This Pilates workout will make you sweat more than a HIIT session

Pilates – it’s no secret that this is the training loved by celebrities and models worldwide including Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Megan Fox, Miranda Kerr, Kate Hudson and Reese Witherspoon – all of whom credit their lean, strong and toned physiques to it.

And now there’s the latest fitness trend and celebrity workout to hit Hollywood and abroad – and it’s a modern twist on the classical Pilates that you know and love. Known as Athletic Pilates or Power Pilates, this must-try new workout uses the same fundamental principles of Pilates, but will really make you sweat and burn, tone and tighten.

We all know Pilates is the go-to exercise for long, strong, Hollywood bodies, but did you know it makes you smarter? Researchers at the Beijing Normal and Yanshan Universities found an increase in women’s ‘alpha peak power’ in just 10 weeks of Pilates training. This alpha peak power is related to memory performance, increased neural activity and other cognitive functions. Not to mention, Pilates is believed to be a potential treatment option for cognitive disfunctions and brain-degenerative diseases.

Athletic Pilates, the “next gen” Pilates movement, ups the ante from its classical predecessor. Athletic Pilates is a high energy but low impact form of training, so it isn’t jarring on your body. It fuses Pilates with controlled cardio, HIIT, and light resistance, and decreases your chance of injury that often occurs with overdoing jarring exercises such as the over-loved but good old burpee, jump squat or switch lunge.

Jess Guevara, an L.A. based Athletic Pilates and Fitness Specialist, has trained celebrities like former Australian Swimwear Model of the Year Kyly Clarke and celebrity restauranteur and foodie Bill Granger and knows the benefits of a workout from personal experience.

Before Jess created her Athletic Pilates training style, she was trying to get the results she wanted by combining different disciplines. The result? Overtraining and injury – something many of us are well versed with. Hands up if you’re guilty of heading to a Pilates class only to follow it up with a spin class, a run, or weights session at the gym? Many of us over train because we think training more equates to faster results. Not true at all unfortunately.

What happened to Jess from overtraining is something many of us can surely relate to – injury and unfortunately overtraining and overusing the same muscles only send you straight back to square one or worse. Her solution is how this new style of training evolved – a low impact, balanced workout that offers the perfect combination of Pilates, cardio, and strength, delivered in under 45 minutes – and designed to get you results in the shortest possible time (a woman’s perfect workout, right?!)

Celebrities here and abroad are using Athletic Pilates to reach their peak physical fitness and best of all, achieving their body goals while nurturing and protecting themselves from injury.

If you’re keen to check it out, Jess has just condensed her Hollywood training, nutrition and celebrity secrets into a new 21 Day Pilates Body Program, which is now available to stream on Australia’s leading on demand fitness streaming platform, VARLAH – so you can do your workouts from the comfort of your own home.

Here’s one of the workouts to give you a taste of the program. Prepare to burn!

Full Body Sweat & Tone Workout


  • Mat
  • Sweat towel
  • Water bottle
  • Set of light dumbbells

Dynamic Warm up


Stand on the back edge of mat with feet hip width apart. Reach fingers to the sky, roll down and walk out into plank and hold. Take a breath and then walk back up. Repeat 5 reps.

Runners Stretch with hip pulse

From plank position move your right leg to meet the outside of your right hand. Lift hips up then bend at the knee and lift back up for four pulses then swap sides. Repeat 4 reps per side.

Core & Glute Activation

Glute bridges with pulse

Make sure to keep these full range. Repeat 10 reps. Straight into 10 bridge pulses. Make sure to stay connected and tight through your glutes and hamstrings.

Thread the Needle + Mountain Climbers

This can be done from knees (for a beginner) or toes (more advanced). Start on your side. Lengthen both legs and lift up bringing your arm up into the air and then twist down, rotating your ribs and bringing you hand under the body before raising back up. For this move, you are spiraling through centre of your spine.

[To regress, stack your knees if you can’t place pressure on your ankles].

Repeat 5 reps per side.

Move back to plank for 10 slow mountain climbers (rounding the back to activate and switch on the core)

Block One

A. Plie with upright row

Pick up your light dumbbells. Open the legs wide and bend at the knees so hips are in line with knees – as you lengthen back up, lift your elbows up. Repeat 12 reps.

Now hold it down and pulse the plie and upright row for 12 reps.

