Class #4949

Upper Body Foam Roller

20 min - Class


If you are feeling tight in your upper body - this is the perfect class for you. Gia Calhoun uses a Foam Roller to open up the front of your chest, loosen up your spine, and move with fluidity. By moving through unilateral work through Gia's class, you will feel strong and easeful in your balance and stability!
What You'll Need: Mat, Foam Roller

About This Video

May 09, 2022
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Hi, I'm Gia, and today we're gonna do a foam roller class. I'm a little tight today, so we're gonna focus on opening up chest and shoulders and just kinda stretching and feeling good. So we're gonna start by lying on the roller. You wanna have your full length of your body on the roller, from your tailbone, all the way to your head, and just make sure you feel supported on here and that it's straight. And then we're just gonna bring your arms to a goalpost position, like a 90 degree angle, and just kind of let the weight gravity kinda pull your arms down toward the floor.

It's okay if they don't touch the floor. Just go where you can, and you should feel a nice stretch across your chest. Just gonna breathe here. Nice deep breaths. Inhale and exhale. And again, inhale and exhale.

Just make sure your feet are firmly planted on the mat. That way you don't have to focus on balancing too much, and just let your chest open. Inhale and exhale. One more time, inhale and exhale. Now, you're gonna rotate your arms so that your hands are gonna come down onto the mat.

And then we're just gonna bring your arms up over by your ears, all the way back. And if you can touch the mat behind you, go for it. If not, that's okay. And then bring the arms back down to your sides. Nice and slow again.

You don't wanna move too quickly or jerk any movements, 'cause that'll kinda cause you to lose your balance. So you wanna make this nice and smooth, and just go back as far as you can, try to touch the mat if you can, and then arms come down by your sides. Just breathe, how it feels natural to you. And then arms come up. Try to keep them long, really reach out through the fingers, and then back down.

And you might notice one arm goes a little further back than the other, and that's totally normal. One more time. Arms go back, up by your ears. Try not to let the shoulders creep up to the ears though. And then back down by your sides.

Then we're gonna do one arm at a time. It'll make kind of a scissor. So one arm's gonna go up by your ear, the other arm stays down by your side. And then it'll test your balance a little bit as you switch again. Nice smooth movements.

Try not to make it too fast or jerky. And then just keep alternating your arms. The arm that's up should feel a nice stretch across that armpit. And then back to the other side. We'll do two more on each side.

And when we do one arm at a time, you really feel the difference between the two sides. I notice my right arm is definitely a little bit tighter than my left today. Normally that's not the case though. Last one, switching sides. And then we're gonna meet with both arms up toward the ceiling.

Turn your palms in to face each other, and you're gonna shrug your shoulders up toward the ceiling, and then pull 'em down, try to wrap 'em around the foam roller. Arms come up. And then bring 'em down. And arms come up, and then bring 'em all the way down. Two more.

As I'm moving the shoulders, I'm trying not to move the ribcage. I'm gonna keep that stable. Just the shoulder blades are moving. Nice little glide on the shoulder blades. Last one.

Now we're gonna find a neutral position. So you're not squeezing the shoulder blades, but you're not letting them come up toward the ceiling. You have a nice, neutral position. Palms are gonna face down toward your legs. Take a deep inhale here.

As you exhale, push your arms down, curl your chest up, try to keep your pelvis neutral. Lie back down as you inhale. And then we're gonna come up with the chest. Just warming up the abdominals, trying to keep that chest open now that we've kind of stretched it out a little bit. Two more.

And then curl up. Last one, lie down. And as you're doing this, you might feel a nice little massage on your spine. I know I do. And then lie back down.

Arms are gonna push down onto the mat and we're gonna move the legs. So keep your hands on the mat. Use that pressure to help you balance. You're gonna float one leg up to tabletop, try to maintain that stability, and then lower it down toward the mat. Other leg lifts up, and then lower it down.

So you'll feel a difference between sides again, just like you did with the arms. One side's gonna feel a little bit more stable than the other. Keep going, just alternating sides. And then back down. One more, each side like this, and then we're gonna add on.

So again, really use those hands to help support you. So you're not wobbling too much from side to side. Last one. So you can keep doing this if you'd like. If you wanna test your balance a little bit more, we're gonna add the opposite arm.

So you're gonna lift one leg up to tabletop. The opposite arm lifts up to the ceiling, and then lower everything down at the same time. Again, other leg, other arm, and then lower. Definitely for this movement, try to keep it smooth. 'Cause if you kind of panic and make it a quick movement, that's when you lose your balance.

Lift and lower down. One more each side. Lift up and lower. Last one. So again, you can keep going with the version that you're doing.

If you wanna challenge it a little bit more, we're gonna bring both arms up to the ceiling. You don't have to go all the way up to tabletop. Just go where you can. You're gonna lift one leg up, really push down on that opposite foot, and then lower down. Other side, lift up, and lower.

