How To Stay Fit Over The Holiday Period, According To A Pilates Instructor
And it can all be done in the comfort of your own home!
Silly season is well and truly upon us. Between the endless social obligations every weekend to the stress of tying up loose ends in the office before Christmas rolls around, it can be a tricky time to maintain your fitness and wellness routine. Add the copious amounts of champagne and prawn rolls consumed as the warm weather sets in and we don’t blame you for falling off the wagon.
And while embracing the fun (and sun) of the festive season is vital, sometimes it can make you feel a little sluggish and sometimes (just sometimes) it can leave you craving routine. So, we enlisted the help of one of our favourite Pilates instructors, Elizabeth Quick (you can find her at Peaches Pilates in Sydney), to grill her about how she recommends we stay fit, healthy and sane during the craziness of the festive season. Warning: these Pilates moves will leave you shaking, burning and cursing but will also give you the peachiest glutes, most toned abs and supermodel arms, so, you know, worth it.
What is your biggest piece of advice for people wanting to stay fit and healthy over the holiday period?
My advice would be that if you love it, you’ll make time for it! Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, it should be enjoyable. So, do the things you love and you will find time for it! Go for a walk with your friend, go for an ocean swim in the sunshine—exercise doesn’t have to be a full 50 minute circuit. But, in saying this, there are so many online platforms you can access to still achieve your goals and stick to routine. You don’t need a heap of equipment either. Think of the simple things you can use at home—like cans of tomato sauce as weights or socks as sliders! Also, I always believe keeping things simple is key. Bodyweight is all you need to activate those small muscles and get that sweat on!
What are five Pilates moves everyone can do at home to stay strong and toned?
This is so tough! There’s too many to even choose from especially depending on what you want to target. Personally, I love a glute, oblique and waist burner. My top five moves would be:
- Fire Hydrants…and a billion pulses (add a band or ankle weight or both if you’re brave!)
- Oil Riggers (tricep dips) and, again, a billion pulses and holds to get the job done
- Glute Bridges! My favourite! Adding a ball between the knee caps and layering it up with slow tempo counts, heel rises, squeezes. There are endless opportunities with this one. If you want to absolutely fry your hamstrings, place the ball under your heels (heels touching), toes on the ground, knees in a wide V position and off you go. Finish with an isolated hold with your knees touching and feel the burn!
- Plank—a super underestimated move! Add some slow mountain climbers, slow shoulder taps and some knee lowers. Chuck on a timer for 45 seconds per move and repeat three times. So simple but oh-so spicy!
- Standing Lunge or Squat Series. Add in some dumbbells for your arms, chuck a band around your knees et voila!
What are the cues we should be thinking about the most when we’re doing these at home to ensure we are engaging our muscles the most and optimising our form?
It depends on what movement you are doing as there are so many cues in Pilates to help perfect your form. Personally, I love to remind my clients (and myself!) as always thinking of your core as your powerhouse. Many people underestimate this. Using your breath helps activate your core which allows you to see so many benefits. So, if you’re doing any exercise activating your core (many Pilates movements) I like to describe to clients their use of breath, inhaling (fill your belly up like a big balloon) feeling ribcage expand and exhaling (blowing all the candles out on your birthday cake) feeling the ribcage now pull to your hips. This is one of many useful cues!
How do you, personally, find balance between fitness and play during the festive season?
Personally, I think it is totally normal to struggle with routine around the festive season. Not that it’s an excuse to stop exercising but I see in and out of the studio that many people are both mentally and physically exhausted from the end of year chaos and possibly struggling with burnout. Rest is so underestimated and actually so beneficial for the body and mind. Festive season comes once a year, so enjoy it! Spend time with your family, relax, eat the yummy food and drinks and don’t put pressure on yourself. Use it as a time to give back to yourself and you’ll probably find you’ll be 100 per cent more motivated to get back to routine after a break or a few days off!
For all our Pilates newbies out there, where should they start? Is there a particular area they should focus on first?
That’s the gift of Pilates—you can start as a beginner and be totally fine whether it be on the mat or reformer! Reformer can always be a bit daunting as you’re basically on a machine. Whereas the mat may give you peace of mind being on the floor but I promise the burn is possibly even more intense! My advice would be that Pilates is so beneficial to absolutely anyone, at any age. Don’t be afraid, give it a shot and embrace the positive changes it’ll make to not only your body but your mind!