B. Alternating push-ups with a side plank

Start from knees or toes. Push up then rotate so you’re in a side plank position, and return to the centre. Repeat to the other side. Repeat 8 reps.

C. Reverse fly plus alternating lunges

Hinge from the hips. Lift dumbbells out to the side for two counts and lower back down for two counts. Repeat 12 reps.

Move straight into 12 reps alternating lunges with dumbbells. Raise dumbbells up when lunging back and lower dumbbells when lifting back up.

D. Breakdancer

Start in plank and drop one leg through to the opposite side of your body, then slowly bend your back knee and pulse hips up for 4 pulses then change sides. Your glutes are powering this move. 3 reps per side.

Block Two (Unilateral)


1. Single leg deadlift to shoulder press (unilateral)

Pick up your weights. Starting on the left side. Hinge from hips, reach for floor and stick the bottom out. Take a deep breath and lift the back leg up (advanced) or keep it planted (beginner), find your balance and slowly lift back up raising your knee. Open your arms life football field goals and shoulder press at the top. 8 reps.

Now find your balance and straight into 8 shoulder presses.

[Balance is crucial here, back leg may have to stay down]

2. Runners stretch deep pulse with sprinter plyometric jumps (unilateral)

Starting on the left side. Drop to the mat in a sprinter deep lunge, pulsing for 8 reps, pushing through the heel and reaching the hips back. Then explode from hips and glutes for 8 reps of plyo jump lunges.

Now complete A1 and A2 on the right side.

[Modifications: lighter weights or body weight, swap lunge for squat hinge or reverse hip bridge]

B. Side lunge into curtsy with snatch to ceiling

Pick up weight in left hand only. Right leg will step into side lunge whilst simultaneously hinging from hips and transferring weight in front of the right shin. Power off right leg immediately going into curtsy and performing a snatch to the ceiling with the left hand. Brace core through movement. Repeat 8 reps then straight into 8 curtsy pulses.

Repeat other side with weight in right hand. 8 reps with 8 pulses.

C. 4-point kneeling glutes

On all fours on mat, place weight behind one knee. That knee moves up to the ceiling then back down then out to the side then back down. Repeat 16 reps.

Straight into 8 pulses to the ceiling.

Place weight behind other knee and repeat other side.

D. Burpees

Burpees. 12 reps.

Block Three (Biceps and Triceps)

A. Bicep curl with side to side curtsy

Place weights in hands. Wide bicep curl with a side to side curtsy. 12 reps alternating side.

Straight into 4 pulses in side curtsy and 4 pulses swapping sides.

B. Overhead triceps pulses with full range extension

Place both hands with dumbbells overhead. Halfway small pulses squeezing triceps. 12 reps then moving straight into 12 full range tricep extensions.

C. Reverse Bridge

Come down to the mat for reverse bridge. Fingers to heels and moving just the hips up and down. Keep triceps contracted, arms are straight. Complete 12 reps.

D. Tricep Dips

Move straight into tricep dips for 12 reps to burn out triceps. [Watch out for shoulder girdle and sagging lower back].

Complete one more lap of block one, two and three.

Cool down

Now it’s time to release hips and glutes. Also, releasing shoulders and arms from using weights.

Pilates Roll downs

Sitting on a mat nice and tall with legs lengthened out in front. Take a deep breath and slowly roll back, curling the tail bone under and rolling down to lower back, middle back, upper back then head neck and shoulders touch the mat. Then slowly roll back up. Repeat 4 reps.

Spine rotations on back

Bent knees rotate from one side to the other. Repeat 4 reps.

Rolling like a back

This will help release the back. Pull knees to the chest, squeezing abs and rolling like a ball to come up.

Cat cow stretch

From a 4-point kneeling position drop the belly, take a deep breath and look up. Then round through the spine and curl up the abs then repeat. Repeat 4 reps.

Downward dog

Lift up into downward dog position and peddle through feet. Repeat 8 reps. Walk feet in and fold over and hang your head down, shake it yes and shake it no and slowly roll back up.

21 Day Pilates Body can be found at VARLAH for just $ 69.95 which buys you access to the program, daily workouts, forums and nutrition guide and meal plan for life. Best of all, VARLAH guarantees your enjoyment of the program with a 60-day satisfaction money back guarantee.

For more workout inspo, this is a 7 minute body blaster that will get you summer ready this winter. Plus, this is Kim Kardashian’s ultimate butt workout.

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Fitness | body+soul