I’m all about outdoor workouts but lately it’s been TOO COLD. Check out my favorite winter workout that lets you skip the cold and will instantly heat up your muscles. It’s Pilates but a different kind of Pilates approach than you’re used to seeing at the gym.
The workout is called Flex Pilates and it's taught at Flex Studios in New York City. Flex Pilates uses the Pilates reformer to combine classic Pilates and strength training for 55 minutes that don’t go by too quickly (sorry, clock watchers). Let’s just say you feel every minute of this workout because the motions are often pace-controlled and require you to activate your core while pulling it up and in.
Some moves happen slowly and some quick depending on how you’re using the reformer. To show you several of my favorite moves, I asked Jenn Seracuse, director and instructor at Flex Studios, to guide me through a session. As much as I love this workout, I’m not advanced enough to do it on my own. Besides, I’m a group fitness junkie and love an inspirational workout bud with an awesome bod. Girl crush! Sorry boys, she's taken but feel free to drool.
As you can see, Jenn and I did several moves on the reformer using the bars to push away the reformer’s bed. It might look easy but when the reformer’s springs are attached, it creates a resistance that you have to push against using your core and leg strength.
As you’re holding onto the front bar in a plank position, you’re working your upper body too. Learning to hold these positions is one of the initial challenges at Flex, but once you master them, moving your body with and against the reformer’s resistance becomes an empowering practice.
Side planking is probably the hardest move for me especially when you draw your knees in for an abdominal crunch, which I promise you does more good than how it feels. During this move you’re taught to extend your top arm and parallel your hips because this type of posture puts you into a healthy alignment that elongates and strengthen your muscles without building tension.
My lower body has always been stronger than my upper body so I pretty much rock at the standing moves we do in class. The hard part is keeping everything tight as you hold your balance without tensing up your shoulders. It helps to imagine you’re wearing a garter belt of sorts. I always wear my Mizzfit Grippy Socks that I designed for shoeless workouts like Flex Pilates because they help you stick to the reformer. Get them here! In class you’ll see all kinds and styles of grippy socks being worn. I love mine because they’re extra cushy with graphic designs inspired by fitness.
As far as fitness fashion, for a class like Flex Pilates workout leggings or tights with a fitted top are ideal. I like a tank with perforation or peekaboo cutouts because you end up sweating a lot more than you’d ever expect to. Gotta let the air in and sweat out! Loose clothing can be a hassle because you don’t spend the entire class upright. You’ll find yourself revealing too much or being annoyed by fabric that won’t stay put. For smart fitness fashion options to match your workout, check out C9 by Champion - Target's line of activewear. Personally I love their low-intensity seamless sport bras, which are perfect for classes like Flex Pilates.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to lift a ton of weight or hates cardio, Flex Studios may very well be the perfect option for you. The most weight you’ll lift is 5 pounds aside from using the reformer’s handles to do arm work against the pull of the springs. Personally I enjoy lifting weights and high-‐intensity cardio is definitely my thing, but I like having a workout that helps me sculpt lean muscle in a more controlled way. Ultimately I want to look defined and better in my clothes. Actually scratch that. I want to look AMAZING NAKED! This girl is not turning off the lights when it comes to that and neither should you.
After several weeks of consistently working out on the reformer, I’ve seen a major difference in my mid-section. I’ve lost inches off the sides of my waist and my tummy isn’t as distended. As a gym rat, I’ve always had abdominal muscles BUT every fall/winter I’ll build up a layer of fat over those muscles. This winter Flex Studios has helped me blast it!
Check out Flex Pilates in NYC at 47 West 14th St. (2nd floor). There are other studios like Flex that teach comparable methods if you don’t live near it. Do a search for “Pilates Reformer Workout” or give Flex a call as I’m sure they’d be happy to recommend a sister studio in your city.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Target® C9 through their partnershipwith POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Target® C9 all opinions are my own.
*All photos taken by the one and only Syuji Honda