When you hear someone mention Pilates, you may envision a studio full of odd-looking contraptions held together by springs and pullies. These Pilates machines help users build core strength and balance.
Yet many people don't know that Pilates can also be done at home with almost no equipment at all. In fact, some Pilates can even be done in a chair.
Chair Pilates combines breathwork and alignment principles to strengthen abdominal, back and pelvic muscles. Focusing on these core muscles can help prevent back pain, restore sagging posture and firm up flabby abdominals.
Interested? Here are three beginner moves to try at home. Begin each move in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor and be sure to use a sturdy chair!
Seated leg lifts
Targets hip flexors and abdominals that stabilize the spine and pelvis
Keep your hips stable in the chair and inhale as you slowly lift one foot straight up with the knee bent. Focus on tightening and lifting with your abs instead of your leg muscles. Exhale and lower your foot to the floor, then switch legs. Repeat 10 times per leg.
Targets front and side abdominals to improve pelvic stability and mid-back flexibility
In a seated position, clasp your hands behind your head. Slowly exhale as you rotate your body to the right, then inhale as you move your body back to the center. Next, exhale as you rotate to the left, inhaling as you rotate back to the center. Repeat eight times on each side.
Targets upper body flexibility and core muscles
Sit and raise your arms straight out to your sides, forming a "T" shape. In one fluid motion, rotate your torso to the right, bending forward to reach down and touch your left pinky to the outside of your right foot. Don't worry if you can't touch your toes, just do your best. Slowly go back to your starting position, then do the same move on your other side. Rotate to your left, bending forward to touch your right pinky to the outside of your left foot. Repeat five times on each side.