This month, I’m joining Pilates enthusiasts around the world in celebrating Joe Pilates’ mat exercises as he discussed them in his groundbreaking book “Return to Life through Contrology”— we call it March MATness. On March 4th, we’re all posting the 4th exercise The One Leg Circle.

The Basics:

  • Lie on your back with your legs long.
  • Lift one leg up, toes pointed.
  • Draw a circle with your leg. Your toes need to cross your body and circle around, returning to your starting point.
  • Do all of this while keeping your torso and mat leg still. Your goal is to only move the circling leg.

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll tell ya……my clients in Portland Oregon were groaning their way through One Leg Circle this week because it’s challenging!

Pilates Magic Happening here:

  • Super Hero Arms & Shoulders: can you see my arm muscles bulging a bit? I’m pressing them into the mat to help me stabilize my body. Although the only thing that’s moving is my leg, the rest of my body is working as well.  Sneaky Pilates….
  • 2-way reach: my mat leg is stretching out and pushing down, toes up, while my locking my torso down onto the table. 2-way  reach spreads out the work across my entire body.
  • Power Leg: my mat leg comes directly forward of my hips. If I put my working leg down, the 2 legs would be zipped together, no space between them.
  • Control- Freak: why stop at the completion of each circle? To prove that you can! (Insert evil laugh here.) Joe called his method Contrology — be a control freak, and you’ll get soooo much more out of each exercise.

Teaching Tips:

  • Are your clients rocking their torsos during this exercise? Coach that 2-way reach, it will take care of a multitude of sins. If the torso still rocks, the circles need to be smaller. Smaller = strength work! Bigger = strength + range of motion work, yet you need to have the strength to support larger movements. Otherwise, you’re adding risk of creating low back or SI joint pain.
  • I’ve got both butt cheeks down in my photos. Start clients with this version. In his book, Joe demonstrates with one butt cheek lifted — this is more advanced. His torso stays still — no easy feat with the hip lifted! Only move to Joe’s more advanced version with clients who have no low back pain.
  • Contemporary Add-on: hey, in the 21st century we’ve got stretchy bands! (What year did those get invented? I’m guessing after Joe passed away.) My 2 cents on stretchy bands: yep, you can use them to help clients work on range of motion in One Leg Circle. They’re also fab for lubricating the joint capsule. I recommend doing your Classical One Leg Circle first, (no band!) to get your strength work. Then, if desired, you can have your dessert: the yumminess of using the stretchy band. (once you use the band, you’re not going to want to do a set without it, right?)

Want to follow on Facebook or other social media? Look for the tags #marchmatness2017 #onelegcircle #EffortlessMovementPilates