Pilates is a challenging workout. Anyone who's not tried a session before has no idea how difficult it is to hold those demanding isometric poses while keeping your core tight.
It's certainly one of the best workouts for abs that we've ever come across. However, while it often doesn't require any kit, many dedicated Pilates studios use cabled Pilates machines that allow you to slide your legs and arms up and down the apparatus. It does look a little like a medieval rack, but don't let it fool you; it's designed to increase flexibility and tone your muscles, not to torture you. Honest.
When lockdown hit, many dedicated Pilates fans weren't able to use these sliding contraptions. Fortunately, the advent of gliders, small discs which attach to your hands or feet and glide along a hard floor, can be used to similar effect as the large pilates machines.
Pilates gliders are exactly what we'll be using with this workout from New York City studio P.volve. If you don't have sliders, don't worry—if you've got a hard floor, all you need is a couple of small towels or old t-shirts to slide your feet around on.
P.volve trainer Maeve McEwen (opens in new tab), who filmed this workout exclusively for our Instagram (opens in new tab), says: "For this workout, I'll be taking you through a strength and sculpt routine. We'll be using light hand weights, gliders and a mat if you have one."
Adding weights such as the best adjustable dumbbells to an already-dynamic pilates routine is extraordinarily effective, as you're able to hold positions with arms outstretched, using the resistance of gravity to tone muscle. The combination of dynamic sliding movements and isometric holds here is what makes Pilates so effective.
McEwen's workout focuses on long-held contractions and dynamic releases, coupled with balancing and flexibility work. Research (opens in new tab) has found core strength correlates with improved balance in adults, so working both your abs and your balance helps you concentrate on all those little muscles in your legs and core that work overtime trying to keep you upright.
The nice thing about sliding around the floor is that even though this workout is quite challenging and dynamic, it's also low-impact. Therefore, if you struggle to run or do HIIT due to pain in your knees and joints, but you're still looking for a fix to tax your muscles and get you sweaty, this Pilates workout is perfect for you. Grab your best yoga mat and get to work.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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