If you pass celebrity Pilates guru Brooke Siler on the street, you’ll definitely notice her. And not because she’s a six-foot-one super-fit redhead.
While everyone else scurries to work with hunched shoulders and heads glued to Blackberrys, Siler is leaning slightly forward, pulling her belly up and in, lifting her chest high, and forcefully pushing off of her second toe with every step.
You may even catch her going up the subway stars sideways, so her heel-toe gait doesn’t get interrupted. Seriously.
Why? She’s doing Pilates while she walks.
“We think of Pilates as an exercise technique, but it’s really a methodology of movement,” says Siler. You may not be able to feel the burn of the teaser during your commute, but you can adopt a “Pilates consciousness” so that even while walking, you’re engaging your muscles and lengthening.
“You’re changing your posture, which automatically changes the way your clothing fits,“ explains Siler. “You’ll feel better, and you will get more toned because you’re activating your muscles.” Plus, it keeps her (and possibly everyone around her) from getting bored.
Here are three of Siler’s ways to do Pilates while you walk. One warning: Don’t try this in heels.
1. Lean like its windy. Siler says to employ a “slight forward pitch,” about 5 or 10 degrees. It will force you to pull your abs in and up.
2. Imagine your pants falling off. As you walk, focus on pulling your belly and the sides of your waist in and up, away from your pants, making your waistline as slim as possible. Lots of muscles will have to fire, and your upper body will lengthen. It should feel like “Wow! I’m so tall my pants are going to fall off,” says Siler.
3. Get your feet on (and off) the ground. Foot patterning is key. Focus on your heel striking first and then make sure you’re tracking on the outer part of your foot until you push off, with force, from your second metatarsal (the base of your second toe). Every time you step, push the sidewalk away as if it’s a mechanical treadmill. This will fire up your hamstrings and glutes.
After a giggly briefing session with Siler, I set out to test out the techniques. I could feel my muscles engage so much, in fact, that it was hard to stay with it for more than a few blocks.
I felt slightly self-conscious, wondering if everyone could spot my elongated torso as I bounced off my metatarsals. Then, a man with two giant shopping bags passed me, lifting them up and down like weights as he walked. (I swear!) We smiled at each other, and thankfully, my pants did not fall off. –Lisa Elaine Held
For more tips or classes, visit re:Ab Pilates, 33 Bleecker St., at Mott St., Nolita, Suite 2C, 212-420-9111, www.reabnyc.com