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Pilates Mat Exercise - Swimming


Updated January 16, 2014

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Swimming at the Beg/Intermediate Level
Mat Exercise - Swimming

See modifications next page

Swimming is a fun exercise, but it is also quite challenging as it brings every part of the body into play. Luckily, swimming is also easy to modify.

Swimming makes a great counter stretch for the many Pilates Mat exercises that require forward flexion.

  • Lie on your stomach with the legs straight and together.
  • Keeping your shoulder blades settled in your back and your shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms straight overhead.
  • Pull your abs in so that you lift your bellybutton up away from the floor.
  • Reaching out from center, extend your arms and legs so far in opposite directions that they naturally come up off the floor. At the same time, get so much length in your spine that your head moves up off the mat as an extension of the reach of your spine. Keep your face down toward the mat; don't crease your neck.
  • Continue to reach your arms and legs out very long from your center as you alternate right arm/left leg, then left arm/right leg, pumping them up and down in small pulses.
  • Coordinate your breath with the movement so that you are breathing in for a count of 5 kicks and reaches, and out for a count of 5.
  • Hopefully you feel like you are simulating swimming!
  • Do 2 or 3 cycles of 5 counts of moving and breathing in, and 5 counts moving and breathing out.




  • Keep everything long, long, long, reaching from your center.
  • Keep your head and neck working as extensions of your spine and don't break the line at the neck.
  • Protect your lower back by keeping your tail bone moving down toward the mat.
  • If the breathing pattern is too complicated at first, leave it out.


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