My workout routine :: Pilates, Body Balance, & a few tips!



Hands down, the best decision I’ve made in the past two years is to take up Pilates. Though to be honest, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll probably have realised how much I love it given how frequently I mention my classes!

I’d first come across Pilates when I was studying contemporary dance at Laban aged 18. It was part of our weekly timetable of classes- hours and hours spent performing one slow sit-up after another, attempting to hold our pelvic floors at a level of 75% strength precisely (the teachers were incredibly tactile, and not at all adverse to giving you a prod here or there to help ensure you were lifting in exactly the right places!), and hoping that the exercises would help our leg muscles stay long and elegant, and not get bunched and tight. When I left the school, I stuck with classes at home for a little while, dabbled in yoga for a bit too (which I found a little too gentle and spiritual at the time) before eventually giving up on it altogether midway through university. My fitness tailed off during those three years, until every ounce of strength and flexibility I’d worked so hard to gain during a decade or so of dance classes had faded away.

By the time summer of 2013 came around, I felt so sluggish and unhealthy and frankly, pretty miserable with the way my body was from the inside out, that I decided that it was maybe time for a change. Jason and I booked in at a local Pilates class that my Mum had heard came highly recommended in our area, and we launched ourselves into it when the new term began in September. Jason lasted about four or five classes before hurting his back and decided Pilates isn’t really for him, and me? Well, 18 months of weekly classes later, and I’ve never looked back!

I’ve had a lot of questions about Pilates and Body Balance (my other true exercise love!), so thought it was about time I put together a post about it all! Truly, ‘do a post about Pilates and exercise and stuff’ has been lingering on my blog-to-do list for MONTHS! So without further ado, here’s the low down on all things bendy…


About a year ago Jason shared a quote with me that he’d come across back when his company was doing a rebrand for a Pilates studio, which read:

‘After ten Pilates classes you’ll feel the difference, after twenty you’ll see the difference, and after thirty you’ll have a different body’.

Whilst, of course, the transformation isn’t quite so rigid, for me I’d say that’s pretty true! It’s not the sort of exercise that yields immediate visual results, because the emphasis is upon building a solid foundation of strength from the inside out. Even though most of the exercises look so simple you’d imagine you could do them with no effort at all, they’re deceptively strenuous, and all designed to activate and work your deep core muscles. {I’ve linked to a video at the end of the post that teaches a pretty typical Pilates class, if you’re new to it all and interested in seeing what’s what!}

After about 6 months of weekly classes, my Pilates teacher Sarah suggested I might like to try out Body Balance, since it’s far more dynamic than regular Pilates and I’d loved the elements of it she’d incorporated into our Pilates classes. I’d never heard of it until trying my first class, and now love it so much I can’t imagine ever doing without it! Body Balance is a combination of yoga, Pilates and tai chi, and is set to music. There’s a tai chi warm up, followed by a sun salutation sequence, and then a few sets of Pilates-based exercises each a few minutes long that target, tone and/or stretch a different muscle group in turn. The sequences are so well-linked to the music that the classes really scratch the little ‘I sort of kind of miss dancing’ itch I secretly sometimes harbour, and are so tough and challenging I’ve honestly never been so strong or toned in all my life!

T H E   R O U T I N E ::

Each week, I tend to do one 1 hour Pilates class, one 1 hour Body Balance class at the gym, and then another 1 hour Body Balance workout at home following along from a DVD. My instructor passes her old DVDs along to me once she’s done with them, but unfortunately, I’m pretty certain they’re not available to buy for anyone other than registered Body Balance instructors. I’ve linked to a few other of my favourite at-home workouts below though, as well as a snippet from the most recent Body Balance ‘release’ (as the entire 1 hour workout is called)! The classes are pretty widely available, so I’d really recommend giving them a go if it sounds like your cup of tea!

