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Created by Joseph Pilates, Pilates is a form of calisthenics that lengthens and strengthens the body through movements centering on endurance and flexibility. As an anaerobic activity -- meaning it does not expend oxygen, but gets its energy from the body's muscle mass -- Pilates isn't known for being a fat-burning exercise, but for creating lean muscle. Thankfully, the more lean muscle you have, the more fat you burn -- even when not exercising.
Stand, arms straightened at your sides, palms turned away from you with your feet hip-width apart. Pump your arms, quickly moving them three to five inches each way, for 10 counts. Count to five as you breathe in, then breathe out as you count to five doing three sets of 10 pumps. Pump your arms for another set of 10 while raising your right leg. Repeat for another set of 10 with the opposite leg raised.
Return to a standing position, widening your stance past shoulder-width. Stretch your arms out to your sides. Rotate your feet 45 degrees, then bend your knees 90 degrees, forming a plie -- a popular ballet move. Come out of the plie, lifting your right leg to the side. Repeat the plie, lifting with the opposite leg. Inhale with the plie and exhale as you lift your leg. Continue this pattern until you've completed eight repetitions on each side.
Step off with your left foot, moving into a side lunge position. Place you right arm behind your head with the elbow extending outward. Point your left arm down. Raise your left knee toward your right elbow as your exhale. Simultaneously, draw your right shoulder toward your left knee. Complete eight repetitions before switching sides.
Raise your arms level with your face and bent at the elbow, palms turned in. Bend your right leg into a lunge. Bend and raise your left leg with your foot pointing down. Kick your heel toward your buttocks, then kick your foot forward. Do this four to eight times. Stand tall and balance your weight on your right leg, your arms out to the sides. Kick the right leg forward and back four to eight times before switching sides and repeating the cycle.
- Focus on your breathing while performing Pilates movements. Your breathing should not feel rushed or strained, but deep and calm. The clothing you wear -- yoga pants, shorts, T-shirts, tanks or sports bras -- should be fitted. Avoid heat retaining layers and fabrics, and shoes.