Do you find your butt slowly disappearing or migrating south? Are your jeans sliding off your butt?

Age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is a real thing. The good news is you can do targeted workouts to minimize the loss that people experience from increasing age and all the excessive sitting that’s been happening recently.

It’s not too late to literally perk things up.

Round perky butts play a role in aesthetics but there’s even more that’s important!

Having strong gluteal muscles gives you the power to stand up, sit down, squat, and perform all your life activities with power and grace.

Strong glutes are important for proper pelvic alignment, propulsion during walking and running, and single-leg balance support.  They also help to support the lower back during lifting motions.


6 Benefits of taking the Active Aging Bootie Barre class

Strong glutes help your posture and lessen back and neck pain.

Increased sitting can result in slumped posture and “dead butt syndrome”. This is when your butt muscles become inhibited and literally forget how to fire.

How does this happen?  It’s actually a common problem today.  People are spending inordinate amounts of time sitting behind their computers, zooming, etc.  Picture it, your butt is tucked under, your back is in a C curve (I call it cashew posture) and your head is shifted forward in front of your shoulders. Feeling the back and neck pain yet? With all this faulty sitting, the muscles in the front of your hip joints become short and tight and the opposite muscles, the butt muscles, become neurologically inhibited, overstretched, weak, and inactive.  Strengthening the butt muscles, back muscles and stretching the muscles in front of the hip, exercises that are included in the active aging bootie barre class, address these common issues.


Strong Glutes help Prevent Injuries.

Building strong gluteal muscles (the focus of “bootie barre”) can help you avoid injury as well as recover from injury to your low back, hips, knees, and ankles by creating better alignment and stability.  As an example, when squatting sometimes people will cave one knee in towards midline instead of tracking the knee over the foot. That’s often a result of weak gluteal muscles on that side. This is a common dysfunctional pattern known as “dynamic valgus” and it can be prevented with strong gluteal and hip muscles. Proper hip, knee, foot alignment is cued regularly during our bootie barre class.

Strong Glutes Improve Balance

Who remembers those old commercials “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  Though people joked about it, those commercials depicted a real and serious situation.  Maybe it’s not an issue for you currently but having strong glutes now means you’ll have a strong foundation to propel yourself when walking, have the stability in your pelvis to balance on one leg, get in and out of your vehicle, or shower with ease and if you fall, “you Will be able to get up”!  This all translates to better long-term quality of life.


Strong Glutes Enhance Bone Density in the Hips and Pelvis

Strength training is the best way to improve localized bone density. This happens when muscle tissue tugs on your bones during strength training. By building up the muscles around your pelvis (your glutes) as we do in class, you are improving your muscle and bone strength as well as the stability of your entire pelvis and hips.



Strong Gluts are Aesthetically Appealing

Though not the most important reason, this is often the primary reason people start working on their glutes. It’s a valid goal to have to keep our pants from sliding down and if chasing a perky butt is your goal, I say go for it!

This class is targeted for you, in the last and best third of your life, to get strong safely and efficiently.

As a physical therapist, I ensure that you’re not using your low back to lift your leg behind you (a common error).  I design exercises that work all ranges of motion of the hip and stimulate both slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers found in your glutes.  And, we get it all done in just 30 time-efficient minutes!  Allow me to be your guide to lift your tush and safely challenge your limits.

Sign up for the Active Aging Bootie Barre Class every Wednesday at 11:30 PM PST. Can’t make that time? Not a problem. You can purchase the class and I can send you a recording to do at your convenience!

Click here for a preview of some Active Aging Bootie Barre Moves!




Written by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, MPT

Physical Therapist,  Pilates Teacher, Aging Strong Activist, Educator, and lifelong learner.




BoneSmart Pilates Youtube channel Gluteal Amnesia aka Dead Butt Syndrome

Buckthorpe M, Stride M, Villa FD. ASSESSING AND TREATING GLUTEUS MAXIMUS WEAKNESS — A CLINICAL COMMENTARYInt J Sports Phys Ther. 2019;14(4):655–669.

