Total Gym Pilates Based Core Workout for Summer Abs

Summer is around the corner, so as we start to shed some clothing layers and enjoy the warm sunshine, let’s do so with confidence and some slim and trim abs thanks to the discipline of Pilates.

You might be pondering, “I’ve heard a lot about Pilates but what exactly is Pilates?” Here is the definition from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: an exercise regimen that is typically performed on a floor mat or with the use of specialized apparatus and aims to improve flexibility and stability by strengthening the muscles and especially the torso-stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and lower back. In my opinion, that’s a pretty good definition and I’ve been vehemently studying and teaching Joseph Pilates’ methods for over 14 years.

Please note the phrase I underlined above. In the beginning, Joseph Pilates’ repertoire was performed on the floor. What I love about doing his brilliant, traditional exercises on the Total Gym is we can change the floor! We can elevate the floor or even make the floor inverted. As you will see from the video, this allows us to make an advanced exercise a little easier so we can perfect our form and reap the true intended benefits of the move. Conversely, if we’re rocking’ a certain move and we want to turn up the volume to make it more challenging, we can adjust our Total Gym accordingly and get even stronger. Or, by changing the level on our Total Gym and our body position, we can target specific areas to focus on our weaknesses and bring our bodies into better balance.

That’s a bunch of words to digest so ensure you watch the video and it will make perfect sense. Speaking of which, here are the exercises you’ll learn and your core and abs will love:


This is one of Joe’s staple exercises. It truly challenges your lower abs and makes your upper abs work in an isometric contraction. The funny arm pump encourages energetic breath and forces you to stabilize your core so your torso doesn’t waiver.

Roll Ups

This exercise is traditionally done on a flat floor. In my experience of teaching 1000s of mat classes, only a small percentage of students that can execute this correctly. The Total Gym allows you to elevate the floor so you can perform the Roll-Up perfectly. As you get stronger because your form is correct, you can progress by lowering the level of your Total Gym.


The level of your Total Gym will change the dynamic and the focus of this exercise. At a higher level it will challenge your lower abs more (hello flatter tummy!) or at a lower level it will be more demanding on your upper, six pack abs.


One of my female clients stated, “Can’t we rename this ‘Hug-A-Man’? That’s better than hugging a tree!” This is a great chest and frontal shoulder strengthener and I add a half of a Roll-Up to target your abs and the spinal stabilizers of the lower and mid back.

Chest Expansion

One of my favorites as I love to pick on the muscles that improve your posture. When I see an older person (and I train many) with proper posture, they look years younger than their actual age. Conversely, when you see a person with stooped over, poor posture, they tend to look much older.

There you go Total Gym team. Get out there and enjoy your summer with the freedom to peel off those clothes to flaunt your Pilates’ derived, svelte abs!

JayDee Cutting III, MBA

JayDee Cutting III, MBA is an Educator for the American Council On Exercise and holds 12 fitness certifications including Pilates, yoga, personal training, lifestyle and weight management. JayDee is a Total Gym master trainer and spokesmodel since 2004. He lectured and taught wellness at Rancho La Puerta Fitness Spa and is featured in over 10 fitness DVDs and over 40 fitness television programs. He developed his own Coregolf Fitness Program and founded the NiceDogYoga Company. His mission statement is: “My passion is inspiring people to enhance their lives through wellness, creating healthier, happier, higher qualities of life.”

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