I swapped out weights for this eight-minute Pilates core workout and it challenged my mid-body strength

Are bodyweight workouts really as effective as going to the gym?

Woman doing Pilates One Hundred exercise
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I've had a consistent routine at the gym for years, following a CrossFit based programme which involves lifting weights and high-intensity workouts.

But when I went traveling for nearly two months I didn't have access to a gym, so I decided to switch to home-based Pilates routines.

My main aim was to maintain my strength; I didn't expect to make big gains without access to weights. One routine I tried while traveling was this eight minute Pilates core workout from instructor Katy Bath.

There are four moves in the routine and the aim is to complete 10 reps of each, up to three times. Each of the exercises in this routine are completed from a hollow 'boat' position, so your abs will be engaged at all times. 

Watch Katy Bath's 8-minute Pilates workout

With Pilates workouts like this one, moving slowly and intentionally will challenge you more than rushing through reps as it will increase the time your muscles are under tension. 

That's what I did when practicing this routine. I also maximized engagement by engaging my core, squeezing my abdominal muscles and tucking in my ribcage.

This workout might not require equipment like my usual workouts, but it set my abdominal muscles on fire. This routine was so challenging that it gave me the famous Pilates "shakes" within minutes.

Regularly doing Pilates can have all kinds of benefits, including boosting your posture and coordination. 

For me, it was a useful tool for maintaining strength while I traveled, but it can't replace my full-body dumbbell workouts. Instead, I plan to use it as a finisher, to tag onto the end of a routine when I feel like my mid-body needs an extra blast.

You don't need much equipment to do Pilates at home, but having one of the best yoga mats on hand will cushion your elbows and knees from hard floors

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.