Dunsky A. The Effect of Balance and Coordination Exercises on Quality of Life in Older Adults: A Mini-Review. Front Aging Neurosci. 2019;11:318. Published 2019 Nov 15. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2019.00318

America is growing increasingly sedentary.  85% of our adult population is insufficiently active, meaning they’re not meeting even the minimum recommended requirements of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This may surprise some readers because at times it can seem as if health has gotten trendy in the U.S.  We’re inundated with fitness influencers sharing social media content, the latest trendy workout gear, and TV ads pitching healthy products. But while these factors can have a positive influence for some it’s not making the intended impact to the greater community.


In 2018 the Physical Activity Guidelines were revised and updated based on new scientific evidence.

2 key changes were made that’s great news for us all.

The first change was the directive to Move More and Sit Less. Evidence proved the health consequences of prolonged uninterrupted sitting cause a cascade of health problems.

The second big change included dropping the 10-minute bout rule. Previous to the update, exercise didn’t “count” unless you accumulated at least 10 minutes of moderate activity at one time.  Even trackers like the FitBit did not register activity in smaller bouts.  The good news is that newer models now honor and give credit for shorter than 10 min bouts.  I was even able to add an update to my Fitbit Charge 3 to include this new feature.

Why have we gotten so sedentary?

This ongoing health crisis is largely to blame. Health writer Jamie Ducharme details in an article on the impact of the pandemic how Americans are now sitting more and moving less rather than moving more and sitting less. Cambridge Open Engage found a 32% decrease in physical activity ever since social distancing measures were implemented. Sitting a lot more, in particular, are work-from-homers — office workers and professionals who are now working at home due to stay-at-home directives.


Time to Move More, Sit Less

Integrating core work at your desk

There are a lot of ways to start working toward a lifestyle in which you move more and sit less. If you work at a desk — particularly if it’s at home — you might consider investing in a standing desk, described by Pain Free Working as an ergonomic innovation designed to let you switch between sitting down and standing up.  The standing desk is a stand-alone piece of equipment that allows you to adjust the desk height and customize it so you’ll be comfortable

You might also consider alternating between a physioball and a chair to encourage more movement. A physioball, because of its inherent instability, invites subtle often unconscious movements to stabilize your spine and keep you upright. I’ve created a short video showing you a few things you can do while seated on a ball at your desk.

You might implement a habit to get up and move around for 3 minutes at the top of every hour. Though it may seem like a small step, evidence shows that interrupting your bouts of sitting decreases the negative effects of being sedentary including your risk of mortality.

Walk More

More broadly, in your day-to-day life, you can make exercise more of a priority. If you’re not used to it, we at BoneSmart Pilates suggest you start with the art of walking — just one step at a time, progressing gradually until walks become part of your routine.  As a former professional dancer, I used to think that walking wasn’t really “exercise”.

I certainly know better now and with my pandemic puppy “Chip”, walking and sometimes eager sprints to get to the park, are a regular part of my daily routine!  If you’re familiar with physical activity but struggle to find time for it these days, consider “Habit Integration”.  This is a technique I created that I shared in my virtual workshop Life Hacks to Move More Sit Less. Habit Integration helps you seamlessly weave habits you currently do with desired movement habits so your new desired habit is cued by your “I always do this” habit.  For instance, while I’m taking a shower I’ll do a corner pec stretch to open up the front of my shoulders and help me hunch less. You’ll find yourself moving more automatically.


Physical activity recommendations

The revised Physical Activity Guidelines of 2018 recommends the following:

For adults

• Do at least 150−300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity exercise to get substantial health benefits.
• Do more than 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity for additional health benefits.
• Do muscle-strengthening exercises on 2 or more days a week for additional health benefits (stronger bones, increased strength).

For older adults

• Include balance, aerobic, and muscle-strengthening activities weekly.
• Be as physically active as your condition will allow.
• Exert as much effort as your condition will allow.


Once you apply some of the habit-forming strategies shared in the Move More, Sit Less workshop, you’ll notice positive effects with how you feel, physically and mentally. The more you can incorporate this simple “move more, sit less” mantra into your life, the healthier you’ll become.