Kinda helps if you find something to focus on too, not letting your eyes wander. That'll help keep you stable on this foam roller. And lift up, and lower. One more each side. Lift and lower. Last one.

And lower. Good. Both feet down. Turn your palms to face your legs again. You can bring your feet out away from the foam roller a little bit too. We're gonna do a roll up.

Again, this is gonna challenge your balance just a little bit. Take a deep inhale here at the bottom. As you exhale, you're gonna roll up one bone at a time, all the way up to the seated position. Inhale at the top. Exhale as you roll down.

One bone at a time. If you need to use your legs or you can even keep your hands on the mat to help you balance, that's totally fine. Just do what works for your body. Roll up, push down in those feet, try to let them use you or let them help you roll up, and then roll down. And just watch out for the shoulders.

As we get tense while we're balancing, try not to let them creep up by the ears. You don't wanna push them down too hard where it's feeling stuck, but you wanna keep that space in your neck so you're not getting tense. One more time. Rolling up, sit up tall and then roll back. Just like that chest lift, you should feel a nice little massage in your spine.

We're gonna roll up one more time and stay seated this time. And then we're gonna come off the foam roller into a seated position. So I have my legs about as wide as my mat, feet are flexed, arms are forward. I'm sitting up as tall as I can. If you wanna bend your legs to get your spine straighter, that's definitely an option.

Just keep pulling all five toes back. Hug this foam roller just a little bit. Again, not as hard as you can. You don't want it to tire out your arms, but you just wanna have a little engagement. Sitting up nice and tall, take a deep inhale.

As you exhale, you're gonna twist to one side and then pulse, twist and center. And the other side. Twist, twist and center. Just a little rotation of the spine, constantly growing up from the tailbone, all the way up through the crown of the head. And twist, twist, center. Twist, twist, center.

One more each side. Last one. Twist. Now we're gonna add a saw. So you're gonna twist to one side, reach your head toward the foam roller, bend forward toward that leg, and then roll up and center to the other side, round forward, keep that opposite hip down on the mat, roll up and center. Twist and roll. Good.

And center and twist. Reach your head forward. Try not to let it drop. And roll up to the first side. Roll forward and up. Last one.

And reach. So now we're gonna do a little extension. So we're gonna put the roller behind your back, and then we're gonna slide back down. So you wanna find a spot that feels good for you. Mine's between my shoulder blades.

And then watch out for your hair if you're have a ponytail like me, and then just lie back. Should feel nice on your spine. You can kind of roll a little bit too. One, to massage your back, but also to find the spot that you need to open up. And then as you're doing this, try to keep your tailbone down so you're not letting it tuck under.

You wanna keep that nice extension throughout the whole spine. Your head most likely will not touch the mat, and that's okay, but you're using your hands behind your head to support it. Good, I'm gonna bring my feet out away from me a little bit and then my hips away too, just so I can get a little bit more space. And then from here, I'm gonna do a chest lift. So take a deep inhale here at the bottom.

And then, as you exhale, you're just gonna curl your chest up. And then lower back down, and then lower, lift up, sorry. So you're using this foam roller for support. You're not putting all of your weight on it. You're lifting up off of it, but it's there to support you and then allowing you to get a little bit more range of motion than if you were just on the mat.

If you'd rather do this without the mat, that's also an option. And then lift up. Two more. Last one. And lift.

And then if you can, try to roll all the way up. And then we're gonna switch over to your stomach. So you want the foam roller in front of you. Arms are gonna be a little wider than your shoulders. You can have your feet together or apart.

I like mine apart, just 'cause my back's a little tight today. And then shoulders are down by your ear, away from your ears. Take a deep inhale as you lift your chest up, the foam roller's gonna slide towards you. And then as you exhale, you're gonna roll forward. So think of lifting from the crown of your head all the way up so your head is leading, and then your head is last thing to come down when you're coming forward.

Your sternum is reaching forward toward that foam ruler. So you're not letting it dump into your low back. You wanna keep the length of your spine. Should feel good though, just to get a little bit of movement in the spine, especially if you've been sitting all day. Two more.

And then I have my palms facing each other just 'cause it feels better on my shoulders. But if you want your palms facing down to the floor, you can do that too. This just helps me keep my shoulders a little bit more open. Now from here, you're gonna roll up to your swan position and hold, find a position that you can control. We're gonna lift one arm up and then lower it down.

Other arm lifts up. So you'll notice a difference between sides again. One side will feel a little bit easier than the other. Try to keep pushing the feet into the mat. What I can feel in my body is the opposite leg wants to lift up a little bit to help counterbalance, but I wanna keep both feet down.

So it's just the upper back working. One more with each arm. And lift. Control it back down. And then keep your foam roller with you as we go into child's pose.

So you have your feet together, knees apart, and then your hands on the roller, let your head go down to the mat. With the hands on the roller, it gives your shoulders a little bit more of a stretch. Just breathe here. One more deep breath. And then roll up with control.

