Is This the Hardest Move in Pilates?

Photos: Alice Keeney
Mat Pilates has a reputation for being a rather low-key workout—you know, the kind you do when you’re on your lunch break and don't have time to shower. But if you want to turn up the intensity on your next floor routine, the one move you need to try is the boomerang—just make sure you've got some dry shampoo at the ready.

Never heard of it before? That’s because most instructors don’t even teach the boomerang in group classes, reserving it for only their most seasoned one-on-one clients. (Yes, it’s that hard to pull off.)

The posture's a mash-up of two moves most Pilates students are familiar with: the roll-over and the teaser. But gracefully flowing through them both requires even more strength and flexibility than either one alone, particularly in the back muscles and abs.

“Unless you have an incredible amount of coordination, stability, and core control, this is going to be an extremely hard exercise to do.”

“Unless you have an incredible amount of coordination, stability, and core control, this is going to be an extremely hard exercise to do,” warns Jennie Brooks, owner of Charleston, SC Pilates hotspot (with arguably the prettiest view of the city) Longevity Fitness. (If you're looking for even more of a challenge, check out our list of hardest Pilates moves!)

In other words, the boomerang isn’t for everyone, particularly if you’re pregnant or have osteoporosis, back issues, or a neck injury. But for those who are up for the challenge, Brooks swears it’s one of the most liberating movements Pilates has to offer—not to mention that it’ll give you killer posture, long and strong legs, and a rock-solid core.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to pulling off this Pilates power move.

Photos: Alice Keeney

Step 1: Sit tall

“This exercise moves the whole body through space with a rolling, rocking motion,” explains Brooks. The key, she says, is to execute the boomerang slowly and with control to prevent injury. "You really need to know where your body is in space and where it needs to go," she stresses.

Once you've psyched yourself up, start by sitting tall on your mat, legs out in front of you, ankles crossed, and hands down by your sides.

Why crossed ankles? “The main purpose of this exercise is control, so being able to crisscross your legs adds that extra challenge," explains Brooks.

Photo: Alice Keeney

Step 2: Roll back

With a scooped belly and round back, lower yourself one vertebra at a time until you're lying flat on the floor. Immediately let your legs roll up and overhead, bringing them parallel to the mat—keeping your legs crossed—while reaching both arms forward.

Now make like Misty Copeland by crisscrossing your legs ballerina style, leaving the opposite leg on top.

Photo: Alice Keeney

Step 3: Pull up into teaser

Drawing inward with a scooped belly and round back, pull up into a V-sit (teaser) position, ankles crossed and arms lifted up overhead. If you need to modify, come into teaser from a tabletop position, knees bent.

From here, interlace your fingers behind you, arms outstretched, and lift your chest. (Hands by your sides is also fine for those with tight shoulders.)


Step 4: Lower legs—then head

Finally, slowly lower your legs down to the floor, arms reaching overhead, bringing your nose down toward your knees. Then, roll back up, bring your hands down by your sides, and do it all again. This power move takes practice but adds a unique, playful element to any routine once you learn to execute it properly, promises Brooks.

“There aren’t a ton of Pilates exercises that have a flow to them," she explains. "People have fun with it when they can do it right.” Plus, the post-workout burn the boomerang returns is exactly what'll keep you coming for more.

Once you've mastered the boomerang, see if you can conquer the hardest moves in HIIT and yoga

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