PilatesPlus Blog

Calisthenics for Beginners

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Date Updated: December 26, 2020

What is Calisthenics

Known also as bodyweight training, these are exercises that are done using mostly your own bodyweight or minimal equipment. If you’ve ever taken up any kind of workout, then chances are you’ve done some form of callisthenics or other, like pushups, squats, and crunches.

These days you won’t see many Singapore gyms offering callisthenics classes straight up as they’re not as trendy as the likes of HIIT, Functional Training, or boxing. What many people don’t know is that callisthenicss conditioning exercises are a great way to build the strength and stamina needed for high-intensity complex movements.

Callisthenics is the perfect workout for people who are only starting to get into a fitness regimen. At Pilates Plus, in particular, we recommend callisthenics as a complementary class to our Pilates for Beginners sessions. No special skills are required to perform these exercises, and they can be adjusted easily to your strength and fitness levels. What’s more, once you’ve learned how to do them properly, you can do callisthenics just about anywhere, anytime.

Callisthenics Benefits

If your goal is to develop muscle mass like that of a bodybuilder, then callisthenics is a good supplementary exercise for weight training, which should be your main workout. But if you’re aiming for a limber and toned physique, then callisthenics would suit you fine.

Callisthenics exercises help you build a fit and strong upper and lower body, and core. With these simple and natural movements, you’ll be able to: 

  • Improve your flexibility
  • Enhance your range of motion
  • Maintain good form
  • Develop your aerobic capacity
  • Tone and strengthen your muscles
  • Gain flexibility on your hips and lower body
  • Get in shape or cross-train for a sport/competition

Step-by-Step Guide to Calisthenics

Although it’s ideal for beginners, callisthenicscalisthenics are a go-to complementary workout for seasoned gym-goers, bodybuilders, and exercise buffs. That’s because these exercises are an effective way to work out your entire body, improve strength, stability, and mobility to help you perform better not just in your sport or workout of choice but in your daily tasks and everyday routine.

Pushups Get down on all fours but place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Extend your legs and hold your body up into plank position using your arms. Lower your body until your chest is nearly touching the floor. Pause, push yourself back up, and repeat. torso—pectorals, triceps, anterior deltoid
Squats Stand up straight with your toes facing forward, but place your feet slightly wider than the hips. Clasp your hands over your chest for balance and thrust your hips backwards. Then bend your knees and go down as low as you can while keeping your back in a neutral position. thighs/quadriceps
Bench Dips Sit down on a stable bench with your hands placed next to your thighs. Extend your legs and lift your backside off the bench with your arms supporting your body. Bend your elbows to lower your body so your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Push yourself up with your palms. Repeat. upper arms/triceps
Calf Raises Stand up straight then raise your heels off the floor by pushing through the balls of your feet until you’re on your toes. Hold it, get back down slowly, then repeat. calves and ankles
Crunches Lay down with your back flat on the ground, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and feet planted on the floor. Cross your hands over your chest and bend your head slightly toward your chest. Contracting your core, push yourself up until your chest touches your knees. abdominal muscles: trunk, pelvis, obliques
Lunges Stand up straight then step forward so one leg is at a 90-degree angle to your body. Slowly sink into a lunge until the back knee is a few inches off the ground. Switch legs and repeat. thighs/quadriceps
Burpees (1) Get into a squat position. (2) Lower your hands to the floor. (3) With your hands supporting your weight, kickbackkick back so you’re on your hands and toes, and in a pushup position. (4) Do a frog kick by jumping back into your starting position. (5) Stand up and reach over your head. (6) Jump up and land back down with your knees bent, then get into a squat position and start over. chest, arms, quads, glutes, abs, hamstrings
Chin Ups Stand in front of an exercise bar. Grasp the bar from underneath—in a tight grip and with your arms slightly closer together. Pull yourself up using your biceps so that your head goes up over the bar. Repeat. back muscles
Mountain Climbers Start in plank position—shoulders directly over your hands and wrists; with your spine in a neutral position. Work your core to lift the right knee and bring it toward your elbow as close as you can. Move the right knee back to starting position while driving the left knee toward your left elbow, then back to starting position. Think of it like you’re running in place but in a plank position. deltoids, biceps, triceps, abdominals, chest, obliques, quads, hamstrings

