By Chrissy Fink
One of the benefits of Pilates (other than the long, lean muscles and killer core strength that not only perfects your posture but also protects your lower back from injury – as if these were reasons enough!) is that anyone can literally do it anywhere. No matter your fitness level, flexibility, access to a gym or budget, you can incorporate these Pilates moves into your day. So, find some empty floor space (alright, we guess hoarders are potentially exempt from the “anyone, anywhere” rule, but you get the idea!) and get started with Pilates. You don’t even need sneakers! You’ll develop your core strength, increase your balance and boost both your flexibility and endurance!
Single Leg Circles. Lying flat on your back, legs straight out in front of you and your stomach pulled in and up, raise your right leg up to the ceiling with your toe pointed. Straighten both legs as much possible (this will depend largely on the flexibility of your hamstring in your raised leg). Place hands by your sides with your fingertips pointed towards your toes. Keeping your arms actively engaged (by pressing them into the mat to help you stabilize while working the small muscles in your arms), draw circles on the ceiling with your pointed foot. Make sure your left leg remains straight and steady with a flexed foot. The circles should be small, making sure to just move your leg (your hips should remain still). Engage your abs throughout the exercise. Do 10 leg circles clockwise before switching to do 10 counterclockwise. Switch legs and repeat.
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Double Leg Stretch. Start lying on your back with your shoulders lifted into a crunch. Keeping your abs pulled in, bring your knees up into your chest with your hands on your shins (lightly pulling in your legs), in a hug-like position. Slowly extend your legs straight out at a 45-degree angle with your toes pointed as you bring your arms straight over your head, making sure to keep your stomach pulled in and your lower back on the ground. Ideally, your body will look like a wide “V” in this position. Although, depending on your abdominal strength and hamstring flexibility, your legs may not extend completely or be able to go to a 45-degree angle so adjust accordingly, that’s just the goal. Return to the starting position and repeat, flowing through the movement. Slow and steady is the name of this game.
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Crisscross. Begin laying on your back with your feet in table-top position (shins parallel to the ground making a “table-top,” knees bents at 90-degrees, knees over hips). Put your hands behind your head and lift into a crunch position, keeping your stomach in and engaged. Lift up higher and twist to the right trying to bring you left armpit towards your right knee as you extend your left leg out in front of you. Don’t allow your right knew to come in closer than your hips. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side. Aim for 10 on each side. Note: while these look like the fast bicycle crunches you may have seen (or done) at the gym, these should be slow and precise and your knees should never come in towards your elbow, rather bring your armpit up towards your knee (again, it’s the goal, don’t worry if you’re not there).
Whether you’re a runner, spinning enthusiast, yogi or new to fitness, Pilates is a great addition to your current workout routine. We promise you’ll love the results!