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Understanding the Block System® – Hip Work

‍This is the fifth article in a series on the BASI Block System by Theo van der Riet, one of three BASI principal instructors and owner of Body Intellect Pilates studio in Pretoria, South Africa. The studio is also the headquarters of BASI South Africa. An internationally-recognized BASI Pilates teacher, Theo has two bulldogs, Minimus and Maximus, and loves to ride bikes.

Traditionally the hip work in the Block System™ is introduced a few weeks into the program. This section demands awareness and an already established sense of pelvic-lumbar stabilization.


The Cadillac provides a stable platform on which hip work can be introduced. Ensure that when you teach this section that the spring load is not too much, which can pull the pelvis out of alignment and in turn incorrect muscle recruitment can occur. Minimize the effort in the arms.

Double Leg Hip Work (Bilateral Hip Work):

Down & Up Circles
Bicycle Reverse

Single Leg Hip Work (Unilateral Hip Work):

This series can be done in parallel or turn-out.

Down & Up Circles (Great assist for Mat Leg Circles)
Bicycle Reverse

Avalon Arm Chair

The Hip series is similar to that on the Cadillac, but has a very unique feature. It gives the client the opportunity to go into hip extension, a movement not encountered in the traditional hip work block.


The Reformer is an unstable base where much more control is required to move efficiently. Take great care when introducing this series to a client for the first time, especially how you put them into the straps and taking them out of it. Because of the unstable base, it is potentially dangerous. Give sufficient initial support by guiding the client’s legs till they feel comfortable and in control.

Series 1: (Bilateral Hip Work – Basic)                                         Series 2: (Bilateral Hip Work – Intermediate)

Frog                                                                                                       Down & Up Circles

Down & Up Circles                                                                           Extended Frog

Openings                                                                                             Extended Frog Reverse


Leg circles in the mat work is a wonderful introduction to hip work and hip disassociation. Although done without the support of springs, practicing it initially with a bent leg progressing to a straight leg gives the client invaluable information on hip disassociation and pelvic-lumbar stabilization.

Have fun teaching,

Theo van der Riet – Botha
BASI Pilates™ Principal Instructor

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