I know “gentle” and “hardcore” aren’t really words that go together — and for good reason! But please believe me when I say that, uh, Pilates kind of is the perfect? blend? of both?
You may be a cardio (read: sweat) junkie or a lifter who won’t leave the gym until their muscles are shaking. Even so, I think it’s time to introduce you to these calm, intense, grounding, and muscle-burning Pilates workouts. It doesn’t hurt to switch it up, right?
Before you say “Eh, not really my thing!” lemme just flag that the below workouts are all free, free, free. Thank you, YouTube gods. And assuming you already got your Bachelorette fix in, attempted to box dye your hair once, maybe twice, and scheduled a happy hour with your pet succulent, checking out these YouTube videos probably isn’t such a bad idea on an otherwise boring Tuesday night .
Whether you’re new to the exercise and just want something to do, or you’re a total pro who lives and breathes reformers, these Pilates workout videos will actually kick your butt. Don’t worry, cute leggings will help with the pain. 🙂
1 If you’re not sure what Pilates is
We’re starting out with an oldie but a goodie (2011, baby!). During the 30-minute beginner workout from YouTube Pilates queen Cassey Ho of Blogilates, you’ll focus on the fundamentals of Pilates, like breathing, posture, and form. Consider it Pilates 101.
2 If you don’t want to fully commit to ab day
This Isa Welly video adds an ab-focused workout to this full-body video. (Side note: This is what Hannah Montana wrote “Best of Both Worlds” about, right?) It’s for all levels and there are absolutely zero weights or other props required. Oh, and it’s the length of Friends rerun, so do with that information what you will.
3 If you’re feeling meh
I woke up the other morning completely unmotivated to work out, but knew that I wanted to move my body before signing on for work. Enter: This incredibly chill-but-you-still-feel-accomplished-and-ripped sesh. Want to use ankle weights? Go ahead! But the instructor, Callie, puts absolutely no pressure on you to add them.
4 If you sit on your butt all day
Okay, I know it’s * technically * a yoga video, but Jessamyn Stanley’s flow is the perfect way to open your hips after working a long day. It’s just over 20 minutes so you can even combine it with a shorter Pilates class if you’re feeling frisky. Maaaaaybe # 7 on this list? Just puttin ‘it out there!
5 If you woke up an hour before your alarm
I know an hour-long class is a commitment but certified Pilates instructor Hannah will get you to activate all the muscles in your body. Once you’ve tried this guy, I highly recommend taking a peep through her library. She’s all about listening to your body, taking rest days (blessings), and building your Pilates practice in whatever way makes sense for you.
6 If you have less than 10 minutes before your next meeting
It’s quick, it’s effective, and unless your AC is broken in 90-degree weather, you won’t break a major sweat. Isa Welly (remember her from # 2?) Also breaks out the downward dog within the first minute which is a win in my book. Perfect for mid-day breaks without letting your boss know — shhh, I won’t tell.
7 If you want to feel zen in the ~ mountains ~
Pretend like you’re getting some fresh air while doing Boho Beautiful’s core Pilates workout. Her video just happens to be set in the dreamiest mountainous landscape. (How do I make this my Zoom background?)
The workout is only 15-minutes total, but you won’t be able to giggle at any TikTok vids without feeling a ping in your stomach for at least a couple of days.
8 If you want a total body workout
Um, 25 minutes toning my abs, butt, and arms sounds like time well spent. And with this vid, you’ll do just that. You’ll also be weirdly motivated to invite your closest friends over to do it with you.
9 If your back needs help, like, now
Bingeing all of the things got your lower back feeling some type of way? This EFIT 30 video will help ya out. You’re in for 15 minutes of core work and Katie’s insanely soothing voice.
10 If you actually want to break a sweat
This 35-minute workout requires zero equipment and includes both a warm-up and post-workout stretch. Don’t let the basic white backdrop fool you. Kelli’s sequence of lower-body moves (which includes clamshells and traveling hip bridges) doesn’t have much rest time, so you’re sure to get drippy.
