Pilates has long been a favourite of those in pursuit of covetable lean, toned limbs and since spending some time with Pilates guru and Sand & Smoke PLAYER – Susanna Foustok – we can definitely see what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately busy schedules, expensive classes and intimidating equipment may mean we are not always getting in as much of this wonder exercise as we would like. However, as it turns out its not all Cadillacs and Reformers – there are some equally effective exercises that can be done from the comfort of your very own mat. Below Susanna shares some of her favourite mat-based leg exercises perfect for leaning out the thighs, strengthening the glutes and loosening tight hips. Sign us up!
FRONT / BACK.
Lie on your side with legs in an angle in front of you. You can place the top hand on the floor or have both hands behind the head for extra challenge. Keep top leg hip height and reach it as far forward as you can without moving your torso and then as far back as you can. Do two pulses forward and two back, the second pulse going further than the first. The leg should swing like a pendulum and your stomach works to keep the rest of the body still against the swing. Make sure you are not gripping with the leg but keep the leg and hips long. The bottom leg needs to work harder than the top leg, keep it strong and reaching long with the foot flexed.
UP / DOWN.
Next reach the leg straight up and flex the foot at the top. Lengthen the leg back reaching out from the hip. Keep your shoulders sliding down your back and your stomach pulling in and up to hold you still.
Circle the leg 5 times forward drawing a large circle with your big toe, then reverse.
Reach the leg slightly behind you without rolling the hips forward and do small tight circles. Keep your hips still. If you are doing the exercise correctly, you will feel a nice burn on the side of the hip. Great for toning the side glutes.
Photography by Juliet Dunne www.retrospect-photography.com. Shot PURE Pilates studio.