Aside from Pilates and Body Balance classes, the only other thing I do, exercise-wise, is walk with Ted! I’m usually out with him about 4 days a week on average (Jason takes him the other 3 days), and each walk is anywhere between 2 and 5 miles long. I try to do at least one longer length walk each week (Virginia Water lake is always a good walk, 4.5 miles round!), and try to push myself to complete it in an as close to an hour as I can manage!
  Pilates-Body-Balance-Cider-with-Rosie Cider-with-Rosie-Pilates-routine-headstand

^^ Just to clarify, my legs are bent in the above photo, and there’s not normally a gap between my thighs! I know people are funny about the ol’ thigh gap thing, so just though I’d better make things crystal clear ;) ^^

M Y   T O P   T I P S! ::

1. Book some taster classes.
If you fancy taking up a class-based exercise but haven’t ever tried one, I’d suggest booking a couple of taster sessions in both yoga and Pilates. Most gyms and independent instructors I’ve come across will let you take your first class for free, and it’s worth giving a few styles of exercise a go to see what suits! Though I’ve grown to enjoy yoga, I’ve always found the emphasis on spirituality a little bit much for me. I prefer Pilates and Body Balance for how straight-talking they are, though do still follow along with yoga classes online sometimes too. In short- try a few things out, and see what makes you tick!

2. Don’t worry about buying a load of gear- mats, expensive clothes etc.
Most gyms supply mats, a towel on the living room carpet does the job just as well, and if you’re working out at home, no-one’s there to judge if you do your Pilates class in a pair of pants and an old T shirt! ;)

3. Stick it out.
Like I said before, Pilates is a slow one to show results. The long-term gains have been absolutely incredible in my experience though, and it’s such a therapeutic form of exercise.

4. Set some goals, and set deadlines for them too.
I decided that my first goal was to be able to manage 10 full press ups after 6 months of classes, and achieving it felt amazing! Now my goal is to be able to do a headstand (with extended legs, eek!) by the end of this year! It’s a tough one, but I’m getting there!

5. Don’t be afraid to sweat it out.
I know this might sound like a silly one, but I know SO many people who feel stupid if they get sweaty in exercise classes, or look like they’re working harder than other people! I’ve always been someone who shows exertion really quickly, and was *always* the girl in ballet class with a halo of sweaty frizz springing out from my nice once-neat bun! I used to feel embarrassed by it, but quickly learnt that actually I’d rather it seem like I was trying than that I wasn’t! In truth, no-one is paying attention to anyone else in class. If there a mirrors, absolutely 100% guaranteed every single person in the room will be studying their own reflection rather than using it to look at anyone else- I mean, what’s what they’re there for, right? :) So, embrace that sweat!


T H E   G E A R ::
Linked below are a few of my favourite pieces of sportswear, if you do fancy picking up a few lovely bits to make getting to class that bit easier! Confession- sometimes I put on gym clothes at the beginning of the day, even though class isn’t until 8pm that evening, because they’re just so comfortable ;) What can I say! I’ve become a total cliche!

Sports bras :: I wear these a lot {fun colours, and totally affordable!} but these are also fantastic.
Yoga leggings {and these are next on my ‘to buy’ list!}
Plain T shirts
Layering pieces ::  Zip up, long sleeved top, lightweight gilet.


W O R K   O U T   A T   H O M E ::

Since I’ve always loved (and still do love!) working out at home, I’ve made a playlist of a few of my favourite online fitness videos via my YouTube account! There are a mixture of Pilates, ballet, yoga, and combination videos there, and all take less than 30 minutes to complete so can be fitted into a day’s routine pretty easily.

- Pilates class 1 :: a 30 minute class, covering the core Pilates movements. It’s clear and easy to follow, but pretty fast paced. The instructors posture is amazing and she gives reminders throughout about correct placement, so I’d say it’s a pretty good one for even someone totally fresh to Pilates to follow along with.

- Yoga with Adrienne :: I love these videos! Adrienne herself seems really sweet and friendly, but not in an over the top or sickly sweet way! She moves through the sequences at a really great pace (not too fast, not too slow), and her classes are nicely varied. This one especially is lovely in the evening, and this one’s good for a slightly unusual balance challenge!

Blogilates :: The ‘Arms/legs/abs/etc. On Fire’ series by Cassey is a great one, and burns like crazy! I haven’t done these workouts for a little while, but remember the abs one especially was really insanely tough. Great for a really intense daily blast of exercise!

Mary Helen Bowers :: I’ve done a few of Mary Helen Bowers’ online classes, and really loved them! They look so effortless and simple to do, but the ‘lean legs and buns‘ one especially is a killer! They’re short (only 15 minutes each) so can be done alongside another video if you fancy. Really gorgeous ballet-based movements!

Les Mills Body Balance :: This is just a video of snippets taken from Release 67, the most recent class programme. It’s not one you can follow along with, but shows a little of what class is like!


