women

Want to try Pilates but not sure where to start? This workout will fulfill the transformative promise of Pilates and produce visible results - FAST! It won't just give you a sleek, strong core - it will also tone your thighs and butt as well as sculpt your arms and back.

The main moves

Winter is here and that means jeans weather. Transforming your body into a slimmer, shapelier silhouette is easy with this workout - based on The Pilates Promise (DK Publishing) by certified Pilates instructor Alycea Ungaro. You should see dramatic results in just six weeks.

At the program's core are five fundamental Pilates moves that strengthen and trim your torso. "People notice their waists get smaller almost immediately," says Ungaro.

Then, you choose a goal, such as to streamline your bottom or strengthen and define a weak upper body, and add three moves targeting that trouble zone.

Stick with our program, and you too could realize the promise of the discipline's founder, Joseph Pilates. In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you'll see the difference and in 30 sessions you'll have a whole new body. Who can pass up a pledge like that?

Hundred

Lie knees bent and aligned over hips, calves parallel to floor, toes pointed, arms at sides. Draw abs in and up, then curl head and shoulders off mat, arms hovering above mat, palms down [A]. Extend legs at a 45-degree angle to the floor and pump arms up and down vigorously [B], inhaling for five counts and exhaling for five counts to complete one rep. Bend knees in, lower torso and repeat for recommended reps.

Description: Hundred

Bend knees in, lower torso and repeat for recommended reps.

Lower-body variation: squeeze a 45cm stability ball between ankles throughout move.

Upper-body variation: squeeze a 45cm ball in hands over thighs as you pump

Roll up

Description: Roll up

Reverse the action, curling back onto mat and bending knees as your lower back touches the mat, and repeat.

Lie face-up, legs together, knees bent, heels pressed into mat, feet flexed. Place hands behind thighs; inhale, drawing abs in and up as you lift head and shoulders off mat. Continue to curl upward, as if peeling your spine off the mat [A]. Exhale as you round forward over legs, straightening knees while keeping feet flexed and hands still behind your thighs [B]. Reverse the action, curling back onto mat and bending knees as your lower back touches the mat, and repeat.

Single-leg stretch

Description: Single-leg stretch

Perform each of these moves according to the Beginner of Elite in the New Body Plan (opposite page)

Lie face-up, knees drawn into chest, legs together, arms resting at sides. Draw abs up and in, then lift head and shoulders off mat. Inhale and grasp right knee with left hand and lower right shin with right hand as you extend left leg at a 45 degree angle to the floor (or lower if you can keep your back on mat and abs engaged) [A]. Stay lifted and switch legs and hands [B] to complete one rep. Repeat, exhaling with the next rep.

Double-leg stretch

Description: Double-leg stretch

Exhale, sweep arms out to sides, then bend knees, returning hands to starting position, and repeat

Lie face-up, knees drawn into chest. Draw abs up and in and lift head and shoulders off mat, then touch lower shins [A]. Inhale, reaching arms back and overhead as you extend legs at a 45 degree angle to the floor [B]. Exhale, sweep arms out to sides, then bend knees, returning hands to starting position, and repeat. Upper-body/lower body variation: squeeze a 45cm ball with hands or between ankles throughout exercise.

Spine stretch forward

Description: Spine stretch forward

Inhale and uncurl torso and head to an erect position. Repeat for reps

Sit tall, legs straight. Reach arms in front of you at chest height, palms down, flexing feet, pressing heels forward [A]. Inhale, then exhale, pulling abs in and up as you round head and spine forward (don't bend forward from your hips) [B]. Inhale and uncurl torso and head to an erect position. Repeat for reps. Upper-body variation: squeeze a 45cm ball in hands, arms extended

The new body plan

Schedule Six weeks, five days a week

Warm-up Begin with five minutes of exercises such as side-to-side lunges, shoulder rolls and arm circles.

Beginner If you've never done Pilates before, perform only the 5 Main Moves for the first week, doing five reps of Move 1 and three to five reps of Moves 2-5. In weeks two to six add one rep to each Main Move as well as one move per week from the goal-specific program of your choice.

Elite if you've practised Pilates at least twice a week for the past three months, do the five Main Moves plus the three for your goal. Begin with 10 reps of Main Move One and six to eight reps of Main Moves 2-5 in week one, adding one rep per move in weeks two to six.

Progress makes perfect in weeks five and six, continue this program without stopping to rest between moves. After six weeks, cut back to two or three Pilates sessions a week, add one traditional strength training workout for four to six weeks, then return to this program.

Cool-down End each workout with a Wall Roll-Down: stand with your head, back and arms flat against a wall and gently peel yourself off, dropping forward, arms and head hanging down, then roll back up. Repeat three or four times

Cardio Get 30-45 minutes of cardio three to five days a week, varying the intensity and using the Cardio Ideas specific to different body types and provided with each program on the following pages

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