5 Essential Pilates Exercises for Busy Moms

Welcome to OnlinePilatesClasses.com™, where busy moms can find five essential Pilates exercises designed to fit into your busy schedule and help you prioritize self-care without sacrificing time with your little ones. Join our supportive community and start your Pilates journey today!

  • Author: lesley.logan
  • May 19, 2024
Home  »  Blog   »   5 Essential Pilates Exercises for Busy Moms
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5 Best Pilates Workouts for Busy Moms

Hey busy moms, I’ve got five essential Pilates exercises that are designed just for you.

I’m Lesley Logan, co-founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com and I’ve been teaching Pilates since 2008. And in those years, I taught exercise for busy moms in person. And now I’ve been teaching hundreds of busy moms virtually through OPC.

Welcome to OnlinePilatesClasses.com™. The most supportive Pilates loving community across the globe. Enjoy new weekly classes from our amazing teachers. Download the OnlinePilatesClasses.com™ app today.

So first, let’s just talk about why it’s so important for you to exercise and have self care as a mom. First of all, let’s just say it self care isn’t selfish care. And what’s so important is that for you to have all of the energy and excitement and joy for the people who depend on you, those little ones, you actually have to take care of yourself first, you actually do have to fill your cup first. And I know that’s really hard, especially when your kids are really, really young. And it can even be harder to ask for help, especially if doesn’t feel like it’s there. But exercise doesn’t have to mean an hour at the gym, you know, with dedicated time, you going somewhere. It can actually be small bouts of intentional movement.

And the reason why it’s so important that you do that is for your longevity, you know? Not just the energy you want to have and love you want to have for your kids today, but also so that you’re with them for years and you can keep up with them as they want to do sports or go on vacations or trips. As they get older and want to have kids and you want to chase after your grandkids. The exercise you do today is actually very, very important for the longevity and the abilities you will have as you’re older. In fact, there’s a lot of science about how we can put on muscle, especially as women, as we get older. And it’s so so important that, in your youngest age, and if even if you feel older right now, today is a good time to start, that you are having an intentional exercise, and why you must use it as a self care is because self care shouldn’t just be massages and facials that you get on Mother’s Day, it should actually be something you do intentionally every single day.

Pilates Exercise for Busy Moms

And one of the reasons why I love Pilates as a form of exercise for moms is that it’s something you can do at home, you can actually do it with your children, even. The Mat work especially is a low impact exercise that is designed to work from your center outward. So we’re strengthening your core, but not just the muscles of the front, but the muscles around your back. So you have the strength to pick up your kids, to chase after, to pick up all those toys, to do all the different things. And what’s really cool about a Pilates practice on the Mat is it can be done in five minute bouts, it can be done at home in your room on the floor. It can be done at a studio if you want to do it with other moms while the kids are at school. But by having a Pilates practice that you’re consistent with, you’re doing multiple times a week, even for short bouts of minutes, you are going to improve your posture, have that incredible energy we all get from doing strength training movement, and to be able to develop that muscular strength that you’re going to want for years to come. If you’re really struggling with prioritizing yourself first, I have an incredible video for you about how self care isn’t selfish care. So please check that out.

pilates exercises for moms online pilates classes

Core Strengthening Exercises

So let’s first talk about five exercises you can do to strengthen your core. Remember, your core is all the muscles on the front of your body, the side and the back, right? So it’s more than just your abs. For beginners, I’m going to suggest the Half Roll Back and the Elbow Slip. These two pre-Pilates exercises are really essential in helping you understand the longest flexion you’ll need and how to engage your core so that you can do these other exercise I’m going to suggest.

The next one I would love for you to do is a Double Leg Stretch. It is such an essential exercise, it’s so full body, you’ll actually get some glute strength in there, the legs are going to challenge your lower abdominals, your upper abs are going to be challenged by your chest having to sit up tall, your arms are going to circle around, it’s a full body exercise designed to really strengthen the core. Then I want you to enjoy the Double Straight Leg Stretch. This one’s harder, you may just do the actual start position on the Double Straight Leg Stretch. But you can also do little movements of it and then work towards bigger movements. So it’s one that can advance with your practice. Also it’s going to work your inner thighs and some outer hips as you do it. The important thing is to keep your chest up as those legs lower. But if you look at the tutorials we’ve got for you, I describe them in great detail as you get into them.

