core power

Appears in the May 2019 issue.

Straighten and stretch with this workout from the lead instructor at Club Pilates

By Elizabeth Bejma

Because our bodies are becoming increasingly sedentary and imbalanced in the course of daily living, it’s important we move to keep our spines supple and our core strong. Pilates provides the perfect antidote to strengthen, straighten, and stretch your body.

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s. First known as “The Art of Contrology,” this low-impact, core-based workout strengthens and lengthens muscles as you perform a series of controlled movements, toning the whole body by connecting the muscles with the mind. Pilates improves posture; increases flexibility, coordination, and balance; and complements all of your regular activities to help you perform, look, and—most importantly—feel better.

GOAL Longer leaner muscles, stronger core, flexibility, and improved posture

PLAN This mini Pilates mat workout will take 15 to 20 minutes.
It can be performed daily, or at least 3 to 5 times per week.
equipment A mat; all exercises use your own body weight

The Hundreds

Lie on back, with head and shoulders off mat, legs in tabletop position. Reach arms long a few inches above the mat and pump arms vigorously up and down, while inhaling for 5 pumps and exhaling for 5 pumps. Do this 100 times (10 full breath cycles).


Lie on stomach, face down, arms overhead, with abs in and hip bones pressed into mat. Reach long through crown and gaze forward while lifting head and shoulders as you flutter arms and legs in a swimming motion for 10 to 20 counts.

Plank to Push Up

From plank position, with shoulders, elbows, and wrists aligned shoulder-width apart, lower into 3 pushups, keeping elbows close. Pike hips up and “walk” hands back towards feet, rolling up through spine to standing position. Reverse and roll down into plank position. Repeat for 3 sets.

Scissors Leg Stretch

Lie on back, with head and shoulders off mat, with legs extended like open scissors. Use hands to lightly pulse top leg twice, pulling abs in deeper
as leg comes toward the body. Keep legs as straight as possible; grab lower on leg if needed, while keeping upper body still. Switch legs and repeat for 5 to 10 sets.


Lie on back, with hands behind head and legs in tabletop. Inhale as you curl head and shoulders up, working oblique muscles as you twist left shoulder to right knee, extending left leg out. Hold for 3 counts, exhale, and twist to the opposite side without lowering upper body. Repeat 6 to 8 sets.


Sit up tall, arms reaching out to sides, with legs open just wider than hips and flexed feet. Inhale and twist tall to one side, keeping hips anchored to mat. Exhale and round forward, reaching pinkie finger to outside of pinkie toe. Repeat on other side; do 3 sets.

Kneeling Side Kicks

Kneel on right knee, with right fist on mat, left hand behind head, and left leg straight out. Draw in abs and bring the leg up, parallel to the floor. Swing the leg forward, then back, keeping abs in, glutes tight, and hips still. Repeat on other side; do 5 sets.

Illustrations by Ievgenii Volyk