Toned abs, ripped arms and sculpted legs are features gracing every Hollywood beauty walking the red carpet during award season. As important as the designer their wearing or the jewels adorning their earlobes, their toned physiques must be camera-ready 24/7. Interview after interview, many Hollywood elite swear by Pilates. Created by World War I vet Joseph H. Pilates, there are numerous types; you should get your doctor's approval before trying a class.
Mat work is the foundation of Pilates. Doing it daily gives you a tighter core and helps your flexibility, according to instructor Ellie Herman. Mat work tones your obliques and your deepest, hard-to-tone ab muscle, the transverse abdominus. Stretching from your ribs to your hips, this hard-to-work muscle gets missed by many traditional ab exercises; however, Pilates exercises get it -- and your back and glutes every time. If you're looking to lose that belly pooch, notes Herman, mat Pilates may be right for you. Popular exercises you'll do are the Hundred and roll-ups.
Step up your game, head into a Pilates studio and hit the Cadillac machine. If mat work's toned your core, advancing to a weighted, resistance Cadillac table is a natural next step. Make sure you get a trained professional's help, though. Just because a Cadillac uses springs instead of heavy weights, it's still exercise equipment. Be safe and get a Pilates instructor to show you the ropes with this device. With the Cadillac, you'll sculpt your body using specialized machine-specific moves and resistance without worrying about your own weight. Ask an instructor which moves are ideal for you.
Magic Circle Exercises
Not looking to invest in a studio membership yet, or want something light and portable? Buy a Pilates magic circle. Sometimes called the Big O, the circular apparatus adds resistance so you can tone -- even on the go. With pads on the sides for comfort and support, you'll use it to squeeze between your ankles during rollovers and open leg rockers, or in between your knees for upper-ab curls. In a pinch, an exercise ball can stand in for the magic circle, Herman suggests.
Wunda Chair Exercises
Wunda Chairs are versatile. When you're not exercising, Joseph Pilates thought you could use his handy invention as a chair. Slap some padding on a step stool and you have a Wunda Chair. Since Pilates created upright balancing moves involving standing on top of the stool, the Wunda comes with detachable poles. The chair's bar rests on a spring, which you'll manipulate with your feet and hands for resistance. Your Pilates instructor can show you ways to use the chair, like fine-tuning your Hundreds footwork.
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