every part of our body here.
Firstly do not perform the exercise if you are over 4 months pregnant, and keep your head on the floor if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia. Work at your own level and make sure that the lower back doesn’t arch off the mat. If you feel this happening, please go down to the next level until you have strengthened the abdominal area sufficiently. We are wanting to keep the pelvis in neutral throughout the exercise. You can find out more about what this means, here.
People will quite often complain of a sore neck during the exercise. If you are finding this the case, you are most probably in the incorrect alignment in that area. We are looking to create a c-curve with the upper body. If you are unsure on this you can have a look through the blog post and video on this, here. We are trying to create length in the back of the neck/cervical spine, whilst maintaining a small gap between the chin and chest.
Knees and/or hips can also be problem areas, particularly in the full version of the exercise. As soon as we over extend the knees there will be tension in the hips and knees, so make sure the knees have a micro-bend in order to feel free. If there is still a gripping sensation in the hips, it could be that the hip flexor muscles are not strengthened enough yet for the leg positioning. You can try bringing the legs closer to vertical or in the table top position.
Have a watch of the video to find out more on how to perform the exercise. Really find your level with this one as we’re looking to make backs better, not worse, which is what you risk if you advance to quickly. At the same time, it’s a really good exercise to challenge your body, and counting skills, with!