If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.—Joseph Pilates
Created by the physical trainer Joseph Pilates, this popular exercise series is suitable for everyone regardless of the level you're at in your fitness journey. It improves your flexibility, alignment and strength as well as your core. Don't have time to hit the gym? From the fire hydrant exercise to the clamshell exercise, you can try these pilates moves at home to tone different parts of your body.
The Letter T: Upper Back
- Lie down on your stomach with your feet together.
- Raise your head and your chest and extend your arms perpendicular to your body like you’re forming the letter T.
- While your upper body is raised, bring your arms towards your back.
- Continue this movement for five reps.
Roll Like a Ball: Spine and Abs
- Sit on your mat, with your knees bent under your chin, your toes touching the floor and your hands holding your ankles.
- Pull your abs in and rock back as you inhale.
- Exhale as you find your balance and stay in that position for two breaths.
- Rock back your shoulders, and then come forward again.
- Repeat for five reps.
Swimming: Back Muscles
- Lie on your stomach, with your arms extended overhead and your feet pointed behind you. (You don't need to be in the water to perform this move!)
- Raise your upper back (head, arms and chest) and hold.
- Inhale and exhale as you simultaneously lift your right arm and left leg and alternate to get into a swimming rhythm.
- Count slowly to 10, lifting and extending your body as much as possible.
- Sit back on your heels with your head bent down as you finish to release your lower back.
The 100: Abs
- Lie down on your back in a neutral position, with your knees above your hips, up in the air and bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Raise your arms up as you inhale.
- Lower your arms to the ground as you release your breath.
- Inhale for five breaths, and then exhale for five breaths.
- Repeat as desired.
The Double-Leg Stretch: Core, Abs and Inner Thighs
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent toward you.
- Inhale as you curl your head, neck and shoulders and extend your arms overhead as your legs extend forward.
- Exhale for one count, then bend your knees, bringing your arms around your calves.
- Repeat 10 times, keeping your upper body lifted and inner thighs pressed together.
Fire Hydrant: Glutes and Hamstrings
- Get down on all fours with your palms flat on the ground.
- Bring your right knee as close to your chest as you can.
- Keeping your knee bent, raise your right leg out to the side so that your thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Kick your right leg behind you.
- Return to your original position and repeat two sets of 15 reps, for each leg.
Clamshell Exercise: Legs, Hips and Lower Back
- Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent at a 45-degree angle.
- Rest your head on one arm and place your other hand in front of your chest.
- Use your abdominal muscles as you align your hips and shoulders vertically.
- With your feet touching, raise your upper knee as high as you can, and then open and close them like a clam. Do not move your lower leg off the floor.
- Do 20 reps on each side.
Practice these easy at-home exercises to improve your flexibility, develop your core and build endurance. All you need is a mat and your body!
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