I am a big fan of yoga and pilates. I also enjoy aerobic walking, but just can't seem to get into running, no matter how hard I try. Running jars my bad knee too much, and is super painful, so I stick with yoga and pilates, because they are much lower impact workouts, but deliver awesome results.
Pilates is my #1 choice for workouts. Pilates is a system of exercises, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness. In just 20 minutes a day, I am able to work all of the muscles of my body, in concentrated effort, which strengthens, lengthens, and tones. Pilates exercises often target the abs, legs, upper to lower back, and the arms. I thought I would share some of my favorite pilates exercises with you, to show you which ones work for me, and give me the best results.
This is a great way to warm up the body for a pilates workout. Bridging helps to strengthen and tone the legs, behind, and the core. This is a great exercise to come back to if at any point in a pilates workout, you feel you're unable to complete the movement.
Pilates Roll Up
One pilates roll up equals about six crunches. Yeah- I'd rather do the roll-ups! 10 reps would equal 60 crunches! Just do a few of these every day, and your abs will thank you! If you aren't able to roll up with your legs on the floor and toes pointed, bring your knees up, with your feet on the floor- it's an easier movement, and the results will still be awesome!
With one leg on the floor, and one leg straight up in the air, slowly move the leg in a circular motion- first crossing the leg over your body, down, and back up. After about ten reps, swing the leg to the outside of your mat, bring it back over, and up. The trick on these is to keep the rest of your body very still, so it's just the leg moving. This will work your leg, behind, and your core. Switch legs, and repeat the sequence.
Rolling Like a Ball
This exercise really tests your balance. At the front of your mat, sit square on your behind, and bring bent legs into the air, hugging your shins, or with hands behind the knees. Keeping your gaze down, roll back, until the weight of the body rests just between the shoulders. Roll back up, but come back to the balance point on your behind, without letting your feet touch the floor.
Keeping your feet on the floor, sitting upright with your arms stretched out to the sides, twist your body (top half only) to one side, reaching one hand to the outside of the ankle, and reaching the back arm back- away from the body. Repeat on the other side.
Lie down on your stomach, and lift your head, arms and legs up off the ground. Paddle the arms and kick the legs, like you're swimming- slowly counting down from twenty. This helps strengthen the back and shoulders while working the core, arms and legs.
As with any workout, it is important to stretch. This is one of my favorite pilates stretches. Lying on your back, stretch the arms out to the sides. Bring the knees together, and take them over to one side, head moves to the opposite direction from the knees. Lay in this position, and breathe in and out, slowly. Carefully take the knees to the other side, and move the head to the opposite side, as well. This stretch helps open up the back, and is a great stretch to do, no matter what type of workout you prefer.
YouTube has a ton of great Pilates workouts for beginners. Just choose one to start with, and work your way up. You can easily build onto a short workout with another one- but you definitely want to start slowly. You should begin to see visible results within a couple of weeks.
Much like yoga, pilates sort of becomes part of your lifestyle, and after you've been practicing it for a while, your body will crave it, and you will want to do it. Trust me when I say you will love the results, and it is well worth sticking with. If you're wanting to get your body ready for swimsuit season, definitely give pilates a go!
You can have your pie and lattes if you do pilates!
Looking forward to adding this awesome tank to my active wear collection!
If you feel you're able to, I hope you'll give Pilates a try. Definitely consult your doctor if you have questions, and if at an point any workout feels painful or uncomfortable, you should stop. Do what's right for you, and listen to your body.
Here's to your good health!