Photo Credit: Jade Brookbank/Photodisc/Getty Images
There’s no doubt that a complete Pilates workout has multiple benefits, like toned muscles, improved flexibility, improved posture and a rock-hard core. Brooke Siler, celebrity Pilates guru, owner of re:AB Pilates Studio in New York City and author of The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates adds that Pilates also makes you more aware of how your body reacts. “By moving in specific ways, you’ll be able to notice stress, tension, indigestion, headaches, low energy — all signs that indentify possible health issues,” she states. “So the more you practice, the more in ‘control of’ and at ease you will feel in your body.”
You can begin to reap the mind and body rewards from Pilates with just small increments throughout the day. Siler, who has worked with Kate Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Zooey Deschanel Rachel Weisz and Madonna, offers a number of moves that can easily be incorporated into your hectic routine.
The Move: Roll Up
Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and squeezed together, your feet flexed at the ankles and your arms reaching back past your ears. Inhale as you lift you head and begin rolling up, one vertebra at a time, brining your hands to meet your shins. Begin to exhale as you reach your arms across your body, trying to touch your forehead to your heads. Inhale again and reverse. Do five reps.
The Benefits: Articulates the spine, strengthens abs and inner thighs, and also stretches hamstrings
How To Sneak It In: Do the five reps each morning as you wait for the hot water to arrive in the shower
The Move: Going Up Side
Stand so that your left side is perpendicular to a set of stairs. Place your left foot up on the second step, left knee of should be facing the steps. Place your hands on your waist, inhale and step your right foot up to meet your left foot, drawing the inner thighs tightly together without turning your hips or shoulders. Exhale as you lower your right foot to the floor. Do five reps on each side.
The Benefits: Strengthens abs and thighs
How To Sneak It In: At the beginning or end of your day, when you need to release stress for 10 minutes, do a set on the stairs inside or outside of your home. (If you don’t have stairs, a yoga block will do.)
The Move: 10-Toe Spread
Standing with your feet flat on the floor, and spread all of your toes as wide as possible. Lift your heels. Hold, then release. Do this 10 times.
The Benefits: Builds strength and awareness to your feet, encouraging balance and coordination
How To Sneak It In: While brushing your teeth each morning and night
The Move: 2 x 4 Exercise
Stand with the balls of your feet on the floor or on a raised surface (like a yoga block). Lift your heels and squeeze them together, zipping your midline and placing hands behind your head for balance. Keeping heels together, bend knees deeply, opening them to the sides about shoulder-width. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your heels. Repeat three times, then reverse the sequence for three more reps.
The Benefits: Strengths inner and outer thighs, strengthens the core and promotes balance
How to Sneak It In: As you watch TV
The Move: Magic Circle Between the Knees (requires a Pilates Exercise Magic Circle exercise ring, which can be purchased online for about $20)
Sitting tall and on the edge of your couch (or bed), place the ring between your inner thighs above your knees. Fold your arms together in front of you a la “genie style” Inhale as you squeeze the circle into an oval, hold for a count of three. Exhale as you release. Repeat four more times, increasing the hold each time.
The Benefits: Strengths inner thigh muscles
How to Sneak It In: Anytime you’re sitting in your home
The Move: Tea Towel Exercise
Place a small towel under your bare feet. Sitting on the edge of your chair with your legs at a right angle from your body, place the balls of your feet on the front edge of the towel. Spread your toes as wide as possible and place them on the towel too. Pull the towel toward you by curling your toes. Repeat and continue until the towel is under your arch.
The Benefits: Same as the 10-Toe Spread, builds strength and awareness to your feet, encouraging balance and coordination. Weird but it works
How to Sneak It In: Toe it at your desk when you can take a 10-minute breather
The Move: Squats (against the wall)
Stand with your back against a wall, feet hip distance apart. Slowly slide down into a sitting position where your knees are parallel to your toes. Hold for a few seconds, then return to standing position. Repeat.
The Benefits: Strengthens leg muscles and promotes mobility
How to Sneak It In: Squat against your kitchen wall as you’re waiting for the coffee to brew
The Move: Arm Circles (against the wall holding a pair of weights)
Stand with your back against the wall — make sure your butt and shoulder blades are leaning against the wall. Squeeze heels together, then inhale slowly as your lift your arms straight ahead. Exhale as your open your arms to the sides. Bring your arms down and repeat.
The Benefits: Tones and stretches muscles in the arms and shoulders
How To Sneak It In: During a late night chat with your friend on speakerphone