Pilates Exercise of the Month: The Hundred

Purpose: To strengthen the abdominal muscles, develop upper body stabilization and stimulate circulation to warm up the body in preparation for the mat workout.

Lie on your back; pull your knees into the chest and feel the entire length of your spine on the mat. Lengthen the back of the neck; slide your shoulders down and back.
Lift your head and shoulders off the mat bringing chin toward chest. Reach your arms long, past your hips and straighten both legs up toward the ceiling. Squeeze your buttocks and inner thighs together.
Begin pumping your arms straight up and down as if you were tapping water. Keep the movement slightly above the mat and your arms straight.
Inhale for 5 counts (pumps) and exhale for 5 counts (pumps).

Lower your legs to a 45 degree angle, or to the point just before your spine arches off the mat. Maintain this position, pumping your arms and breathing for 100 counts (10 full breath cycles).
To finish, lower your head and bring your knees into the chest.

Checklist:

Shoulders are down and back while pumping the arms.
Make sure you are sinking your belly into your spine throughout.
Don’t bend the wrists while pumping; keep stretching through the fingertips.
Keep arms synchronized while pumping.

Note:

If your lower back begins to hurt, bend your knees in toward your chest.
If you develop neck pain, lower your head.
A shoulder injury may prevent you from pumping your arms. Simply reach long or pump softly.
Visualization: Imagine your arms beating out the tempo to a piece of music.