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Demonstration of the pilates side-lying legs exercises from the original 34 Pilates mat exercises by Joseph Pilates

The Ultimate Guide to Joseph Pilates’ 34 Mat Exercise for Total Body Wellness

Among my stack of books about how the body works and staying fit, there’s one small book that’s a bit worn out. It was written by Joseph Pilates himself, the man who created Pilates. I’ve read it many times, and each time, I learn something new.

There is a wealth of knowledge found in those pages. Each movement was thoughtfully planned out and placed in a specific order by Mr. Pilates with the intention of helping others. In his own words, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” He described these 34 moves as “not a fatiguing system of dull, boring, abhorred exercises repeated daily “ad-nauseam.” It neither demands your joining a gymnasium nor purchasing expensive apparatus. You may derive all the benefits of Contrology in your own home” *

His 34 exercises aren’t just boring workouts; they’re a way to get fit at home without fancy equipment.

Demonstration of the pilates side-lying legs exercises from the original 34 Pilates mat exercises by Joseph Pilates

Exploring March MATness

Every year during March, Pilates enthusiasts all over the world celebrate March MATness by sharing one of the original 34 exercises each day of the month. Every day is a deep dive and exploration into (What is Pilates?) and (How did it all start?). It’s our heritage and a way we celebrate Mr. Pilates and his life’s work. It’s a way for us to say thank you, but more importantly, it’s a way for us to come together as a community. It is also a great way to showcase how we interpret what Pilates is and invite others to join us. Pilates has changed our lives and we know it can change yours too.

Facing Challenges and Getting Better

When I first tried Mr. Pilates’ exercises, I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to do them just like he described, but my body couldn’t do it all at once. It was frustrating, but I didn’t give up. Over time, I got better at the exercises, even though life sometimes got in the way. Like when I had my babies, I had to start over again. But each time, I kept going because I knew Pilates was worth it.

Pilates Mat Exercise teaser

Understanding Each Exercise

Mr. Pilates’ exercises aren’t just random moves. Each one has a purpose. They help make our muscles stronger, improve our balance, and keep us flexible. By learning about each exercise, we can understand why they’re important and how they help us stay healthy.

Swan Pilates mat exercise variation with a magic circle (Pilates ring)

Making Progress and Trying New Things

Pilates isn’t just about doing the same exercises over and over. It’s about getting better and trying new things. Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been doing Pilates for a while, there’s always something new to learn. You can use different props or change how you do the exercises to fit your needs. Pilates is all about finding what works best for you.

At Pilates Cure, we break down each of the 34 mat exercises Joseph Pilates programmed for his ideal mat Pilates session and we teach you ways to progress and regress each move. We offer suggestions of props to add or moves to practice if you can’t quite nail the move you want, and we even help you see how they all build off each other. You can check out our playlist on YouTube that walks you through all 33* moves here.

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(*We recognize that there are in fact 34 Mat Pilates exercises, but due to safety concerns, we do not teach the original #31 – The Crab online due to safety concerns. We recommend this exercise be practiced ONLY in the studio with a qualified instructor present.)

Living the Pilates Lifestyle

You will go through so many seasons in the course of your life and I feel Pilates can and should be a part of each stage. Pilates isn’t just something we do for a few minutes each day. It’s a way of life. It’s about taking care of our bodies and our minds. When we practice Pilates, we feel stronger, happier, and more confident. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

Joseph Pilates’ 34 Mat Exercises aren’t just for grown-ups or fitness experts. They’re for everyone who wants to feel better and live healthier lives. As we celebrate March MATness and explore Pilates together, let’s remember that it’s not about being perfect; it’s about trying our best and never giving up. So, whether you’re just starting or you’ve been doing Pilates for years, keep going. Your body will thank you for it.

Learn the how, the why, and how it relates to you, and it will become the life-changing practice that you can carry with you to help you feel good and move well in your body.

The Ultimate Guide to Joseph Pilates' 34 Mat Exercises for total body wellness

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