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Exercise Well: Basic Pilates moves for a tight, toned core

Pilates trains the body to work all parts of the core — the front and back of the body as well as the inner thighs.

A tight and toned core can not only help you feel more confident at the beach this summer, but also it can help improve low back pain and posture.

Check out my three basic Pilates moves to help to connect to your deepest abdominal muscles and strengthen your core! These are great for beginners and advanced practitioners alike. In fact, as a certified Pilates instructor for almost 15 years, I still perform these three exercises every single morning! They help align my spine, improve mobility, and strengthen my core so that it’s easier to access and engage my core throughout the day.

My private weight loss clients who suffer from low back pain also focus on integrating these Pilates exercises into their routine to take pressure off of the lower back. Pilates trains the body to work all parts of the core — the front and back of the body as well as the inner thighs.

Pelvic Tilt

Lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees as wide as your hips, relax your body. As you breathe in, fill your stomach up to achieve a Pelvic Tilt. Health and fitness expert Stephanie Mansour demonstrates proper pilates technique. | Brian E
Lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees as wide as your hips, relax your body. As you breathe in, fill your stomach up to achieve a Pelvic Tilt. Health and fitness expert Stephanie Mansour demonstrates proper pilates technique.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees as wide apart as your hips, relax your body. As you breathe in deeply till your lungs fill. As you breathe out, gently press your lower back into the ground as you tilt your pelvis. Repeat this 10 times.

Pilates Bridge

Lie on your back with your feet on the ground and knees as wide as your hips. Reach your fingertips toward the heels of your feet and bring the heels as close to your fingers as you can. Inhale deeply, and then exhale and tilt your pelvis. Slowly lift your glutes, lower back and middle back up off of the ground. Inhale at the top, and exhale as you pull your naval down toward your spine and “roll down” your torso, vertebrae by vertebrae, till you’re back at starting position. Repeat this 10 times.

Pilates Half Roll Down

Sitting up tall, reach your arms out in front of you. Bend the knees and keep the feet flat on the ground. Pull the naval in towards your spine, and slowly roll down halfway to the middle of your back. Breathe in, and then exhale as you slowly roll back up to the seated position. Repeat this 10 times.

Stephanie Mansour wants you to ‘“step up” your fitness regimen. Mansour coaches private clients in weight loss, provides fitness/health/lifestyles advice on national TV shows, and offers her free 21 Day Challenge online. Check out her fitness tips here and every Thursday in the Well section of the Chicago Sun-Times. And visit her website at stepitupwithsteph.com.