written by Carol Crincoli, Pure Pilates Director

The days are longer, the weather is warmer and we are getting out and about more.  Vacations are being planned, long weekend getaways are on the calendar and that means time away from the fitness center, the Pilates studio and our home gyms.

Clients ask me, “What is the one prop you would pack if you were going away?” I immediately recommend a TheraBand. It’s versatile, it’s light and it doesn’t take up any room in your beach bag or suitcase.

Here are a few of our favorite Pilates exercises showcasing the TheraBand.

Seated Chest ExpansionThis is a perfect exercise to open your chest, fire up your back muscles and lengthen your spine.

  • Sit upright with straight legs and the band around your feet. 
  • Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale as you gently pull out on the band and lift your spine.
  • Bend or soften your knees if your hamstrings are tight. This will help you sit up tall.
  • Variation: While holding the tension on the band, turn your head gently to the right and then the left. Return your focus to the center and release the tension.

Seated Back RowConnect to your core muscles while strengthening your back.

  • Sit upright with your knees bent and the band around your feet.
  • Round or hinge back until you feel your core muscles engage.
  • Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale as you bend your elbows and pull your shoulder blades together.
  • This exercise can be performed in a tall seated position.
  • Variation: Alternate the row and as you pull with one arm, rotate your torso and look over your shoulder.

Single Leg CirclesOpen up your hips, stretch your hamstrings and make space in your lower back.

  • Lying on your back, place the band around one foot. 
  • Bend arms and place elbows on the floor to keep shoulders relaxed.
  • Stretch the opposite leg on the floor.
  • Gently pull on the band as you circle your leg down to the floor, then away from the body to return to the ceiling.
  • Repeat this direction for approx 5 reps and then reverse the direction.
  • Do your best to keep your opposite hip on the floor and avoid rocking.
  • If your supporting leg is tight, bend at the knee and place your foot on the floor.

Hip ExtensionPerforming this exercise in quadruped (on all 4’s) allows you to strengthen your Glutes while being supported by your core and arms.

  • Get onto your hands and knees, securely place the band around one foot and each end under both hands.
  • Stretch the band leg behind you and keep it straight as you lift and lower the leg.
  • Repeat on the other leg.
  • Variation: Add hip flexion by bending your knee into your chest, then pressing out and lifting toward the ceiling.

Leg Pull FrontThis plank/pushup variation is challenging without a band, but add it to uplevel your workout.

  • Wrap the band around your back and under your armpits.
  • Securely have the ends of each band in your hands as you get into a plank position.
  • Holding the plank, engage your core as you lift one foot off the floor.
  • As the foot is off the floor, point and flex the foot ON the floor.
  • Lower the foot then repeat on the other leg.
  • Variations: Keep both feet planted on the floor and add a pushup; Uplevel to a single leg push up; downlevel to pushups from a kneeling position.