by Rika Brixie

Whether you are planning a staycation close to home this year or heading to a tropical ‘green list’ destination, Pilates is a great workout option for your summer holiday. It is commonly known that muscular strength takes roughly twice as long to develop, as it does to lose. Many people are acutely aware of this when returning to normal exercise routines after a summer break. Movements that once felt strong and stable may now feel laboured, shaky and more challenging than expected; old injuries may resurface; difficulty of an exercise, number of repetitions or load used may need to be reduced in order to build strength up again. Furthermore, clients taking a break from their Pilates practice will often describe missing the mind-body connection, the mental and emotional rewards of their workout, just as much as the physical aspects.

Is it safe to do Pilates at home or away?

The benefits of Pilates at home are widely recognised (read previous articles on the topic here and here), and all of the same features that make Pilates a wonderful home workout also extend to make Pilates an effective, safe, and easily transportable workout for any trip.

It is recommended to seek a medical professional’s advice before commencing any new form of exercise. Pilates practitioners, as well as those with sufficient experience in Pilates, may enjoy developing their own workout routine for a holiday, using their knowledge of Pilates repertoire. There are, however, many other options for those that prefer to be guided through a session, or those with less Pilates experience:

  • Sign up for online mat classes – many instructors and studios offer online classes that can be tuned into from any location. All you will need to join is your mat and a stable wifi connection. (Find out more about online mat classes with BASI Pilates qualified instructors.)
  • Prepare a holiday program with your Pilates instructor – by arranging private sessions with your Pilates Instructor ahead of your trip, they may be able to put together a set of exercises for you to practice whilst you are away, tailored to your body and any specific areas of concern. This is of particular importance if you are managing any injury or condition that affects your ability to exercise.
  • Watch a Pilates video – from Youtube workouts, to videos by renowned instructors or subscription services like Pilates Anytime, it has never been easier to access Pilates classes on demand.

The simple nature of Pilates exercises means that they are relatively easy to execute on your own, with or without instruction. Although simple, Pilates is very efficient and each exercise is intense when executed well, so even a short workout can be powerful. A wide array of Pilates props are small enough to take with you in a suitcase, or even a backpack.

Best Pilates props to travel with

Pilates Mat

From the most simple exercises, such as the pelvic curl (pictured), to the most advanced exercises, a Pilates mat is the most essential piece of equipment to take on any trip. It is possible to have a great full-body workout using only the mat and your own body. A good mat provides enough cushioning to make spinal articulation and weight-bearing exercises comfortable on joints, and aids grip to avoid slipping around while exercising.

Pilates Bridge on the Mat

Pilates Ring

The Pilates Ring is flat and lightweight, making it perfect to travel with. The Pilates ring can be used to add resistance to any Pilates session, as well as being a great tool to help with stretches, such as in the simple hamstring stretch shown.

See more exercises using the Pilates Ring here.

Pilates Ring Exercise

Multi Elastiband

The Multi Elastiband 10kg is as easy to roll up and pack as a pair of socks, and offers adjustable resistance that can be applied to multitudes of exercises. The Multi Elastiband is particularly useful for adding arm work, leg work and gluteal work as pictured and the 8 loops can be used to alter the length and strength of the Multi Elastiband as needed.

Multi Elastiband Exercises

Cork Massage Ball

A cork massage ball is my personal favourite Pilates prop to take on holiday. It is easy to store, even in carry-on luggage and ideal for myofascial relase of any sore muscles that may result from travelling, or from activities during a trip. For holidays that include a lot of walking, the cork ball can be used to massage the soles of the feet, preventing fatigue and tightness.

Massage Ball

Is 30 minutes of Pilates enough?

Joseph Pilates, creator of the Pilates method, recommended that 10 minutes of Pilates exercises were to be practiced daily. Even a Pilates session this short in duration will have a positive impact and help to maintain strength, mobility and coordination over a summer break. A Pilates workout will be effective, whether it is 10, 20 or 30 minutes long and this can easily fit into your day, whatever city exploration or beach relaxation awaits you.

Your choice of Pilates exercises can also be tailored to whatever your holiday has in store: if you are on a more active trip, it may be beneficial to include lots of mobility work and stretches to avoid excessive muscle tightness; on a lazier, sun-soaking trip, you may opt for more focus on strengthening work, to stay strong and ensure that your spine doesn’t take on the shape of your sun lounger! Pilates can meet whatever workout needs you have whilst on holiday, ensuring that you stay fit, feel good both mentally and physically, and are able to do more, both on your vacation, and when you return home – and that should surely help with the post-holiday blues too.

Rika Brixie qualified as a Pilates instructor through Pilates Therapy and BASI Pilates CTTC. She is proud to be BASI Pilates Faculty, teaching the BASI Pilates Global Comprehensive Program, and her own BASI workshop ‘Pilates for Scoliosis’. Rika’s first and enduring passion in life is movement, which carried her through a career as a professional ballet dancer. Her personal experience of living with scoliosis has given Rika a unique insight into the deep workings of the body and ultimately led to her specialising in scoliosis. She is based in London, where she teaches alongside the phenomenal BASI UK team at The Pilates Clinic (Wimbledon).
www.rikabrixie.com