Quotes for Motivation

If you need a little nudge to get you started, I encourage you to consider the following inspirational quotes in support of more movement.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”                                                         -Mahatma Gandhi

Much of our sedentary lifestyle can be chalked up to the need to work. Our world is a very competitive one, and we can trick ourselves into thinking that each minute not spent at the computer means a minute that we’re falling behind. Gandhi’s quote is a reminder, however, that there are truly more important things — namely, health and wellness — rather than the pursuit of material wealth.

“Exercise should be regarded as a tribute to the heart.” – Gene Tunney

What a lovely little way to think about the effort to move more. The quote reminds us to consider exercise in a deeper manner, rather than as an inconvenience or obligation.

“You are the architect of your life.  It’s never too late.  Start now.” -Teresa Maldonado Marchok

Avoid thinking you can’t start fresh.  Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks.  Movement enhances life at every single point in our life cycle.


If you’d like to learn more about “Life Hacks to Move More and Sit Less” which is available for on-demand viewing, click here.


Written by Teresa Maldonado Marchok with additional contributions penned exclusively for by Jorgina Bowen


We live in a society where we are bombarded with unrealistic images of how to look and what to strive for. And now that we are also dealing with pandemic-induced isolation and limitations, it’s no surprise that mental health issues are rising, excessive drinking is on an upswing, and yo-yo dieting and eating disorders are prevalent.

Though media is trying to program us into thinking we need to be a certain way, we need to carve out our own way. Find your movement happy place. Prioritize what is unique about you. Protect and nurture the invisible magnet that draws other like-minded souls to dance in your world.

With so much emphasis on appearance I think in some ways, people are more afraid about gaining the dreaded “Quarantine 15” than getting the virus!  Public Service Announcement (PSA): skinny does not equal fit.  PSA #2: fit comes in a spectrum of different shapes and sizes.

Personally, I patronize the athletic sportswear store “Athleta” because I love the fit and feel of their clothes and I believe in their messaging which is inclusive—you can see in the photos below that they celebrate fitness in varied ages, shapes, sizes, and colors.

To highlight my point about the impact of media on self-image, I’d like to share with you a study done in the mid ‘90’s which looked at the introduction of Western media to the island of Fiji. This Pacific island nation didn’t have electricity until 1985In 1995, western programming similar to American prime-time network TV shows was introduced.  Prior to this, Fijian men and women cherished fuller figured, well-muscled body types.

A former Fijian beauty queen explained to researchers that when she was growing up she was constantly told to put on weight, and that slim women were seen as weak.  Fast forward three years later to 1998: eating disorders skyrocketed. Nearly three quarters of Fijian girls (74%) reported that they felt too big or fat, and almost 12% of girls reported using purge techniques to control their weight. By 2007, purging had increased to 45%.  Coincidence?  Not likely.


What is important to you? Is it more about appearance, or how you move and feel?  How do you talk to yourself? What comprises your inner mental chatter?  Do you feel  shame when you indulge in a treat? Do you put yourself down?

I admit the chatter of my inner critic and wrestling with imposter syndrome can sometimes overwhelm me.

I know it will not surprise you to learn that studies have shown women are more susceptible than men to our inner critics and imposter syndrome.

We all need to recognize and be aware of our female brains playing these tricks on our self perception. We need to quiet the negative self-talk and lift ourselves, and each other, up.

The BoneSmart Pilates® classes I instruct have at their core a message of mutual acceptance, respect, and working smarter not harder. In my classes you won’t see us doing super fast crunches and twists. We work slowly and mindfully, supported by breath, in ranges of motion that protect rather than compromise your spine. The video of Amy below illustrates core training with spine safety in mind.


I am a movement educator. I share principles that can be applied to your life, whether it’s doing sports or your daily activities—like being aligned when working at your desk, or being mindful as you dress or unload the groceries from your car. With the active ager in mind, I like to keep things challenging yet safe as well as spicy and fun.


The magic of our work together actually happens in the cross application of the principles that I teach you of alignment, breath, balance, centering, and flow—and how those principles apply to your life. To me, the concept of balance applies to more than standing on one leg. Do you allow yourself the life balance of enjoying occasional indulgences without self-reproach?


I say enjoy that Ben and Jerry’s or cake from time to time. Savor it. Then get back on your healthy track. I believe we should strive to be at a healthy weight for our frame.

