In a typical Beginner Pilates class, you will learn how to engage your core, how to align your body and how to move your spine and limbs.

Access our free Beginner Pilates video by giving us your email address or see below for an explanation of a 20 minute Pilates workout for beginners class, it’s a fundamental class for everybody who’s a beginner to pilates. We know some people prefer to read and watch in order to get the basics right so we’ve tried to explain things as clearly and as concisely as possible. This is designed to be a great introduction to Pilates for beginners.


20 minute Pilates workout for beginners – Pilates Fundamentals


Need a cushion & rolled up towel to support your head

  • Lie on your back in the relaxation position which is the start point.
  • Place feet at hip distance apart
  • Align knees with hips
  • Pelvis should be neutral, balanced, put fingers on pubic bone, heels of hands on hip bones, can you see if your pelvis is level and neutral
  • To do this imagine bowl of water on your pelvis
  • Tip the bowel of water away, then tip bowl towards the hips
  • Find the middle point, pubic bone and hip bones are level
  • Make sure it’s comfortable
  • The different points of the hips will affect the spine
  • When the pelvis if balanced it’ll affect the spine
  • Find your sacrum, it’s at the base of your cervix near the tailbone
  • Sacrum / lumbar spine (concave), thoracic spine (convex), neck and back of head
  • The snake along the mat and elongate
  • If you feel your chin is pointing up, add a towel or cushion.

Now for core engagement
Core is made up of your pelvic core muscles (yes … you have a pelvic floor) they stop you farting / pooing and weeing and they are your sexual muscles!!!!

It’s REALLY IMPORTANT and stops your organs from descending, and helps you in terms of continence, and sexual health.

How to engage your core muscles

  • The pelvic floor is made up of your front passage and back passage, gently close your back passage (trying to stop a fart) and your front passage (trying to stop yourself from weeing)
  • It’s not gripping for dear life, it’s around 30% engagement and release.
  • Put fingers on hip bones.
  • Thumbs into the hips, this is where you engage your pelvic floor you should feel the transverse abdominis, it’s the deepest layer and wraps around into the back, it’s your core protection for your back.


ONLY USE 30% of your total capacity to engage, it’s going to work better.

Now we know how to engage the CORE


Leg slide

  • Engage pelvic floor lightly
  • Slide the leg out
  • maintain balance of pelvis
  • slide back.
  • Switch legs.

Knee fold

  • Lift leg, knee at 90 degrees
  • Maintain pelvic position
  • Place leg down with control
  • Exhale to lift the other leg
  • Place it down
  • Keep going for one more on each side
  • Relax breath, relax chest.

Double knee fold

  • Lift one leg, (breath out) lift the other
  • First leg down (breath out), (breath in) second leg down (breath out)

Spinal mobility

  • Bring feet slightly closer to bottom
  • Start in relaxation position, gently engage core,
  • Tilt pelvis so bowl tips towards chest
  • Press feet down, lift pelvis, peel spine off the floor, bone by bone
  • Chest doesn’t pop, keep a nice line, hips flush with knees
  • Come down, bone by bone.
  • Feel each bone of your spine touch the floor


The Cat

An amazing exercise for your back, keeps you supple, strong and mobile.

  • Get onto all fours, relax your feet

If you cramp, put block under your ankles if you get cramp

  • Knees at hip distance
  • Hands shoulder distance

Try your best to sense your alignment like you did with a neutral spine, dip your back and curve it and find your neutral spine.

  • Relax your chest
  • Stretch from your head to your tailbone
  • Breath, core engagement, deliberately and lightly
  • Curl the pubic bone towards your chest (pelvic tilt), as you curl your core engages more, your abs are fully engaged
  • Increases the tension in your back and let the back of your neck lengthen and stretch
  • Bring the bones of your body, lengthening all the way until you get to the neutral spine


Side Bend

For back mobility & strength

  • Sit facing forward
  • Legs extended
  • Feet together, knees apart
  • Sit up tall
  • Head on top of your bottom or tail
  • Sit on a block of cushion if needed
  • Engage the core
  • Arm up, avoid tension in your neck
  • Place other arm on the floor
  • Tip the head to the side
  • Lift through the chest
  • Allow the spine to move into the side bend, feel spine elongate as you go into the side bend
  • Back to the centre, rebuilding the spine, one bone at a time

Repeat on the other side

Spine rotation

Sometimes with rotation movements which are integral for spine health, rotation keeps you supple and elongated.

  • Use your abdominals, not your back, this is a waist exercise.
  • Inhale
  • Twist from your ribcage to the side.
  • Exhale
  • Back to the centre
  • Inhale
  • Twist from your ribcage to the other side
  • Exhale
  • Back to the start

Standing position – good standing posture

  • Feet hip distance apart
  • Centre of the foot, centre of the hips

Think about how your weight is balanced in your feet????

  • If you stand with your weight on your toes, what does it do to your back?
  • if you stand with your weight in your heels, what does that do to the front of your body?
  • Move from front to back to find a neutral position, it should be towards your heel.
  • Back of the head, inline with back of your shoulders, inline with the back of your pelvis, inline with the back of your heel
  • Think about those bones all being aligned

Roll down

Back and abdominal strength and mobility exercise

  • Inhale
  • Engage pelvic floor and deep abdominals
  • Bring your chin soft to your throat roll down
  • Flex spine forwards from the top (feel as if you are bending over a fence, keep abdominals active, stretch spine
  • Support your back with your abdominals
  • Flex more and bend your knees if your hamstrings are really tight
  • Exhale
  • Inhale
  • Rebuild your standing position slowly
  • Think of bones in the back of the head, back of the shoulders, back of the pelvis restacking slowly


The flexion of the spine is about increasing the spaces, if your back muscles only work in a shortened strengthened way, it won’t be able and adaptable. These exercises will work you in both ways.

That’s it, all done.
You’ve just completed your 20 minute Pilates workout for beginners on Men Do Pilates.