Pilates On the Go: The Roll-Up

The great thing about Pilates On the Go is that you can do it when you’re traveling, on a lunch hour in a private conference room, in the comfort of your home, or at a park. All you need is room to spread out and comfortable clothing.

Now that you’ve had some time to get to know the Pilates One Hundred and are beginning to discover those abdominals (the “powerhouse”) again, let’s keep the ball rolling by adding another exercise to the Pilates series…

To warm up the body, begin with the One Hundred. Finish by placing the feet on the floor, with knees bent to move into the Roll-up.


The Roll-Up strengthens and stretches the spine by articulating the vertebrae, while working the powerhouse. While performing the Roll-up, think of curling yourself forward, stretching out, and uncurling back down, lengthening your spine as you roll.

Be sure to keep your knees and feet together, with the soles of the feet flat on the mat. Your legs are heavy, anchored to the mat. Reach your arms overhead, and in line with your ears — arms never touch the floor.

As your arms pass over your chest, begin to inhale and lift forward from the abs and back of the chest, tucking your chin so as not to strain the neck. Continue rolling up and forward one vertebrae at a time using that full inhale.

Exhale as you straighten your legs in front of you, and stretch forward from your hips, keeping your navel pulled back into your spine. Imagine you are stretching over a beach ball, so you do not collapse over the legs. Use your powerhouse muscles to maintain the stretch while reaching your arms forward.

Initiate rolling back down by inhaling, drawing the navel to the spine, engaging the buttocks and slightly tucking your tailbone underneath you. Exhale as you roll down, feeling each vertebra pressing into the mat one at a time. The neck and head are last to touch down. Finish by reaching the arms back overhead into a full-body stretch. Perform the Roll-up four times, with precision and control.

Remember — keep the fluidity in the movement. There are no static isolated motions in any of the exercises.

The Roll-up


If you’re using the shoulders to roll-up rather than the powerhouse, modify the exercise by walking the hands up and down the back of the legs, focusing on the strength of the powerhouse to roll you forward. If your feet are lifting off the mat as you roll forward, focus on squeezing the backs of the upper inner thighs together, as though you are gripping a small ball between the legs, and ankles.


If you’d like a challenge with the Roll-up, straighten the legs out in front of you, engaging the buttocks, and press the backs of the upper inner thighs together, with feet flexed. Imagine your legs are strapped to the mat from the hips to the feet, trying not to let the legs or feet lift off the mat as you roll up and down.

The Advanced Roll-Up

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