Though my classes don’t focus on weight loss, with consistent practice combined with good nutrition, dropping pounds is often a by-product.  Create a lifestyle lane for yourself that you can manage and that keeps you happy. We shouldn’t drink diet cokes all day. Neither should we drink kale smoothies all day. Neither is sustainable. Strike a balance you can live with.


My classes are designed to support and elevate all bodies. I believe we can and should be as strong and capable as we can be.

I recently participated in a medically supervised nine-month clinical trial called “Reversal of Cognitive Decline” which follows the Alzheimers preventing protocol of Dr. Dale Bredesen.

Through that experience, I learned that a healthy lifestyle that supports brain health includes strength and cardiovascular training, as well as sufficient quantity and quality of sleep for healing and brain regeneration. Proper hydration and nutrition are also critical to nurturing this gift of a body we were given. Finally, connection with others, continually learning new things, and quiet reflection (however that looks for you—whether that’s meditation, prayer, or a walk in nature) rounds out the healthy lifestyle package.

With COVID-19 restrictions and working from home, people are more sedentary than ever. Our bodies are meant to move, not to sit still for eight hours. My happy place, my place of skill and purpose, is helping you to peel off the layers of self-doubt regarding your body and movement ability.


I want to help you achieve your movement potential. When we’re comfortable in our skin, we are better able to share the gifts that we were born to share with the world, whatever that might be. Each one of you is a unique combination of life experiences, skills, and point of view. There is, and never will be, anyone exactly like you and we need your gifts!


In closing, we are meant to move and we must not allow unrealistic media images and societal norms to shape our self-image. Don’t eat, or not eat, for the sake of someone else’s ideals. Be authentic and true to yourself.


This workshop is for you if you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis or if you have healthy bones and want to keep them that way! In this 90 minute session you will discover how to move safely with bone loss.   You’ll learn to find your ideal posture, how to lift safely, what exercises help with hip and spine bone strength, and how to avoid fractures.

I’ll share my easy to remember BoneSmart ABC’s for bone health, which will be the foundation for you to live a  bone healthy life.


Along with the workshop, you’ll get free access to my Private Forum on the BoneSmart Pilates website.  You can ask any exercise-related questions that you have on the forum. Your password will be emailed to you when you register.

This workshop is presented by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, licensed PT, nationally certified Pilates teacher, former professional dancer, ambassador for the national organization American Bone Health and creator of the award winning DVD series BoneSmart Pilates®

This workshop is a great balance of research and information, along with exercise and practice. I highly recommend this workshop if you are 50+ whether you have osteoporosis or not. Brilliant!

– Linda A.

Purchase the workshop here!

I want to thank you, my clients, for bearing with me as I’ve transitioned to a new online appointment scheduling system. After 2 decades of pen and paper documentation, I’ve finally taken the leap. There are the inevitable road bumps and you’ve been so patient during my learning curve. I anticipate more hiccups and ask for your patience as we charter this new territory together.

Below are 3 separate video tutorials I’ve created to help you navigate the new system. Each video is dedicated to the type of class you’re interested in whether it be New Client Welcome packages, Group Classes, or Private Sessions.  I hope you find them helpful but as always, I’m only a quick email away to lend a helping hand!

Step by Step Tutorial for booking online virtual classes

This tutorial above targets orienting New Clients to the new online scheduling system, those of you who have never taken a class from me but are curious.  Perhaps you have one of my DVDs, like my teaching style, and want to try out a Zoom class.  There are some amazing Welcome Packages for newcomers and a Free Consultation to answer your questions and discuss your goals.

Need a gift idea? Welcome Packages can be purchased as Gift Certificates to print or share electronically ranging from $25-$50, They make an exceptional gift of health for a friend or loved one. Details in this video. Single group class certificates are also available for $20 and a 3 pack of Express Private Sessions are available for $175




Follow along as I guide you in the steps to purchase/register for Virtual Group classes on my new online scheduling platform at

This is for those who are taking group classes with me and need a little extra guidance to navigate this appointment software. This is also appropriate for those of you new to my group classes and who are ready to commit to an active aging class.