Why Pilates Plus for Calisthenics

At Pilates Plus in Singapore, callisthenics is one of our go-to methods for building the foundations of our Pilates practice. We guide our students toward achieving their fitness goals in a way that is physically and mentally suited to them. Progressing through their workouts, they gain a better appreciation of callisthenics as a way to build better functional mobility, so they can go about their lives with ease, comfort, and control.

We help you move your body better with these callisthenics class options at our studio:

  • Callisthenics Fundamentals: to help you get the basics with the right form and movements
  • Bent Arm Class: to level-up your pull-ups, dips, squats; and advance to complex variations
  • Rings Class: to work out the arms through gymnastic rings, paralettes, and floor work

Ready to get started on callisthenics? TAP HERE to register an account and after you have purchased the package we can update your class credits accordingly. A booking confirmation email will be sent after you book your session. Feel free to contact us at +65 6221-1845 for more details.

* All content (text and visuals) on this page was reviewed by Michel Velasco on December 22, 2020

Pilates Fitness for Work-Life Balance in the New Normal

Posted by on 4:01 pm in Blogs, Pilates Benefits | 0 comments


The Pilates fitness approach emerged around 100 years ago, but its principles and benefits remain relevant in today’s new normal. Joseph H. Pilates came up with a series of exercises to help injured soldiers manage their pain and restore their range of movement. This was in the early 1900s, while he was interning at a camp for Germans. He called his approach to full-body conditioning Contrology and the rest, as they say, is Pilates history.

What few people probably know is that in 1918, the Spanish flu struck and left around 50 million people dead, many between the ages of 20 and 40. Curiously enough, Joseph and everyone else who trained in Contrology was spared from the virus. It’s also interesting that they, the first-ever practitioners of Pilates, were practically quarantined inside the camp during the pandemic.

While it has been a hundred years and we’re no doubt experiencing an entirely different virus,, the context is actually rather similar to what we’re facing today. Joseph believed that most health problems in his time were due to a “modern lifestyle” that is  not much different from today’s sedentary and stress-ridden new normal. These days, we’re all still trying to cope with our changed realities, and it’s become harder to strike a work-life balance.

With this blog, we at Pilates Plus Singapore would like to encourage everyone to rebuild the work-life balance that was lost to quarantine and work-from-home arrangements. We’ve prepared some helpful tips on how to adjust and adapt while reducing stress, maximising productivity, and achieving overall body-mind balance through Pilates.

Pilates Classes | Attain Physical and Psychological Wellness with Pilates Amidst the Pandemic

Make a schedule and stick to it.

The work-from-home setup can be a double-edged sword. Some people get to work more now that there’s no travel time, while others tend to procrastinate, with the distractions of working from the comforts of home. But working from home does not mean we’re expected to work 24/7, neither does it mean taking advantage of our flexible working hours to slack off. 

Whether it’s a temporary or permanent arrangement, remote work should be conducted with professionalism. The same professionalism we’d exhibit when we show up  to an office building with our co-workers and bosses, IRL. So, it’s crucial to set a regular daily work schedule, condition ourselves to focus on tasks within that schedule and make a habit of it until it sticks. 

Set boundaries and respect them.

Just because people are always online doesn’t mean it’s okay to chat them up anytime. Like it or not, checking emails at the breakfast table eats into family time or me-time. Yes, we’re working from home, but if we’re still at it late into the night or during the weekend, it’s not exactly time well spent. So, send a clear message that your day is done. Turn off work notifications on your devices when you clock out and put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ to get a good night’s sleep.

