Remember the tsunami of articles that surfaced the interweb back in like February that was some variation of “86 Moves to Get Your Best Bikini Body For Summer!”? And then remember how March, and April and May rolled around and I was still eating warm carbohydrates and cheese and any combination thereof at a higher frequency than I care to admit? Like, hourly, probably.
…Yeah, me neither.
We have arrived at the height of summer, and my ahem, bikini body, has not followed suit quite as intended. Aside from said “bikini body” rudely not showing up, I’m not into the BB word because it pushes fad diets instead of advocating a healthy lifestyle. Clearly, I ain’t giving up donuts or anything that contains cheese anytime soon, so I try to equalize my immense caloric intake by not being a sloth occasionally.
On this particular occasion, I sauntered my way over to one of my most recent obsessions, Exhale Chicago– you might have even read about them from me before here. If you haven’t, Exhale is the love child of a chic workout studio and your favorite spa- I dare you not to love it. After said sauntering, I met up with Mia Zifkin, who is not just the fittest lady you’ve ever laid eyes on, but a kick-ass and inspiring teacher. I picked her brain, aka asked questions like “WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET YOUR BUTT TO LOOK LIKE THAT” and “WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO LOOK LITERALLY JUST LIKE YOU.”
^^Actual words that came out of my mouth. And her response was “Exhale’s barre.” I know not all of our readers can head to their GoldCoast or Evanston location (but you probably should), so I kindly probed her mind on the most body-changing barre moves SO WE CAN ALL GET BODIES LIKE MIA’s. Because you’re welcome.
Here are her favorite moves that combine strength training for optimal tonage crossed with stretching to lengthen those muscles designed to give you a body that belongs on my Pinterest Thinspiration board. Best part? You can do these in the comfort of no pants, in your living room.
The Ab Curl
This one is trickier than it looks, but will carve out a six pack onto your abdomen, I swear it. To reap the best benefits, curl your shoulder off the ground, keep your back straight and pull your abdomen in- you can gently hold on to just below your bent knees. Hold it, forever. Just kidding, hold this pose for 15 seconds at a time, and then repeat 5 times. Be sure to keep your head and neck up.
Modification: you can use a playground ball (think volleyball) and place behind shoulder blades for upper back support.
Second Position Curl
From there, stay on your back- maintain the same shape with shoulders off the ground, but this time, flatten your bent knees and point them to the ceiling. You can either keep your hands placed on your leg, otherwise point them to the ceiling. Also hold this one for 15 seconds at a time, and repeat 5 times.
Modification: lower your legs.
Standing Fold Over
Now for some legs! Use a wall or even the back of a chair for this pose. Plant feet on the ground facing the chair your holding onto, approximately arms length away from it. While keeping your leg straight, bring it parallel to the floor, and move your hips as little as possible. If you’re looking for an added challenge, bend your knee and bring raised leg closer to your back, while squatting on your other leg. Complete 25 squats and then switch legs. Complete this cycle twice.
Modification: Don’t bring leg higher than hip if you have a back injury, or if there’s any pain with this pose. Keep your forearms on the bar/ chair, or even your forehead as well to take some strain off the lower body and back.
This one is both my favorite and my demise all at the same time. Once again, stand arms length away from the bar, place the heels of your feet together and rise to your tip toes. Squat up and down, while keeping your hips aligned and back straight. Squat 3 sets of 20.
Modification: Keep hips above knee level, or lower feet.
Total body workout, whaddup?! Get yourself into raised bridge position with your hands facing towards the wall, and lower using your arms. Do 3 sets of 25 here. Then, get into bridge position with just one leg holding your weight, lifting your other into the air pointing towards the ceiling. Do an additional 25 here, and then switch legs.
Modification: Keep hips on the floor instead of elevating them.
Face perpendicular to your chair or bar. Place your legs a little further than hip’s distance apart. Allow the arm closer to the bar to hold lightly on for support, and point the other towards the ceiling. Raise onto your tip toes, and squat. Complete 3 sets of 20 squats like this.
Modification: Don’t lower past your knees.
And now, let’s take a moment of silence for these pictures of me where my facial expression would indicate I’m being tortured. I do it for the cheese, people.