Class #5267

Step into Fitness

30 min - Class


Step into fitness with this creative Mat workout by Cathleen Murakami. She focuses on improving stability and mobility with fun exercises that will get you moving. She uses different props to assist you when needed so that you can move with ease during this flowing class.

Note: Cathleen uses props that you can find at home. For this class, you can use a step stool, a kitchen towel, paper plates, and a pole.
What You'll Need: Mat, Sliders (2), Towel, Pilates Pole

About This Video

Apr 05, 2023
(Log In to track)


Read Full Transcript

Hi everyone. Cathleen Murakami, I'm back again for you to step into fitness. Today, what you will need are, hopefully you have something like a dowel, or an umbrella, or a cane. Some yardstick would even work. The paper plates again.

A dish towel, a little bit longer dish towel if it's available. And your handy step stool. This is mine. It's a little bit rickety and old, so you might hear it rattling a little bit. Nevermind, I won't fall, hopefully.

And I am using a towel on the top as an option. Maybe if you wanna pad your feet or pad your bottom when we get on top of the step stool. So let's begin. We will first start out with some spinal articulation. I like to have the feet a little bit higher than the hips because it allows the spine to lengthen just a little bit more.

All right, have your dowel nearby. I may use it. I am having my feet flat. If your ankles, the availability of movement in your ankle joints and your feet are a little bit lifted, that's totally fine. If you're a little taller, you could also have your feet on the top of the step stool, whatever height you have, play around and see what feels most comfortable for you, okay?

So 90 degrees approximately. You will breathe in. And as you exhale, I'm going to just press up versus curl up. I'm just gonna press straight up. I'm gonna tuck my shirt here a little bit so that you can see the line I have.

Hold your position here. As you exhale, soften through the chest. Descend the vertebrae. You're walking the vertebrae into your mat, one at a time. That classic one vertebrae at a time, Pilates cue.

We'll do that again. You breathe into prepare. As you exhale, you'll feel your feet, hamstrings, and glutes levitate your pelvis. Feel your knees reach over your toes. Avoid going too high.

The scapula, your shoulder blade still on your mat. Breathe in here. Exhale. (exhales sharply) And soften again into your mat. All right, I wanna give you a little tractioning on your own.

So this is really nice. You'll feel really great. Same entry. So we will inhale and prepare. Get your hamstrings ready.

You're already pressing in your feet a little bit. Exhale, levitate up. (exhales sharply) Hold your position. If your hands are long enough or your arms are long enough, you can lightly touch your inner thighs and press isometrically in to feel them. Imagine those inner thighs connected to your tailbone.

And then as you're rolling down, you're gonna gently use those inner thighs and coax your tailbone toward the step stool. And you're gonna feel your hamstrings but you're gonna feel your spine tractioning. So it's like self tractioning. It feels really great. Okay?

If you have that, you don't need to use your hands. I know often in Pilate's work, we have a prop between the legs. You could also opt for that if you happen to have one nearby. And then again, you soften the chest. I'm gonna exaggerate this so you see it.

I'm gonna actually move my arm. You're drawing your spine toward (exhales sharply) the stool. And soften those ribs so the vertebra will cooperate. Feels great, right? Now we add the dowel, or just your arms if you don't happen to have a dowel.

Okay? I'm having my hands just press down on the dowel and use, you'll feel your shoulder blades engaged. All right. Breathe in. As you exhale again, press into the legs and the feet, roll up, pause.

I'm pressing down to feel my lats. Then I'm gonna take a second breath, and then exhale, and bring the arms overhead. Something like what you would do in the roll up. All right. Here, avoid the shoulders going up toward the ears, the scapular down your back.

And now you have an oppositional contrast feel. So when you traction your spine, you're tractioning your spine now even more because of the tissue of the arms is reaching in the opposite direction. Oh, it feels so good. Inhale, the arms to the ceiling. Exhale, bring that dowel down.

I'm gonna just do one more with you. Breathe into prepare. Exhale. (exhales sharply) Pressing up. Yes, the dowel will have to slide or roll on your legs.

Pause here, inhale. Reach the arms overhead, anchoring those shoulder blades on your back. (exhales sharply) Take your small breath here. Exhaling those inner thighs draw that tailbone gently toward your feet. (exhales sharply) Relax that front body so you'll really get that lengthening feel.

Inhale those arms to the ceiling. Exhale and bring that dowel all the way down. Good, good. Put that dowel to the side. I'm going to scooch back just a little bit.

