Sure, you get good marks for going to Pilates class, but doing the moves incorrectly could render all that hard work pointless, says Tracey Mallett, master Pilates instructor and creator of Pilates Super Sculpt ($19.95, amazon.com). See if your form is ace, or if it needs some tweaking.
- Moving too fast. Many people think rapid-fire moves equal better burn and tighter tone. But slow and controlled movements work muscles to their fullest capacity and are much more challenging than relying on momentum. The do-it-right result: a longer, leaner bod.
- Puffed-out abs. Pushing the belly outward during ab work will result in distended abs. Be sure to exhale and scoop the abs inward to work the transverse abs, drawing the belly toward the spine. The do-it-right result: a slimmer, more toned middle.
- Too much focus. Concentration is good, but adopting a full-body focus is more effective than targeting only the specific muscles you’re working in a particular move. Activating the whole body, including the stabilizing muscles that make the move possible, will result in proper form. The do-it-right result: every exercise works every inch.
- High shoulders.Hiking the shoulders up toward the ears causes tightness in the neck and upper back, rounds the spine and keeps you from achieving proper form during exercises. The do-it-right result: no back pain and a more effective workout.
Slack feet. Pointed toes are a must for many Pilates exercises and help elongate and activate the legs. Proper form begins at the feet, so glance down and make sure your feet are working as hard as the rest of your bod. The do-it-right result:proper form and toned legs from hip to toe.