Try Ashley Park’s Total-Body Pilates Workout

Plus, learn how the Emily In Paris star has improved her practice, according to her instructor.

Ashley Park Trainer
Photo:

Leeor Wild

Between filming Emily In Paris, doing photoshoots, and traveling for work, you could say that Ashley Park doesn’t exactly have much spare time for exercise. Still, she always makes the time to practice Pilates with her instructor Brandon Perry, a Los Angeles-based trainer and the founder of BP Pilates, an at-home Pilates fitness app.

For the uninitiated, Pilates is a form of exercise created by Joseph Hubertus Pilates in the 1920s. It’s a low-impact, full-body workout that involves repetitive movements that often engage the glutes, hips, lower back, and pelvic floor with a strong emphasis on core strength. Similar to yoga, Pilates exercises are often paired with strategic breathing and require a strong level of stability and control. Pilates is typically performed on a mat or a reformer machine.

Perry grew up as a competitive ballroom dancer and began his own Pilates training with his sister-slash-coach as a way to enhance his skill set and cross train. He’s been instructing Park in contemporary Pilates for nearly a year. "Ashley wanted challenging Pilates workouts where you leave feeling sweaty and accomplished," he tells Shape. That means incorporating props and free weights for added challenges and to target specific muscle groups, he explains. "Pilates is perfect for Ashley because it’s low impact and allows her to reset within her body while still getting a solid, total-body workout in."

Just because the workout method is ideal for the Park’s lifestyle and goals doesn’t mean Pilates always came easily to her. "Ashley came to me with a love/hate relationship for planks," says Perry. "Before Pilates she used to cheat her way through planks. But after doing private Pilates where we corrected her from and [figured out] how to engage her core properly, she's a pro."

In the limited time they have to work out together each week, Perry helps Park get the most out of their sessions by including elements of cardio, upper body, lower body, and core work. "I always listen to how she’s feeling and can adjust her workout accordingly to help her feel her best," says Perry. "Because Ashley is young, healthy, and has body awareness, we were able to keep her workouts quite advanced and challenging," he adds.

Although the moves may get Park’s heart pumping, she and Perry prefer to keep the mood of their sessions mellow, according to the trainer. "When we're working out in the studio, we usually have a more chill vibe going on," says Perry. "There have been a couple times in our early morning sessions where an ‘aggressive’ song comes on and in unison [we] agree, 'next,'" he adds. "We also love our pop divas!"

Despite her typically calm choices when it comes to her workout playlist, Park still enjoys a little adrenaline rush — and not just while she’s working out. "She has a habit of sneaking up and scaring people," laughs Perry, noting that training her has taught him not to take himself so seriously. "Ashley is genuine, humble, and knows how to embrace her true self," he adds.

Curious what it’s like to work out like Park? Keep scrolling for a full-body Pilates workout from Perry. 

Ashley Park's Full-Body Pilates Workout

How it works: Do the following exercises in the order provided, then repeat the entire circuit for two to three rounds for a total-body Pilates workout. This routine is designed to strengthen the body from the center out by challenging your balance and maintaining solid core activation throughout. Some of the exercises are more suitable for intermediate and advanced Pilates practitioners, but they can easily be modified for a beginner-friendly workout. Do this two to three times a week to "create muscle memory and body awareness," recommends Perry.

What you’ll need: a mat and a small Pilates ball

Toe Taps

A. Sit down on a mat.

B. Place a Pilates ball on the center of spine just below shoulder blades and round low back, making a "C" shape.

C. Drive elbows into the mat beneath shoulders and bring both legs to a tabletop position with knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

D. On an inhale, lower right foot to the floor, keeping toes pointed down.

E. On an exhale, raise left leg back to tabletop position.

F. Throughout the exercise, continue to scoop from pelvic floor, thinking of drawing navel into spine and up to ribs

Do 10 reps, alternating sides.

Single-Leg Oblique Crunch

A. Lie down flat on a mat and bring legs into tabletop position with knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

B. Place a Pilates ball between left elbow and right knee, rounding head, neck, and shoulders in an abdominal crunch.

C. Reach left leg toward the ceiling. 

D. Lower and lift straight left leg while maintaining connection from elbow to knee along right side of the body.

E. Throughout the exercise, maintain side abdominal activation and scooping of pelvic floor.

Do 10 reps. Repeat on opposite side.

