Why is the Roll Up on the Mat so Hard in Pilates?

I’ll never forget my first Pilates class! In fact, I feel like I have talked about this class often here. But, that first Pilates Mat class really got me hooked! And, also, as I look back on it I realize just how far my own Pilates practice has come.

The first Pilates mat class I took I didn’t know that my legs shouldn’t lift off the mat when I rolled up. As you may know, most Pilates mat classes do not have mats that have straps, handles and a weighted pole for each student. In fact, most students use a Yoga mat for their Pilates practice. Which is not the same.

  • Author: lesley.logan
  • June 28, 2018
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Why is the Pilates Roll Up on the Mat So Hard - Online Pilates Classes

I’ll never forget my first Pilates class! In fact, I feel like I have talked about this class often here. But, that first Pilates Mat class really got me hooked! And, also, as I look back on it I realize just how far my own Pilates practice has come.

The first Pilates mat class I took I didn’t know that my legs shouldn’t lift off the mat when I rolled up. As you may know, most Pilates mat classes do not have mats that have straps, handles and a weighted pole for each student. In fact, most students use a Yoga mat for their Pilates practice. Which is not the same.

So, there I was, first time on the mat, on my thin yoga mat, trying to make Pilates happen. And, I totally fell in love! But, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that a strap around my feet and a weighted pole would make the Roll Up on the mat accessible.

I didn’t know that without those things I would need to use my own muscles to keep my legs pressing into the ground. I had no idea that my own muscles could control my whole body. And, that the Roll up on the mat wasn’t an ab exercise. But, a full body exercise!

So, here’s the thing about the Roll up, it requires all of you! In fact, every Pilates mat exercise requires all of you. If you don’t have a strap then you will need to dive even deeper into your muscles to maintain a connection to the mat.

If your legs are coming off the mat as you do your Roll up then you are using more of your hip flexors or even momentum to come up instead of using your whole body. Which means, using smaller, less utilized muscles and also using muscles that might seem counter-intuitive.

When I do the Roll Up on the mat I make sure that I am connecting my legs to my center by hugging the backside of my legs together and feeling my seat muscles also wrap on. Side note…this is not the same as squeezing your butt tightly together. You want to get more of the glute medius and under butt working for you. Not just the gluteus maximus. I also like to feel my shoulders on my back. And that doesn’t mean shoulders down and stuck. It just means that they are not in my ears so that my spine can round and reach forward out of my lower back whilst my legs reach down and away.

If you have a strap this will help you maintain your legs on the mat. It’s not a cheat or even for “beginners.” In fact, as you become more advanced you’ll notice how the strap helps you connect more to yourself. If you don’t have a strap try using a magic circle like I did here.

So, if your legs are popping up with every Roll Up then see if you can find more seat as you curl up and don’t be afraid to only go up as much as you can keep your legs down and your center working! I could probably write a book on all the parts of the Roll Up. But, there is no race to the Roll Up. One day you’ll get there and it’ll feel amazing because you won’t be gripping in the front of your hips! You’ll feel like you are floating, stretching, strengthening and reaching all at the same time.

xx~LL

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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eb 3 online pilates classes

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SUCH A TEASE

ONLINE MAT & REFORMER PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

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,

xx~LL

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.

UP, UP, & AWAY

ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

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.

xx-LL

GATHER ROUND

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

We gather good things in circles…friends, flowers, pie! So let’s get our circles on! In this week’s Mat and Reformer classes we’ll be focusing on how the size and shape of circular work changes how we feel an exercise. We’ll even be adding some circular movements along the way! You won’t need any extra props and please, have your box for the Reformer class.

See you in class,
Tami

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, box and a reformer!

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

ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

This week we will focus on all things Rowing! How do the other exercises help our rowing series and how does rowing influence the others! Finding the arm/back connection throughout the class is how we will Row Row Row Our Boat to the finish line!

Light hand weights needed for the Mat class!

See you in class,
Mindi

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light hand 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.

    STAND BY ME

    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.

    LOOK MA, NO HANDS!

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

    We’re going to focus on the muscles that help us get up/down to a chair, toilet, in/out of a car, and to the ground without the use of our hands to help.

    As we age, we can lose strength, flexibility, mobility in these leg and core muscles which results in us using our arms and hands to get up and down.

    Let’s keep these bodies as young as we can by practicing getting up and down with only our legs, our center, and our strong back.

    Reformer: No props needed
    Cadillac/Tower: Reformer box
    Mat: Theraband
    Chair: No props needed

    See ya in class,

    xx-LL 💋

    HANG 10

    ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

    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.

    Props:
    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 💋

    I LOVE ROCK & ROLL UP

    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

    xx~LL

    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.