Getting Back to Our Roots – Move of the Month – Aug17

Each month at Move Move we set ourselves a Move of the Month Challenge. Throughout the month we focus on mastering that move. Sometimes our Move of the Month is just one move, other times it maybe a series of moves. But our aim is to progress in some way.

Our move this month is a wonderful yet deceptively challenging one – the One Leg Circle.

Pilates single leg circle on mat

When I first started practising Pilates my instructor lay down on the mat, circled her leg around in the most graceful and perfect circle with such ease that I thought there was not much to this exercise and I could definitely master it with no effort at all – well was I wrong! My leg created a never seen before shape (a.k.a. a squircle) and my pelvis thought I was out dancing as it shifted all over the mat.


So why do this exercise?


The one leg circle is the perfect example of learning to stabilise the pelvis by engaging the deep muscles of the pelvic floor, back, and abdominals while mobilising the leg in the hip socket – introducing hip mobilisation and dissociation.  Hip what?


Whilst this terminology sounds very ‘science nerd’, don’t run screaming for the hills just yet, all it really means is that we are trying to teach our bodies how to move our legs in isolation to our pelvis. Why would we want to do this, you ask? It is a crucial part of having a strong and stable core. Proper core control is being able to move all your limbs freely around your centre or torso and if you can master great hip dissociation, your body will move with much better balance and agility.


The exercise:


Begin lying down on the mat with the right leg reaching to the ceiling, the left leg lengthened along the mat in line with the hip, if that is uncomfortable bend the left knee and place the foot on the mat.


  1. Inhale to take the right leg straight across the body, keeping both hips firmly on the mat. Activate the left side of the abdominals to keep the left side of the back and pelvis on the mat.
  2. Exhale and circle the leg around and back to the start position. Keep both hips and shoulders evenly weighted on the mat. Repeat 5 times and then change direction.


One Leg Circle can be performed with a theraband around the thigh or foot and if you are in the studio the foot in the spring is fabulous. For you hard-core balance fanatics out there – why not give it a try while lying on a foam roller?


The benefits of One Leg Circle:

  • It will help you get your thigh bone (femur) to rest more optimally in the socket which in turn releases muscle tension in the hips, allows our legs to move more freely in gait and increases our pelvic stability & core support.
  • Hip dissociation is a key to a healthy and happy hip joint which in turn reduces stress on the lumbar spine.
  • Hip mobilisation and dissociation is a pattern required for many activities such as walking, running and cycling.
Pilates single leg circle on cadillac

Did You Know?

  • The One Leg Circle is one of the 34 original mat based exercises developed by Joseph Pilates

    These were originally published in his 1954 book ‘Return to Life through Contrology’

  • Pilates was originally called 'Contrology'

    Yup, instead of Pilates you could be doing Contrology! But someone somewhere used the term Pilates and it stuck.

  • The springs we use today in the studio were originally bed springs!

    Well not our springs specifically! Joe Pilates started using bed springs to support and assist movement when he worked with rehab patients during his time in an internment camp in World War I. In those days bed rest was the prescribed treatment plan so he got creative!

  • Pilates or Contrology became popular with dancers in New York in the 1920s and 1930s

    Joe’s original New York studio was located near the dance studios and theatres so word spread quickly about how his methods could help dancers.

  • Modern Pilates is based on Joseph Pilates' original work, updated to include recent research in movement science

    All our instructors at Move Move are fully trained in Modern Pilates. We take the best of Joe’s original work and combine it with the latest movement research to give you the best Pilates sessions to achieve your goals.

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