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Movement Monday: A Deep Dive into the Pilates One-Leg Circle.

Preparation for One-Leg Circle in a Pilates session, showcasing the focus on technique and alignment before engaging in slow, precise leg circling
Malcolm demonstrating the initial position for the One-Leg Circle, emphasising the importance of pelvic stability and controlled leg movements.

Happy Movement Monday to all my fellow Pilates teachers! Today, we're zoning in on an integral part of our repertoire: the One-Leg Circle. This exercise is a cornerstone in our practice, offering a rich landscape of benefits and challenges. Whether our client is a seasoned dancer with pelvis mobility to spare or someone working through the stiffness of a sedentary lifestyle, the One-Leg Circle adapts to address their unique needs.

The Dual Faces of the Pilates One-Leg Circle

At its core, the One-Leg Circle is a study in balance—between mobility and stability, dynamic energy and controlled precision. For our clients graced with an abundance of mobility, particularly in the pelvic region, the exercise serves as a grounding force. It teaches the pelvis to find stability amidst fluidity, anchoring the body as the leg dances through the air.

Conversely, clients encountering restrictions in their movement or battling the tension in an overactive psoas muscle face a different set of challenges. Here, the One-Leg Circle transitions into a tool for liberation, encouraging the pelvis to soften and the leg to carve wider arcs through space, all while fostering a more harmonious relationship with mobility.

Navigating Challenges: The Overactive Psoas

The psoas muscle, pivotal in leg movements and pelvic stability, can sometimes assert itself a bit too vigorously. When the psoas decides to take centre stage, it can overshadow the symphony of muscles working together in harmony. This is where the One-Leg Circle, performed with thoughtful modifications, can truly shine.

Incorporating a stability board into the exercise offers a tangible solution. Placing the leg on the board with the knee flexed transforms the experience, subtly shifting the exercise’s emphasis. This modification can temper the psoas's enthusiasm, bringing it back into balance with the rest of the body’s musculature.

Embracing Slow Movement for Mastery

Traditionally, the One-Leg Circle was performed with a certain dynamism, a reflection of the exercise's roots in the robust physicality of its early practitioners. However, as we've evolved in our understanding and teaching of Pilates, the value of slowing down has become ever more apparent. Today, we advocate for a paced, deliberate approach to the One-Leg Circle.

Slowing down the movement does not diminish its power; rather, it amplifies it. It allows both teacher and client to focus deeply on the precision of technique, ensuring that each nuance of the movement serves its intended purpose. This methodical approach not only enhances the exercise's benefits but also heightens the practitioner's awareness of their body in space and in motion.


The One-Leg Circle, with its duality of focus on either stability or mobility, reminds us of the adaptability at the heart of Pilates. As teachers, we're tasked with the delightful challenge of tailoring this classic exercise to meet the needs of our diverse clientele. Whether through modifications or a shift in tempo, our goal remains the same: to guide our clients towards a deeper understanding of their bodies and towards the joy of movement that Pilates brings. Let's carry this spirit forward, not just on Movement Monday but every day, in every session.

Here's to a week filled with meaningful movements and discoveries. May your teaching be as enriching for you as it is for your clients.

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