Tag: Exercise of the Month

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Side Kick Series: Small Circles

PURPOSE:  Small Circles (or Top Leg Circles) work the buttocks and thighs. This the 3rd exercise of the Side KIck series.

SET UP:  Lie on your side and align your body against the back edge of the mat.  Prop your head up on one hand and place the palm of the other hand on the mat in front of you.  Position your legs in a 45 degree angle in front of your body.  Feet are slightly turned out in a Pilates V.

1.  Lift your top leg so it is in line with the hip.  Begin circling the top leg in a small and swift motion, brushing the top heel past the bottom heel each time around.

2. Complete 5-8 circles, then repeat in the opposite direction.  End by resting the heels together, toes turned out in Pilates V.


If you experience discomfort in your shoulder, wrist or neck, lay your head down on your arm.  You can also use a rolled up towel under your neck for added support.

Head to Toe Checklist:

Upper body is flush against the mat.

Use your abdominals to maintain stability in your upper body so you don’t rock back and forth.

Top leg is straight as you circle; keep your heel down; toes and knee face up.

Don’t let leg rotate inward (toe to floor).

Think of controlled movements; working the circles from the hip joint.


Imagine you are circling your leg inside a small hula hoop.

Small Circles


Pilates Exercise of the Month: Double Straight Leg Stretch




Purpose: The fourth exercise in the Stomach Series targets the powerhouse to the extreme.

1. Lie on your back with hands behind your lifted head; one on top of the other, (not interlaced). Elbows wide.

2. Extend your legs straight to the ceiling, heels together and toes turned out slightly, squeeze inner thighs, sink navel toward spine.

3. Inhale and lower your straight legs down toward the mat for 3 counts. Stop if you feel your lower back begin to arch.

4. Exhale as you raise your straight legs toward the ceiling. Don’t allow the legs to pass 90 degrees; the tailbone does not leave the mat.

Complete 8-10 times. To end bring both knees into chest.

Remain perfectly still in your torso.
Engage the glutes and inner thighs to support and protect your back.
If your back arches off the mat as you lower your legs, you are taking them too low. Bring shoulders away from ears.

Note: If you have a delicate back, place your hands in a V position just below your tailbone (palms down) and leave your head down.

Visualization: Imagine your legs are attached to springs above your head. You must stretch the springs on the way down and resist their pull on the way up.

Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates Instructor