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How to Do the Cancan Pilates Exercise

Learn how to do the cancan, an intermediate Pilates Mat exercise, from Core Pilates NYC instructor Sarah Ruback in this Howcast workout video.


This is Cancan, which follows the teaser series. Cancan is a great exercise. It involves a lot of extension of the legs, movement of the hips, and it feels really fun to do.

Now, a note of caution on that. It's great to have fun, but if you are fully extending or flailing your legs, you can actually really hurt yourself. So do try to remember to maintain your core support as you start to find these greater ranges of motion through the hips, and holding the legs in an extended position.

So to start, you'll come up to seated from the teaser position. That's it. Bring your knees together. Then reach your arms up and back behind you, and bring your hands down towards the mat. From here, lift your heels and just slide your toes in a little bit. And make sure you have a little tuck in the tailbone, just like your teaser before.

Now, with the knees together, you'll bring your knees rolling over the big toes to your left, to the right, to the left. And then extend both legs, bringing your feet into Pilates stance. Bend your knees back in parallel. Bring your knees to the right. Bring the knees to the left. To the right, and stretch the legs out. And keep going here.

So you can imagine in the Moulin Rouge, the little rainbow skirts, and then you'd kick the legs. That's the new Cancan. And extend the legs one more time, Madeline. Extend the legs long, and then bend the knees right back in, into the center.

Okay. So a modification if this is bothering your elbows. You want to be careful that you're not locking or hyperextending the elbows. However, in this exercise, to bend the elbows with the palms on the mat, that's incorrect form, because it starts to roll your shoulders together.

So instead, either go with straight arms, or lower completely down onto your forearms for a little more support. And then you can perform the exercise this way. And extend the legs out, one more time here, to the other side, and stretch the legs, then bend the knees right back in, and come up to seated.

So there's Cancan. Then after Cancan, you move into the Seal, to continue into the mat order.

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