Should You Warm Up Before Pilates?


Pilates is a fun and healthy exercise regimen that will strengthen your muscles, build better posture and create great flexibility. 

When you’re practising Pilates it’s important to warm up. Depending on the style of Pilates workout you’re doing, your warm up will look different from one class to the next.

If you’re doing a class with a qualified Pilates Instructor you’ll notice that they always begin with a set of varying warm up movements or they start at a point and then build up from there.

For example in a standing MerryBody Pilates class, we’d start with some simple squats, then we’d lead to some low pulses. Then we might add on, with a knee lift and then we’d add on again with a squat, lift and twist combo. 

You see what we did? 

We started at a foundation level of the move, the simple squat, then we built up from that point. 

Warming up before Pilates is necessary, as it will prepare all of the muscle groups for more vigorous activity (that is, help you avoid injury!). It gets the blood flowing, the heart pumping and the mind focused on what you are doing… that is, Pilates!

If you are working with a Pilates Instructor or personal trainer, they may have a consistent warm up set of movements. We prefer to mix it up, depending on the style of Pilates we are doing.  

If you ever feel like you need to add an additional warm up to your Pilates class, we’ve got the perfect sequence for you! 

Try it out before your next class and notice if you experience any improvements to your performance during the Pilates workout.

Also, if you’re ready to try an online Pilates class. Sign up here and we’ll send you a free class!


Pilates Warm-Up Exercises 

Arm circles

This warm-up exercise is going to prepare your upper body for movement, especially your shoulder blades, chest and upper back. 

  1. Stand with your feet flat, about hip-width apart. 
  2. Make sure there is enough room around you for arm circles. Extend the arms out to the sides, make small circles in the air with your arms. Movement should be small, controlled motions.
  3. Begin to make the arm circles bigger and bigger, come out in front with your arms and circle all the way back.
  4. Continue 10 times until you feel a warming sensation and a good stretch in your thoracic and shoulders. 
  5. You can even swap it up and alternate arms. Left arm reach out and around followed by right arm.


Lateral Bend

We do not bend sideways (laterally) enough. This stretch is super important, not just before a Pilates class, it’s a great stretch to do throughout the day, especially if you work at a desk.

  1. Stand tall with feet hip width apart or squeezed together. Reach both arms out and around to the sides and overhead as you inhale.
  2. Lower your right arm down the right side of your body, exhale as you reach the left arm over towards the right and bend your body over to the right. Feel that beautiful stretch down your side body, from hips to your shoulders.
  3. Inhale to return arms back overhead and center. Exhale and repeat on the other side. Reapeat 2 more times on each side.


Standing roll down

This simple move activates your core muscles and relaxes the neck and shoulders. It also stretches the spine and hamstrings. It feels really good!

  1. Stand tall with feet hip width apart. Relax your shoulders and arms.
  2. Take a deep breath in, draw your tummy into your spine, then exhale, drop your chin towards your chest, slowly roll your spine down bone by bone.  
  3. Roll down as far as you can go without moving your hips. Relax, head, shoulders and arms.
  4. Inhale to prepare, then on the exhale, using your lower ab muscles, begin to roll up bone by bone, until you are upright. Repeat 3 – 5 times.


Dead Bug 

While the name sounds a bit funny, the dead bug exercise is amazing for stabilizing and strengthening your abdominal muscles, which are always used during a Pilates workout. It’s the perfect warm up to a more strenuous ab workout.

  1. Lay flat on your back,  with your knees bent and feet lifted, shins parallel to the earth, knees over hips, with your arms straight up towards the sky.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your core inwards and upwards. Inhale deeply, while also lengthening your right arm and left leg out. Keep your torso and spine completely stable and your lower back glued (imprinted) to the floor. 
  3. Exhale to return to the starting position, repeat 4 more times.
  4. Swap to the other side. 


Leg Circles 

This exercise will warm up your abdominal muscles, quads and hamstrings.

  1. Lay flat on your back and engage your core. Ensure spine is imprinted. Have your legs extended straight out in front of you on the ground and your arms close by your sides. 
  2. Raise one leg straight up and point your toes towards the ceiling. Move that leg in large circles, slow and controlled, tracing circles in the air with your foot. Keep your adnominal muscles engaged. Repeat 5 times
  3. Swap to the other leg.

Now you’re nice and warm for more Pilates… or any workout for that matter! If reading these makes your head spin a little, why not sign up to the free 7 day trial of our online Pilates app. Once you’ve joined, start with the Foundations Program, a series of classes that will help you build strong foundations.

If you’re ready to try a class right away, you can test a class out before downloading the app. Try this one. It’s a bit of a firey class, don’t forget to warm up!

Inside the App you’ll find hundreds of Pilates, plus Yoga and Meditation classes at your fingertips. From beginner to more challenging classes, from less than 10 to over 30 minute classes, you’ll find the perfect class for you!

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

We’d also like to remind you that all the advice we give you is for when you’re feeling healthy. If for example, you have an injury, be sure to seek medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a licensed and experienced healthcare professional. Doing a warm-up pilates exercise sequence is a great way to prevent injuries, but if the injury has already happened, it has to be treated the right way to ensure a speedy recovery. 


Scroll to Top