Rolling Reverse Plank

A. Sit down on a mat and place a Pilates ball underneath ankles with toes pointed forward.

B. Drive hands into the mat beneath shoulders, fingers facing hips.

C. On an exhale, lift hips toward the ceiling and draw bottom ribs together.

D. On an inhale, return hips toward the mat, maintaining lift off the mat. 

E. Throughout the exercise, draw belly button into spine and up to ribs.

Do 10 reps.

Lifted Donkey Kick

A. Find a four point kneeling position on a mat with knees under hips and hands under shoulders.

B. Place a Pilates ball behind right knee, squeezing the ball between calf and back of thigh.

C. Scoop abdominals up to spine and draw bottom ribs together.

D. Curl left toes on the mat and lift left knee, hovering it above the floor.

E. On an exhale, drive right heel up to ceiling. 

F. On an inhale, bring right knee back under the hips.

G. Be sure the lift is coming from back of hip and not lower back.

Do 10 reps. Add 10-15 pulses on last rep for an extra burn. Repeat on opposite side.

Rolling Push-Up

A. From a four point kneeling position, walk hands out to find a kneeling plank position.

B. Curl hips forward slightly, scoop abdominals, and maintain a neutral spine. 

C. Place a Pilates ball under left palm.

D. On an inhale, lower into a narrow push-up with right arm while rolling the ball along the left forearm.

E. On an exhale, push away from the floor and roll the ball back under left palm.

Do 10 reps. Repeat on opposite side.

Supported Side Plank with Leg Lift

A. Seated on a mat, roll onto left hip and place left hand on mat underneath left shoulder.

B. Bring a Pilates ball behind right knee and flex heel to glutes, squeezing the ball between calf and back of thigh.

C. On an exhale, raise hips to ceiling. Pause.

D. At the top of the side plank, lift right leg.

E. On an inhale, lower right leg back down on the mat.

Do 10 reps. Add 10-15 pulses on last rep for an extra burn. Repeat on opposite side. 

Lunge with Raised Heel

A. Standing on a mat with feet hip-width apart, bring right foot forward in a split weight position, keeping two separate tracks with feet. The more staggered stance, the more of a challenge it is the balance.

B. Place a Pilates ball under right heel and find a balanced position with left heel raised.

C. On an inhale, lower through knees, keeping shoulders stacked over hips.

D. On an exhale, drive both feet through the floor to stand tall. 

Do 10 reps. Add 10-15 pulses on last rep for an extra burn. Repeat on opposite side.

Squat with Raised Heels

A. Stand on a mat and place a Pilates ball underneath both heels, pressing heels together and toes apart.

B. Draw navel to spine and allow shoulder blades to relax down back.

C. On an inhale, lower hips toward heels. Knees will separate slightly.

D. On an exhale, stand tall, zipping up from heels to knees through inner thighs.

Do 10 reps. Add 10-15 pulses on last rep for an extra burn.

Single-Leg Bridge

A. Lie down flat and place feet on a mat in line with hips and knees. 

B. Bring right leg to tabletop position with right knee bent at a 90-degree angle.

C. Place a Pilates ball behind right knee and flex heel to glutes, squeezing the ball between calf and back of thigh.

D. Tuck pelvis and draw bottom ribs toward hips.

E. On an exhale, lift hips into bridge position.

F. On an inhale, lower hips back to mat.

Do 10 reps. Add 10-15 pulses at top of bridge on last rep for an extra burn. Repeat on

Rolling Like a Ball

A. Start seated on a mat and place a Pilates ball between knees, hugging knees into chest.

B. Draw navel to spine and create a “C” curved shape with spine.

C. Lift feet off mat, balancing on sit bones. 

D. On an inhale, roll back.

E. On an exhale, roll forward, finding balance on sit bones.

F. Throughout the movement, maintain energy of hands pressing into shins and shins pressing into hands

Do 8-10 reps.

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