World champion figure skaters have an intense training schedule to get themselves Olympic-ready. For this year’s winter Olympics in South Korea, pro skaters like Megan Duhamel, Isabella Gamez and Tòn Cónsul train at least 5 days a week, spending hours each day on the ice. When they’re not in the rink, these pro figure skaters can be seen training at Pilates with Leslie in Montreal, Quebec. Cross-training with Pilates is crucial for getting their bodies into tip-top shape. Pilates is a perfect supplement for a figure skater or dancer because it promotes a healthy balance of flexibility, strength, and coordination that can only enhance a performance. While these athletes did a lot of reformer Pilates, many of their moves can be done at home with little to no equipment. Grab a pair of light weights and follow along to train like an Olympic Figure Skater! (I am in my last trimester of my pregnancy, and some modifications have been made to make all of these exercises pregnancy-safe.)
1. Side Lunge– If you have a slider, place it on the floor underneath the ball of your right foot. If you do not have a slider, you can still do a version of this exercise without one. With most of your weight on your left leg, lunge down with your feet in parallel allowing your right foot to slide out sideways. Bring your hips back so that all of your weight is in your left heel. Place your hands either on your hips or clasped together in front of your chest. Stay tight in your abs and lifted in your chest. Squeeze your left glute as you straighten the leg, allowing your right foot to slide back in. If you are not using a slider, stand with your legs together and step out to the side to lunge onto your left leg. Press off the left heel to come back to center and repeat. Do 15 reps, and on your last rep, hold your lunge position. If you are using the slider, stay down as you skate your right foot in and out 10 times. If you are not using the slider, tap your right foot in and then back out on the floor 10 times. Stand back up and do 3 sets on each side.
2. Bicep Curls in Teaser Position– Sit on the floor with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms up and lean back until you feel your abs engage. Keep your chest lifted and your spine long. Squeeze your inner thighs together as you lift your feet off the ground and try to balance on your tailbone. If you are pregnant, you can place a squishy ball behind your lower back for support and/or keep your feet down. Your legs will also be slightly separated instead of squeezing together. Lift your arms up to just below shoulder height and do 10 bicep curls. For the advanced version, straighten your legs to a full V- sit position. Lower your legs back down and sit up to rest in between sets. Do 3 sets.
3. Leg Pull– Get into a pushup position and lift your right leg up about hip height. Keep your core engaged so there’s no sinking in your lower back. Do one pushup and then keep the right leg up as you press forward on the ball of your left foot as if you’re pointing your foot and then bring the heel back. This should create a lateral movement of your body forward and back while keeping your core tight. Lower your right leg down and repeat with the left leg up. Continue alternating sides until you have completed 10 pushups. You can modify by keeping both feet on the ground at all times or doing pushups on your knees.
4. Star– Push up into a side plank position with your left hand on the ground, (fingers pointing away) just under your left shoulder and your right leg stacked in parallel on top of your left leg. Keep your right arm straight along the side of your body. This can be modified by going into a side plank on your forearm and knees instead and straightening the top leg (as demonstrated). Lift your top leg hip height. There are three steps to the next part. 1. Bring your top leg forward as you bring your top arm forward. Return to center. 2. Bring your top leg behind you without arching your back as you bring your top arm forward again. Return to center. 3. Bring your top arm forward and top leg back but then finish with a back bend as you bring your arm overhead and bend your top knee trying to touch your head to your foot. Return to center and lower your hips back down. Repeat on the other side.
5. Bird Dog with Tricep Extension– Place a dumbbell near your left hand and get down on all fours. Align your shoulders directly over your hands and your hips over your knees. Without changing the shape of your torso, lift your right leg straight up to hip height in parallel. If your back is arching, lower the leg so that you can keep your abs in at all times. Carefully pick up the dumbbell with your left hand and bend your left elbow up by your side. You will now be balancing on your right hand and left knee. Do 10 tricep extensions by straightening your left arm back behind you, never allowing your elbow to drop. Repeat on the other side.
Have you done Pilates as cross-training for another sport or activity? How has it helped improve your performance?
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Video: Crystal Chin