Long Lost Pilates

Whatever happened to the days when Pilates was the hottest fitness trend out there? Those days seem forever lost in the mix of other high intensity workouts. To change up your current routine let’s revisit this effective workout and incorporate it in your weekly routine.

For those new to Pilates here is a brief background behind this workout. It was originally designed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century to rehabilitate soldiers. The idea behind performing each exercise is to keep your spine in neutral. This means when you are lying down on the floor your upper back is touching the floor, your lower back is not (it has that natural inward curve) and your hips are touching the floor. Basically, while you are doing each exercise you must maintain these natural curves in your spine. Keep your spine in this position and your abs tight to strengthen your core muscles.

Now if you are ready to re-live Pilates or try it for the first time then check out the short workout below. You can add it at the end of an existing workout or do it on its own, but either way make sure you are warmed up. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, at the end of the circuit give yourself 30 seconds of rest and then start the circuit all over again. Cycle through the circuit 3 to 4 times.

1. Crisscross

2. Single leg stretch

3. Double leg stretch

4. Roll-up

5. Single straight leg stretch

Here is a brief description of each exercise.

Crisscross – start on your back with a neutral spine and place both hands behind your head. Lift your head off the floor and lift both legs to 90 degrees. Straighten your right leg, bring your left knee into your chest, and twist at the waist as you bring your right shoulder towards your left knee. All at the same time. Exhale here, inhale back to centre, and then twist to the other side as you exhale.

Single leg stretch – start on your back with a neutral spine and lift your head off the floor. Now bring both legs to 90 degree. Inhale here, then as you exhale bring your left knee into your chest placing your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on your left ankle. Simultaneously, straighten your right leg, toes pointed. Switch sides.

Double leg stretch – start on your back with a neutral spine and lift your head off the floor. Bring both knees into your chest and hug your knees resting your hands just below your knees. Inhale here and as you exhale extend your arms and legs to 45 degrees.

Roll-up – lying on your back extend your arms over your head and legs stretched out, feet flexed. Inhale here and as you exhale bring your arms in front of your chest and lift yourself up starting with your head and shoulders until you are in a sitting position. Try to take your hands past your toes and remember to lift up using your abs. Slowly roll down to the starting position.

Single straight leg stretch – start on your back with a neutral spine and lift your head off the floor. Inhale and straighten your left leg up towards the ceiling grabbing your left calf or ankle with both hands. Simultaneously, extend your right leg out, a few inches above the floor. Exhale here and switch. Keep your toes pointed the whole time.