It’s that time of year we’ve all been waiting for — long weekends on the Cape, sightseeing through Europe, relaxing on a beach in the Caribbean — summer vacation! Vacation is meant to be a time to unwind and relax, but it’s hard to turn-off and completely take a break from your workout routine. If your hotel or Airbnb don’t offer a gym, it’s easy to keep your body moving and active with some key Pilates Mat exercises. All you need is a Yoga Mat (or a towel)!
Spine Stretch Forward is a great exercise to warm up with, especially if your lower-back, hips or hamstrings are tight from sitting in the car, on a plane or lounging by the pool. Lie on your back with legs hip distance apart and flexed feet, arms straight above you with wrists over shoulders. Draw your chin to your chest as you press your heels and legs down to roll up, rounding over an imaginary beach ball as you reach your arms long (parallel to the floor) and exhale the air out of your belly. Slowly roll back down to the mat, until your head touches and arms are reaching up out of your shoulders. If your legs are tight (or you’re having a hard time keeping your feet planted!), bend your knees, keeping them pointing straight up towards the ceiling.
Corkscrew will target those lower abdominal muscles to be beach ready! Lie on your back with knees in towards your chest. Rest your arms long beside your body, pressing your hands and arms flat into the mat. Draw your belly button down towards the mat and up through your ribs as you zip your legs and extend them straight up towards the sky with relaxed feet. Imagine you’re outlining a penny, starting by drawing to the right, stopping at the top, and then starting to the left. Do three-five roundtrips this size, and then gradually make your shapes larger. Keep your head down the entire time and listen to your back — if it starts to scream and is arching away from the floor, don’t draw your circles as low to the ground.
Bridges are loved because they strengthen your abs, glutes, hamstrings and lower back, while giving you a great massage! Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet parallel and hip-distance apart, hands and arms long beside your body. Engage your glutes and abdominals, keeping your eyes straight up towards the ceiling as you slowly peel your body up into a bridge, lifting your hips high, and then slowly articulating down. You can play with traveling up and down to release your back or holding the bridge for a 30 second hold. If your lower back is bothering you, drop your hips an inch or two closer to the mat.
Sometimes the most fun way to stay in shape while on the road is finding a local studio and taking advantage of a drop-in class …some of the best classes I’ve ever taken have been on the beach while on vacation. Pick up some new tips from a different instructor, meet some locals and learn some must-not-miss places to visit while visiting.
Remember, sometimes the best thing you can do for your body is rest, refuel and recharge — the very point of taking a vacation! If you’re not in the mood to workout while away, don’t beat yourself up. Enjoy your R&R and your favorite class will be waiting for you when you get home!