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Exercise of the Month: Side Body Twist

Side Body Twist is one of the most effective Pilates exercises to increase core strength and improve spinal mobility. Due to the slow and controlled movements, advanced-level exercisers will be challenged to hone in on their mind-body connection, body control and coordination. That said, this exercise can be modified to accommodate different clients’ fitness levels and needs.

Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer Adriana Rotella guides us through this advanced-level Side Body Twist Pilates exercise, which is great for clients wanting to work on their upper-body strength and overall body coordination.

What are the benefits of Side Body Twists?

Mobilizes your spine: Side Body Twists mobilize the spine and strengthen oblique muscles. This exercise focuses on core stability, thereby improving overall posture by encouraging length through the spine.

Targets specific muscles: Strengthen the inner thighs and back muscles with this challenging Pilates exercise.

Boosts mindfulness: Side Body Twists require that the exerciser focuses on breath expansion as they wring out the abdominal muscles, helping to increase lung capacity.

Improves balance and control: This exercise challenges body balance and control. It also enhances mind-body coordination, requiring the exerciser to focus on holding the bar while they move their torso and legs in one controlled and fluid motion.

Things to keep in mind while doing Side Body Twists

Don’t slouch backward: Ensure that your client is sitting upright and tall. It is important to maintain the correct posture and alignment while doing this exercise to avoid injury and get the most benefits from the exercise.

Keep the legs still: Make sure your client doesn't wobble their legs as they twist. Hip stabilization is important for this exercise to ensure slow and controlled movements.

Don’t rush: This is an advanced-level exercise and it is best to help your client build up strength before introducing this move. Motivate them to push themselves but give them enough time to build the strength required for this intense Pilates workout.

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Hi everyone. My name is Adriana Rotella. I am a Lead Instructor Trainer for Merrithew Head Office, and I'm going to be taking you through the Exercise of the Month, which is a Side Body Twist, an advanced-level exercise on the Cadillac. So today, I have Tina, a good client of mine demonstrating for us. So I’m going to talk you through the full advanced exercise and then we'll talk about some things to think about and also, some preps and modifications that can help to build up the strength to eventually get into this exercise, which of course can take some time.

So starting position for this exercise, I'm going to be guiding the bar, push-throughout bar, and Tina's bottom hand is going to be on the bar over grip. So here, and then the top hand, okay, is going to start on the hip. Now in the starting position, you want to make sure that the client has enough space behind them because that's where we're going to be.

Uh, supported by the pelvis. So I'll have Tina move forward just a teeny little bit. Good. And then that's perfect there. Okay. So in the starting position, super important to have a really nice active starting position, meaning that energy is reaching through the legs. Okay. She's got a nice connection through her quads, her inner thighs, as well as her dominoes.

And of course, that top arm that's stabilizing here. So that can just be easily rectified and fixed just by making the starting position a little bit more connected. Okay, so now starting with a small side bend.

We start with that inhale to start in a little bit of a side bend. Exhale. She's going to pivot that back, hit flex the back elbow. Inhale, bend the, reach the toes away, and twist the body forward. Okay, so we're going to give her a little bit of a break. That was beautiful. Now, as an instructor, you should be not only spotting the bar, but actually helping to guide the bar, right as the client is just thinking about what they're doing in that teaser position in every step of the way.

So we're going to do that one more time. Okay. Starting with your side bend like we do on the mats. Number five. Okay. Our side lake lift series. So we inhale to starting that side and then pivot the back hip so that that bottom level flexes. As we come up into that teaser, starts the flexion, reaches the feet away and we twist with the oblique.

Good. And then you can let go of that Martina and you can just stay right there where you are. So that's quite a challenging exercise as we are using the whole body working in several planes. Um, that's not something that you would initial. Start with. So we want to talk about progressions. How would I start to introduce this exercise?

Or what other exercises would I like, to start with, to build my client up to eventually being able to have the strength and flexibility to attempt this very advanced level exercise. So as I already mentioned, the side leg lift series number five version where we're just going into a side bend is an excellent place to start, to start to developing the strength.

And just getting the client into that movement of that lateral flexion of the spine and that lift of the feet. Now, one thing I wanted to talk about in this exercise is timing. Timing is very key in this exercise. Being able to come together nicely as, as nicely as Tina performed it. Somebody can have the strength and the flexibility, but not, you know, uh, timing the exercise properly will hinder them from having it all come together so beautifully.

So if that seems a little too complex for your client, or if they just simply don't have the flexibility in the bottom shoulder, then what we can do is just introduce this exercise on the mat. So Tina's going to show us what that looks like. So the same starting position, just the difference is that the arm is going to be reaching out and down.

Good. Okay. Top arm reaching on the top hip as well. Okay. We're going to start in that side leg lift series number five again. So we start in that little bit of a side bend. We're going to do that same pivot of the back hip. She's going to turn and lift the. Squeezing the legs together, good shoulder soft, and then sliding the hands and the feet away as we twist, twist, twist back.

Okay, so that back hip pivoting. Before the legs come up is pretty key. Okay. And the back hip twisting to land in this nice connected position is pretty key as well. And you would want to spend some time, uh, talking about that when you're introducing this exercise to your client. So we'll do that one more time.

Okay. We start on that side bend. So we'll top right to hip that back hip pivots the back arm is going to stay on the mat to help give them a little bit of support and connect. We reach the toes away as we slide the hands away. And then we're talking about this twist. Okay. Just like we're almost like a visual or good, um, verbal cue or a ta like, um, a good visual would be like you're washing out a, a washcloth or ringing out a washcloth.

So we want that nice rotation to happen through the torso. So all that, you know, taking up the steps, starting on the match, then starting to recreate this. Um, without the bar and then progressing to the bar, um, are all great, you know, exercise choices to build up the strength, but other exercises that you might think about teaser as we're mimicking the teaser here as well.

And also developing the shoulder strength necessary to be able to hold this hover and maneuver that bar as nicely as Tina did. Okay, so good luck with this exercise. Hope you enjoy it and have a great day!

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