And that’s a wrap! I’m always so fascinated to learn what other people do to take care for their bodies, so I hope post’s an interesting one to read! :) Are you a gym-bunny? A #yogaeverydamnday-er? Evangelical about Pilates, or Zumba, or spinning? I’m so interested to know!

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  • Molly Robinson

    Fantastic post Rosie – I love the enthusiasm and positive vibes, certainly needed! I will certainly look into classes and routines M x

  • Laura

    So much inspiration here – thank you! My local gym has a body balance class so I’m going to give it a try. I adored Pilates but don’t live near to any classes now, so hopefully Body Balance will help xx

  • Sarah Rooftops

    I love pilates! I can’t do it at the moment because I’m pregnant and it’s the one thing I really miss (alcohol? soft cheese? good nights’ sleeps? no! I miss exercise – WHO AM I?!). I’ve had trouble with my legs and hypermobility in the past but, within a few weeks of pilates, I felt so much stronger – I went every week for a couple of years and I’m hoping to get back to it soon.

  • 76 sunflowers

    Fabulous post and so well timed! Thank you! I love yoga but have only done it at home via ErinMotz Bad Yogi online. My friend has recommended Pilates and I have done tai chi in the past so Body Balance sounds perfect. Will be checking out all your links :)

  • Sophie

    Loved reading this post Rosie! I’ve been doing the 30 days yoga with Adrienne and I’m really loving it, I think I need to add something with a bit more movement during the week so I will definitely look at pilates and body balance!


  • Emma Gordon

    I loved reading this post and this is really well timed because I’ve been thinking of doing some yoga or pilates at home as I want to start moving more day to day. These seem great as I can fit them into my routine easily!

    Emma |

  • Debbie

    Thank you for writing this, it’s been inspiring. I wanted to try yoga for years but have found it a bit too spiritual too. I’d heard of pilates but thought it was something completely different to what it is. I’m going to try out the links you’ve given and see if it’s right for me.

    I tried a Blogilates one the other day and the first move was a side plank and I am so not ready for that yet! I collapsed about 30 seconds in, I have absolutely no upper body strength. I do like the Yoga with Adriene series though, she did a 30 day challenge in January which I failed miserably, but it made me want to build up my strength and try again at a later date.

    I’m trying fitsteps at the moment, which felt quite easy to do at the time but I was sore the next day.

    Best of luck with your headstands! xx

  • Anna

    Body Balance is the best! I remember doing it at uni – so much fun! It really didn’t feel like exercise…(until the dreaded crunches; I still remember exactly which tune played when we had to do crunches and cringe whenever I hear it!).

  • Rebecca

    I have a question totally unrelated to pilates or yoga: how did you create the first image in this post? It looks so darn good!

    • Rosie

      Thanks Rebecca! So I took the photo (using a tripod, and just laying out items on a plain backdrop), then used Photoshop to edit it. Basically, I just wrote out the text, combined it with a mask of translucent grey covering the whole of the image, then cut out the letters individually which creates the sort of ‘cut out’ effect! It’s fiddly to explain and I’m such a novice I’m sure there’s an easier and more pro way to do it, but it works for me! :)

      • Rebecca

        Thankyou for taking the time to explain! Might have to give it a go myself, although I’m not sure it will look as good!

  • Vic | Landscapes & Cupcakes

    Fab post, and really interesting to hear about someone elses work out routine.

    I’ve been practicing yoga for about 8 years now and I absolutely love it. I have been really lucky to have had amazing teachers which makes such a difference, and my current teacher mixes in lots of different styles of yoga which keeps it really interesting. The difference between a seriously chilled out yoga nidra or yin session compared with a much more dynamic Vinyasa yoga session is huge, so it is worth sussing out what styles suit you.

    I got pretty good and was really flexible until I *very annoyingly* hurt my back in a car crash a few years ago which put me back to square one- yoga has really helped me recover though and I am nearly back to where I was before! I used to do pilates too when I was in uni, and loved it, and have been meaning to try body balance for ages- our gym has the Les Mills classes too so I will have to book on! :)

    Oooo and on the subject of lush yoga leggings- i’ve just invested in these beauties… … they’re amaaaaaazing!! :) xxx

    • Rosie

      Ooh I’ve heard good things about vinyasa- and is there another one that’s more dynamic and tough too, begins with an ‘A’ I think? How frustrating about your back, must’ve been so hard to be back at square one. Did you do yoga as part of your physio, or just go back to classes because you’d loved it before the accident? Also, those leggings are LUSH!

