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Lose Your Ab Flab: Fat-Burning Power Pilates

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Add Cardio to Pilates

Because cardio is the only thing missing from your Pilates routine, take your moves off the mat with this workout from June Kahn, owner of June Kahn's Bodyworks and Pilates director at Lakeshore Athletic Club in Boulder, Colorado.

Not only will you get your heart pumping and burn 420 calories per hour (about 17 percent more than in a traditional mat class), but you'll experience total-body conditioning through balance challenges and see the abs-sculpting benefits faster.

1. Standing Hundred

Fitness Focus: core, shoulders, triceps

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms at sides with palms facing the wall behind you.
  • Keeping arms straight, vigorously pump them 10 times, back and forth about 3 to 5 inches.
  • Inhale for a count of 5, then exhale for 5.
  • After 3 sets of 10, raise left leg in front of your body and continue pumping arms for another set of 10.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

2. Plie with Side Lift

Fitness Focus: core, quads, glutes

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and extend arms out to sides.
  • Turn feet out 45 degrees and bend knees 90 degrees into a plie (not shown).
  • Straighten right leg while lifting left leg out to side.
  • Lower back to plie position and repeat on opposite side.
  • Continue alternating 8 times on each leg, inhaling as you bend your knees and exhaling as you extend.

3. Crisscross Reach

Fitness Focus: core, quads, glutes

  • Step your right foot about 12 inches to the right and bend your right knee 90 degrees into a side lunge.
  • Reach left arm diagonally up with fingertips pointing toward the ceiling and right arm diagonally down, fingertips pointing toward the floor (not shown).
  • Place left hand behind head, elbow bent to side.
  • Exhaling, lift your right knee across your body toward your left hip and left elbow toward your right knee.
  • Return to lunge position and repeat to complete 8 reps, then switch sides.

4a. Single-Leg Front and Back Kick

Fitness Focus: core, back, hamstrings

  • Step left leg forward about 12 inches and bend knee into a lunge.
  • Bend elbows 90 degrees, hands in front of face, palms in.
  • Raise right leg behind you.
  • Bend right knee and kick right heel toward glutes, foot flexed, then kick with toes pointed.
  • Repeat 4 to 8 times.

4b. Single-Leg Front and Back Kick

  • While balancing on left foot, straighten legs and kick right leg forward at hip height, arms extended out to sides, then kick leg back.
  • Repeat 4 to 8 times; switch sides.

5a. Crossover Sweep

Fitness Focus: core, obliques, back, quads

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides.
  • Lift right leg out to side 6 inches off the floor and simultaneously sweep your arms across your body to the left.

5b. Crossover Sweep

  • Step right foot 12 inches diagonally in front of your left foot.
  • Sweep your arms across your body to the right as you bend both knees 90 degrees into a "curtsy" lunge. (Your left heel will come off the floor.)
  • Straighten legs and return to starting position.
  • Complete 8 reps on each leg.

Originally published in Fitness magazine, March 2006.