What is “Cardio”? The diet.mayoclinic.org states cardio, short for cardiovascular, is aerobic exercise and activity where you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. Your heartrate will increase which makes your breathing faster and deeper. This in turn maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Including cardio in your fitness routine has many benefits. It will help strengthen your heart and muscles as well as help you burn more calories.  As with any exercise cardio helps release endorphins which improve your mood. 

So how do we include cardio in our Pilates classes

  1. The most obvious one is jumping with the jump board. You are lying on the reformer and pushing off or “jumping off” the jump board with your legs. Your feet are in various positions (parallel, 2nd position, Pilates V, Wide to Narrow and many more) to ensure we are working all muscles in the legs. Jumping is a great way to increase your heart rate while working your legs and your core without a high impact on your joints. While jumping you use your abs to keep your legs lifted, this will keep you from dropping your legs towards the floor and possibly injuring your back. 
  2. Footwork on the stall bars is another great way to get your heart rate up. The advantage of doing footwork this way is you are using all parts of your body. You are standing on the 2nd rung of the bars and holding on at chest level. As you are moving up and down on your heels, arches and toes you are also using your abs, arms and back muscles. Moving at a brisk pace and using your whole body is definitely going to get your blood pumping. 
  3. Using the Cross Core for certain exercises can add some cardio. One option is lunges with the cross core, using the ropes for balance you can add a knee drive and/or knee drive with a jump. Also, squats with the cross core are a great exercise and adding in squat jumps will increase your heart rate. 
  4. At 15 to Fit we have the traditional Pilates classes, but we want to give our clients some other options to compliment their fitness routine. 
    1. Quick Pace Pilates Boxing & Burn: this combination of punching and kicking is a great cardio workout that will also help with balance and coordination. 
    2. Quick Pace Pilates HIIT Bootcamp: This interval training class is designed to keep you moving for the whole 50 mins. Along with jumping on the reformer we include exercises like mountain climbers, high/low planks, squat jumps on the cross core, planks jacks and many more. 
    3. Moderate Pace Strong with Weights: Adding hand weights to your exercises will make you work harder which in turn will increase your heart rate. This class adds weights to reformer exercises as well as mat work. You may find yourself doing Chest Fly while performing foot work on the reformer working your legs, arms, core and back all at the same time. Another exercise is could be step ups on the box with overhead presses, again working all parts of your body and including cardio into the work out. 

Although cardio is a great addition to any fitness program if you are a beginner you need to add it in slowly. diet.mayoclinic.org advises to start with just 5-10 mins of cardio per day and add a few minutes each day to build up your endurance. Before you know it you will be at 30 mins or more and enjoying the feel of a great work out that benefited your heart, muscles, mood and overall good health!

Provided by our instructor, Renee