      • Vic | Landscapes & Cupcakes

        Ashtanga maybe? I think its really similar/the same as Vinyasa! Hehe glad you like the leggings- I must admit i’ve been wearing them around the house a fair bit too! :) x

  • Charlie

    I must admit that I have never stuck with Yoga long enough to see results. I will need to give it another try though because I think it can have lots of benefits. But I looove pilates ! it’s fun to do and such a good, intensive workout ! I will have to give body balance a try too !

    xx, Charlie.

  • Hey Rita

    I’ve never tried Pilates. I was into yoga last year but somehow I stopped doing it the new year came, with the lame excuse that it was too cold.

    I’ve been doing the 7-Minute Workout at home almost every day, and I can definitely feel a change in my body.


  • Anna Blush

    I love a good home work out. Will have to give Pilates a go, it sounds great x


  • Carrie

    I loved this post, thank you for sharing Rosie! I used to go to body balance twice weekly, but since moving I haven’t found a class to go to that doesn’t involve getting a full gym membership, and I sadly can’t justify the spend for that at the moment. Unfortunately I’ve been using that as an excuse to do very little exercise, so I think that needs to change! I’ve never actually tried Pilates by itself, so I might pick up a DVD until I can find a class! Thanks!

    Carrie xx

  • Lauren S

    Yoga and Pilates are my kind of fitness and I really want to join more classes but at home has been working for me now as I have to build up without being overwhelmed – I love blogilates and being able to be flexible is important!

    Lauren x

    Britton Loves | Lifestyle Food Fashion Beauty –

  • Jae (@gorjaeous)

    I’m a fan of HIIT workouts, so when I recently tried low impact workouts such as Pilates and Yoga, I was surprised that I actually liked them. I’m trying to mix things up in my workout routine for the week!

    • Rosie

      Is HIIT kind of like circuits? I keep seeing it mentioned places, but haven’t any idea what it is! :)

      • Jae (@gorjaeous)

        How adorable can you get, Rosie? :) HIIT workouts are high intensity interval workouts. Simply put, they’re fat-blasting circuits with little time of rest in between. Such workouts keep your heart rate elevated the entire routine, burning more calories. A few examples of which are Body Combat and TurboFire. Not a fitness expert, but only speaking from experience! :)

  • WhatLydDid

    My mum is…well, I’m sure she’d rather I didn’t disclose her age… but she has two adult children, and her body is better than both of ours! Cartwheels and backflips are regular occurrences thanks to years of yoga building her strength and flexibility. I do hope you surprise your future children or guests with a few circus skills too!

  • Fi @ this and that blog

    I’m a runner and currently training for a half marathon – not sure how I ever became a person that can say that sentence if I’m honest! Anyway I’ve always toyed with the idea of Pilates as it’s something I’d benefit from and enjoy at the same time. Your post has really reminded me that I really must give it a go! x

  • Danielle Bevan

    I’m doing my first ever pilates class tonight and I’m both excited and nervous as I’ve never done anything like it before! I want to do an exercise class that is therapeutic, too, so it sounds perfect! x

  • Elizabeth Rebecca

    I’ve just favourite your playlist – thanks for putting it all into one place for us.

    Lizzie Dripping

  • Diana Cloudlet

    Found your blog recently and I’d like to say that I’m in love with it!
    Interesting posts and beautiful photos!
    I’ll be happy to see you in my blog!)


  • Sed Bona

    Pilates has absolutely saved my body and my flexibility as I’ve moved into my mid and late twenties! I have a Pilates rebounder that is so much fun to use I don’t have to convince myself to workout every day! Great tips — bookmarking this page for those days when I need to change up my routine!

    Sed Bona

  • Molly

    Loved this post! I’ve always been interested in Pilates and this post has made me want to attend a class even more! Thank you :)

  • Emily

    Great post!
    Pilates sounds really good!
    I also love Blogilates :)

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  • Sally Crangle

    I loved this post Rosie! I’ve always been a little curious about Pilates as i think it’d be right up my pipe. I’ve just never ever got round to trying a class out. I’m not really an exercise in groups kind a gal and much prefer my own company SO getting my bike was my ‘hallejuah’ moment. I always think exercise is 95% finding what exercise makes you feel amazing – regardless of how fast the results come. If you love doing it and it makes you feel great, you wont find it a chore and more a pleasure?!

