Need some Pilates exercises without a reformer?
Pilates is a great exercise regime for anyone and if you think you need a reformer in order to practice, think again! Pilates reformers tend to be intimidating to beginners, with all those straps and moving parts! The best part is, there are many exercises you can do on a mat in the comfort of your own home. These five exercises will work your core, back, hips and arms. Keep in mind that Pilates is meant to be practiced in a very slow and controlled manner with the focus on the breath. The core should always be engaged and close attention to muscle contractions will benefit you in the long run. Extra credit if you have a yoga block and straps, but they aren’t mandatory.
So here are some of the best Pilates exercises without a reformer.
1. Core - Toe Taps
Start by lying face up on your mat with a neutral spine, your knees bent and feet flat. Exhale and slowly bring your legs one at a time up to chair position, knees bent at 90 degrees. On each exhale, tap one toe to the mat, alternating with each rep, only going as low as your body allows without creating an arch in the lower back. As you inhale, bring the leg one at a time back to chair position. Do 10 reps on each side and you have one of the best Pilates exercises without a reformer.
2. Back - T Press
Lie face down on your mat with your arms out and lined up with your shoulders in the shape of the letter T. Slowly bring your arms up as you reach your head, neck and shoulders forward and up into a slight arch. Reach your arms back to your hips as you slowly increase that arch. Lower your torso and your arms down to the starting position, at your sides. Do this for a total of 8 reps.
3. Hips and Glutes - Bridge with a Leg Lift
Start by lying face up with your knees bent, feet flat and hip-width apart. Dig your heels into the ground while maintaining a neutral spine, as your hips lift up to the sky. Extend your right leg up, pressing your left heel into the ground. Lower your right leg down, making sure to keep your pelvis lifted. Repeat this 7 more times, then switch sides.
4. Arms - Arm Circles
If you want to make this a little more challenging, you can use either a light set of dumbbells (2-5 lbs.) or if you don’t have those handy, you can use two water bottles. To make it easier, lose the weights. Stand with or without a weight in each hand and your arms to your sides. Reach both arms out to form the letter T, keeping your spine straight and shoulders held high. Circle your arms clockwise 8 times, then circle them counterclockwise for another 8 reps.
5. Cool down
Like yoga, Pilates practice is big on a cool down to complete all workouts. Find a comfortable position lying down on your mat, face up with your arms to your sides. Bring your knees to your chest and slowly rock back and forth to loosen the lower back. You can also incorporate some side stretches, bringing your legs to one side and your arms to the opposite side. Use this time to stretch any part of your body that might feel tight or need extra attention at that moment.