Online Scheduling for Private Clients of BoneSmart Pilates

Need a little help booking your Private Appointment? Follow me above in this step by step tutorial on how to purchase and book private appts with my new online scheduling system located at


Walking, one step at a time, one day at a time. Walking just for the sake of appreciating God reflected in nature. The miracle of a sunset, the soaring granite peaks of El Capitan, the peaceful sound of birds, and distant waterfalls. The wordless mindfulness of hikers masking faces while passing each other during these unique times.

Many of history’s great thinkers were writers who hinged the working of their minds to the steady movement of their feet. They (i.e. Virginia Woolf, Gandhi, Walt Whitman…) felt the need to get up and get the blood moving, leaving the page to go out for a stroll.  How many of us choose to close our computer to take a walk just to be present and experience the world around us without expectation?  These thinkers got their creative juices flowing through movement and so can you.

Aside from the benefits to our mind and soul, research tells us the following about optimal walking for longevity.

The study from the American Cancer Society followed 140,000 older adults and reported that those who walked six hours per week had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer than those who were not active, but that walking even as little as two hours per week could begin to reduce the risk of disease and help you live a longer, healthier life.

The world’s longest-lived people from the Blue Zones didn’t run marathons or join gyms. Their lifestyles naturally nudged them into moving.  They grow gardens, do house and yard work. They have jobs that require them to move and they walk every single day, almost everywhere.

In Amish communities, one study showed that the average woman logged 14,000 steps per day and the average man logged 18,000 steps and both men and women walked 10,000 steps on their day of rest.  These Amish communities also had the lowest rates of obesity of any community in North America. When this study hit the media, it’s what was behind the movement to reach 10,000 steps a day.

Some of the benefits of walking include:

  •    Activation of the lymphatic system
  •    Elimination of toxins
  •    Fighting infection
  •    Strengthening immunity

How do you fit 10,000 steps into your day?

  • Take several small walks like walking your dog, having walking work meetings, going for a walk with your family after dinner. Research supports doing movement throughout the day vs doing a 40 min gym workout then just sitting all day.


  • Walk 5 minutes every hour. Perhaps setting an alert on your computer will help remind you.


  • Take one long walk 40-60 min with a friend.  In this time of COVID you can still social distance, be masked, walk outside and get the benefits of social connection and fresh air.  Happy stepping!

To keep us connected and moving, Teresa is currently offering Quarantine Remote BoneSmart Pilates classes, 55 min long, all classes bone safe/spine safe.

Registration links for the classes will be sent when BoneSmart Pilates receives payment. If you have any questions, please contact Teresa at

Participating in these classes will require that you create an account with zoom, it is free at  When you pay, please include a note in Paypal or by emailing me, indicating which class/classes you wish to register for. Be specific noting the DATE and time of your desired class.

Schedule is subject to change.  Classes will run through the end of April and we’ll re-evaluate then.

Payment Information:

$20 per class and must be paid in advance in order to receive the registration link. After doing that you’ll receive another email with the actual link to the class so don’t delay the registration step.

**If you’re experiencing financial hardship and just can’t swing it right now, I still want to support you. As a licensed physical therapist and movement educator, I’ve been blessed with a gift that I want to share so please just donate what you can, no questions asked.

Options to pay:   Preferred method (this requires a PayPal account)
Enter the amount appropriate for the number of classes that you are registering for. For example, if it is just one class, fill in $20.  If it is 3 classes, enter $60 and so on (or enter your donation amount)
Note: You must include a note when you purchase in PayPal (or email me separately), indicating which class dates and times you’re requesting. Be specific  @Teresa-Marchok (also you must include a note with the specific class, date and time you’re signing up for.  Include your email address with your venmo note so I can send you the registration link.






The following post is written by guest blogger and nutritionist Sally Duplantier

“As part of my annual check-up, I had my cholesterol tested, certain that the numbers would improve due to a year of great nutrition and exercise.  Imagine my surprise – and disappointment – when the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides had actually gone up.  The overall ratios were excellent and hadn’t changed in the past 10 years.  However, I could not see beyond those other two numbers.  How could they be bad, when I had been so good?”
Our Fixation with Numbers
Our fixation with numbers starts at an early age and continues through life.  In school, we have test scores.  At work, we have performance reviews.  In the wellness world, there are blood pressure readings, heart rate, steps per day, calories burned and of course – the number on the scale.  It’s not that these numbers aren’t important.  They serve as markers for health and keep us focused on goals.  The problem is when we are so obsessed with a number that it defines our self-worth.

