Pilates is a wonderful way to tone your body at a level that is available to just about anyone, as it is always possible to make it more or less challenging, depending on your fitness level. Unlike many of the more “traditional” moves, such as squats, which can be too difficult for some people or that can be too hard on the joints of others, Pilates can offer options that will be achievable and that will still bring on some body-tastic results.
The key is to try to do these moves a few times a week (ideally three times per week, with a day of rest in between each day that you do them), and to challenge yourself without pushing yourself too hard. Each of these moves is designed to target your core muscles, including your abs, back, and obliques. This will help to promote healthy, lean muscles and improved toning.
- The Roll-Back – equipment needed: Pilates ball, yoga mat – Sit with your legs in front of you, bent at the knee. Set the Pilates ball behind you at the very base of your spine, and lean back against it with your arms extended straight out in front of you. Your palms should be facing down and your core muscles should be engaged. Don’t forget to breathe in the following pattern: inhale as you open your arms out to the side and exhale as you bring them back together again. If this is too challenging, rest your feet down lightly on the mat, keeping your abs engaged, and repeat the same steps until you can build up your core strength. Aim for 5 to 15 reps.
- Double-Leg Extension –equipment needed: Pilates block, yoga mat – Lie flat on your back with a yoga block beneath the base of your spine at the level of your tailbone. Bring your legs up with your knees bent, raising them toward your chest. Leave your arms relaxed at your sides. Don’t forget to breathe in the following pattern: inhale as you extend your legs and raise them up on a diagonal. Exhale as you bend your knees and lower your legs back toward your chest. If this is too challenging, raise your legs so that they are straight up in the air, instead of extended diagonally. Aim for 5 to 15 reps.
As you build more strength, choose the more challenging version and then increase the number of reps that you complete.