And lastly, I would love for you to do a Push Up. I know the Pilates Push Ups are awesome. They actually can be done with your knees down, they can be done at a wall. But they’re designed to work your core against gravity. They are a full body exercise. And I tell my beginners you learn the Pilates Push Up when you’re a beginner because it’s gonna take your entire lifetime to get it together. But it’s really really great. And as you learn these five exercises it will actually take you less than five minutes to do them. So if you only have five minutes for yourself, you will be able to get a full-body workout and with just these five exercises.

Posture Improvement Techniques

Alright, so let’s talk about posture, moms workout, because here’s the deal. For sure you carried one of your kids or all of them on a hip and that is not super awesome for your posture. In fact it overstretched one hip and it hiked the other one. And so of course there’s going to be some low back pain that might be happening in your body. It often happens even throughout your pregnancy. And so we actually do want to, first of all incorporate those core exercises I gave you already. But these other exercises I’m going to talk about are going to help you improve that posture, pull your head back over your shoulders, pull your shoulders back over your hips and your hips over your heels. And why do you want to do that? Because not only is going to reduce your back pain, it’s also going to make you feel more energized, make you feel stronger, and make it easier for you to chase after your children and have fun doing it.

So first of all, I want you to take a look at Swan Prep on the Mat. This is an amazing exercise and something that’s really really important with this one, because it’s very tempting to push your lower back into the Mat, is I want you to reach your tailbone super long. I explained that in my free tutorial. So definitely take a look at that. And if you have questions, you can put them in the comments below. Also, if you’re an OPC member, I actually will look at your form on this exercise and truly help you find the length through your upper back because we want the Swan to be an upper back extension. So Swan Prep is a great place to start.

The next thing I want you to work on is Single Leg Kick. Single Leg Kick is really incredible, it actually helps stretch the front of your hips, which can often be part of your posture coming forward or sinking down into your lower back. So it will stretch the front of your hips, it will strengthen your hamstrings and glutes, this is so key not only so you have muscles to stand in, but also so you can get up and down off the ground. So important! So your hamstrings and your glutes are postural muscles, actually. So we do want to strengthen those while stretching those hip flexors out. I also want you to look at Swimming on the Mat. Swimming is really fun. If you can’t do Swimming both the arms and legs at the same time, you can actually just swim the arms and then just swim the legs. But it’s going to take that Swan Prep, it’s going to extend the arms and legs out and have you do a little bit more coordination with them. It’s really fun to do with your kiddos as well. But again, strengthens your upper back. The thing about posture is that a lot of our moms told us to pull our shoulders back and they weren’t wrong, but they weren’t right. Pulling your shoulders back actually is pinching the shoulder blades together and can get really grippy in those upper traps, which is not gonna make your neck feel super, super good. So we want to make sure the shoulders are nice and wide, and that the muscles of our upper back or nice and strong. So it’s something that’s going to be really amazing for that.

And here’s the deal, I actually don’t love to talk about weight loss very much. But when it comes to working on your posture, what is amazing is as you improve that posture, as you get those shoulders wide on your back, your head back off your shoulders, and you’re standing in both feet equally, you are going to feel five pounds thinner, you will look at as well. And so it’s kind of amazing, because I don’t believe in having to always think we have to lose weight ladies, we don’t have to, we’re beautiful as way we are. But if you are wishing that you looked a little bit different like you did before children, having amazing posture is going to help you feel really strong and powerful, and look good while doing it.

pilates core exercises for busy moms online pilates classes

Flexibility and Relaxation Moves

Alright, so let’s also talk about flexibility. Flexibility is really important. But oftentimes some of us are too flexible. We’re actually hypermobile in joints, not muscles. And so if you feel really stiff in your muscles, but your joints fill loosey goosey your knees hyperextend, your elbows hyperextend, that’s actually going to cause injuries later in life. And so what we want to do in Pilates is actually do what’s called an Active Static Stretch. And that’s really the coolest thing about Pilates is that we activate a muscle while we’re stretching it. So any of the exercises I’ve already talked about are going to help with your flexibility believe it or not. Because Pilates is designed to balance your imbalances, which means tighten what’s loose and loosen and what’s tight. So you’ll find that all the exercises already listed are actually going to stretch something. But here are a few others that I think are really, really important for improving flexibility and making it really easy for you to run around and chase after kids or just sit down and relax and not be stiff and tight and in pain, right?

