Three things are on nearly every woman's wish list: smaller pores, a fat bank account, and a Pilates body. Problem is, you don't get that enviable long, lean physique simply by showing up to class a couple of times a week.
"The average Pilates session will tone muscles and improve posture, but it's probably not going to result in significant weight loss or dramatic body changes all on its own, especially if you're not watching your diet," says Kit Rich, a pilates instructor and personal trainer in Los Angeles.
An adrenaline junkie herself, Rich cooked up a way to combine the body-sculpting benefits of Pilates with fat-melting cardio training. "It's about adding cardio intervals that pump up your heart rate, then spending the 'recovery' time doing Pilates, which means you're getting the most out of every minute," she explains. The combination keeps your heart rate up (so you blast more calories) while keeping your muscles engaged (so you're constantly strengthening and toning). Looks like that wish list just got a little smaller.
Try this ab-flattening pilates workout
you can take on the go.
Pick a form of cardio you can do for two minutes at an all-out pace. Rich's preferred activity? Jumping rope. It's an incredibly effective cardiovascular workout that can be done almost anywhere, plus it's a killer calorie burner (according to the National Institutes of Health, jumping rope can burn up to 750 calories per hour). It also helps the routine move fluidly—it's faster and easier to drop the rope and hit the mat than wait for the treadmill to come to a complete stop, walk back over to your mat, and so on. But if jumping rope isn't your thing, feel free to sub in any heart-pumping activity (running, spinning, elliptical).
Do this workout three days a week on alternating days: Start with a two-minute cardio interval (go as fast as you can), then immediately do the first two Pilates exercises as instructed. Hop back up (no resting!) and bang out a second cardio interval. Follow with the third and fourth Pilates moves. Finish with two more minutes of an all-out cardio interval and then complete the final two Pilates exercises.
The first time you do the workout, hold your jump rope (you can also use a dog leash or a towel) as you work your way through the Pilates exercises; gripping the stretched rope encourages better posture and engages your lat muscles for even better total-body toning. After two or three workouts, you can make the routine harder by swapping the rope for light dumbbells (try three to five pounds) for extra resistance.
Get a summer body
: Lose weight fast!
1. Hundred Pump
Lie faceup on the floor and raise your straight legs off the ground at a 45-degree angle. Hold the jump rope a few inches off the ground with both hands on either side of your hips, arms straight, and the rope under your butt. Brace your core, lift your shoulders off the ground, and do 10 small pumps with your hands (a). Tuck your knees to your chest and bring the rope around the bottoms of your feet (b), then extend your arms overhead and straighten your legs (c). Do 10 small pumps, moving your arms behind your ears. Reverse the movement to return to start. That's one rep. Do five (for a total of 100 pumps).