Pilates Exercises for Kids
Designed to build muscle strength, flexibility and endurance, Pilates is an exercise method in which you need little more than your body and a mat. Kids of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from Pilates. While many fitness facilities offer Pilates classes, most Pilates exercises are simple enough to do at home if a mat is available. Ensure your child is performing the exercises safely and effectively to avoid injury by watching a Pilates video or attending a class together before trying the exercises at home. To keep exercising fun, rename the exercises with words your child can relate to or remember.
The Hundred helps build abdominal strength by engaging the core while using other extremities to work the abdominals. It is called The Hundred because you pulse 100 times during the exercise, this provides a fun challenge for younger children who are working on counting. Doing 100 consecutive pulses may not be possible for young children. Make 100 the number to reach by doing the exercise several times and continuing the count where the last set left off. Count for your child or have him count for you to make a learning game out of the exercise. Lie on a mat with knees bent and feet on the floor. Keep arms down by the hips with hands raised so they are parallel with the abdominals. Kids can lift their head and shoulders up or keep their upper body on the ground. KidsHealth.org recommends elongating the arms and pumping the arms up and down. Inhale for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts. Pulse as many times as possible and return to start position. Do one set of 10 repetitions.
The Pilates Plank works the core while engaging the muscles of the upper body as well. Start in a pushup position with feet shoulder width apart. Keep the neck down to maintain neutral alignment of the spine. Hold the position for 10 seconds. If multiple children are performing the exercise, have a contest to see who can hold the plank the longest or have them try to beat themselves by holding the exercise for a little longer each time. For a variation, try doing the plank on the elbows. Be sure to use a mat to avoid hurting the elbows.
Single Leg Stretch
The Single Leg Stretch works the abdominals while increasing flexibility and core stability. Lie face up with the pelvis in neutral alignment. Inhale, then exhale bringing one knee at time up to the chest. Inhale and gently grab the top of right knee with both hands. Exhale, straighten the left leg into the air. Inhale, return left knee to chest. Switch knees and repeat the exercise on the left. Continue 6 to 8 times on each leg. This exercise is simple enough to do while listening to music or watching TV.
Tick Tock Side Bend
Peegaboo Parenting recommends the Tick Tock Side Bend move to help with good posture and strengthening the spine. Sit upright on a chair or stool with a straight back, keeping the spine in neutral alignment. Bend the right ear to right shoulder, gently stretching the left side of the neck and ribcage. Return to start and repeat on the left side. Inhale in upright position, exhale into the side bend. Inhale in bent position, exhale back to center. Repeat on each side 4 to 6 times. Return to start position sitting upright with back straight. Slowly rotate the spine to the right and look over the right shoulder. Return to center and repeat on the left side. Inhale during the rotation, exhale to return to center. Repeat the rotation 4 to 6 times.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.