If you didn’t know this about me already, I am IN LOVE with my Pilates practice. Although I will never look like a graceful dancer, the movements of Pilates have been so great for all of my sports and it keeps my body pretty pain free. I understand that Pilates is not only expensive but can be intimidating for us “less flexible” types. So, I have taken a few of my favourite reformer exercises and modified them so that they can be done by anyone, anywhere. Have fun with these moves by either adding them into your current gym routine or doing them as their own workout.
The first set of movements are based on Joseph’s reformer exercises which he calls supine arms. Begin by looping a light exercise band around something stable and then lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor with your arms extended straight up to the ceiling. Keeping your spine long and stable (think about a small grape under the small of your back and as you do this movement do not lift off of or squish the grape) pull the handles down towards your hips with straight arms (you should feel something turn on in your upper abs, just below your ribcage). Return your hands back to the starting position without releasing your abs. Repeat this 10 times then add an upper body curl while still pulling the straps towards the floor.
The next movement sequence is based on Joseph’s exercise called the hundred. Keeping your upper body in the same position as the last sequence, lift your legs into a table top position (feet off the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees). Continue with the curls but up the challenge by adding in one or two legged extensions as you curl up. After 10, hold the body in a curled position with your legs straight and pulse your arms up and down 100 times while breathing. This should take 10 slow, deep breaths.
You’re not finished yet! Return back to tabletop position, still in a curl, and bend and straighten your arms and legs at the same time while keeping your upper body lifted (remember that grape is still under your spine!). After 10, keep your arms extended straight by your side and your legs reaching towards the ceiling and open and close your arms and legs until you can’t do one more (my guess is by 5 reps your abs will be on fire).
Now that you have killed your abs it is time to move onto your back and hamstrings. These exercises are based on Joseph’s bridging exercises and all you will need for this sequence is a stability ball. Place your feet on top of the ball with your hands by your side, pressing firmly into the floor. Press your heels down into the ball curling your hips and low back off the mat, one vertebrae at a time. Rise up no higher than the base of your shoulder blades before curling back down. Repeat this 5 times then on the 6th repetition hold your hips up as you roll the ball out and in 10 times. On the 10th repetition keep your legs straight on top of the ball and press your hips up towards the ceiling, and then curl down from the shoulder blades to your tailbone. Repeat 5 times before completing 10 more hamstring curls.
This next series is based on Joseph’s pulling straps exercises. Start kneeling on a matt with a cable wrapped around something stable, facing the straps. Pull the cable to your hips and while holding the cable there look over each shoulder once before bringing your head back to center and releasing the straps. Repeat twice on each side, then turn your palms to the ceiling and complete 10 bicep curls, making sure that you keep your elbows in the same position in space. Once you have finished, turn your body around so the straps are behind you and bring your arms together, with your hands at chest height, as if you are hugging a big tree. Repeat 10 times.
This last set is based on Joseph’s reformer lunges, and what you will need for this is a glider (a paper plate works fine) and a slippery floor to do the movements on. Place the glider underneath the ball of your right foot with your heel lifted. Keeping your right leg straight, bend your left leg while sliding your right leg behind you. Go as far down as you can with a flat back, reaching your butt as far back as you can. Then, press through your left foot to rise back up tall. On the tenth repetition place your hands on the floor and rise your hips up towards the ceiling attempting to straighten your leg, before sending it back. Repeat 10 times then do the same series on the left side.
And with the holidays just around the corner make sure you send me all your holiday fitness questions here.
Here is Matthew McConaughey out for a run the other day.