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Pilates 101

Pilates Warmup: Footwork

Footwork is a common exercise known to any Pilates practitioner. It was created by Joseph Pilates as the proper way to warm up at the beginning of each and every session on a Reformer. The benefits of starting with footwork help set standards for the rest of the workout and improve overall full-body health.


Footwork begins by lying on your back on the Reformer bed. Feet are placed on the foot bar, and the legs press the carriage out and help resist it back in by slowly controlling the movement. Starting in this position versus standing up vertically relieves unnecessary stress on the body and joints. Walking, running, and squatting all need to be done while working against gravity. Moving in this position allows the ankles, knees, and hips to warm up in the way they most commonly move throughout the day while eliminating the added pressure of gravity. Doing this helps prevent injury and enables clients to work in a familiar range of motion before jumping into more dynamic and challenging exercises.


Placing the feet on the foot bar and working in numerous positions promotes full-body health by starting at the base of your strength and mobility. For example, you can place your feet in a wide or shallow stance and press out with the feet parallel or in a Pilates V. Simply having the contact between your foot and the bar while pressing in and out provides a form of massage for the tissues on the bottom of the foot. Alternating between stances emulates similar motions like walking or something as dynamic as jumping. Doing this exercise in grippy socks helps return the body to its natural state, undoing the damage created by stiff, uncomfortable shoes and poor posture.


The spring tension of the machine and control of the body helps wake up and strengthen underused muscles throughout the legs, hips, and even abdominals. This movement also creates more joint strength throughout the lower body, translating into a better posture for the upper body.  This motion starts the session by retraining the body on how to properly move. Doing this at the beginning of each session promotes proper body mechanics starting from the bottom up. Creating awareness and mind-body connection from the beginning stems into how you move during the rest of your workout and the rest of your day.


Footwork is a pivotal part of any Pilates practice. It dictates how the rest of the session is going to go, pinpoints imbalances, and affects the way a person moves throughout their everyday life.  It’s the perfect option to help work in a decompressed position while challenging control, underused muscles, and joints.

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