For the uninitiated, you might think that a Pilates workout might not be the place to lockdown a cardio sweat. And sure, you certainly won't be being any burpees or box jumps for that matter, but that certainly doesn't mean you can't get your heart rate up. Merging cardiovascular activity with strengthening and conditioning is something the team at Fluidform understand innately; and the latest instalment of RUSSH and Fluidform's workout series does just that with this mini barre workout.
Incorporating cardio within your Pilates workout is actually much more natural than you might initially realise. It can be as simple as increasing speed and repetition, or by tagging a walk or skipping sequence on after conditioning. Fluidform founder and principal instructor Kirsten King explains why cardio and Pilates go hand in hand below, and also takes us through her favourite 20-minute mini barre workout. Perfect for those days when you don't feel like a full cardio workout, but still want to get a sweat
What are some easy forms of cardio to incorporate into your daily routine?
There are many ways to increase your heart rate and integrate cardio into your routine, without necessarily going for a run! While Fluidform focuses on building strength, flexibility, length and tone – we integrate cardio by increasing the speed and repetition of sequences. Barre workouts never fail to boost my heart rate, along with walking, skipping and boxing. All effective forms of cardio that work to increase your heart rate, energy levels and release positive endorphins – without causing strain or too much impact on the body.
Other forms of cardio such as running or high intensity training are both popular and effective, when done correctly and in moderation. However these high impact movements can be tough on the body and often lead to injury when not balanced with an effective stretching regime.
How does cardio support other Pilates principles?
There are numerous benefits to integrating cardio into your routine, as they offer different forms of exercise and complement each other to achieve your overall health and fitness goals.
Cardio is an aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate and strengthens your heart function, improving blood flow around the body and reducing the risk of several diseases. On the other side of the spectrum, Fluidform is a movement principle that focuses on strength, flexibility and muscle endurance. Finding a balanced combination of the two helps to improve your overall health and wellbeing – reaping the benefits of cardio while building strength across your entire body, improving your posture and reducing your risk of injury.
One of the main Fluidform principles is breathing – finding a deep, controlled breath. This helps to increase your lung capacity, improve flexibility through your ribcage, and engage your deep abdominals. Without understanding how to activate your core muscles, your breath becomes shorter and shallow – reducing the amount of oxygenated air to your lungs. More simply, this is the stressed, breathless feeling you may experience when performing a cardio workout.
Beyond this, Fluidform teaches correct muscle recruitment patterns and focuses on strengthening muscles that help us to perform better. For example, strong glutes and pelvic stability will improve your walking and running stride. Not only will your performance improve, but you reduce your risk of over-active muscles and injuries.
A balanced and effective workout routine will integrate cardio with strength, balance and flexibility. Although the thought of 'cardio' is not for everyone (think sweaty, out of breath), so we teach ways of increasing our heart rate and reaping the benefits of cardio without having to do a HIIT workout.
Fluidform mini barre workout: Movement by movement
King recommends using arm weights, a small Pilates ball and the Fluidform red and yellow bands with this sequence. In less than 20 minutes, this low impact, effective cardio workout will leave you burning. Straight fro Fluidform's new spring challenge.
1. Begin in warrior lunge position with left leg in front – back leg straight and heel lifted. Hinge forward with hands down by knees.
2. Inhale and as you exhale, push arms backwards with palms facing the roof. Keep chest open. Complete 10 reps.
3. Keeping arms behind you, hold there as you come down and up bending the back knee towards the floor. Complete 1o reps.
4. Return back to original warrior position with extended back leg. Push arms up in front till they reach your ears with palms facing the floor, then bring back down. Complete 10 reps.
5. Remaining in that same position with your arms in front, shift your body weight forward to only rest the toes of your back leg on the ground. Then lift the back leg as high as you can while keeping the rest of your body in the same position. Complete 10 reps.
6. Place hands on your chair or barre, bring both feet together and rising on the balls of your feet.
7. Lower left heel and take right leg behind to a lunge. As you come up, lift your right foot up to touch the side of your left knee in a bent position, raising your left arm up to the sky and keeping your right arm touching the chair. Complete 10 reps.
8. Complete movements 1-7 on the other side.
9. Hands on chair or barre, heels together and in rise. Extend right arm horizontal and plié down staying on rise the whole time. Complete 10 reps.
10. Repeat plié movement and incorporate right arm movement with each bend – arm goes up and over head as you plié. Complete 10 reps.
11. Complete movements 9-10 with the opposite arm.
12. Stay in bent plié position and move both arms up and down at the same time. Complete 10 reps. Then, place both hands on chair or barre and just do plié movement. Complete 10 reps.
13. Place yellow band over left ankle and over the arch of the right foot, hands on chair or barre. Extend right leg back and behind, then rotate so that the right leg is extended horizontally to the side creating a semi circle, with the foot off the floor. Take foot back behind and repeat. Complete 15 reps.
14. Complete movement 13 on the opposite side.
15. Put red band over knees, hands on chair or barre, knees touching and right leg bent and lifted. Lift right leg back and behind pushing towards the ceiling like a kick back. Once you are comfortable, extend the left arm and continue leg movement. Complete 10 reps.
16. Bring arm back down by your side and leg back in. Now, open your right leg to the side and open hips laterally, taking left arm out horizontally at the same time. Complete 10 reps.
17. Complete movements 15-16 on the opposite side.
18. Hook your red band over the arch of your right foot keeping it over your left knee. Balance on your chair or barre with your forearms crossed and rested. Keep knees together with right leg hiked up. With your body still in alignment, push the right food directly back to then come back to bent knee position. Complete 1o reps.
19. Lift the left heel off the ground and repeat movement 18 again. Complete 10 reps.
20. Complete movements 18-19 on opposite side.
21. Place Pilates ball under your heels with your feet in turnout, hands on chair or barre. Lower into your plié and bounce – never coming to a full straight leg position. Complete 10 reps.
22. Stay in plié position and push heels into the ball to create and up and down movement. Complete 10 reps.
23. Repeat movement 21 again.
24. Then come up to normal standing position with legs straight, squeezing your heels into the ball. Extend both arms up and down to horizontal. Complete 1o reps.
25. Keeping arms up straight, return to plié movement. Complete 10 reps. Then drop arms to horizontal and repeat plié movement but deeper. Complete 10 reps. Hands on hips and repeat plié movement again to finish. Complete 10 reps.
For more exclusive RUSSH x Fluidform workouts, check out this easy hips and glutes workout for relieving stress.