Pilates is for everyone. The movements allow you to safely and effectively move at your own pace and fitness level. The exercises focus on elongating and strengthening your bigger muscles and the deep intricate ones as well. This is why Pilates is so great for posture, core strength, muscle definition, circulation, sleep, energy, and ... the list goes on! Here are a few moves to incorporate into your daily fitness routine — get ready to improve muscle tone and flexibility and feel great.
1. The Hundred
Lie on your back, knees into chest. Curl your head and chest up and extend legs out to a 45-degree angle, arms reaching long by sides.
Begin pumping arms up and down (about 3 inches in range). Inhale for five counts, exhale for five counts. Repeat this 10 times.
Tip: Make sure to gaze at your abdominals — this will keep your neck in the proper place and keep it from taking too much heat.
2. Single Leg Circles
Lie on back, one leg flat on mat and the other leg reaching up toward ceiling. Trace a circle on the ceiling with your toes, five times in one direction. Switch legs and repeat.
Tip: Keep circles the size of the box of your body — no wider than your hips. This will keep your abdominals in charge and not go into your hips or back. This is a great way to get much needed rotation work in hip joints from a safe and stable place.
3. Criss Cross
Knees into chest, curl your head and chest up and stack hands palm over palm behind head, elbows wide to the side. Extend one leg out to 45 degrees.
Twist your body toward your bent leg, deepening abdominals. Switch legs and twist toward the other leg. Repeat 10 times.
Tip: Keep those elbows wide and keep chest up high the entire time; make that core work from the first twist until the last! This bicycling movement is a fantastic way to strengthen the deep transverse abdominal muscles — this will not only cinch and define your waist but help improve posture and support the lower back.
Sit up tall with knees bent and legs stacked on top of each other. The hand closest to the legs wraps around the ankle; the other arm reaches up toward the ceiling, resting against your ear.
Take a deep inhale and lift your spine up tall. Exhale; lengthen body out over legs. Inhale; draw body back upright. Exhale; deepen abdominals and sit even taller.
Tip: Try to keep both hips anchored to the mat. This will help lengthen the entire side body. We so often forget to stretch and lengthen our obliques and side body. Giving a little love to this part of our body is key in relieving tension and tightness.
Prop your body up on your forearms (elbows and fists shoulder-distance apart making the number 11). Imagine you are dragging your shoulders down your back to engage the lats. Deepen your abdominals in and up along spine. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Tip: This is a full-body exercise, so focus on relaxing your throat and neck, keeping those shoulders down, and scooping your abdominals in and up along your spine. Also, deep breaths! This is one of the most effective full-body exercises you can do! Incorporating this into your daily routine in a great way of challenging and strengthening your arms, back, abdominals, and even cardiovascular health.