It’s essential to draw a line between social and professional interactions, even if it’s mostly over the internet. The same goes for our physical workspace even when we’re working remote. So, if you’re doing office work in the living room, make it off-limits to other members of the household during work hours. When your office is also your home, it helps to have a designated space where you won’t be disturbed until it’s time to “go home,” even if it means just moving to the dining room.

Be fit, get healthy, and sustain it.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the events of the past months, it’s that everyone is susceptible to disease. We’ve seen firsthand how a robust immune system could spell the difference between life and death and why taking care of our health should be a matter of utmost importance. So practice mindfulness, find an outlet to release stress and take control of your mental health.

Pilates is not just a physical exercise, it is about achieving mind-and-body harmony. It’s not a simple collection of repetitive standalone movements like the usual workouts we do at the gym. Pilates is a sequence of exercises, each flowing to the next in purposeful succession. It strengthens the body and, at the same time, disciplines the mind so we can take on our daily tasks with vim, vigour, and vitality.

Why Pilates?

Pilates is a mind-body exercise that involves controlled movement, posture, and breathing. Its purpose is to tone the body, develop flexibility, and strike an overall mind-body balance. The principles behind Pilates are consistent with fitness programs that focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the postural muscles, which are effective in preventing and reducing back pain.

Unlike weight training, strength- and resistance-building regimens like Pilates won’t bulk you up and make you look buff like bodybuilders. What Pilates does is tone your muscles, reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories efficiently in the process. 

Likewise, Pilates is a versatile fitness program that appeals to beginners and seasoned fitness buffs alike. The exercises are intended to progressively warm the body up, challenge it with exertion, and then cool it down gradually. For maximum benefit, Pilates workouts should be done in its entirety with as much consistency and fluidity as possible.

Each exercise must be executed in the exact sequence and the designated number of repetitions before moving onto the next exercise. The intent to complete the series is as important as the exercises itself. Working up the intention to complete the exercises is an internal process, which builds up into a habit over time and, in the process, helps maintain mental fitness.

So shake off the stress and stretch away the sluggishness. Slim down, shape up, and do more with these PILATES GROUP CLASSES:

  • Pilates Matwork
  • Strength Pilates
  • Hand Balancing
  • Callisthenics Straight Arm
  • Callisthenics Bent Arm
  • Deep Stretch
  • Organic Strength

So, what does it take to get to adopt a healthy lifestyle that will help you thrive in the new normal? Get fit, be healthy, be mindful of your emotional state and learn how to master your impulses. At Pilates Plus Singapore, it’s not just a matter of taking classes, it’s about embarking on a journey to health and joyfulness, with our certified trainers as your guide.

Make Pilates your new fitness program and body-mind workout.


PILATES vs CARDIO: What works for you?

Posted by on 6:37 pm in Pilates Exercise | 0 comments


Generally, a cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is any exercise or fitness activity that ups your heart rate and gets your heartbeat racing. Cardio exercises involve large muscle movement, working out over a sustained period to keep the heart rate to at least half of its maximum level.

Having a strong and healthy cardio-vascular system means that your cells burn more fat for a sustained period, even when you’re inactive. This is because cardio workouts trigger capillaries to deliver more oxygen to the cells in your muscles.

Strength training, also known as resistance training, works out the muscles using your own body weight or a tool/item/apparatus that provides resistance, like a dumbbell or weights. The goal is to increase lean muscle mass, which is great when you’re trying to lose weight.

That’s because when people are losing weight, they are losing muscles along with it. Resistance training ensures that you retain a healthy level of muscle mass. With Strength Pilates, for instance, think of a body that’s lean and long like a dancer’s instead of bulky and compact like a bodybuilder’s.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week. And that strength exercises or resistance training be included in people’s workouts at least twice per week.

