This standing Pilates for seniors workout is the most watched on YouTube

Scared of falling, want to feel stronger? Turn back the clock with this popular free Pilates video.

Almost four million people have watched a free Pilates video by a Brighton-based instructor – making it the most popular Pilates workout for older people on YouTube according to our research.

The gentle 30-minute standing workout by Pilates instructor Rachel Lawrence – AKA The Girl With The Pilates Mat – aims to improve balance, coordination and core strength.

So if you’re feeling wobbly on your feet, struggling to play with your grandchildren or reach for a high shelf in the kitchen, then give this a go.

A man and woman standing next to each other in a living room, dressed in t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms doing side stretchesCredit: Shutterstock /Vadym Pastukh
The popular video doesn’t require any special equipment

Lawrence told Saga Exceptional: “The video is only 30 minutes long and is a series of gentle stretches, balancing and strengthening exercises.

“People contact me almost every day to tell me how doing it regularly has changed their lives.

“For example, one woman was overjoyed that she could get down to the floor to play with her grandchildren again and another is now confident enough to carry a bag of shopping in each hand home from the shops – before, she was too scared, thinking she would trip and fall.”


What the workout involves

The session includes simple balancing exercises, ankle-strengthening exercises, stretches and arm lifts to help upper body strength.

“It’s a slow session,” she explains. “There’s a lot of foot work and ankle strengthening. This can be a big problem for older people. If your ankles get too stiff and you trip, then it’s a lot harder to save yourself from falling.

“But there’s also exercises to help your knees, hips, back and core strength, but all done in a very slow and safe way. A lot of people have commented that the workout wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be!

“Pilates is all about being able to function better in your own body to allow you to do the things you want in your life.”

Can anyone do the video?

Lawrence, who is recommended by Sport England, explains that the exercises in the video are suitable for almost anyone; however, she cautions that if you have any health concerns then speak to your doctor first. She says: “You don’t need any special equipment and if you are worried about being unsteady on your feet, then use a chair or stand by a wall to help you balance.”

In the video, Lawrence advises doing the exercises on “a nice, soft carpet” – however you could also consider an suitable exercise mat, such as the Core Balance Pilates Mat.

Featured product

Core Balance Pilates Mat, Amazon

RRP: £17.99

Core Balance Pilates Mat, Amazon

How Pilates helps older people

Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise, involving a series of movements which focuses on core strength, posture, balance and flexibility.

It was developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, who believed mental and physical health were closely connected. Since then, practising Pilates has been proven to benefit people’s wellbeing as well as general fitness, especially for older people.

Lawrence had been leading daily Pilates classes in London before the Covid pandemic struck, which inspired her to film the video.

She says: “I was really, really worried about the elderly people I was teaching in my over-65 classes. Most were over 70 and the oldest was 86. I thought, what are they going to do during lockdown?

“It was the first video I’d filmed, and I used the same exercises as I did in my classes every week, so I knew they would be safe and make a difference.”

Lawrence uploaded the video to YouTube so her clients could watch it for free and it went viral. Now she has more than 200,000 subscribers to her channel and almost 500 free videos on offer.


What else can we do to stay fit as we get older?

Saga Exceptional fitness writer and qualified personal trainer Rebecca Fuller says exercise can make a big difference to our quality of life as we get older.
“There are many benefits of exercise – including that it helps us to live longer,” she says. “Researchers have found that those who exercise can have as much as a nine-year biological advantage over those who are sedentary. It also helps lower blood pressure, improve heart health, aids weight loss and may even protect against Alzheimer’s.

Start at a level that’s right for you

“I always say that something is better than nothing, and it’s important to start at a level that’s applicable to you.” says Fuller. “Try to break up long periods of sitting with some form of movement, whether it’s just moving around the house or getting outside for a walk.

“It’s recommended that we aim for 150 minutes of physical activity a week – this can be broken up however you like.”

Great ideas for cardio exercise include swimmingwalking or cycling. You could even workout at home, following our 7 best Joe Wicks seniors workouts.

Strength training is also important, since it helps protect against the loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia). Two sessions a week is ideal, and it can take the form of using resistance bands, dumbbells or your own bodyweight.”

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her


Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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