This Pilates Floor Workout Is so Effective, It Rivals an Intense Megaformer Class

Photo: Getty Images/ undrey
Over the past few months, I have fallen completely in love with Megaformer Pilates. I love the way my muscles feel when they start to twitch during a particularly grueling static lunge or plank hold, and I can say with full confidence that my core has never, ever felt stronger. Plus, I'm not going to lie—after three months of thrice weekly SLT classes (with a few sessions at BodyRok, SolidCore, and New York Pilates thrown in there for good measure), I can't stop staring at my newly perky derrière any time I walk by a reflective surface. It makes me there a way to recreate the intensity of these workouts at home?

When I ask SLT founder and CEO Amanda Freeman if I could get the same full-body burn on the floor as I could in the studio, the answer is...kind of. "There are floor versions of many of our favorite SLT Megaformer moves, however they won't feel quite the same off the machine," she says. "They will still be challenging and effective, but the range of motion could be more limited and the smoothness of the movement will be lacking, but you will still get an amazing abs, oblique, glute, leg, and arm workout. "

The reason a Megaformer workout is so effective is because the moving carriage creates instability, which forces your muscles to engage and work harder during every move. According to Freeman, the best cheats for simulating this type of instability are either towels or sliding discs, plus a chair for any moves that require your hands to be on an elevated, flat surface.

While this type of Pilates workout is certainly effective (and, bonus, completely free), it admittedly won't give you quite the same full-body burn as an actual Megaformer class, but it will be close. "While you can certainly imitate many of our moves off the machine, it when never get quite as deep into your muscles as the move would on the Megaformer." That said, here, she shares sven Megaformer moves that you can try on your own.

The Pilates floor workout to steal now

1. Spoon: Place a towel under your feet and the heel of your hands on the edge of the seat of a chair behind you. Using your lower abdominal muscles, pull your torso up while sliding your feet closer to the chair.  Slowly lower your body while sliding the legs away from the chair. Repeat slowly for a minute.

2. Bear claw: Continuing in the plank position with a towel under your feet, come up into a straight-arm plank. With a flat back, use your abdominal muscles to bring your knees into your chest. Slowly push your legs back out into the original starting position (straight arm plank). Use a slow four count and repeat for a minute.

3. Reverse crunch: Kneel on the floor with your back in a table top position and forearms shoulder-width apart on a towel on the floor.  Slowly slide your forearms towards your body, rounding your back to activate your lower abdominal muscles.  Slowly slide your forearms back to the original position so your back returns to a table top position.  Repeat for a minute.

4. French twist (right and left): With your feet facing the left side of the room, place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart and your right foot in front of the left foot (heel to toe) with a towel under your feet.  Using your side waist to pull, slide your feet and legs a few inches closer to your hands, then slide your feet and legs away from your hands.  Repeat slowly for a minute.  Focus on using your side waist (aka your obliques) to do the work.  Avoid bending your knees.  Repeat on the right side.

5. Scrambled eggs (right and left): Positioned on your right hand, left forearm and knees, lift your right leg back directly behind you. With a straight leg, slowly bring it parallel to the floor and then slowly sweep your leg back behind to your starting position. Repeat for one minute.  After one minute, bring your leg back directly behind you and pulse (lifting up and down a few inches) for 30 seconds.  Repeat on the left side.

6. Hydrant kick (right and left): Positioned on your right hand, left forearm and knees, lift your right leg up to hip height, bend the knee and turn it out to the side. Slowly (a two-count in each direction) lift your leg up a few inches. When at your highest point straighten the leg out for a kick.  Then bend it again and slowly drop it down a few inches to hip height.  Repeat for a minute and then do the same move working the left side.

7. Curtsy lunge + bicep lifts (right and left):  With weight loaded in the heel of your right foot, start by standing with feet a little wider than hips-width apart, left toes pointed and on a towel.  Slowly, slide the left foot back and to the right of the right foot, by bending your right knee. Hold for a second in the lunge position, then pulse in place by bending both knees. After straightening your legs, slowly return the left foot to the original position. To work your arms, while performing the movement, grab a set of light weights and perform a bicep lift. Start by holding your upper arms straight out in front of you just below shoulder height.  Bend your elbows so that your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. As you slide your foot back for your curtsy lunge, lift your arms up an inch and return to starting position as you slide the foot back to starting position. Continue for a minute and a half to fatigue the right leg. To work your left leg, switch the foot that is on the towel and the front standing leg.

In addition to these moves, Megaformer Pilates is also all about the planks—make sure you're not ruining yours with this common modification. Plus, Heather Dorak shares her own floor-friendly Pilates workout, using nothing more than a set of paper plates.

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