8 Non-Intimidating Mat Pilates Exercises for Beginners

Shoulder Bridge

This is a great first exercise because it warms up the spine and targets the hamstrings, explains NYC Pilates owner Randi Stone.

Toe Taps (Marching)

This ab-building workout involves no crunches. Lift both feet off the floor to form a tabletop with knees over hips and lower legs parallel to the floor. Straighten your arms at your sides.

The Hundred

This is the opening exercise in a classic Pilates workout, Stone says. She claims it works core muscles and circulates blood. Lay on your back and raise each leg to a tabletop posture.

Roll Back, Roll Up

Stone recommends this basic Pilates exercise for core strength. She advises novices to start with the roll back and a short range of motion (not all the way to the floor).


Stone states, This is a great exercise to strengthen the deep stabilizing abdominal muscles that run up and down the spine . Great bonus: it targets glutes and hamstrings.

Wall Squat

Stone adds, This exercise builds posture awareness, works the pelvic floor, glutes, and front and back of the legs. Start by standing with your back to a wall.

Cat and Cow

This action stretches the back and neck completely. Inhale, then exhale, tuck your chin to your chest, curve your back toward the sensation, and tuck your tailbone under your pelvis.

Side-Lying Clam

This workout works glutes and hips. Start laying on your right side with bent and stacked legs. Lift your upper knee 6 inches and carefully drop it with your ankles together and hips looking forward.