Pilates Exercises You Didn’t Know You Could Do on the Total Gym – Week 1

To all of you Pilates lovers out there and those of you who are always trying to figure out how to do a Pilates exercise on a different piece of equipment, or if you’re just curious and new to Pilates, listen up! I am going to give you two great exercises that can change your perception of what you can do on the Total Gym. Of course, there are some classic Pilates exercises that are only doable on the Reformer, but in all of my time teaching on both machines I have only run into a handful of Pilates exercises that can’t be done on the Total Gym.


The Total Gym is such a versatile machine that I feel like it encompasses more than just one classic Pilates machine. Do they feel different? Yes, of course they do. Does it take some getting used to? Yes, but don’t all things take getting used to when trying out something new? I think the more important question is, “Is it as effective”? To that question, I say YES!




Rollover with arm pulleys

  • Keep Tower on level 2, but omit if you have cervical or lower back issues
  • Take your arm pulleys and face away from the tower
  • Sit down towards the bottom of the glide board
  • Lie back and reach your arms over your head towards the tower
  • Bring your legs up and straight, feet reaching for the ceiling
  • Keep your spine neutral, knitted ribs, shoulders down and back, with a straight neck
  • Inhale and bring your arms over your head and down to the glide board by your sides
  • Exhale and contract your lower abdominals and roll your lower body up and over
  • Your legs are now parallel to your upper body and your feet are reaching for the tower and slightly apart
  • Your weight should be resting on your shoulder blades on your upper back
  • Inhale, and as you exhale start to roll down one vertebra at a time stretching your arms alongside your spine, keeping your neck straight and your back engaged with the glide board
  • When you are all the way down, take an inhale and bring your arms back up reaching towards the tower
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times

Try to remember to use your breath and your muscles, rather than your momentum to get your legs over. Always stay off your neck, keep your chin a short distance away from your chest. Keep your shoulders pinned back, keep your arms stretched and use your reach!


Rowing 1 and 2

  • Rowing #1 – You’ll need arm pulleys. You can also add a modification to the exercise by sitting cross legged
  • Holding your arm pulleys, sit in the middle to top of the glide board facing the tower.
  • Legs extended (or crossed) facing the tower and slightly opened
  • Elbows are bent and out to the sides (with your arms in a V shape), with the fists in the center of your chest
  • Sit up with shoulders, ribs and bones stacked
  • Inhale and sit/stand straight
  • Exhale, contract your lower abs as you roll back just above your tail bone
  • Chest stays elevated, legs reach for the tower (you now resemble a long slide)
  • Without moving the glide board, inhale while keeping your elbows at shoulder level, bring your hands down and out, reaching your arms out to the sides in a T shape
  • Your palms should be open, facing away from the tower
  • Exhale and start to dive as you round your spine forward over your legs
  • At the same time, you will be moving your arms back behind you reaching for the back as you clasp your fingers
  • Roll your shoulders back, opening your chest
  • Inhale, staying in a rounded position with abs contracted and legs reaching for the tower, unclasp your fingers and reach your arms out and around back towards the tower
  • Exhale start sitting up by stacking the spine and bringing your hands back to the beginning position with knuckles together and bent elbows
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times


  • Rowing #2 – On your last rep, roll yourself up and bend your elbows
  • Palms facing your face and fingers towards the ceiling
  • Arms are shoulder width apart
  • Inhale and exhale, pull back from your hips with a straight back, keeping your arms bent while pulling the arm pulleys with you
  • Inhale and start to raise your arms reaching for the ceiling as you bend forward like a waterfall, rounding over, with your arms now reaching for the floor
  • Exhale sweep your arms back in a surfer motion and clasp your hands like in rowing #1
  • Inhale and unclasp your hands and reach your arms around the tower
  • Exhale, roll up stacking your spine and bringing your arms back to your beginning position
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times and try switching up your breath, inhale and exhale.



During both exercises your legs are constantly reaching for the tower, your arms are always reaching for the walls and your abs are contracted. I hope you enjoy these 2 very classical Pilates exercises. Like always, take your time and feel what you are doing.


Look for next week for part 2 of Pilates exercises you didn’t know you could do on the Total Gym.


Until next time!

Melissa Muñiz

Melissa L. Muniz is a certified Pilates Instructor, Dance teacher, Choreographer, Actor, Model and full time Mom! She has spent over a decade traveling the world studying traditional dance such as Flamenco in Spain and cultural dance in Indonesia to name but a few. She has toured with Nickelodeon as a dance performer and actor and starred in several music videos and movies. Melissa had the opportunity to train teachers for the opening of the first Pilates Studio in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and has been working with Total Gym as a Gravity Master Trainer since 2002. She has loved the inspiration and support that Total Gym gives and lives by. Melissa now resides with her family in Atlanta GA, teaching at a Wellness Center where she infuses life, happiness and understanding of the body, to those with an open heart and mind.

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