Our “Joe’s Gems” blogs are a look into the extraordinary repertoire that Joseph Pilates left us. The Pilates Method is more than an exercise regime; it is a way to good health and a happy life, and these Gems from Joe are a big part of the process.

Another Joe Pilates quote that teaches us about his intention for the work is, “The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power”.

Oh so true. I would add that a healthful body is also a strong body and that feeling and being strong is at the heart of the Pilates Method. Never at the expense of balanced muscle development and flexibility, but strength cannot be underestimated in the realms of health.

This signature exercise of Joe’s is a whole body exercise that combines deep circulation, internal cleansing, and strength in bucket loads.

The Hundred


Joseph Pilates signature exercise The Hundred

This is an extraordinary exercise that integrates every last little bit of the body, both internally and externally, from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head and everywhere else. The Hundred never gets easier – it just gets better. Ask any long term Pilates devotee and you will find they are still working on their Hundred. It’s a perpetual work in progress that keeps you improving. Joe said when you did the Hundred, you started with your legs 2 inches off the floor.

If you could only do 10 repetitions, that’s all you did that day….until you could do 11.  Sally A

Great for…

Increasing circulation of blood and oxygem around the body, increasing lung and breath capacity, stimulating the lymphatic system and expelling toxins, strengthening abdominals, working the arms and legs, releasing the shoulder joints … and an all over workout in one set of 100. It is a mighty exercise!

Why and How…

Joe used the Hundred as a warm up – boy, does it warm you up!!…and as an essential exercise in his Contrology system in various places and on various apparatus as well as the mat. It is designed to keep you working inside and out for 100 beats – around about 100 seconds, so endurance is also a feature. Once you can do the ten sets of ten beats, not only will you keep working on improving your form but you can then change up the breath patterns to focus on expanding the inhale or the exhale, and highlight different benefits with the variations.

To do the Hundred start lying on your back on your mat with your arms beside you. As you chest lift into position with the upper body, lift your legs to eyeline and your arms to just above your thighs. In this position pump your arms up and down 5 times over an inhale then 5 times over an exhale. This is one set of ten beats. You will aim to do 10 sets of 10 beats, holding this position with the abdominals deep and legs extended – no strain in your back or neck.

There are ways to modify the exercise while you learn it, so that you don’t strain. Bend your knees or bring your legs up higher, or support your head and shoulders. Always keep yourself safe. But, if you can do one set in the Hundred position, then do it. And build up from there.

It really does take time to do properly so work at it in stages. You will be getting all the health and strength benefits as you progress. Learn to enjoy your Hundred!