Numbers Gone Awry
Consider a friend of mine who became overly focused on hitting the daily Movement goal on his smartwatch.  Since he only had 50 more calories to burn for the day, he jumped up and down on the cement floor in his garage.  He reached his goal but also developed shin splints and could barely walk for a week.

A Different Way of Thinking
Try this thought experiment for a day:  ignore the scale (or number of steps or calories burned) and simply focus on how you feel.

  • Is your energy good?
  • Can you do the things you want physically?
  • How do your clothes fit?
  • Are you confident in your appearance?

Weight Watchers calls these “non-scale victories.”  My favorite came from a client who hadn’t lost weight as quickly as she had hoped.  When I asked her about a non-scale victory, she said, “I feel like trying on pants again.”

The Top Takeaway
When it comes to health and especially weight loss, numbers play a role, but they don’t define who you are or what you’ve accomplished.  Cut yourself some slack!


Guest author and nutritionist, Sally Duplantier, creator of

Who wouldn’t want to look better and feel healthier?  This is true no matter what decade of life you are in.  The good news is this: there are things you can do now to improve the way you age at a cellular level
In 2009, three molecular biologists – Elisabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak – won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research into telomeres and their effects on aging.  Telomeres are the caps on our strands of DNA.  Think of them like the protective tip on a shoelace; without the tip, the shoelace ravels and becomes unusable.  This is similar to our DNA.  If protected by long telomeres, the cell can easily divide and renew the tissues that depend on it.  As telomeres shorten, the cell loses its ability to divide and dies.
In the book, The Telomere Effect:  A Younger, Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer, Blackburn, and co-author Elissa Epel, PhD, provide these tips to keep your telomeres thriving:
Telomeres Love Fish
They especially love fish that contains Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and tuna.  In fact, they thrive on any Omega-3 foods: walnuts, flaxseed, chia seed, and soy.  Foods associated with shorter telomere length include sugar, saturated fat, processed meats, white bread, pastries, and excess alcohol.
Telomeres Don’t Care What You Weigh
More than a number on a scale, telomeres care about your metabolic health—how well you control blood sugar levels.  This is true whether or not you are diabetic.  On the other hand, yo-yo dieting (losing the same 20 pounds or so over and over ) puts telomeres into a tailspin.
Telomeres Favor a Couple Forms of Exercise
Two forms of aerobic exercise are especially popular with telomeres:
  1. Moderate exercise like light jogging or fast walking, done 3 times a week for 45 minutes each
  2. High-intensity interval training, with a 10-minute warm-up, 4 intervals of fast and easy running (or brisk walking), and a 10-minute cooldown
Although the current research hasn’t linked strength training to telomere length, strength training is still vitally important for revving metabolism and maximizing bone health – especially as we get older.
Telomeres Crave Sleep
Telomeres respond best to a full night’s sleep, at least 7 hours, allowing your body to complete its four required sleep stages.  Short-changing yourself on sleep prevents your cells from replenishing as they should.  Likewise, you can’t make up for lack of weekday sleep by sleeping in on weekends.
Telomeres Know When You are Stressed Out
Anxiety, depression, pessimism, chronic stress and hostility have all been linked to the depletion of telomeres.  This can be undone, however, through meditation and mind-body practices like yoga or tai-chi and by reframing stress as a positive.
The top takeaway is this:  lifestyle choices — including nutrition, movement, sleep and stress management – impact how you age at a cellular level.  It’s never too late to improve this picture.
About the Author 
Sally Duplantier is the founder of Zing, a company that helps people improve their Healthspan—the number of years in which they are healthy, active and mentally sharp. She has a certificate in Nutrition Science from Stanford Medical School and is studying the science of aging at USC, where she is working on a Masters in Gerontology.

Have you ever contemplated getting studio Pilates equipment for your home workouts?

What if I told you that you may already own something that lends itself wonderfully to Pilates work? This month I’ll share with you a Pilates workout that I designed to be performed on…an Ottoman!