Move my paper plates out of the way. Just here, actually I'll put them over here. Okay. Now I'm going to do the roll up. And the steps still will help me a little bit because I am abducting or pressing my legs outward just a little bit.

If your low back feels extremely tight today, you can soften the knees, which will allow that lumbar spine to press into your floor a little bit. Yeah. I'm going to use the dowel. I'm gonna do this with the knees bent. All right.

So here's the version we can start with. Arms are overhead. We will inhale the arms up. I'm already pressing my legs out. Look toward the stool, exhale, (exhales sharply) curl up.

You can straighten your legs here if you want or keep them bent. Put the dowel on the top, breathe in here, and then roll it forward. Shoulders are down. Low back is lifting and going up and over. (exhales sharply) Breathe into those back ribs like gills of a fish.

Inhaling, exhale. And then shoulder blades down. Again, you can soften the knees if you need more movement through that lumbar spine. It really helps. And you go back down into the floor.

Oh, I made it. Arms come up, breathe in. Exhale, curling, (exhales sharply) and rolling forward. I like to actually even press down here, you'll feel your lats. And your lats connecting to part of your obliques.

Breathe in here. As you exhale, curl back. (exhales sharply) Yes. And then of course, if you need less help by pressing the legs out, you won't have to. You can choose to bring your legs a little narrower.

All right, curling. You can see the roll up is not my most stellar exercise. So I like to take advantage of all the little extra hints that I know about. Yeah. (exhales sharply) And we're just gonna do one more here.

Arms come up, head comes up, you're gonna curl. (exhales sharply) Reach it over. Ta-ta, hold that, breathe in. Exhale and sit up. Well since we're here, I'm just gonna bring the legs in.

I'm gonna turn slightly towards you and just do a little bit of spinal rotation. If your shoulders don't accommodate this, bring the arms down with the dowel in front of you or even cross your arms over your chest. Okay, so you have a few choices. Rotate, excuse me, from your lowest rib, the lowest rib area, okay? Turning, I'm doing this on an inhale.

Okay, I know that's maybe not quite classic Pilates, but I like the feel of the inhale as I'm spiraling upward, exhaling to center, okay? So here's my analogy. Your face is like the periscope of a submarine. Yeah, an old fashioned submarine, or maybe they're like that now, I don't know. You know how the periscope comes up, up, up, up, up, and you wanna see what's going on over there, and you wanna see what's going on over there to the left and the right.

But the little man who's inside the submarine, he's the one that's turning the periscope at the top. So what's turning you? Your obliques, in your trunk. Yeah, is that making sense? So here's your periscope turning right, and here it's a little man inside the submarine.

I think I was obviously born in the '60s. Watched too many voyage to the bottom of the sea. Remember that show? Come on, some of you guys remember that. All right, bring the dowel down.

All righty. How we doing, good? Let's see. Let's come up. All right.

And, I'm going to actually use the paper plates in a second. So you might wanna grab those. They won't slide on the sticky mat. So I'm gonna roll this mat up temporarily. Something like this.

Okay. And I will have them underneath my feet, like so. All right, these are pretty big, so I'm putting my feet more on the inner side and hoping that my plates don't flip. All right. I'm going to come a little bit closer because I'm gonna use the top step.

All right. Let's pull this a little closer toward me. Here we go. All right. Upright, neutral, breathe in.

As you exhale, I'm going to come up and soften my elbows. So you have to hold your plank with the soft elbows and pull your knees in. So hopefully it's feeling something like hands and knees on the floor. Don't talk too long Cathy, because we have to reach and pull back. Reach and pull back.

This is an inhale, (inhales deeply) and exhale. Tighten up your hamstring and your butt muscles, feel that power. If you're more comfortable with straight arms, that's fine. You'll feel that plank line, hopefully from your heel to your head, right? Can we do both?

Sure we can. Hold it, whoa, and pull. Press out. Easy to press. Ooh, a little more challenging to pull.

Press and pull. One more. What you have to be careful of is this, right? The collapse, the turtle in the shell. So really keep yourself pressed up.

I'm gonna lightly bring my knees down. Ooh. Stretch back, release the feet. Stretch back. Careful not to smash your paper plates because you want them to keep them still.

All right. Come back up. Of course you can do another set, but I'm gonna change this now. Just have one and have my elbow on the top of the step, okay? Place your foot and reach it forward.

There we go. I'm gonna put my whole sole of my foot down. All right. Can you see that line? Take it to the side.

