07 Jun The Top 5 Moves To Get Summer Ready
Boost your swimsuit confidence this season with these fast-fix Pilates and Xtend Barre© moves, courtesy of Flex co-founder Anna Serafinas Luk and Pilates trainer Julianna López Casares.
The best part? You can do these in your hotel room in about 15 minutes before breakfast, so no excuses these holidays:
Anna (my main tip for all these exercises is to ensure the core is fully engaged and spine lengthened – no arching in the lower back).
- The Pilates Hundred!
This sets you up for the day, so do them first thing in the morning to lift the heart rate, get the blood circulating and to improve breath control. Lie on your back, legs straight, arms by your side. Press heels and thighs together, toes in a V. Engage the core, plug your thighs into your hips and raise your V-shaped feet a few centimetres off the ground, keeping lower spine pressed firmly into the mat. Raise head neck and shoulders simultaneously and look at your toes. Pump straight arms up and down to the count of 10, 10 times (thus 100s) as you breathe in rhythm with the arms.
This Pilates-style crunch-sit-up focuses on the abdominals, with emphasis on the obliques (side abs) to target and define the waist. Lie down, knees bent to 45º , feet on the floor, the base of your skull in cupped hands, elbows out but not too wide. Keeping your lower waist flat on the mat, raise head, neck and shoulders off the mat, engage the core and angle your upper body to the right while simultaneously bringing your left knee to your nose (don’t move the entire body, just your upper torso). Lower, and then repeat on the left side, bringing your right knee to nose and so on. Throughout, do not raise lower ribs off the mat. Breathe! Do this 10 times on each side.
This is ideal for leg and gluteal muscle tone. I like to do Ballet’s 2nd position (turned out feet, or pliés: bend and straighten the knees) with relevés (standing on toes) and adding in holds for extra sculpting benefits. Standing with legs slightly more than hip-width distance and feet in a plie, I do 16 knee bends and stretches, holding on the bend; and then small pulses for 16. Hold the bend then lift and lower heels 8 times slowly. Next, hold the heels up and do 16 small pulses. Hold for 16. Feel the burn!
What I like about this is that you work your butt and core a lot. It also opens the hips and is safe for the spine. I like to do this with toes up to work the back of the legs more. Lie on your back, knees bent, ankles underneath knees so you can reach your ankles with fingers. Inhale and slowly raise hips off the ground, leading from the hip and sucking back those abs. Do not let your lower ribs rise off the mat. Keep shoulders and feet pressing into the mat (or raise the toes off, as per above advice). Keep your hips steady and aligned, ensure knees do not splay out (maybe place a block or Pilates ball between your knees) and utilise core muscles as much as possible as you hold for one breath, then lower vertebrae by vertebrae. Repeat 10 times. You can also move on to single leg bridges (straighten one leg, then the other, for 10 counts, when in high bridge position) before lowering to the start position.
Lying face down with hands next to ears, push yourself up to either hands only or modify to resting on your forearms. Keep your abs pulled right in and your upper body is in a straight line. Hold the plank, starting with 20 seconds and increasing to 1 minute. Add push ups, can modify to knees. 10 reps. Ensure the core is engaged and lower back is not arched
Want to fast track your practice and transform your body this summer? Join Flex co-founder Heather Thomas Shalabi for a two-week intensive ‘staycation’, six days a week from July 10-22. It’s like a retreat, without having to get on an airplane! For more info, visit www.flexhk.com