Some advice: Don't judge a book by its cover and definitely don't judge a workout by its speed. The slow, controlled movements of Pilates might not look challenging, but tiny muscle pulses and complex poses (while keeping your core engaged the entire time, of course) can be deceptively intense.
That tightened core is one of the big reasons Pilates boasts so many benefits, even beyond the toning and sculpting you see on the surface. Pilates can help you improve your posture, increase your flexibility and even build endurance, all without a major spike in your heart rate, which makes it an excellent workout for de-stressing, as well.
And you don't need a ton of time to reap all these perks. This 10-minute at-home Pilates routine led by Amy Jordan, founder of Wundabar Pilates, is the regenerative workout your body needs, no equipment necessary.
Remember that bit about not judging a book by its cover? Don't judge this workout by its title, either: This routine focuses on the upper body, but Pilates uses all your muscles — so don't expect a day off for your lower half. "The great part about Pilates is that we incorporate every single body part into every single move," Jordan says.
Grab your mat and get ready to feel the burn in the most satisfying way.
Although this video only takes 10 minutes, you may want to prime your body with a few Pilates warm-up exercises, like spinal twists and shoulder shrugs.
You'll move fluidly through the following Pilates exercises for 30 seconds each, keeping your core engaged on the front and back of your body throughout, Jordan says. Pause for breathers as needed, but make sure to complete the practice all the way through to work both sides evenly.
- Long Bridge With Leg Lift: Lift and lengthen your entire body, Jordan says.
- Wundabesque (Right): Exhale as you curl your knee toward the chest, and inhale as you reach the leg long.
- Hover Leg Crossover (Right): "We're going to activate those triceps deeply by hovering the elbows off the mat," Jordan says.
- Side Bend Lift (Right): Draw the knee and elbow toward each other while maintaining length in the limbs.
- 4-Point Knee Hover: Keep your toes flat on the floor to target the deep abdominals.
- Criss-Cross Hold: Move from the hip, not the knee joint, as you tap your toes to the floor, Jordan says. If that's too much for your low back, raise both knees to tabletop position.
- Hover Leg Crossover (Left): As you start to fatigue, bring your forearms flat onto the ground.
- Side Bend Lift (Left): "The idea here is to really engage the abdominals to lift you, with the arm and shoulder," Jordan says.
- Wundabesque (Left): Move with control as you draw your leg in with your core.
- Upper-Body Jump: "Think about the ribs lifting off of the pelvis to raise, otherwise the quads are going to want to take over, and we want to make sure the whole body is working together," Jordan says.
- Child's Pose With a Rotation: Think about using your breath to separate your upper back from your lower back, she says.
To stay injury-free, don't skip the stretch portion of this workout. If you want to give your body some extra TLC as you cool down, go through several breath cycles with each rotation in Child's Pose, Jordan says.