At Lindywell, we focus on Pilates mat exercises because we love how accessible they are. You can do your workout anywhere and sometimes, you don’t even need a mat! (Our standing workouts are a favorite in the community.)
Another thing we love is how fun these exercises can be. Forget workouts that are repetitive, long, and boring. At Lindywell, we always want to make workouts challenging but also enjoyable. I mean, why else would we do it, right? Plus, when we love what we’re doing, we’re more likely to be consistent with it. A win-win!
Let’s talk about the importance of building more fun into your workout routine. Afterward, I’ll share some of my favorite Pilates mat exercises that are as fun as they are effective.
The Benefits of Making Fitness Fun
It’s no secret that a consistent wellness routine is important for both your physical and mental health. If you don’t look forward to exercise, however, chances are, you won’t stick with the program. That’s because interest and enjoyment are two main predictors of sticking with a workout routine over time.
This fun factor boosts your intrinsic motivation, which helps to build more consistency. Plus, this has a positive effect on your mental wellness too. There’s a direct correlation between exercise and dopamine (your happy hormone). The more you love it, the more you do it, the happier you are. That’s an equation I can get behind!
Finally, prioritizing fun in your workouts can help with social connections as well. When study participants took part in group or community exercise programs they felt more energized, experienced healthier relationships, and felt more satisfaction in life overall.
You can’t argue with science—fun fitness pays off!
8 Fun and Playful Pilates Mat Exercises
While I think most Pilates exercises are fun, I especially love these ones, which come from our Joyful Movement workout.
1. Spinal Warm-Up (10 repetitions)
Allow your body to move in an unstructured, free-flowing manner. This is a fun and comfortable way to loosen the spine, increase circulation, and work out any stiffness or tension. Remember to softly bend the knees, maintain a neutral posture, relax the shoulders, then let the arms swing freely as you twist from one side to the other—and have fun!
2. Prancing (10 repetitions)
This movement activates the calf muscles and helps strengthen the feet and ankles, an area that can be easily forgotten. As you perform this back-and-forth motion, maintain a lift in your pelvic floor and length in your spine.
3. Standing Balance (5 repetitions on each side)
This is one of my favorite Pilates mat exercises for challenging stability. Balancing forces your accessory muscles (all the little muscles) to work harder, so you’ll build even more strength. Remember to continuously use the core to stabilize yourself as you move through this exercise.
4. Rolling Like a Ball
Rolling is so silly and playful—and it’s also a great way to massage the spinal column while building core strength. If you find that you’re falling flat on your back as you roll back, tuck your pelvis more (creating more of a c-shape with your spine) to get that rolling motion. This one is fun, so enjoy it!
5. Open Leg Rocker (10 repetitions)
If you love Rolling Like a Ball, you’ll love this one too—and the added challenge can make it even more silly because it’s not always easy to do gracefully! Remember that you can modify this position with a slight bend in the knees.
6. Hamstring Pull with Roll-Ups (5 repetitions on each side)
Tension in the hamstrings can lead to injuries or limit flexibility and range of motion in the hips and lower back. This is a great Pilates mat exercise to do regularly to stay mobile if you sit at a desk all day—plus, it’s also great for your core.
7. Seal Pup (10 repetitions)
Unleash your inner seal with this exercise—”barking” noises are optional, but encouraged! As with all of the other rolling exercises, remember to tuck your pelvis and activate the core so you can flow while building strength.
8. Plank Hovers with C-Curves (5 repetitions on each side)
This movement creates resistance in your shoulders, arms, spine, abdominals, glutes, quads, and calves. It’s one of those amazing full-body Pilates mat exercises that’s so efficient! Exercises like this make your workouts super effective—and fun.
Make Your Workout More Fun With Pilates
No matter where you’re at on your fitness journey, Mat Pilates is accessible, beneficial, and enjoyable. You can adapt each move to your own comfort level while building strength, balance, and flexibility. If you want to make fitness fun, give these exercises a try—and don’t forget to sign up for your free 14-day Lindywell trial to enjoy this full workout and many more like it!