For years, I believed the myth that the only sign of an effective workout is if it leaves you breathless and dripping in sweat. For sure, there are benefits to high-intensity training, but it's not the only way to exercise.
I regularly do CrossFit workouts and I always leave feeling great, but I definitely struggle with the idea of slowing things down or having a more restful, mindful session instead.
That's part of the appeal of Pilates, which uses small, controlled movements to trigger big benefits such as improved strength, balance and coordination. So, I decided to trade in my trusty dumbbells for a yoga mat and see what all the fuss was about.
I settled on a six-minute routine from certified instructor Georgia Weibel, better known online as Pilates With Georgia. There are only four moves, so to get an effective workout in just a few minutes, it's crucial to focus on your form. Luckily, Weibel demonstrates all the moves, so I practiced and got started.
Watch Pilates With Georgia’s six-minute core workout
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Pilates is particularly great as a core strengthening exercise, with many of the moves designed to activate your midsection muscles. This was a big sell for me, as I’m always looking to work on my core strength (crucial for some of my favorite compound exercises like deadlifts and squats).
I often set out to add some dedicated core training to the end of my regular workouts, but tend to find the last thing I want to do after a sweaty CrossFit session is roll out a mat for yet more exercise.
However, with Weibel's session promising a comprehensive core workout in just four moves, I managed to convince myself to give it a go after my Monday morning workout.
Most of my routines involve weights like dumbbells or kettlebells, so I was surprised by how challenging I found this bodyweight routine. I even experienced the infamous Pilates shake as my core worked hard to maintain my balance.
It wasn't just the rectus abdominis (often called abs or six-pack muscles) that were engaged either; I could feel all the deep-lying core muscles that I’m not used to focusing on during my regular workouts.
In particular, this session hit my hip flexors—a part of the core which is often overlooked, responsible for movements that bring your knees closer to your torso.
Strong, healthy hip flexors are vital for exercises like jumping and running, and also help to stabilize the spine. So, I'll definitely be focusing on them more in future workouts to support my CrossFit training.
Pilates' mobility-boosting benefits were plain to see too; I could really feel the scissors and side kicks opening up my hips and stretching my hamstrings.
Because it was quick and needed no equipment, it was easy to fit this short session into my schedule. The ab and core-focused exercises helped connect my upper and lower body in just a few minutes, so I'll definitely keep doing this routine to keep my workouts varied, and to teach myself that it's okay to slow down once in a while.
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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.
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