Blog by Susan
With the summer in full gear, the buzz in our Bernardsville, NJ Pilates and yoga studio is all about travel and "get aways." But while it's great to reconnect with our families and have some much-needed R&R, our Pilates practice can sometimes suffer and fall by the way side during vacation time. We all know that dreaded feeling when we come back to our mats and can barely make it through The Hundred ("...ugh, was that only 100...it felt like 1,000...)!
Don't despair. You can have your vacation AND Pilates! Here's a 10-minute workout with 5 core fitness exercises that can be done anywhere. You don't need equipment or even much space, so the hotel room is fine. Just 8-10 reps of each exercise will be very effective. Remember, Pilates is all about quality of movement (proper form and precision), not quantity. Your body will thank you, and most likely, your mind too. Vacations are great, but they sometimes mess with our routines and healthy habits. So we end up overindulging, missing exercise and feeling sluggish. Practicing a few minutes of mind/body fitness like Pilates or yoga can do wonders to rebalance your state of being. (Your travel companions will thank you too!)
The first exercise in most classical Pilates classes, The Hundred will get your heart rate going with intense breathwork to increase circulation throughout the body for a healthy glow to your skin. It also fires up the deep stabilizing muscles of your torso for a strong and flatter tummy, while toning your upper arms.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and bring your legs to "tabletop." Lift your head, neck and shoulders (be sure to look at your navel) and lift your arms 6" off the floor, reaching past your hips. If your back permits, deepen your abdominals and extend your legs out to a 45 degree angle, and then start to pump your arms up and down just above your abdominal wall. Inhale through your nose for 5 counts, and then exhale through your mouth for 5 counts, while vigorously pumping your arms. 10 breathing reps (for a total of "100" pumps!)
Designed to increase flexibility in the spine as well as strengthen abdominal muscles, this essential core fitness exercise will help you stand up taller to give you a long, lean Pilates body!
Lying on your back with legs straight (or softly bent if your lower back is sensitive), inner thighs pressed together and feet flexed, raise your arms above your chest toward the ceiling. To prepare, take a big inhale and lift your head while lowering your arms toward your waist. As you exhale, peel your spine off the mat one vertebra at a time. Reach for your toes while pulling your waistline back toward your spine. Inhale again, and then exhale through your mouth as you roll back down onto the mat with control. 8-10 reps
This exercise is part of the infamous "Pilates Ab 5" and is sure to whittle away your waist as it focuses on strengthening and toning the Oblique muscles. Be sure to work slowly and with proper form, focusing on the rotation of the mid-spine.
Lying on your back, bring your legs to "tabletop." Place your hands behind the nape of your neck and lift your head, neck and shoulders (look at your navel). Deepening your abdominals, lift your chest higher toward your knees and then rotate to the right as you bend in your right leg in and extend your left leg on a high diagonal. Hold to the right for 3 counts, trying to get your right elbow to the back of your mat. Come back to center with both knees bent and try to curl higher toward your thighs. Now twist to the left, bending your left knee in further and extending your right leg to a 45 degree angle and reaching your left elbow to the back of your mat. Again, hold for 3 counts and then come back to center. Repeat right/left sequence 8 times without lowering your head, neck and shoulders between reps.
A familiar yoga posture, this exercise strengthens and tones the buttocks, hips and thighs making it an ideal bathing suit shape up!
Lying on your back with arms down at your sides, bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Heels should be about 12" from your sitting bones. Make sure your collarbone is "wide and open" with your shoulders away from your ears, and your gaze is at the ceiling. On an inhale, press the small of your back into the mat. Deepen your abdominal muscles as you curl your pubic bone up to the ceiling and start to articulate your spine off the mat one bone at a time. Come into a long straight line from the tips of your shoulders to your knees. Hold this position for 3 counts, and then on your exhale, roll back down your spine with control. Engage your inner thighs and press into the arches of your feet to ensure your knees don't flop open. 5-8 reps
An ultimate full-body workout, this exercise combines core stabilization with upper body challenge to quickly tone biceps, triceps, shoulders and back muscles.
Kneeling on all fours, make sure your knees are hip-distance apart and wrists are directly under shoulders. Deepen your abdominals and lengthen your right leg behind you, placing your toes onto the mat. Stabilize your torso by drawing your navel into your spine, and then extend your left leg back so you are in a "push up" position. Hold this position for 3-5 long, strong breaths, making sure your lower back doesn't "sag" and your gaze is just beyond your fingertips on the floor. Carefully lower one knee and then the other to the mat, and press back into a rest pose (child's pose in yoga). To further challenge this exercise, come back into plank position with your elbows close to your body. Lower lift your chest toward your thumbs, completing 5-8 tricep push ups (also called Pilates Push Ups). 3 reps
Be sure to finish each session standing tall, with your shoulder blades on your back and crown of the head lifted. Take a deep inhale as you reach your arms overhead, and then exhale as you lower them back to your sides. Fill yourself with a sense of accomplishment, as well as gratitude for your health and wellbeing. Then head out and enjoy your vacation!