How to take Pilates to the next level

Pilates Pro85086 Body May '16

Here’s how to take Pilates to the next level––just like professional athletes do!

By Stephanie Dorworth

When you study athletes and their training programs, you can almost always be certain you will see strength training in their repertoire. When you look at elite athletes, often times you will learn they invest even more time into preparing their bodies to be the best by practicing Pilates. Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise to stretch, strengthen, and balance out muscles. There is a reason so many athletes love it. It takes even professional athletes back to the basics. The mind-muscle focus allows one to slow things down, focus on breathing, focus on posture, improve spine mobility, and increase core stability.

The basic techniques of Pilates carries over into functional tasks like how one sits at a computer desk to how one practices their sports or hobbies. Professional athletes like Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Jason Kidd, Calvin Johnson, Sanya Richards Ross, and Antonio Brown have been known to practice Pilates. Why? The exceptional benefits of injury prevention and improved mobility. Tight end Mertellus Bennett believes Pilates is the reason he has been able to stay relatively injury free. The King, Lebron James, practices Pilates before his big games. So if Lebron can take the time to slow down and practice Pilates, so can you.

I taught Pilates classes all throughout college and they were extremely popular. However, sometimes I had clients, like the University of Florida Women’s Soccer team, who were more high-level and athletic. So I enjoyed advancing the moves for them and making them more functional or sport-specific. One way to do so is by making Pilates combo movements that also require cardiovascular ability. I found that both my male and female clients enjoyed a sprinkling of these fun moves into their routines. Not only because interval training is more effective at burning fat, but also because it got their heart rates up so they felt like they worked harder and more effectively.

Many sports require stamina, rhythm, and coordination. So a cardio Pilates routine is very functional and applicable. It combines the focus and precision of Pilates with the cardiovascular challenge of intervals.

Here are the two cardio Pilates combinations for you to try. Perform 10 rounds of each without any rest breaks:


Swan Dive + Mountain Climbers

Part A: Start in a cobra position with your torso extended and arms straightened. For the swan dive, reach your arms forward quickly while you keep your torso in a backward bent position (arched) so you can rock forward using momentum. Then after you rock backward, catch yourself in the starting position. Perform this move five times.

Part B: Then immediately move into mountain climbers for five reps on each side, which are performed in a high plank position with quick, alternating knee crunches inward.

Rolling like a Ball + Jump Squat

Part A: Start in a ball position, balanced on your sacrum, spine rounded, and holding your shins. Then perform the rolling like a ball by rolling back onto your back and then rolling forward again to balance on your sacrum. Perform this move five times. On the fifth rep, roll forward quickly into a squat with your feet together. You must use momentum to do so without using your hands to help. (Easier Modification: Use your hands to help you transition from the ball position to the squat)

Part B: With your feet still together, jump up as high as you can and reach your arms overhead. Land back down into a squat. Perform for five reps.



Interested in trying out Pilates? Here are some local North Phoenix/Scottsdale Pilates studios to guide you:


The Pilates Room

(480) 483-1100

20789 N. Pima Road, Suite 135, Carefree



Pilates in Cave Creek

(480) 865-5000

6450 E. Cave Creek Road, Suite 203, Cave Creek



Bella Body Pilates

(602) 318-5068

13825 N. 7th St., Phoenix



Pilates Joe

(480) 609-0060

14415 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 600, Scottsdale


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