Floorwork guide

Where to place your mat for the Floorwork exercises

In the floorwork segment of class, we work our abdominal muscles by curling up from a lying position in a variety of ways. Important points are:

• Correct execution matters in these routines, so please watch your instructor and imitate her form. If she is facing your side of the room, you will need to turn your mat 90 degrees or more to see her. If this upsets your sense of left and right, choose a position on the other side of the room. (The instructor’s verbal cues always refer to the students’ left and right.)

• Support your head with your hands during curls but do not pull on your neck. We recommend using your fingertips to make a cage around your ears. Clasping your hands behind your head or neck is more likely to result in a sore neck.

• During curls (and some other moves when cued by your instructor), keep your lower back pressed to the floor. This protects against back strain and develops your lower abs.

• Keep your eyes on the ceiling during curls, with a space the size of an orange under your chin. This ensures that your neck stays in line with your spine and that your abdominals, not your arms, lift your head and shoulders.

• Rest when you need to. Even if you can manage only one or two curls at first, you will gradually be able to do more as your abdominal muscles strengthen.

• Keep your head and shoulders lifted during routines that involve leg extensions like take-a-walk and leg pulleys. If you need a rest and want to lower your head, also stop moving your legs in order to avoid back strain.

• If curls are combined with leg extensions and you want less challenge, stop curling but keep your legs going with head and shoulders lifted. Alternatively, you may stop the leg movements and just do the curls.

• If you want a break during clam curls (curl combined with hip lift) you may stop either the curl or the hip lift, or both. In the clam curls, the legs are not extended horizontally so the potential for back strain is avoided.

If all the above seems too much to remember, don’t worry! Your instructor will guide you, so just heed her cues and copy her moves.

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