Boost your energy levels and improve your flexibility with this 30-minute stretching routine

This short Pilates routine engages your whole body, boosts your mobility, and strengthens your core

A woman taking part in a Pilates practice
(Image credit: Getty / PrathanChorruangsak)

If you're not a morning person, a bit of movement first thing could improve your relationship with your alarm clock. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you need to head out on a 10K run or attempt a challenging HIIT workout in the early hours.

Instead, unfurling a yoga mat and easing into some simple stretches, like this 30-minute Pilates session from certified instructor Nicole McPherson, can be enough to wake up your body and prepare you for the day.

As well as strengthening movements, a lot of the exercises in this routine focus on increasing your mobility. Improving in this area can make your joints more robust, prevent injuries and ease aches and pains, so it's well worth your time. 

McPherson might have designed this for a quick morning boost, but there's no reason you can use this throughout the day to feel more energized and strengthen your core, especially if you follow her demonstrations to perfect your form. 

Watch Move With Nicole's 30-minute Pilates routine

To really feel the benefits, try to use a full range of motion during each of the movements. However, to avoid injury, you should never push your body to the point where a stretch feels painful. 

This Pilates practice includes a large number of core strengthening exercises. These challenge your midsection muscles to support your torso as you complete each movement, as well as powering twisting and bending motions. 

As a result, you will work your "deep core" muscles like the spine-stabilizing transversus abdominis and multifidus, as well as more visible components of the core like the internal and external obliques, and the rectus abdominis (responsible for the six-pack shape). 

To make sure you're using your core to control these movements, think about squeezing your stomach muscles to activate your mind-muscle connection, which increases your awareness of your body and the activity in the targeted muscles. 

If you're after a way to add upgrade your Pilates routines, it's worth investing in a set of the best resistance bands. These affordable, portable bands are a great alternative to weights and perfect for this resistance band ab workout

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.