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Work Out While On the Road With These Effective Pilates Exercises

Stay healthy while traveling with this quick, effective workout


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Summer vacation season is nearing, and while we could all use a little R&R, it doesn’t mean we have to throw our healthy physical habits out the window. Laura Wilson, celebrity Pilates trainer and founder of Natural Pilates, advises that even the shortest of workouts done from a hotel room can still be effective and help you stay on track with your regular fitness routine. 

Rather than committing to an hour-long workout every day, Laura suggests taking it slower, and using exercise to connect to your body rather than push yourself to exhaustion. After all, you’re in vacation-mode, remember?

Below are some easy core moves that Laura recommends for a less-than-20-minute, small-space workout:


Leg Taps

These are great core-strengthening exercises for improving abdominal and back stability. The goal of this exercise is to keep the back and abs strong and stable as the legs move.

  • Begin on your back, spine flat with legs in tabletop position (90-degree bend at hips and knees).
  • Inhale, keeping your knee bent at a 90-degree angle, lower one foot towards the mat.
  • Exhale, using your abs, pull the leg back up to tabletop
  • Repeat 10 times on each side. Then do another set of 10, lowering both legs together. To increase the challenge, perform the same sequence with straight legs.
  • Remember to keep your back flat. Only go as low in the range of motion as your spine stays flat.

Full Roll Down

This is a good mobility exercise for the spine while the core is actively engaged to control the movement.

  • Begin seated tall on your sit-bones with legs extended in front of you (as straight as possible, but bent knees are okay). Arms are reaching forward. 
  • Inhale: Prepare
  • Exhale: Pull the abs in and slowly roll back, leading with your lower back, then articulating one vertebra at a time until you are flat on your back. Then, reach your arms back over your head. 
  • Inhale: Reach your arms up to the ceiling and nod your chin toward your chest
  • Exhale: Slowly roll back up to the start position
  • Repeat five to 10 times.
  • Try to roll back and up as slowly as possible. Holding light free weights or using ankle weights help with controlling the motion.

Side Bend with Leg Lift

A perfect exercise for strengthening both the side body and lower back. 

  • Start by laying on your side, propped on your bottom elbow. Legs are together and stacked. Top arm is bent with your hand on the mat.
  • Inhale: Prepare 
  • Exhale: Keep your legs connected, and lift them off the mat.  Think of squeezing your hip up to your ribcage.
  • Inhale: Slowly lower your legs down to the mat
  • Repeat 10 to 20 times on each side.


This is a great core exercise that provides strength and stability within the shoulder girdle and abdominal area.

  • Start in a plank position, hands stacked under the shoulders and knees under the hips. 
  • Engage your shoulders and abs, then carefully step one foot back at a time, coming into a plank position. 
  • Continue to breathe. With each exhale, engage your abs a little deeper, like a belt tightening around your waist.
  • Be sure your body is in one long line from your head to your heels. 
  • Actively squeeze your abs and glutes to maintain the position and protect your spine. 
  • Press the floor away to engage your shoulders. 
  • Hold the plank as long as you can without losing form.  
  • If a full plank is too hard on your wrists or back, start with a knee or elbow plank then graduate up to the full plank as you get stronger.
About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.