11 If you want core AND cardio
Even the warm-up in this PopSugar Fitness video is spicy. Lisa Corsello, Pilates guru and founder of San Francisco’s Burn Pilates studio, incorporates three- to five-pound dumbbells and cardio moves like mountain-climbers to turn up the burn.
12 If music motivates you
Master trainer Deanna Dorman’s 20-minute Pilates flow (aka a super-graceful, fluid sequence of moves) builds strength all over with exercises like single-leg hip bridges, which are no joke, and plenty of stretching. I’m not sure what I love more, the background EDM elevator music or that cute yoga mat. Add. To. Cart.
13 If you have some bb dumbbells lying around
With the help of some lil weights (Sydney uses three-pounders), this 40-minute workout promises to leave your arms, core, and legs burning. The weighted X-pulses and weighted bird-dog pulses are particularly brutal. Trust, those three-pound dumbbells will feel stupid heavy by the end of this one.
14 If you want to pretend you’re on vacation
Once you get past the cheesy drone shots of trainers casually doing yoga moves on the beach and thinking deep thoughts on some rocky cliffs, you’ll get to an actually awesome workout. Sandwiched between a 5-minute cardio warm-up (jumping jacks included) and a 10-minute yoga cool-down, this 30-minute Pilates workout hits your core hard — and seriously tested my balance.
15 If you just want to move around a little
When you’re feeling beat but still want to do something with your body today (ideally without getting up off the floor), this 10ish-minute Pilates flow requires just enough effort to wake up.
16 If you wanna get that butt
Who knew a squishy mini ball (a Pilates staple used to add an extra challenge to moves) could be such a game changer! My thighs are sore just watching the first few minutes of mini-ball hip thrusts and glute kick-backs. Be prepared for lots of booty-squeezing and the longest 15 minutes of your life. Don’t @ me if you can’t walk tomorrow.
17 If you’re freaked out but also intrigued by Pilates reformers
This 15-minute workout uses resistance bands to recreate Pilates moves you might do on a reformer, a bed frame – like Pilates machine that adds resistance to basic moves. FYI: The resisted kick-backs are especially killer. Another major perk of band work? More arm exercise options, like reverse-fly pulses.
18 If your gym has a stability ball and you don’t know what to do with it
You’ll have to work extra hard to not to fall over during this 30-minute workout, which means everything from your abs to your legs will be extra sore. (YAY!) Side note: Kristi, I want those leggings!
19 If you had a baby, like, two months ago
This gentle postpartum flow is designed for people who have recently given birth and wanna get back into exercising, release tension in their back and shoulders (hi, breastfeeding), and start working on that core strength. With chill but challenging moves like lying core twists and bridges, you’ll be feeling good after this 14-minutes sesh.
20 If you love puppies
Peeping Jessica Smith’s mushy lil Frenchie almost (almost!) Made me forget how difficult these standing ab moves, like standing oblique crunches, are. From now on, I will only do home workouts if a puppy is involved. Serious.
21 If you don’t need to use your legs tomorrow
Cassey, I just can’t stay away. All you need for this one is your mat, a Pilates ring, and, well, a lot of mental strength. That’s because you’ll be using inner-thigh muscles you didn’t know you had to squeeze that torture device. This burner might only be 14-minutes long, but it makes getting out of a chair the next day basically impossible.
22 If you need a day off from running
Take off your sneakers! This 20-minute Pilates workout is fab for strengthening your legs, butt, and core, or, you know, important muscles for running. Just be mentally prepared for SO many slow squats. You got this, dude.
Lauren Del Turco, CPT Lauren is a freelance writer and editor, an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, and the Fitness & Wellness Editor of Women’s Health. Sarah Weldon Associate Lifestyle Editor Sarah is the associate lifestyle editor at Cosmopolitan where she covers food, home, health, career … basically all the things you love to love – follow her on Instagram.
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