Though the cold temps may have settled into our bones, keeping our bodies limber is vital for good health, especially in the winter when even getting up in the morning can feel like a daunting task.
“In the wintertime, keeping your body moving is important for both your physical and mental health,” says Karen Spidare, owner and instructor at Club Pilates, which has locations in Bridgewater, Flemington and Princeton. “There’s a mind and body connection when you practice Pilates. As you focus on the movements, you get to take a mental break from the stresses of daily life.”
The mission behind Club Pilates is to make it accessible so everyone can benefit from a regular practice. “It’s a full-body workout that’s low-impact and a highly efficient way to exercise,” she says. “Every class includes exercises that stretch and strengthen the entire body. In Pilates, there’s a saying: ‘You’re as young as your spine is flexible,’ and in each class we move the spine in every direction.”
Because the poses are low-impact, many of Spidare’s students come to Club Pilates if they have back, hip or knee issues, or after they have graduated from physical therapy. “High-impact exercise doesn’t work for many people, but Pilates is so low-impact that anyone can benefit, and we see a wide range of bodies, ages and abilities,” she says.
Here are four exercises to get you started. Learn more and schedule a free class at clubpilates.com.
This pose works the back of your legs and stretches the front of the hips, both of which can become weak and tight if you sit a lot.
Lie flat on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat. Press your arms down onto the floor. Keep your spine straight while you lift your hips up to the ceiling so that the front of your body is like a sliding board from your knees, hips and shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades down on the mat. Imagine you’re trying to reach your knees away from your shoulders.
Repeat 10 times.
This pose works your abdominals.
Lie flat on the mat and bring your legs into a tabletop position, which means your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and your shins are parallel to the floor. Connect your low back to the floor by tucking your pelvis slightly. Your abs will need to work to keep your spine in this imprinted position. Lift your head, neck and shoulders up into a chest lift and extend your arms straight by your hips. The tips of your shoulder blades should be on the floor.
Pump your arms up and down. Breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five.
Do for 10 full breaths.
For an additional ab challenge, extend your legs straight out to 45 degrees.
This pose is excellent for building full body strength.
Get on your hands and knees. (We call this “quadraped.”) Keep your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Spread your fingers and press your hands actively into the floor. Think about your shoulder blades getting wider on your back. Extend your legs long behind you into a plank position. The back of your body will be a sliding board from your shoulders, hips and heels. Pull your abs in tightly to protect (and not sag) in your lower back.
Hold for 10 deep breaths.
This pose is great for spinal mobility and posture.
From quadraped position on your hands and knees, round your spine like a cat stretching. Think about your belly button pulling up to the ceiling and your “tail” tucking between your legs. With control, roll through your spine in the other direction to have a slight arch in your low back and lift your heart and head forward into “cow” pose. This is called a back extension and is great for your spine and posture.
Roll through these postures four to six times while breathing deeply.