So I want you to do Spine Stretch Forward. This exercise is going to stretch your hamstrings and I know you’re going to look at it and go ‘How is it going to do that while I’m sitting on them?’ But you’re going to activate those hamstrings while you’re sitting on them and I explained how to do it in the tutorial. And also what’s super cool is when done well, you will stretch your lower back while doing it, which means you’re going to have a nice open lower back, not to weaken it but actually to strengthen it, and also these amazing flexible hamstrings. So you will be able to touch your toes, tie your shoes, do all the things you need to do as a busy mom, I promise you it’s gonna feel really great. And when our hamstrings are tight, it can pull on our lower back, and when our lower back is tight it can pull on our hamstring. But that’s why spine switch forward is incredible exercise for creating flexibility. Single Straight Leg Stretch is another one of my favorites. Again, it’s going to activate the hamstring while you pull on it which is really great. Also while you’re doing it, you’re gonna be strengthening your upper back as well, which is going to what? Help that posture. Which is so nice. See how Pilates for moms is so fun? You can you can kill two birds with one exercise, which I love.

Third one I want you to do is Thigh Stretch. This is a good one! This one is really great. If you can’t be on your knees, you’ll do Shoulder Bridge, but Thigh Stretch is one of my absolute favorites, because it’s going to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes while you stretch your quadriceps and your hip flexors. And it’s just so good. If you need anything to put between your knees, sometimes I do, sometimes if I lean back from my thighs or to my right knee aches a little bit, so put a ball between my knees, you can put one of your kids toys there, and it can activate those inner thighs, while stretching those hip flexors. Incredible for posture, but mostly amazing for the flexibility because what we don’t want is our hip flexors to be really tight. It’s so easy for them to be that way from, not only pregnancy, but also just life, sitting at a desk, chasing after things, picking things up all the time. We all have a lot of tight hip flexors. So that exercise is essential. And here’s the thing. Flexibility is really important, I said it at the beginning of this. We don’t want to be too flexible in areas and then too tight in other areas. We want equal flexibility and strength. So when you do Pilates practice, consistently, what you will get is a balance between flexibility and strength, which means injury prevention. Super huge because no one has time for an injury, especially a busy mom.

Functional Movement Patterns

All right, so something that’s really important to me is functional movement. The reason I love Pilates so much is I always talk about how I’m trying to help people fall better, or reach on the top shelf for something. And every exercise in the Mat and also on the equipment can help you with these seven different functional movement patterns. And so if you have a Pilates practice in any kind, of any amount of minutes, the good news is you’re going to be hitting these functional movement patterns in one or more exercises.

How Pilates Benefits Moms

How do working moms find time to exercise? Alright, so let’s talk about the best tips for getting your workouts in when you’re a busy mom. First of all, make your movements something you enjoy doing. So, if you love Pilates that can be your workout, that can be the thing you do as much as possible. If you don’t, that’s totally fine. But find a workout that brings you joy and doesn’t make you feel exhausted and drained afterwards. That’s not going to be fun, you’re not going to want to do it. In fact, the best way to create habits around workouts you want to do is to have a nice dopamine kick after them. So you’re gonna want to do them and celebrate that you did them. Also, they don’t have to be long. You don’t have to go to a gym for an hour, or a studio class for an hour. You can do a five minute workout, or a 10 minute workout, you can in fact find that five minute workout in 10 minute workouts on our YouTube channel, we have them, they’re free, you can do them.

At onlinepilatesclasses.com, we actually talk about how finishing is optional. So while our weekly classes are 30 minutes, and they help hold you accountable because we’ll take them away after one week, if you only have time to do five minutes every day, you did the workout. You got a full body workout in, you got functional movements in, you got active static stretching in, you got core strength in those five minutes, I promise you. So taking the length of time and making it something that’s actually doable to do. And then also making it super fun, right? Pick a way to have your kids join in with you. Or actually say, hey, I’m going to do this and you could do that thing, that you probably do wish they wouldn’t do but they will do it and leave you alone. Because it’s so so important that you have time to move. I promise you waiting years to get your movement in is actually not going to make you a happy camper, it’s not going to get the energy you need, it’s actually going to make you really frustrated and going to eventually cause injuries, aches and pains. So make it short, make it something you like to do, and make it something you can be consistent at and I promise you, you’ll find yourself fitting more exercise into your busy mom workout schedule than you thought possible.

pilates for moms online pilates classes

Safety Precautions and Modifications

Alright, so let’s keep you safe and help you with those modifications if you need them. First of all, if you are currently pregnant right now, and you’ve never done Pilates before, I’m going to suggest that you really absolutely talk to your medical professionals. But then you also find experts in prenatal Pilates who will work with you. Because I’m not saying you want to jump into a class that’s not designed for prenatal but also depending on where you are in your journey of your pregnancy it may be something you want to wait until after you’ve had your baby and you’re ready to get back into your movement practice.