And we're gonna go into a bridge. So we're gonna put the foam roller underneath your feet. We're just gonna challenge your legs a little bit, and it's gonna kind of mimic being on the reformer. So you want your feet fairly close to your body, arms down by your side. Make sure your feet are parallel and hip distance apart.

Without moving the roller, you're just gonna take a deep inhale. As you exhale, you're gonna roll up to a bridge, one bone at a time. Just go where you can control it. Inhale at the top, exhale as you roll down. So I'm gonna bring my feet away from me just a little bit 'cause I feel my hamstrings starting to cramp.

Rolling up. Try to keep the chest open, really push down in those arms, and then roll down one bone at a time. So as you're doing this, pay attention to your feet. Keep going. Try not to roll toward the outer edge of your feet.

Wanna stay even on all parts of your foot. Roll down. And then just make sure your feet are still parallel. Sometimes they like to turn out. One more time, you're gonna roll up.

From here, you're gonna keep your hips up and you're gonna push the roller out away from you, just a couple inches, and then pull it back in. And then roll it out, pull it in. As you're moving the roller out and in, try not to let your hips drop. You wanna keep them that same level the whole time. We have four and three.

Two. Last one. And then roll down one bone at a time. Hug your knees into your chest. Rock side to side.

So we're gonna roll up to a seated position and finish with the remain. So you're gonna have your legs stacked one on top of the other if you'd like. I'm gonna do a Z sit 'cause my hip's like that today. And then wrist is just resting on the foam roller. Bring one arm out to the side, lift your spine up, and then you're just gonna reach over into that mermaid position.

Try to keep both sides of your waist long and that shoulder away from your ear. Come on up, and then we're gonna repeat. So you get a little bit of a massage on that forearm too, which is kinda nice. And then you might not need to adjust like I just did. You wanna make sure you're not putting all of your weight onto that roller.

You're still lifting up, but you're using it to support you again, just like we did earlier with the chest lift. This next one, we're gonna add a little rotation. So you're gonna reach over and you're gonna twist, so you have one hand on each side of the roller. And you can push out a little bit further. Try to keep this back hip down toward the mat.

And then from here, you're gonna lift up into a little bit of extension, similar to if you were on the reformer, and then push it back out. And then lift your spine up. You can even look up a little bit if you'd like, and then push it back out. One more time, lift it up, and then push back out. Bring that back arm forward so it's in the middle of the roller, come back to your side bend, all the way up, and then we'll switch sides.

So we're gonna have wrist on the roller. This opposite hip is trying to stay down toward the mat. It won't actually touch, but you wanna get it as close as you can. One arm out to the side, you're gonna lift up into your waist, reach over into your side bend, shoulders away from the ears. And just watch that you're not arching your back and thrusting your ribs forward.

You wanna try to keep a nice alignment as you're going to the side. Back up, and then reach back over. So it's like that analogy if you were slice of bread going into the toaster, you don't wanna get burnt, you wanna be able to fit into that toaster as you're moving to the side. So you're not twisting, you're not arching, everything's in one straight line. One more plane and then we'll add our twist.

And then back up. Adjust that roller if you need to. You're gonna reach out into your side bend, rotate your spine, one hand on each side of the roller, and then push out a little bit further. From here, lift your spine up into your arch. You can look up if you'd like, think of reaching that sternum up toward the ceiling, and then push it back out.

Again, that opposite hip is trying to stay down toward the mat. And then push it back out. Two more. And reach. I'm trying to square my shoulders off as much as I can.

This side's a little bit more challenging for me. And then push it back out. Bring that hand back to the center of the roller, come back to your side bend, and then come all the way up. And we're finished. I hope you enjoyed this class, and that your chest and back just feel a little bit more open and supple.

Thank you.

Pilates at Home: Foam Roller Mat Classes


Jennifer E
1 person likes this.
So happy to see a new foam roller class! Perfect to start my morning. Thank you, Gia!!!
3 people like this.
Hand weights makes the roll up soooo much easier and so this exercise in your class while a level 1/2 was actually harder than some of the level 2 and 2/3.  I  can see that I definitely need to practice without the weights. lol
My shoulders and neck thank you for all the rest.  
Joni N ~ I agree, this version of the Roll Up is definitely a challenge! That extra weight can make a huge difference even though it's more taxing on the upper body. I'm glad that your neck and shoulders got a release from the rest of the class! I'm so glad you enjoyed this class too, Jennifer E!
Lina S
2 people like this.
Good mix of core work and stretching!
1 person likes this.
Really clear cues and you have a lovely voice to listen to. Thanks 
1 person likes this.
Really enjoyed this as a morning wake up 
Lisa V
1 person likes this.
That was lovely, thank you!
1 person likes this.
I loved this class and feel great! I paired it with Kristi's new overball class #4948 - perfect together! By the time we got to the roll up on the roller, which is usually very challenging, I found I was very ready for it! Thanks, Gia!
Angela T
1 person likes this.
wonderful class! thank you Gia
Ruth S
Great stretch after a challenging day at work. Thank you Gia
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