The Exercises

“Return to Life” is the title of a health and fitness handbook written and modeled by fitness legend Joe Pilates. It is a simple manual of 34 body-weight exercises that develop in intensity from the floor, to standing, to balances. In the manual he explains the philosophical and functional movement principles that he used to train himself and his clients to great success. Pilates believed that his exercises led to better health, increased IQ, more engagement with outdoor sports and general physical play, which does tend to make people happier.

Can you name all 10 of the exercises in the photos? Send the answer and win a keg of kippered herring! Just kidding... although my teacher Romana told me he kept one in the staff room.

Most of the exercises require hours of focused practice on developing balanced strength, muscular flexibility, joint mobility, join stabilization, agility, and endurance. The original mat is composed of dynamic movement sequences. Not every exercise is for everybody every time, but there is something for everyone to aspire to!

Lifestyle Activism

In Pilates lifetime there were two world wars. As a German living in England he was detained in an internment camp for the first one, and he immigrated to America before the second one.  He thought a lot about the conflict he witnessed and shared a desire for global peace. He said:

"How can we have world peace? No one is happy. No one is healthy. Not one man in the United Nations can do my first five exercises!"

The Challenge

The entire series of 34 exercises is meant to be done in 45 minutes with strong dynamic, fluid control, and focused precision.

In March the Pilates community joins together in a global online fitness challenge and celebration of Pilates Mat! March Matness is a fun event where participants can connect with each other on social media using the power of the hashtag. Each day is dedicated to one exercise in the sequence from “Return to Life”, and participants show their creative expression of specific Pilates exercises.


To get ready for this challenge join us for a field guide to the entire workout. The Pilates Mat is a great addition to anyone’s home workout, however the original material is often omitted, obscured, lost, or forgot because it’s so damn hard.

Everyone is welcome. If you cannot do some of the movements you can learn how to progress toward those goals.

Return to Life Order of Exercises

In this workshop you will learn:

  • The order for the entire original mat series and why
  • The technique for anatomical breathing for safety

  • Basic progressions for mini-mat workouts

  • Common personal adaptations will be covered

  • Dynamic and Flow will briefly covered, but stay tuned for our next workshop: "Picking Up the Pace" in May

Movements like rolling, planking, lateral and cross-lateral bending, kneeling, shoulder rolls and balances, leg and arm balancing will all be covered.

To participate search  #marchmatness2018 to see how people around the world personalize the movements to help them gain strength, flexibility and agility.  Want to see how “The Jackknife” can look? Search #jackknife. Show your personal favorite with the world, post it on facebook, instagram, or twitter with the corresponding title..

More Info On The Workshop