What is Pilates?

Strengthened core. Improved flexibility. Aligned muscles. Enhanced agility and strength. Sounds like an infomercial, right? Actually, I am talking about Pilates, one the most popular exercise systems in the country. Pilates is not only effective, but athletes, senior citizens, pregnant women, and weekend warriors alike are doing it, showing its versatility

So how can I start practicing Pilates?

Even better, you don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership- you can easily do a Pilates workout at home! With the stress of job commitments, family, school, or even those pesky neighbors, taking 30 minutes do a Pilates workout at home is a great way to gain physical fitness while relieving your stress.

Here is a full body 30-minute Pilates workout  anyone can try. Use the advanced challenges to increase the difficulty and get maximum results. But remember, try not to have too much fun and bring your mat!

5 in 30: 5 effective Pilates moves you can do in 30 minutes

1) Chest lift

a) Lay flat on your back and wrap your hands around your head. Make sure your back is fully pressed down on your mat. Lift your legs in the tabletop position (knees above hips, legs make a 90 degree angle).

b) Inhale slowly and as you exhale curl up with your head, neck ,and shoulders until your shoulders are off the mat. Hold for a few seconds. Make sure to inhale again in this position

c) Slowly exhale, and lower your body gently to the ground to the start position

Advanced Challenge: When you get into the curl up position, move your right elbow and left knee towards each other (like a crunch). Repeat with your left elbow to touch the right knee.

2) Leg circles

a) Lay flat with your back on the mat and slowly raise one leg straight up in the air. As your leg moves up towards your body exhale to increase your power.

b) Stretch your leg as far as you can. Breath in and on the exhale, slowly move your leg in a circle motion clockwise. Repeat for 30 seconds, and then move in the counterclockwise direction.

c) After one minute, slowly inhale and exhale as you lower your leg to the ground. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Advanced Challenge:  Grab a resistance band or exercise rope and place it under the balls of your feet. Grab the band/rope with your hands and as your leg moves around, resist by holding the band on the ground for added tension.

enjoy a full body workout at home

3) Swimmer

a) This time, lie on your stomach with your legs and arms straightened out. Keeping your shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms overhead and lift your bellybutton off the floor.

b) Breathe in and as you breathe out, lift your arms and legs off of the floor. Keep your face on the floor and don’t crease or move your neck! Alternative between right arm/left leg raising, and left arm/right leg raising as you continually breathe in and out.

c) Try to breathe in for 5 kicks and breathe out for 5 kicks to keep your breath steady and maintain strength.

Advanced Challenge: Hold each kick for 5 seconds, while breathing in and out. Hold weights with your hands for more resistance.

4) The Hundred

a) Lie flat on your back with your legs in tabletop position and inhale. As you exhale, bring your head up with your chin and curl up until your shoulder blades are off the floor. Stay here and inhale.

b) As you exhale, hold your abdominals firmly and extend your arms and legs forward. Your legs should reach toward the wall, and if you feel back discomfort, raise the legs higher. The more you lower your legs, the more difficult it will feel! The arms extend straight and low reaching towards the wall

c) Take 5 short breaths in and 5 breaths out. As you do this, the arms pump up and down for a total of 100 times. Keep your abs scooped- this is what makes this challenging!

Advanced Challenge: Try lowering your legs a few more inches for the added challenge.

5) Spine stretch

a) Sit up tall on your mat. Your legs are extended shoulder width apart, and feet are flexed. Inhale and extend your arms out in front of you, shoulder height.

b) Exhale as you lengthen your spine to curve forward. Your body should make a C-shape. Allow a deep release in the hips as you keep your shoulders down and reach your fingers toward your toes

c) Inhale and reach a little further to increase your stretch. Exhale and initiate your return by using the lower abdominals to bring the pelvis upright. Roll up through the spine to sitting.

Advanced Challenge: Hold an exercise ring, textbook, or 5 pound object in your hands to increase the strength component of the exercise.

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