Perhaps you don’t have the money or inclination to purchase big Pilates equipment for home use. Well I’ve discovered to my delight that my padded ottoman is the perfect surface for so many Pilates exercises. Here’s a way to do some Aging Strong Pilates® in the comfort of your home and notch up the level.

The video below is my personal quick and dirty ~15 min workout that I do in my bedroom before or after a shower about 2-3x a week. I do it in my underwear for maximum skin to leather traction so I have good grip and don’t slide. Some of the exercises are extremely challenging so proceed with caution. They are safe but difficult, so listen to your body and proceed at a level and pace that matches where you are today.

At the end of this blog post I’ve included a full written list of the exercises so you can print it and repeat on your own with your choice of music.

Note: Your ottoman should not be on wheels or have a base that swivels.

My ottoman has a slope to it. Depending on the direction your lying on it, the slope can make a particular exercise easier or harder. If your ottoman is sloped, try and drape yourself on it in the same angle I do in the video. I demonstrate the exercises at the angle that facilitates each movement.

For example, for the beginning chest lift core series I’m positioned on my back with my buttocks on the low edge and the lower tips of my shoulder blades at the top of the slope. This is the easier orientation but you’ll see quickly that it is by no means “easy”. If your ottoman is level, that’s fine as long as it has nice padded edges so it doesn’t dig into you. If you choose not to do it in your underwear then add a shelf liner to the surface so you don’t slide.

This workout includes all ranges of motion, Flexion (just from Extension (back bending) to Neutral (straight line) so it’s safe for conditions where flexion is contraindicated) Rotation, Side Bending, and Extension. I incorporate wonderful stretches after working the muscles in all these planes of motion.

I have to admit this is one of my favorite routines. It’s a Bad A_ _ Core workout that energizes me and makes we feel worked in a short amount of time!

The planks are extremely challenging but if you have stiff feet or bunions that make it difficult to curl your toes under for planks on the floor, having your feet elevated makes that part actually easier since you don’t have to tuck your toes under. Remember, the more leg you have on the ottoman, the easier it will be, so position yourself wisely.


The two sections that I do face down (opposite arm and leg reach, swimming and swan) are great for strengthening the muscles that strengthen the hips and support good posture. Firing those upper back muscles has the added benefit of stimulating bone growth in the spine.


Here’s a full list of the exercises so you can repeat them on your own with your favorite music. Note that as you see in the video – you don’t have to do a lot of repetitions to make it count. If you want to get feedback from me on your technique, purchase a 30 minute online Skype session and I’ll ensure you’re moving safely and effectively!

Go slowly. Be Precise. Breathe. Have fun!

Ottoman Pilates Exercise List

On your Back (face up)

  • Big X Stretch
  • Chest Lift Series
    • Center
    • Oblique twisting toward the lifted tabletop leg
    • Advanced: knees lift, lift, lower, lower, alternating lead leg
  • Finish with Big X Stretch to lengthen the abdominals

On Your Belly

  • Opposite Arm leg reach (ottoman under pelvis and belly)
  • Swimming
  • Final extension hands interlaced reaching toward feet-rotating head as you breathe w/ease
  • Child’s pose/Rest position (knees open wide if you have osteoporosis or herniated discs)

Side Lying

  • Leg lifts (bottom foot on floor, top leg lifts and lowers) Waist positioned at middle of ottoman
  • Side Kick top leg, keep hips stacked vertically.    Shift body so hips at middle of ottoman
  • Hover body parallel to floor and hold (head in line with spine)
  • Top leg lifts and lowers
  • Side-Lying Stretch (shift yourself so it’s comfortable for you, grab top wrist with bottom hand)

Repeat above on the other side

Face Down

  • Planks (first with lower thigh and shin on ottoman) Hold position
  • Add pushups if desired
  • Walk further out so less leg on the ottoman-increased challenge
  • Side Plank (one on each side-move slowly and hold/breathe)

Face Down

  • Swan (begin with breasts/chest hanging over the front edge, hands on the floor, feet on floor against base of the wall) Activate core and legs then Inhale as  you rise, Exhale as you lower
  • Child pose/rest position