If you’re postnatal and you have anything going on, that you feel is a contraindication you have a lower back issue, a sacrum issue, a hip issue going on. First of all, make sure you talk to your professional, medical professionals, to get clearance on working out. And then also, you know, here’s a great thing that we like to say to OPC. When in doubt, leave it out. And it’s brave and courageous to replace something you can’t do yet with something you can. And so when you watch a workout video or you go take a class, instead of going ‘Ugh, here’s another exercise I can’t do again’ instead go ‘Okay, what can I do in this moment?’ Pick an exercise that is a challenge to you, not so hard that it hurts, but a challenge to you because over time those exercises that are not accessible to your body yet, will become accessible. They just will. And we have to be okay with being a beginner, right? We have to be okay with going ‘I need to set my head down and let this next exercise go by and rejoin on the next one’. Because you will come back into your strength and fitness and power faster and even better than before if you listen to your body.

So, for more information on pre and post natal Pilates, please do check out our video. Also, if you have anything going on with your back, you can check out our Pilates for Back Pain video. And onlinepilatesclasses.com we will have a pre and post natal workshop that you can take, that really explains how you can use Pilates to prepare you for birth and also how to bring your Pilates practice back in after you’re having your baby. And we also have workshops on how to omit or modify Pilates exercises for lower back pain issues.

Discover the Perfect Props for Your Body!

Also, it’s possibly you’ll need props, because you might need something to help support your head and chest being up or helping you hug something together, especially if you want some more support for those inner thighs. So I want you to check out our props page, we have lots of different props that you could choose from, and you can get some discounts on too. So you might want a Ball, you might want some Light Weights, you might want a Magic Circle, all these things can help assist. And one of our OPC teachers actually created an entire workshop that’s all about props and how to use them to make your Pilates more accessible for your body. She is so passionate about making Pilates accessible that we went through, Therabands and Arcs and Yoga blocks, and all the different things you could think of. So it’s a really cool and thorough way to see which props might be the best ones for you.

Discover the Support & Community at OPC

And, at onlinepilatesclasses.com we really truly love to support you and your practice. Like I mentioned earlier, we do help hold you accountable every single week, we drop a new 30 minute class, and we take the old 30 minute one away, so you will show up for you before that disappears. We also have an incredible community of amazing women, many who are moms who can help you make time for you, they can help you, they can share with you ways that they’ve made time for themselves. We do a live class every month and we often get to get together at the end, we can talk what’s going on. It’s just really nice to see people in real time who you might not know personally yet but who have a similar life as you and are just looking to make time for their Pilates practice so they can feel good and take care of those that they love. Check out onlinepilatesclasses.com/free for a nice fun trial.

All right, thank you so much for joining me today. It was such a pleasure to have you, I know your time is very valuable and so I’m so grateful, I hope this was very helpful. Let me know if you have any questions below. I go live on Sundays at 9 am Pacific time to answer those questions. And if you’re an OPC member, you can ask them in our members only community and we answer those every single day. Have an amazing day.

By lesley.logan

Lesley Logan, NCPT, is the founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com, the first free online catalogue of Pilates exercise tutorial videos, where you can also find weekly online mat classes and workshops. When not teaching from her studio in Los Angeles, Lesley can be found traveling the world leading Pilates retreats, or offering Pilates business coaching to studio owners and other instructors through her private mastermind group. Connect with Lesley on instagram @lesley.logan or through the contact page on this site.

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with OPC Teachers.
Enjoying Lesley's teaching style? Willing to travel? Explore the world while maintaining your practice by joining Lesley on a Pilates retreat.

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pop up summer tour | online pilates classes



Teaser is probably one of the most photographed exercises in Pilates. Which makes people think it's a "peak pose." But, it's anything but! It's simply another layer to your Pilates practice. This week we will acknowledge how each exercise contributes to your ability to do Teaser (someday) and then how Teaser teaches you where to get curious in your practice.

On the Mat we will use light weights for one round of Teaser as they can be helpful for those still adding into their practice.
No props on the Reformer.

See you in class,


MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a Mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a Reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.



We are all going to feel like Super Humans after this month!!

Whenever I’m in a hard exercise (for me) where I’m holding myself up with my arms and reaching my legs away I picture myself with super human strength!!! I can do ANYTHING! It makes me smile and helps me stay STRONG.

This month our exercise is Up Stretch and when you think about it - reaching your legs away and staying strong over the carriage may feel a lot like flying!

