Have you ever been to a barre class? You think it's going to be a beautiful and ballet-y, with everyone looking lithe and limber while you do some plies and whatnot. It may look like that, but beneath barre's surface is a killer workout — a combo of low-impact, total-body moves that isolate different muscles and make them burn through countless repetitions. It may be brutal, but it delivers — you'll sculpt longer, leaner muscles and a smaller waist. The secret weapon? A small ball you probably haven't used since your days on the playground.
We had Element Fitness Studio's Andrea Fornarola Hunsberger walk us through nine moves you can do with just that little exercise ball. You can literally do them anywhere — even while watching TV.
Begin lying face down holding the playground ball above your head. Engage the glutes and lift the ball and your chest and legs up off the ground. Hold and then slowly release back down. Repeat 10 times.
Begin standing squeezing the playground ball between your legs, somewhere between the knees and waist — wherever feels comfortable. Keep squeezing the ball and then lower down into a squat position. For an extra challenge, do this on your tip toes.
Begin lying on your back with knees bent and the playground ball between your legs. Engage the glutes and the lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Keep the hips lifted and then lift your left leg up straight. Lower the left leg back down and lift your right leg up straight. Lower back down to starting position and repeat series 10 times.
Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Tuck the ball behind your knee and squeeze, so it's firmly stuck between your calf and your hamstring, and your leg is bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your bent leg towards the ceiling, so your toes are pointing to the opposite wall. Lower your leg so your inner thigh is parallel to the floor (like a dog at a fire hydrant). Repeat 20 times, then switch legs.
Begin in wide squat position (toes turned out) while holding the playground ball with both hands. Twist to the left, engage the core and do a standing crunch to the left. Return to neutral position and then twist and crunch to the right. Repeat 10 times.
Begin seated with the ball between your knees. Place hands back behind you for stability. Lift the hips up to stretch the thighs/quads. For an extra stretch lift the right hand up and back and then the left.
Begin standing with the playground ball in your hands and the right knee lifted to a 90-degree angle. Extend the right leg back and lift the ball overhead. Squeeze the right knee and ball back in and repeat 20 times. Switch to the left leg and repeat 20 times.
Standing Hip Tuck
Begin standing on your tip toes with the playground ball between your legs. Hold onto the barre (or couch or railing!) for stability and lower into a squat position. Engage the pelvic floor and tuck the hips forward. Pause and slowly return to neutral. Repeat 20 times.
Begin seated with the legs extended and playground ball in both hands. Engage the core and lift the left leg up off the ground. Lower your back and leg down towards the ground (until one inch off the ground) and then raise back up to neutral. Do 10 times and then repeat with right leg up.
Main Image: Shay Yizhak/Fotolia; Other Images: Courtesy of Andrea Fornarola