Beginner Pilates Progression Workout with Alisa Wyatt

Beginner Progression – Class 1 of 10

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Alisa Wyatt is here to start your Pilates journey with a series designed to build your practice from a basic to intermediate level. This first class focuses on the fundamentals. Sometimes called Pre-Pilates, these exercises are slow and internal but they are huge power builders that will give you the stability and control over your pelvis that makes complex movements easy. Learn how to determine the correct position of your pelvis, how to hold onto it as you move, where you should bend from when you lift your head and a few simple exercises you can memorize for a stability and strength boost that is the best athletic preparation you can do! NOTE: This workout is safe to do for those whom forward bending (flexion) and twisting the spine is contraindicated due to osteoporosis, disc injuries or other issues because it keeps the spine straight while rebuilding the core, find more videos like this one in our Spine Safe and PrePilates categories. Filmed at Pilatesology Studio.   Next Class Quick Start Home

What Others Are Saying


  1. mhampton 8 months ago

    Thanks so much! I love the classes. 

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      You’re welcome!!

      • Ted13 2 months ago

        The classes are really good. I think actually this platform and its content are the best! Just one little thing, what about the pelvis during the session? does it stay neutral all the time? Thank you.

        • Alisa Wyatt Author

          Hi Ted13! I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying the classes!! Yes the goal is that your pelvis stays flat/neutral when you are lying down. Note that your spine’s own shape will affect what is happening under your lower back. If you’d like more detail on this, I find that our teacher Sonjé Mayo explains it better than anyone else. Here’s a video where she explains what your pelvis is doing and how to account for different spines:

          • Ted13 2 months ago

            Thank you! you are the best!!

  2. mhampton 8 months ago

    Beginner question: What do you recommend as to the frequency and repetition of the classes in this progression? Is it recommended to do them each day for ten days, then start over again? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi mhampton, In order to build a habit and see changes I would recommend practicing every day but you don’t need to move on to the next class until you feel like you’ve got a handle on the movements in the one you’re on. If you find you end up really sore or overly tight, take a day off and consider going back 1 class for a bit. It can be so different for each individual so my best advice is to listen and be kind to your body but keep it movin’. Hope that helps and thanks for asking!

  3. tasamoah 9 months ago

    Thanks for the tips, Alisa! I will keep working on it.

  4. tasamoah 9 months ago

    Hi Alissa!

    I love your classes! I have completed your beginner progression through the 30-day basic challenge and have noticed some really great progress. I have tried to focus on technique as I have moved through the classes. I am able to successfully to complete all of the exercises in your basic progression classes except for the seal! I can’t seem to hold the rollback and successfully come up. Oddly, I can stand up from the seal without much difficulty. Any tips on how I can work on this?



    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi Tracy! It’s great to hear you’re feeling the benefits! Congrats on beginning your Pilates journey with so much success.
      Here’s a video where I share some tips that might make your Seal a little easier:
      My best advice though is to leave out the clapping and just focus on pressing your back down into the mat as you roll being sure not to throw your head back in order to initiate the movement–it should come from your stomach. If that doesn’t help, try holding the back of your thighs on the outside but keep your feet together in the Seal shape. If you can roll in this position, it’s just a matter of gaining a bit more flexibility and control to get to the holding the ankles position. Have fun!

  5. Rebecca Tucker 1 year ago


    I am currently suffering sciatica caused by a slightly misaligned disc in my lower back and hip misalignment, hence I am turning to Pilates in the hope that it is my saviour to constant pain :-). When you say no forward bending for disc problems, can I clarify what exactly that means. Does this essentially mean a position which would curve the spine? I’m trying to work out what I can and can’t do. Do you have an example of a position/move which you definitely would not do to help me understand. Sorry this sounds like such a silly question but I am a completely new to Pilates and want to do it right :-).

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi Rebecca, Thank you for asking! Your question is not silly at all and I’m glad I can respond here so others can benefit too. With disc problems in general two movements are to be avoided with the spine: forward bending (bending over to pick something up is a daily life example and in Pilates The Roll Up exercise is an example) and twisting. For most disc issues, extension of the spine (arching or back-bending) is helpful in realigning and taking pressure off the disc. It’s tough for me to know what your individual spine needs through the interwebs so my first advice would be to follow what a doctor or Physical Therapist has advised in terms of movement you should avoid.

