Just making the decision to exercise is a big hurdle for many fitness newbies to overcome.
I always keep empathy and compassion in mind while helping people incorporate exercise into their weekly routine. The last thing new people in my class need is to be overwhelmed with movements too difficult to maneuver or exercises beyond their capabilities.
Changes can be small and incremental, even gentle, and still be highly effective. It is also very important to build fitness on a solid foundation. Without that foundation, you will be prone to injury, incorrect form, and less than satisfactory results overall.
If you are thinking of getting started on your fitness journey, one thing to keep in mind is that it is never too late. Starting with some one-on-one Pilates, or even small group sessions, will help build your core and overall body strength, eliminate imbalances between certain muscle groups, and improve your posture.
This basic fitness will give you a strong foundation for more intense forms of exercise such as boxing, running, or step classes. The list is limitless.
This week’s movements may look and even feel easy. They are not meant to be complicated. Instead, they provide you with an opportunity to focus on balance, stability, and subtle, deep abdominal recruitment.
I adore quadruped extensions for all these reasons. They are a great start or finish to the day. It is all about aligning your hips, spine, and shoulders, and they are gentle but effective.
Keep in mind that change doesn’t have to be drastic to be effective. In fact, if there is too much change at the start, you are less likely to stick with your new fitness schedule.
Keep it simple, easy to follow, and easy to maintain. When it comes to well-being and healthy lifestyle, consistency is the key.
Position your body on all fours. Your hands are under your shoulders, and your knees are directly under your hips.
Extend your right arm and left leg away from your body at the same time. Repeat four times and then hold your arm and leg extended. This is good for core stability.
Bent Knee and Elbow
Bend at the elbow and knee as you bring your limbs underneath your body. Repeat eight times. The aim is to keep your back from moving. This is great for challenging whole-body stability and core strength.
Put your hand back on the floor and bend your right leg so your foot faces the ceiling. Lower and lift your whole leg up and down 16 times. This is called a donkey kick and will work your glutes and the back of your thighs (hamstrings).
Try to keep your body still, without arching or sinking through your back. This makes it super challenging.
Repeat the whole set on the other side with your left arm and right leg.
A set consists of four times for opposite arm and leg reaches, eight times for bent elbow and knee, and 16 times for the donkey kick.
The essence of the quadruped sequence is stability. Imagine you have two cups of tea resting on the back of your hips and two more resting on your shoulders. Try not to spill any of your imaginary tea.
By keeping your body still, you will work your stomach muscles. This will also strengthen the muscles along your spine and around your shoulders.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With 12 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.