15 Moves In 15 Minutes

From Erika Bloom, Pilates Expert and Founder of Erika Bloom Pilates

No time to exercise? This is your guide to the perfect low-maintenance workout, no matter how busy you are. This is part three of our series and it gives you 15 moves to do in just 15 minutes. You can also combine it with the first parts to create full body toning and lengthening session of 20, 25, or 30 minutes. Each workout is designed to effectively hit every muscle while also working on length, grace and alignment.

The Erika Bloom Method of Pilates integrates both large and small muscles into every move with focus on the deep core. You’ll get the most benefits by moving slowly and with attention to alignment, control, and breath. Repeat each move for up to one minute but only for as long as you can while keeping proper form.

15 moves in 15 minutes

1. Bridge with leg lower lift


Begin lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, heels in line with your sitz bones. Press in to your feet to lift your hips up into a bridge, maintaining a neutral spine. Extend your right leg straight. Reach it up towards the ceiling as high as you can while keeping your pelvis and spine completely still. Lower it back down as low as you can while maintaining a stable, neutral pelvis. Continue to lower and lift the right leg for eight repetitions and then return the foot to the mat. Now exhale and roll down from the bridge back to the starting position, articulating through your spine one vertebra at a time. Repeat with the left leg. Continue to alternate, ensuring the same amount of repetitions with each leg.

2. Bridge Pulse


Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat and sitz bone width apart, and your arms by your sides. Press up into a neutral bridge. Float one leg to tabletop and hold it there as you pulse the hips up one inch and down one inch for 10-20 counts. Keep the hips square. Lower the foot and fold the other leg to tabletop to repeat on the opposite side. Continue to alternate.

3. Coordination


Begin lying on your back with your legs in table top. Bring your arms by your sides with your elbows bent to 90-degrees so the fingers point up to the ceiling. Maintain a neutral spine by making a small space between your low back and the mat. This is the starting position. On an exhale, curl head, neck and shoulders up from your lower ribs while simultaneously stretching your arms and legs long. Your legs should be about 45 degrees but only so low that you can maintain a deep, properly engaged core. Inhale as you press legs open slightly wider than hip width then draw them back closed. Exhale to bring your legs back to starting position while keeping the body curled up. Finally, inhale to release your head, neck, and shoulders back down to the mat. Remember to keep your neck reaching long so you are curling up from your lower ribs and your abdominals deeply engaged so your pelvis is stable while your legs are moving. To make it easier you can keep legs bent in tabletop and just move the upper body. Repeat.

4. Side Plank Twist


Lie on your right side with your right forearm propped against the mat under your right shoulder and your left arm reaching up to the ceiling. Float your hip and waist up to a side plank. Focus on pressing up from your hip and side waist while maintaining an easy, wide shoulder. Thread your left arm through the space below your torso to twist. Reach back out and up to return to starting position. Do 8 reps on each side then lower the hips to do 8 reps on the opposite side. Repeat.

5. Teaser


Start on your back with your legs in tabletop and your arms stretched out into a T. Reach your arms forward as you roll up through your spine one vertebra at a time while slowly extending your legs.  Come to a ‘check mark’ position with a long spine, deep abdominals, and wide shoulders. Roll slowly back down through your spine as you bend your knees to return to starting position. Repeat.

6. T Lift


Lie face down with your arms stretched out, in line with shoulders like a T. Float your arms up about two inches as you reach your head, neck, and shoulders forward and up into a very small arch. Reach your arms back to hips as you slightly increase the arch. Return the arms to the T then lower the torso and arms down to return to starting position. Repeat.

7. Single leg kick


Begin on your stomach in a sphynx position. Your forearms will be pressed against the mat with the elbows under your shoulders. Activate your right hamstring to curl the right foot towards the sitz bone. Feel your right quad lengthen as you keep your pelvis still and pressed to the mat. Alternate legs while keeping the collarbone wide and open and the neck long and reaching.

8. Double leg kick


Begin lying on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your mid back. Bend both knees to kick your heels towards your sitz bones. Keep the fronts of your hips pressed to the mat. Extend the legs straight as you reach your arms back and lengthen your upper spine into an arch. Turn the head to one side as you lower, alternating head turns with each rep. Repeat.

9. Kneeling leg circles


From a kneeling position, side bend to the right to bring your right palm to the floor. Reach your left leg out to the left about hip height. Make small circles with the left leg about the size of a dinner plate. Keep your pelvis stable and your core engaged. Do 15 circles in each direction and then switch to the other leg. Repeat.

10. Inner thigh circles


Lie on your right side with your right leg extended out and your left knee bent with your left foot resting in front of the right leg on the mat. Lift your right leg up as high as you can while still keeping length through your left side waist. Engage your inner thigh to draw small circles with right leg as though you’re tracing the outside of a tea saucer with your big toe. Complete 10-15 circles in each direction then switch to your left side to circle with the opposite leg. Repeat.

11. Side lying rainbow


Begin lying on your side with your legs extended straight. Float the top leg up a few inches. Rotate the leg inward touching your toe to the floor in front of you, keeping your leg straight. Now rotate the leg outward touching the heel to the floor behind you. Keep your pelvis neutral, your sitz bones wide, and your core tight in order to stabilize the pelvis and isolate the hip muscles. Perform 10-15 reps. Repeat on the other side.

12. Side lying bicycle


Begin lying on your right side, making one long line from your head to your heels. Float your left leg up to hip height. Flex your left foot as you reach the leg forward. Bend the left leg to bring the toes through to brush your right knee and extend the left leg back with a pointed foot. Flex to brush forward again with a straight leg to repeat. Bicycle in this direction eight times. Then reverse the bicycle. Switch sides to repeat both directions on the opposite leg.   

13. Cat/cow


Begin on all fours with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and the knees directly under your hips. Inhale through cow pose as you reach the heart forward and gaze upward, keeping the length in the back and widening the sitz bones. Exhale as you round the back and scoop the belly upwards into cat pose. Keep the shoulders wide.

14. Pilates push ups


Lower chin toward chest and begin rolling slowly down toward floor one vertebrae at a time. Soften your knees, bring your palms to floor, then walk your hands out to plank position. Feel long in your spine, lengthen the back of your neck and keep your core deeply engaged. Now bend your elbows towards your sides for a small triceps push-up. Don’t lower all the way down to mat but just go so low that you can maintain wide shoulder blades and wide collar bones. Push back up to plank. Reach your sitz bones back and up and begin to walk your hands back until you come to hang over your legs. Draw your belly in to roll slowly back up to standing. You can modify it by dropping down to your knees for the push up instead of maintaining a plank position. Repeat.

15. Telescope


Lie on your right side with your arms extended forward on the mat at shoulder height. Slowly draw the left fingers along the right arm and across the collarbone to come in to a twist with your upper body. Allow your head to stay heavy on the ground and follow the left arm as it opens. Keep your legs pointed to the right as the shoulders eventually open up and the left arm releases open. Take deep, full, opening breaths.

Want more from Erika? Check out the best kept wellness secrets of celebrities, and then read how to have more energy.

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