Classical mat: the first fifteen exercises

The Classical Pilates Matwork, first published in 1945, consists of a sequence of 34 exercises. Many of these are beyond most of us, especially those who have started Pilates in later life, or because of back or other pain. However, all the exercises that we do in mat class adhere to the same principles and have the potential to evolve into those in the classical sequence as we gain expertise.

In our intermediate/advanced class, we adhere to the classical mat sequence. We perform a mixture of the intermediate exercises and preparations for the advanced and super-advanced versions.

Here’s a list of the first fifteen. These form a useful subset, which with practice, you can do in about 20 minutes. You’ll need a mat or padded surface and may like to use a head cushion.

  1. Hundred – 100 beats
  2. Roll up – 6
  3. Roll over prep (on ball) – 3 each way – don’t forget remove your head cushion
  4. Single leg circles (with band) – 5 each direction/leg
  5. Rolling like a ball – 6
  6. Single leg stretch – 16 changes
  7. Double leg stretch – 5
  8. Single straight leg lower – 10 changes
  9. Double toe taps – 6 (or 3 bent/3 straight legs)
  10. Criss cross – 12 changes
  11. Spine stretch forward – 3
  12. Open leg rocker prep – 6
  13. Advanced hip rolls – 3 sets
  14. Saw – 3 sets
  15. Cobra/Double leg lift combo – 6