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How to Do the Pilates Swimming Exercise

By Ellie Herman

The Swimming exercise in Pilates works the muscles of the back. It’s okay to feel the back working, but not straining. The Pilates Swimming exercise strengthens the muscles on the back of your body: the butt, the thighs, and the back muscles.

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1Lie flat on your belly with your arms stretched out in front of you and legs outstretched behind you.

Squeeze your inner thighs and heels together, in the Pilates First Position. If this position feels too compressive on your lower back, allow your legs to open slightly but still keep them turned out, with your heels dropped toward each other and your knees facing away from each other.

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2Breathing continuously: Pull your navel up off the mat and raise your upper back and head off the mat slightly as you simultaneously lift your right arm and your left leg off the mat.

Squeeze your butt and try to keep pressing your pubic bone down to the mat.

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3Switch arms and legs and begin an even rhythm of swimming, alternating arms and legs.

Think of reaching your arms and legs long away from yourself, extending your body as much as possible.

4Swim continuously for a total of 24 total beats (6 full breaths).

Try to complete 4 swimming beats on the exhale and 4 beats on the inhale.

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5Finish by pressing back to the rest position, sitting on your heels to release your back.

Then come up to your plank position (as if you were about to do a push-up).