If you haven’t seen it, then you could have heard about the Pilates Reformer machine. It’s as intimidating as it sounds, but, instead of being used as a torture contraption, this device is used to build muscle. Its creator, Joseph Pilates, designed it to engage the body’s “powerhouse”: hips, lower back, abdomen, and abs - with the help of around 500 exercises.

Don’t be discouraged, though; it is perfectly possible to strengthen your core and recreate some of the animal kingdom moves without the Reformer machine, using just a mat, some elementary equipment (if any at all), and, well, your own body.

#1. The “Elephant”

Targeted areas: Abdominals, calves, hamstrings.

What to do: You’re standing on a mat, your feet are close together. Bend forward, put your hands flat on the mat. If you’re uncomfortable, move your feet away from your upper body. In this position, move each foot back and away from your hands. Move each foot back and resume your starting position. This is one rep.

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Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

How many reps: 12.

Notes: The “Elephant” is good if you want to work on your flexibility and mobility. If you’re not able to touch the floor yet, use books or yoga blocks. It’s also ok if only your fingertips are touching the floor.

#2. The “Clam”

Targeted areas: Lower body, the gluteus medius.

What to do: You’re laying on your right side. Your forearm is anchoring you to the floor and raises your upper body. Your hips are straightened and aligned with your back. Your knees are bent in front of you and feet raised off the floor a bit. Place your left hand on your waist. While keeping your feet raised above the ground and your hips unmoving, use your thigh and butt muscles to open and close your legs.

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How many reps: 12, then switch sides.

Notes: As you get used to the strain, try putting on a band or tying a towel around your thighs.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#3. The “Hundreds”

Targeted areas: Abdominals, lats, triceps, inner thighs, quads.

What to do: You’re flat on your back, your hands are at your sides and feet in front of you. Raise your legs off the floor at an about 45-degree angle, also lift your head and shoulders up. Pump your arms up and down at your sides five counts while inhaling and five counts while exhaling.

How many reps: Count to 100, repeat two more sets.

Notes: The “Clam” is a great cardio exercise. If you’d like to work on your lung capacity, inhale for five counts and exhale 7-8 count.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#4. The “Swan, with T”

Targeted areas: Back, shoulders, arms.

What to do: You’re laying on your stomach, with your face on the mat. Form a “T” by extending your arms at your sides. From this position, lift your chest off the floor. Lift your lower body off the mat, too.

How many reps: 12.

Notes: It’s recommendable to look down on the floor and lift your chest as far up as you can. Don’t arch your neck.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#5. The “Snake”.

Targeted areas: Shoulders, back, oblique muscles.

What to do: You’re in a plank position. Lift your body off the ground. Cross one leg under the other (bottom knee bent slightly, top leg straight). Arch your back so your chin meets your chest. Peel your upper body back up to starting position.

How many reps: 12.

Notes: Pilates pros say the “Snake” is one of the most challenging exercises.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

Additionally, try this spine massage technique when you wrap up your workout session.

What to do: You’re on your back, your feet and legs are together, your hands are at your palms facing down. Inhale and lift your legs off the mat at 45-degree angle. Exhale, slowly roll your body and bring your heels over your head until you can’t move any further. At this point, bring your feet back, bend your knees and extend your legs back to the 45-degree angle.

How many reps: 12.

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The BetterMe Team is by your side throughout your fitness journey! Stay motivated and you can achieve your goals. If you are struggling with your motivation have a look at one of our many articles for inspiration.

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Credit: BetterMe