      The good news is that we have a bunch of classes you can do that are safe :).

      1) Here’s a class that you can do which is safe for you to do and may help a lot: Stop Sciatica Pain with Pilates

      2) And this list is from our back pain category (you can find it in our filters under ‘Focus’): Mat Classes for Back Pain. Everything in here is appropriate for your needs. Just keep in mind that sometimes you will do a half roll up where you’ll use your hands to hold the back of bent knees while you begin lifting your head and shoulders off the mat. That should be fine since your low back will remain long but if you get achy or your sciatica flares up later try leaving that out for a while.

      I hope this helps but please feel free to write again here or directly to me at if you need more advice!

  6. jihane 1 year ago

    Where can I find the other classes? They are 10 in total, not? I’m new here and already saw the 1 and would like to see the others…

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi jihane! Thanks for asking, here’s the page that these live on:
      You can find it by clicking the Beginner Quick Start in our dropdown menus or on the middle picture that says Beginner QUick Start on our homepage when you’re logged in.
      I’m adding cross-links to all of the descriptions this week 🙂

  7. abushy17 2 years ago

    This video was so eye opening Alisa! I have a pars defect in my L5-S1 junction and my lower lumbar and sacrum have very minimal stability. The whole hands on the pelvis was so helpful to realize that there’s more movement in my pelvis than probably should be! I can’t really keep my hands flat without getting a space under my lower spine. Very interesting and something I will keep tabs on during my strengthening and stretching!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi abushy17! I’m sorry I missed seeing your comment earlier but wanted to say I hope you’re feeling a bit more stable by now and to let you know that it’s ok if there’s space under your low back. Some of us have more of a low back curve than others so while for some people the low back might be against the mat when your pelvis is aligned, for others there will be space. The important thing is to get your pelvis flat so that your pubic bone and hip bones are in the same plane. If you want to add a little something to assist with pulling in your stomach, you can fold a small towel and put it in the space under your low back. This can help your body feel where your stomach needs to be pulling in.

  8. mikezen 2 years ago

    Hi Alisa

    Just started this course, herniated L4 L5 disc 1 year ago and it was recommended I take up Pilates so here I am. Hopefully this is a good course for me to build a strong foundation given my injury.



    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi Mike,
      I’m sure your doctor has given you recommendations for movement but just in case–forward bending is generally not recommended for disc injuries and there is quite a bit of it in Pilates. Please check with your doctor. If you need an alternative, this 2 class series is safe for most injuries because there’s no forward bending or twisting:

  9. McLachlan 2 years ago

    Hi Alisa,
    I had surgery 5 weeks ago and am starting from ground zero this will be the ice breaker. Thank You for such clear simple steps.

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi Lindsay, I’m so glad you’re here! Please let me know if there’s anything I can help with on your journey. 🙂

  10. Tonto-girl 2 years ago

    Thank you sooo much for feed back! Love all the resources too!

  11. Tonto-girl 2 years ago

    Should your neck feel strained? Mine seemed to be, am I bending neck too much? Need some tips

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Thank you for asking this super important and common question Tonto-girl! See below for videos with specific tips. You’ll want to make your next mat class the first video because in that one I address neck strain. I can’t believe I forgot to do that for this Beginner series, duh.

      As you’ll learn in the video, your neck is supported by your upper abs and they often aren’t strong enough to do all of the work at first so your neck tends to do the job instead. As you’ll hear me say (this is my only Pilates joke, I’m a terrible comedian) you want a sore stomach tomorrow, not a sore neck… So when you feel strain, just put your head down and continue the exercise, lift it again if it feels possible and rest it again when it starts to strain. When I started my practice it took me more than a year to get to a point where I forgot about my neck, so be patient and don’t worry about giving it a rest when needed. – this is a workout that includes tips about neck strain – this is a quick tips video – this workout covers similar fundamentals exercises as the one you just did but it doesn’t have you lift your head so it would be good for you to practice so you have options on keeping your head down. – this is a video aimed at teachers and students and Jennifer uses some great images for dealing with neck strain

      Let me know if that all makes sense! And if it’s ok with you, I’m going to use your question in an upcoming newsletter so everyone can know they are not alone :).

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