Beginner Progression – Class 2 of 10

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In Class 2 of this Beginner series, you'll learn the first exercises taught in the classical mat. If you've never done Pilates before, this super slow session will teach you the basics with lots of detailed information so you can hone your form and get a solid foundation going. Alisa describes what each movement is good for so you'll know what to focus on. This is a great class to do when you wake up in the morning or anytime your body needs a quick restore. Filmed at Pilatesology Studio in Hermosa Beach, CA. Next Class Quick Start Home

What Others Are Saying


  1. kdkburn 2 months ago

    Hi Alisa,
    Thank you for the detailed instructions. Could you clarify something? When reaching my legs straight to the ceiling or pulling knee to chest, my pelvis will roll with it, flattening my lower back/slightly lifting my tailbone. Is this considered coming out of form? Should I always maintain the level pubic-hipbone no matter the movement? Thanks.

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Great question! The goal is to keep your pelvis stable while your other parts are moving. So my advice is to consciously try to keep your tailbone anchored and pelvis stable as your legs pull in to your chest and don’t worry about what happens to your back (it’s ok to give your leg a big stretch to your chest and let it all go once in a while too :). Try not to let your pelvis get super rigid in this process, there will be wobbles as you grow but aim for the goal of stability as you move–this builds all the small muscles that help align and balance the body. Thanks for asking!

  2. Brealee.91 3 months ago

    Last year I suffered a back injury (L4-L5 disc bulge), and although I’m pretty much symptom free I don’t want to aggravate it. I have been doing the pilates moves without curling my next off the mat and/or forward and without rounding my lower back (as advised by my physical therapist). I have also been avoiding twisting motions. Will I still get the benefits of the postures?

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi Brealee.91, First of all, I’m so happy to hear that you’re following your PT’s advice and modifying your movements🙌. That’s exactly what you need to be doing to get stronger and the answer is YES you will still get the benefits of the postures with your spine straight.
      You’re not alone in having this type of injury so we created a list of classes designed specifically for keeping the spine long while strengthening the core. Here it is, if you want to find this again on your own, use our filters and click ‘workouts’ on the top left box and ‘spine safe workouts’ and ‘osteoporosis’ under the Focus box. There are a few classes in here which lift the head or flex the spine a small amount (consciously and with an emphasis on creating length) but please use your judgement and leave out moves you don’t feel ready for. Keep up the good work!

  3. jilian1580 4 months ago

    I love the breakdown of all of the poses and know these beginner classes will build my practice. Question, I cannot reach my ankles. I can only get to about my shin. Is this okay? I’m thinking it will come with practice? Thanks!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Yes absolutely ok Jilian! Reach as far as you can without losing the form in your pelvis and spine–grabbing behind the calf or even thigh is allowed. Make a note on where you can reach to now because in a few weeks you’ll have forgotten–the results sneak up on you. Keep up the good work!

  4. Silvia_cambs
    Silvia_cambs 4 months ago

    Hi, I am loving your classes! I am a beginner and I am aiming at being able to sit up without using my arms, which I cannot do at the moment.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi Silvia! Thanks so much and keep at it–as your flexibility improves you’ll be able to sit taller with more ease. It’s all about getting on your mat every day even if it’s just a few minutes because the consistency tells your muscles they need to adapt. 🙂

      • Silvia_cambs
        Silvia_cambs 4 months ago

        Good morning Alisa, thanks for your reply. I was referring to moving from the lay down position to the fully sit up without having to roll or use my arms to push myself up. If you have any specific exercise to recommend for that it would be greatly appreciated. I will follow your advice and commit to exercise every day. Have a lovely day 🙂

        • Alisa Wyatt Author

          Oh I understand :)! When you do the half roll down with your legs bent and holding on to the back of your thighs, are you able to get back up?
          Two things to add to this movement to help you get stronger – get a small pillow – like a ‘lumbar’ pillow or roll up a bath towel like a cinnamon roll. Put that under your midback and with bent knees, roll down to it and back up using the help of your hands on your thighs. If that helps you, then practice coming up to the point where you’re about to leave the roll and focus on pulling your muscles into the roll–the ab muscles over your mid torso and lower abs–stay there for a count of 3, come up a little higher and repeat. As you get stronger, move the roll a little higher. It’s not cheating at all to use a prop like this forever (I often use a pad under my low back when I’m needing to find my low abs).
          Other items that can help include something to hook your feet under (I use my couch at home) and hand weights (4-5 pounds). Keep your knees bent and holding the weights, come up to where your tough spot is and then roll up a tiny bit and hold there.

          Finally if you’d like to explore this exercise more, we have loads of breakdowns on it, here’s a few with different techniques and a full workshop for teachers on some of what I explained above:
          The Roll Up Breakdown with Alisa:
          Achieve the Roll Up Workout with Molly:
          Perfecting the Roll Up with Sonjé Mayo – Workshop:

          Let me know if that helps Silvia!

  5. LynH 6 months ago

    This may be a weird question/comment, but insight is appreciated. I’ve now tried a lot of these intro classes and am getting a little more comfortable w/ the movements.  However, whenever I do leg circles with my left leg, my hip pops.  Every time at the exact same “spot” in the circle.  I am a very creaky person generally and the pop doesn’t hurt, but does this mean i’m doing something wrong/or the angles are wrong?  Thanks for any insight!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi LynH! Not a weird question at all–it’s probably the most common thing people ask about along with to foot and calf cramps. I have a click in my left hip too, it’s much more common in women than men so I suspect our childbearing hips have a shape that makes more noise. It could be the sound of your body warming up and joints getting lubricated or who knows. If it doesn’t hurt don’t worry about it but do try making your circles smaller and more controlled and see if that helps. I find if I set myself up before class with a few Pre-Pilates exercises (try this class), that usually eliminates it. The more my lower stomach is working the less noise in my hip.🙂

  6. 7 months ago

    this is just great, Alisa! the detailed instructions are really helpful. The more the actions are broken down, the more sense they make (and the harder even the simplest moves become).

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Right?! It’s so much harder to move with precision and it really makes a difference in your results. Thanks for working out with me!

  7. rgreen 2 years ago

    I’m new to Pilates and can’t yet straighten my leg when it reaches to the ceiling. When doing the box/circle with the leg, should I let the knee be slightly bent, so that my upper leg is perpendicular to my torso, or should I keep my leg straight but have the angle between my hip and torso be wider? I’m not sure which I should prioritize… Thank you!

    • Alisa Wyatt Author

      Hi rgreen! Don’t worry about not being able to straighten your leg yet–keeping your torso square is the important thing. If as you mention, you can get your leg straight but it is farther from your torso, that’s ok, so long as your hips remain square and stable but it’s totally fine for the leg to be bent as well.

  8. Lance 2 years ago

    Thank you! That was great!

  9. McLachlan 3 years ago

    Hi Alisa,
    I just was wondering why you did not include rolling like a ball? Great break down of all the other basics. Thank you

  10. SabrinaHorak 3 years ago

    Thank you Alisa, I really enjoyed this class and I got a lot of inpiration for my classes. Good examples to teach the movement in a way that everybody can do. Well done!

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