Bring it forward. So stability, mobility. You know, if you can do this with a rag underneath you can probably start cleaning the floor. Right? How about that?

Yes. Feel the energy lines through your torso, legs, and arm. Couple more times here. Yes. Last one.

All righty, we're turning around. You get to see it from the backside. So organize yourself, your forearm on the top of your step stool, extend the moving leg out in front of you. Okay? Start out, organize yourself in space, feel where all of your pieces of your body are, the pieces of your body, and inhale and exhale.

If this, by the way, isn't comfortable for your ankle, you can kind of lift the forefoot off and work at the heel. All right, so this, is really about creating this movement in your hip joint. And then of course, we had the hand off. When your arm is off, pay attention to your ribs. Easy to kind of collapse out there, okay?

So stretch your energy lines and let's just do a couple more here. And finish. Good, good. Yay. All right, I'm gonna put this plate underneath again.

Actually, no. You know what, since we're here, this is what we're gonna do. Keep your mat out of the way. Oh, sit on the top. We're going to put them now in front of us.

In front of us. You see how I'm, I'm putting my foot more on the inside, because yes, it's more comfortable in the middle, but these are big plates and then they kind of clank together. So I like to put my foot a little more to the inner side of the plates. Okay. Sit up in what you think and feel is your neutral.

Right here, I'm pressing down just a little bit and levitate yourself off of your sit bones, but you're not lifting up yet. Reaching. Reaching. It's a small range. Small range, but work with pulling back.

Pulling back. Easy to reach it out as earlier when I was in the quadruped position. Little more challenging to pull inward. So that's your hamstrings, right? Pulling.

Pulling and pushing. Yeah. Now we're for a little more challenge. We are going to levitate, whoops. Levitate our body up here.

I'm going to press my hips a little bit forward. If you need to soften your elbows, feel free. Avoid the turtle, right? And the same thing. Inhale and exhale.

Doesn't matter which side, it's fine. Inhale and exhale. Yes. Further challenge, you would take your body further out. Whoo, lift your hips up.

Yes, keep it going. Open your chest. Look up a little bit more. Oh, there's Joe Pilates looking at us from heaven. Hey, Joe.

All right, both legs out and your front support, or sorry, your back support position. Press into your feet. Oh, my gosh. It feels so good. Soften your knees, pull it back.

Rest your bum down. (exhales sharply) All right, good, good. Now we will put them out of the way. And since we're here, take your dish towel. Take your dish towel.

This is how we're going to start out. I'm gonna bring my feet a little closer. Move just to the back edge, but not too far, right? Because you have to have room here, a little bit to roll back onto your tailbone, okay? First move is to find your balance.

Now you can start out with just having your hands on here. Okay? Just start out with having your hands on here. With your shoulders down, press your thighs together. Then you take that towel, and you could pull in closer, or you can have your legs a little further away.

Avoid over depending on your towel. This is not an arm exercise, this is for your center. And just one leg may or may not straighten. It doesn't matter. Breathe in as you reach.

I'm pressing my inner thighs together. I'm pressing my knees together. If you wanna feel a little bit more lengthening in the back of the leg, you could flex there at the top, right? Inhale and exhale. (exhales sharply) And you know of course, we're gonna have to go for both legs, right?

Yes, right now. Balance. (exhales sharply) Balance. Breathing in. Maintain your composure.

I am. (Cathleen laughs) Last one. Ta da da da. Yes. And return.

Ooh. All right. Turn a little bit and bring your leg in. You can open up now your hip flexor, because I know they were working. You feel it, right?

Little bit? Of course you do. And then the other side. I love this. So convenient.

So you just have one of your buttocks there. Try to be as best you can in alignment and lift up. And you can wiggle your foot back as far as you'd like to. Sink the knee toward the floor, opening up the front of that hip. Yeah.

All right, very good. Let us roll the mat back out, and, come to standing. So, you can use your dowel to help you a little bit. I'll put it on the side here. For a little bit of balance, okay?

We are not going to step to the top, we'll just be coming to the lower step. If you're very tall and you're very secure, of course, go for it. Go for the top step, right? This one you see how my shin will touch the top step a little bit. So that's fine, it's very helpful actually.

I'm going to take my left leg back, have my left hand on my hip, hinge forward and come down. As I do this, I'm shifting my weight and firing up my right leg, the one that's on the chair or on the stool. Okay? Because I have to feel that weight transfer. Fire up the entire back line of the leg of the foot that's on the floor.

Keep shifting. Yeah, and hug your midline. Even this is balance challenge, believe me. One more. Change sides.