    I’ve always loved the outdoors and only ever thought that you could run outside (i tried running – hated it, hated people who seemed to love it and the very first time i tried, i didn’t warm up properly (i’m impatient what can i say?!?) and it turns out that kind of thing is important!). I really hurt my legs and could hardly walk for a fortnight – no jokes.

    Getting my bike gives me my outside fix – i use it everywhere and as often as i can. I can feel the air in my lungs and switch off and take myself wherever i want. When its warm i take myself off along the river with a flask of coffee or some water and my book and it’s just brilliant.

    I’ve dabbled in a little of home pilates but never got into it but i really like the sound of it. Thinking your post might well have given me the shove i needed to mix it up a little. Plus, when it’s pouring down with rain it means i can still get my exercise fix ;) Maybe i can do my headstands outside?! Just joking. Love this Mrs!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Sal xxx

  • Georgina

    I am so glad you have written this post! I used to run fairly regularly and sort of fell out of love with it when we moved (has to be a completely different style round here now we’re in the country) and I’m really feeling rubbish about my fitness. I was going to take it back up again but have recently developed asthma and really struggle with breathing so decided Pilates might be worth trying. I’ve struggled to keep motivated (especially as my asthma isn’t properly under control and a coughing fit doesn’t help when trying to do the sit ups!) but this has given me lots of new resources to look into, so thank you :) xx

  • Caroline L.

    Thank you for that collection of home videos! I’ve done Yoga with Adrienne and Blogilates before (Blogilates – owwwwww!!!) and really liked both, but I always get impatient once I start knowing routines, so it’s good to have some more in the mix. Get those High Times Lululemons!!!! I have them and they are by far THE most worn item in my entire closet. I love that it’s a longer length and a higher waist – I seriously have them on about 60% of the week (shhh…) ;) Great for working out, but also for going out into the real world!

    • Rosie

      Ohh you enabler Caroline! ;)

  • Teffy @ Sprinkle of Green

    I did reformer pilates for ages and was totally addicted to it! It’s such an amazing core workout, which is an area I definitely need to focus on.
    I’ve been doing more yoga lately, and I was the same as you, used to find it too slow and spiritual. Then I tried Vinyasa and man oh man, that stuff is full on! It’s all about flowing through the poses, and I love it!

    I also love doing barre body classes, but I go to the studio as I’m horrible at doing them at home! Don’t know why, but I never feel like the setting is right and I can’t seem to take it seriously if I do it in my living room. I’ve heard of Mary Helen before, and I did a sleek technique class in London as well!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  • Kezia @ Super Naturally Health

    So with you on this pilates has transformed my body and is great for overall strength and preventing injury – and I agree Blogilates is a bit mental but oh so good. I am all about working out at home – I like the gym but the ease of home workouts is the best:)

  • Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons

    I had to do lots of Laban as well. Did you have to work out what your natural movement effort was? x

  • LillianZahra

    I love Pilates – I started doing it at uni where my halls had a free weekly class. Now that I’m training for the London marathon I’m trying to do some everyday even it its just a 15 minute youtube video as it makes such a difference. x

  • Gabbie

    Thanks for these videos, Rosie – great to have recommendations. And thanks for your sensible comment re: thigh gaps, too!

  • Katie Bedlow

    Loved this post! I’ve just taken up pilates, I’ve been going for about six weeks now, and i’ve utterly loved it! My instructor is a five foot two wonder woman! She’s very tactile as you mentioned, but I prefer that as if i’m wrong, I want to be put right so I can improve, not just keep making the same mistakes! I do feel stronger already, I will look at taking a body balance class now! Katie x

  • thelikelylady

    Keeping this post saved to look at later this evening! Really fancying following a class again after my yoga class term finished. Haven’t tried pilates so I’m keen!

    Laura / The Likely Lady xx

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  • Rosie McKay

    Pilates is such a great way to get toned and feel healthy, inside and out!
    I also love yogalates, which, unsurprisingly, combines Yoga and Pilates.
    I’d love to try some more dance based classes such as barre as that is the exercise I enjoy the most! It is great when you find an exercise routine which doesn’t feel like a task.


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  • anambaig

    I do a good mix of exercises & I have recently tried Pilates and liked it.

    Anam xo || KSA Beauty Haul

  • Cesar Bahnerth

    Found your blog. Its really nice on personal trainingI appreciate your article. Its important to get quality tips and information to make a fit and muscular body. So thanks for sharing all that important information.

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