We’ll be focusing on stabilizing our strong cores while staying equally balanced in our arms and legs. We are giving you some amazing building blocks by merging strength and stretch in all directions. You are going to get a little bit of everything that you can use to connect to your Up Stretch (and even your Roll Up and Knee Stretches Off).

Chair: Please have a foam roller and a balance pad available. We are going to challenge your balance safely.



Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

Yes, we are focusing on Horseback in this week's workout. But, we are also giving a celebration to all of us who might be back in our Pilates saddle again. Or, maybe you've been in the Saddle but stuck in the mud. This week's workout it's designed to be a positive play time with an exercise many of us avoid and one that we may never get. But, hey, it's always fun to be out where a friend is a friend - get it? If you know the song you do!

Mat: Theraband and light weights
Reformer: no props needed

See ya in class,
xx~LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Theraband, light weights and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    Shoulder Bridge has multiple phases. It's a phenomenal replacement exercise and also can be a huge challenge. You can balance your asymmetries while also revealing them. It's an exercise that can warm you up and can be part of an advanced series. This week we'll focus on exercises that benefit from Shoulder Bridge and what Shoulder Bridge is telling us about our practice that day.

    Mat: magic circle for the warm up. If you don't have a circle a ball and a theraband.
    Reformer: no prop needed but can use a theraband or circle for short box

    See ya in class,
    xx-LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, magic circle, a ball, a theraband and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, a theraband or circle for short box and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    So many people don't love the 100. But the 100 is an incredible exercise that when you know all its capabilities can be something you might look forward to...maybe even like a little bit. Or a lot!

    We often wonder why the 100 is the first exercise. I mean, it's got a lot going on for a warm up. To me it's a survey, a feedback, a mirror to how our body is doing that day. And, how cool it is to know how your body is feeling as you go into your practice. This way you can explore what your body needs in other exercises.

    Let's explore what the 100 is telling us and how to make it our own each day!

    No props needed.

    See ya in class,
    xx-LL 💋

      MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

      >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

      REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

      >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


      Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

      The key to longevity is being able to get down to the ground and up again with as little assistance as possible. In this weeks class we are going to focus on how to stand in your feet no matter where they are in space.

      On the Mat we will have a playful ending that Joseph Pilates would do!

      The Reformer we’ll end challenging ourselves standing on our carriage. (Options to do the exercises off the Reformer too!)

      No props needed.

      See ya in class,

      xx~LL 💋

      MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

      >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

      REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

      >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


      Online Mat, Reformer, Cadillac & Wunda Chair Pilates Class Descriptions:

      Hello, it's OPC Teacher Christine here! I used to get commended for my form and flexibility in any type of movement class I went to, even if it was my very first class. But what I struggled with was always hitting a plateau where I couldn't make progress or improvement. For me, that changed when I discovered the strength and control I found in practicing Pilates.

      Getting on the apparatuses puts your body in a position where you find strength, stretch, and control through your center. I was unable to fold my body like origami anymore. One of the mat exercises - double leg stretch - is great for finding a strong center regardless of what the arms and legs are doing.

      For this month, we'll explore using the concept of finding an inner lift of the belly away from the thighs to find a strength in our center, the two-way stretch of the limbs, while controlling the movement of the arms and legs whether they move away from center, or come back to center.

      Mat class: Magic Circle and squishy ball

      See you in class,


      HANG 10


      Grip strength as well as upper body strength plays an important role in so many different exercises throughout the mat and all apparatus. Our grip can influence the connection from our wrists - to our arms - to our back. And building strength in our chest and upper back can help us connect more to our center in every exercise.

      All month long we’ll explore the feeling, the strength, and the position of our hands and upper body to see how our exercises change with a little extra focus. We’ll also play with ways to gain more strength and awareness in our chest and upper back to create even more connections to the exercises.

      Chair - short pole* and a foam roller for balance
      *A thicker pole or roll down bar size might feel nice, but no worries you’ll find your connections no matter what you have on hand!
      Mat: a pole
      Reformer: No props needed
      Cadillac: No props needed

      See ya in class,
      xx-LL 💋


      Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

      Finding some love for Roll Up and Open Leg Rocker isn't easy! But, these two exercises unlock the potential for so many other exercises. And what we don't like we often need. So, let's dive into what we need to rock our Roll Ups and Open leg Rockers and see how that changes the rest of our practice in the meantime.

      Mat: Magic Circle, Pole or Theraband
      Reformer: have your shortbox pole near by


      MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Magic Circle, Pole or Theraband and a mat!

      >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

      REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, short box and a reformer!

      >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.