I like to have my assistance. Oh, by the way too, if I didn't mention this earlier, up and down with the inhale, you can use a curtain rod, a fairly heavy duty curtain rod. You could use a cane. You could also use an umbrella, or you could use nothing, right? But feel that weight shift.

Up and down and up and down. And we'll do one more here, and lower, okay? Bring your left foot down, put that right foot back up. All righty. Now, what am I gonna do here?

I'm just gonna shift a little bit forward. I'm not actually gonna stand up. All right. So from here, I have my left arm to the side. That same little push off through the heel, you lift and come back down.

You lift and come back down. You lift. If you like to bend the back knee, you can do that. All right. You might get a little bit huffy puffy that's okay.

That's a good thing. Fire up that right buttock. And shift, and lower. Shift and lower. Four more, shift and lower.

Feel that knee right over your toe, you see how that front step kind of helps me? Yep, one more. Shift. Whoa. Yeah, baby.

Other side. You know how you talk out loud to those exercise video people? (Cathleen laughs) Go ahead. Yeah, you can do it now. All right.

Organize and shift. Whoops. And Lord, that wasn't very good one, care girl. Let's go. Shift and lower.

Shift and lower. Feel that weight transfer forward. And lower. Shift and lower. What's happening with your shoulder blades?

Are you breathing? Shift and bend. Shift and bend. Shift, push up, use that butt. A couple more here.

And then, we have four, and three, and two, and one. Ta-da. Yes. Now this is kind of fun. I think it's kind of fun.

It's not really Pilates, but it's fun and it's fitness and it's balance. So you have your object in front of you, okay? And hopefully it's not too tall because you're just gonna, whoop, do that. Whoop, do that. Whoop, do that.

Whoop and over up, and over up, and over up, and over up, (laughs) and over up. And over, that was a cheat, wasn't it? And over up, and over up, and over. What about the other direction? Yeah, so that means this and back.

And over and back, and over, and over. Okay, I'm getting all mixed up here, but who cares? (Cathleen laughs) (dowel clattering) Don't do that. Let's keep going. Up, (dowel clattering) and over. (laughs) Up and over.

Do you see how you have to kind of do your leg and the timing in your hand? You got to watch a camera and you got to watch the cane and the stick. Oh, my goodness. Ha, all righty. Let us finish this out.

Inhale, lift up. (inhales deeply) Exhale, bend. Actually separate your feet. Roll it around. Bring it up.

And, (exhales sharply) and around. Oh, boy. (exhales sharply) When I practiced that, I could hit them all, you know? But of course I wasn't talking through the whole thing. (exhales sharply) Take it around.

Oh, my goodness, lovely. (exhales sharply) Let's do one more rotation. (exhales sharply) And around, okay? And our final move, I promise is to bring those arms up. Come close enough to your step stool.

Bow your head, you're doing that roll down. Soften your knees, okay? Find your chair, elbows move into that beautiful arching back. Soften the knees and the elbows. Roll.

(exhales sharply) Inhale, exhale, change. (exhales sharply) Inhale, exhale, change. Press into your feet. One more. (exhales sharply) And we'll be rolling up.

So organize on your legs. Roll up everybody, breathe in, lift up your arms. (inhales deeply) Open to the side. (exhales sharply) Support your lower back. Lift up that chest, press your elbows together.

Hallelujah, and come all the way up. Okay, my friends, that is your step into fitness class. I hope you enjoyed that and you've got some ideas, and get creative. There's lots of props in your home that you never even thought that you could use, and they're handy and free. See you next time.


Lovely energy and explanations. Thank you Cathleen
Cathleen Murakami
Dawnna Wayburne ...Hi Dawnna! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It was a fun and "HOT" time filming these since it was last summer and during a heat wave....!
Lina S
1 person likes this.
A pretty creative workout. Lots of nice ideas to try out with seniors too (maybe not the leg kick over the pole...). I like your image of the periscope. Thank you!
Cathleen Murakami
Lina S thanks's fun to get going and how the creativity starts to flow...hopefully this happens for you as well and you springboard into your own creativity! Appreciate your comment
1 person likes this.
Thank you Cathleen for the fun and creative class.  I also love using household items in my virtual classes, especially for my older clients. The periscope image is a great one, I will use that if you don't mind 😉
Cathleen Murakami
lorily, please use it and thank you!

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Pilates Anytime Logo

Move With Us

Experience Pilates. Experience life.

Let's Begin