How Cardio Exercises Work

Cardiovascular exercise is also called aerobic exercise, the purpose of which is to make the heart pump more oxygenated blood and deliver more oxygen to the muscles. Examples of aerobic exercises are those done with cardio machines usually at the gym, or Zumba and aerobics classes.

Cardio workouts don’t have to be like the usual workout with the reps and sets. They could be as ordinary as biking, running, swimming, walking, or dancing. Though some people prefer a more structured program like spinning classes, an hour or two on the elliptical machines, or boxing.

Overall, improving cardio fitness will make us feel fitter, more active, and less prone to stress. But there’s also a downside to a purely-cardio fitness regimen. It could lead to micro traumas in some parts—like when long-time extreme cyclists develop muscle strains or joint inflammation.

For those trying to lose weight, note that high-intensity cardio burns more fat, which is denser than carbohydrate. To burn fat, muscles need more oxygen but when you work out hard and fast, you get more out of breath, so less oxygen reaches the muscles.

How Strength Pilates Work

What Strength Pilates does is tone your muscles—and reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass, and burn calories efficiently in the process. You can start out at a pace that you’re comfortable with and do basic routines your body is strong enough to move up to the next level. 

Pilates does not over-develop some body parts and under-work others—it is a whole-body fitness regimen. With or without the Reformer and other equipment, Pilates exercises are intended to increase core strength but, at the same time, give the entire body a balanced workout.

Pilates makes full-body fitness possible by including breathing techniques and mind-wellness into the exercise program. Because it’s not as physically taxing as cardio, Pilates is great for those who are just starting out with their get-in-shape goals, people rehabilitating from an injury, and most senior citizens.

You can do Strength Pilates on a mat using weights or everyday items around the house like a chair or handy containers filled with water. These are low-impact exercises that work on the back and chest, butt and pelvis, and other core muscles you didn’t know could use a workout.

Pilates can help with back pain and body aches caused by a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Bad posture from too much sitting misaligns the spine and twists our back muscles. Strength Pilates corrects our postural alignment by progressively building up the body’s resistance and endurance.

Another goal of Strength Pilates is to enhance the body’s flexibility and improve balance, so we can move naturally with ease. It’s especially beneficial for senior citizens who are having trouble keeping steady on their legs or lifting stuff around the house.

Pilates or Cardio: Which should I choose?

As almost all physical fitness experts and the HHS suggest, an ideal exercise regimen is a combination of Pilates and cardio exercises. Pilates stretches, strengthens, and balances the body. Cardio gets the heart racing and develops the specific muscle that’s being worked out.

When deciding which fitness program to take up, it would help to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to lose weight or build strength?
  • Do I want a dancer’s body or a bodybuilder’s body?
  • Do I want to develop certain muscles only or get me some whole-body workout?
  • Do I want just a physical exercise or a body-mind wellness regimen?

The big advantage of Pilates over cardio, however, is that you’re also taught to control breathing to better handle stress. When we’re stressed, tension progresses to pain, which could weaken the immune system. So, it’s important to learn not just to move correctly but also think properly.

Why Pilates Plus?

Still having problems making up your mind? Check out our Pilates programs here at Pilates Plus in Singapore. Aside from Strength Pilates, we also have Pilates Mat and Pilates Equipment sessions, including the Reformer Plus class, a unique hybrid of Reformer and non-Reformer sessions.

Although group sessions are less expensive, we recommend taking private sessions if you’re a beginner. It’s because the essential techniques should be adjusted to suit your own needs and physical capabilities, and you have to get accustomed to the equipment.

But don’t worry, we’ve made our monthly packages accessible to all (at $345 per month, unlimited, for all classes) so everyone can join! So, if you want to see lean muscles, visible improvements to your posture, and tangible results in terms of flexibility and stability, come on in!

Whether you’re female or male, younger or older, a workout newbie or a seasoned athlete, it’s good to include Pilates in your weekly workout. With Pilates, the more you train, the better you get at your daily tasks. And as it gets to be a regular practice, body-mind balance will come naturally to you.