I tried doing a 10-minute Pilates HIIT routine. Here's my honest opinion, as someone who likes to lift weights

I wasn’t sure how much I could challenge my muscles without weights, but I had nothing to fear

Pilates instructor Bianca Wise demonstrating a 10-minute routine
(Image credit: Alo Moves / Bianca Wise)

I've never practiced Pilates consistently. I do occasional sessions and always feel better for it, but then I inevitably return to my usual staples of lifting weights and running. 

In 2024 I resolved to add some variety to my exercise routine, so I reached out to the team at the fitness app Alo Moves for something fresh to try. 

Instructor Bianca Wise served up something new for me: a hybrid HIIT and Pilates session that promised I would "complete both cardio and strength training in just 10 minutes and experience an immediate energy lift".

This sounded good, so I slipped into my workout gear and gave it a go.

How to do Bianca Wise’s 10-minute Pilates workout

This workout contains eight exercises split into four pairs. In each pair, there is an "activity" exercise and an "active rest" exercise.  

For the activity portions, you’ll work continuously for 40 seconds. Each of these is followed by an active rest section in which you have 20 seconds of a less strenuous movement to give you a bit of a breather.   

To complete the workout, perform the eight-move sequence below on one side of your body, then repeat on the other side.

Activity 1: Knee drive to toe tap

  • Start in a lunge position with your right knee on the ground, your left foot forward and both knees at roughly a right angle. 
  • Take a breath in then as you exhale, drive through your left heel to stand up and tap your right toe on the ground just in front of you.
  • Inhale and lower your right knee back to the floor. Repeat this for 40 seconds. 
  • To make this move more challenging, rather than tapping your toe on the ground at the top of each repetition, drive your right knee to your chest and perform a small jump off your left foot. 

Active rest 1: Single-leg multiplanar reach

  • Come into a half squat position then lift your right foot just off the floor. 
  • Extend your right leg out to your side and tap your toes on the ground, then bring it back to center before extending it behind you and tapping the ground with your toes again. Continue this for 20 seconds.
  • To make this move more challenging, hover your toes above the ground in each position (rather than tapping them) to work on your balance. 

Activity 2: Bum kicks

  • Assume a staggered stance with your left foot forward and a slight bend in both knees.
  • Put your weight on your left leg then swing your arms forward and kick your butt with your right heel before lowering it back to the starting position. Continue this for 40 seconds. 

Active rest 2: Lunge reaches

  • Get into a half lunge position with your left leg forward and your right knee hovering about a foot from the floor. 
  • Alternate between reaching your hands overhead and reaching them towards the ground next to your left foot, keeping your back flat throughout. Do this for 20 seconds. 

Activity 3: Child's pose to kneeling push-up

  • Come down to a tabletop position, with your hands, knees and feet on the floor. Your knees should be directly beneath your hips, your hands should be below your shoulders and your feet should point straight behind you. 
  • Shift your right knee backward so it's slightly behind your left knee.
  • Sit back onto your heels to stretch your arms out in front of you, as you would in a child's pose. 
  • From here, lift your hips then lean forward to perform a push-up. 
  • Transition between these two movements for 40 seconds. 

Active rest 3: Side plank

  • Get into a high side plank position with your weight spread between your left hand and the side of your left foot. Your left hand should be directly beneath your left shoulder, your hips facing to the side and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold this position for 20 seconds. 
  • To make this exercise easier, you can drop your left knee to the floor. 

Activity 4: Commandos

  • Start in a high plank position with your weight spread between your hands and your toes, your arms straight and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. 
  • Brace your core then, one arm at a time, lower yourself to a low plank position where you're resting on your forearms.
  • One arm at a time, push yourself back up to a high plank. Try not to twist your hips as you do this. Repeat this for 40 seconds.

Active rest 4: Plank hip dips

  • Get into a low plank position with your weight spread between your forearms and toes. 
  • Drop your hips to the left until they are just above the ground, bring them back to the center, then do the same on your right side. Continue this for 20 seconds.

What happened when I tried this Pilates workout?

This was unlike any Pilates workout I’ve done before, as the lack of breaks made it more intense. 

Focusing on the left side of my body for the first half of the workout, and the right in the second, tested my unilateral muscular endurance. 

The first two exercise pairings kept me in a squat or lunge position throughout, placing my quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes (the largest muscles in the thighs and butt) under constant tension. By the end, these muscles were feeling the burn. 

It was also fun to try something different and move my body in new ways. For example, push-ups are a frequent feature in my usual workouts, but by tweaking my foot position I was able to increase the activation of my obliques (the muscles running up either side of the abdomen) while still strengthening my chest, shoulders, and arms.

I liked that Wise worked to timed intervals rather than a target number of repetitions. This way, anyone trying it can work at their own pace, making the routine suitable for a range of fitness levels. Don’t believe me? Then give it a go. 

My verdict

This "Pilates endorphin HIIT" routine is described as a fast-paced, full-body routine by Alo Moves, that will give you an energy boost. 

If you're short on time, this might be a good option as it offers many of the strength and stability-boosting benefits of Pilates while also raising your heart rate for cardio perks. 

But I would rather focus on a slower, more controlled Pilates practice. 

My regular strength work and CrossFit training have high-intensity workouts covered, so if I'm going to do Pilates I want to focus on benefits I might not get elsewhere—things like improved mobility, coordination, and body awareness.

I also love Pilates for strengthening my joints through a full range of motion, which helps me avoid injuries during other activities. And I've found slow, purposeful practices work best for this. 

Looking for more routines to try? I recommend this Pilates for beginners session, which covers some of the basic moves you should know. 

Our guide to the best yoga mats can help you find something supportive and grippy for your home workouts

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.