Think of these sequences as choreographed Pilates — they're fun to learn and follow along with, but totally killer.

By Mary Anderson
January 11, 2021
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It’s a simple formula: If you exercise, you’ll feel more energized.

“Exercise induces changes in several neurotransmitters — brain messengers that play a role in wakefulness and pleasure — and that is likely important in the response,” says Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D., a kinesiology professor at the University of Georgia who has conducted years of research on the exercise-energy link.

Over time, these hits of exercise have a lasting effect. One of O’Connor’s findings showed that 20 minutes of low-intensity exercise (walking) or moderate exercise (cycling on a stationary bike) three times a week could increase your energy level by 20 percent. “It takes four to six weeks of regular exercise for the brain to adapt in a way so that you regularly feel more energetic,” he says. Meanwhile, a single session — at least 10 minutes — can boost you in the moment.

Doing steady cardio isn’t the only way to get into a rhythm with your workout. When SoulCycle instructor Sydney Miller set out to liven up her other workout crush, Pilates, she mixed in cardio and cued the movements to the beat of electronic dance music. The result: her popular Housework class, which you’ll sample in the latest Shape Studio workout video.

Along with classic Pilates moves including bicycles and single-leg stretches, “there's a cardio portion in the middle of the workout and then a sliders section,” says Miller. “And everything follows an eight-count, like in dance class.” Translation: You’ll groove. (If you love it, also consider this 20-minute sliders workout with Autumn Calabrese.)

Exclusively for Shape, Miller created this cardio-sculpt Housework circuit that will turn up your energy — no equipment needed, since you can sub a hand towel for the workout sliders — complete with tune suggestions to take it to the next level. “The reps are done on the beat,” she explains.

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Energizing Cardio-Core Circuit

You'll need: A pair of workout sliders or a hand towel to use on a smooth floor

How it works: Review each of the moves in circuit one, then turn on a song (Miller recommends "Fun" by Kaskade). Do each move for the indicated number of reps below without stopping in between as a continuous sequence. Repeat until the song is over. Repeat with the second circuit. (Miller likes the song You Were Right by RÜFÜS DU SOL for this.)

Part 1: Abs On the Mat

Bicycle

A. Start lying face-up on the mat with legs in tabletop position (feet lifted with knees over hips and shins parallel to the floor). Place hands behind head with elbows pointing out and neck long, lifted off the floor.

B. Extend the left leg to hover just off the floor, rotating left elbow toward right knee.

C. Return to center, then repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating, doing 2 reps on each side.

Isometric Crunch

A. Start lying face-up on the mat with legs in tabletop position (feet lifted with knees over hips and shins parallel to the floor). Place hands behind head with elbows pointing out and neck long, lifted off the floor.

B. Place the left hand on the front of the right knee, and maintain pressure between the two. Holding this position, extend the left leg long to hover just off the floor.

C. Draw the left leg back to tabletop, then repeat extending leg once more.

D. Return to center, then switch sides and repeat.

Double Leg Stretch

A. Start lying face-up on the mat with legs in tabletop position (feet lifted with knees over hips and shins parallel to the floor), hands reaching toward heels with shoulders lifted just off the floor.

B. Simultaneously extend legs long to hover just off the floor and extend arms overhead.

C. Exhale and crunch in to return to start. Do a total of 4 reps.

Raised Leg Crunch

A. Start lying face-up on the mat with legs extended up toward the ceiling, lowered a few inches past 90 degrees. Place hands behind head with elbows pointing out and neck long, lifted off the floor.

B. Lift shoulders off the floor while opening legs to a "V" shape.

C. Lower shoulders to one inch off the floor and close legs to return to start. Repeat once more.

Part 2: Slide Legs and Abs

Reverse Lunge

A. Start standing with feet together and a slider under the ball of the left foot.

B. Bend the right knee to sink into a lunge, sliding the left foot back with a straight (but not locked) leg, allowing torso to hinge forward about 45 degrees.

C. Maintaining the hinge forward and the bend in the right knee, slide the left foot forward next to the right.

D. Extend left leg again, then press into the right foot to stand, sliding left foot forward to return to start.

Split Squat to Triceps Press

A. Slide foot back to the Reverse Lunge position, with a bent right leg and left leg extended with a slider under the ball of the left foot, torso hinged forward at 45 degrees.

B. Lower into a split squat, bending both knees at 90 degrees, hands clasped in front of chest.

C. Straighten the left leg and hinge torso forward to return to Reverse Lunge position, extending triceps along sides. Repeat once more, lowering into split squat, then hinging forward and squeezing triceps.

Oblique Pike

A. From the Triceps Press, place hands on the floor and step/slide feet back into a high plank position, shoulder over wrists with the slider still under the left foot. Cross the right foot on top of the left foot.

B. Engage abs to pike hips up toward the ceiling, sliding the left foot in towards hands, then slowly lower and slide back to return to plank to return to start.

Plank Spider Crunch

A. From the Oblique Pike position (a high plank position, shoulder over wrists with a slider under the left foot, with the right foot crossed on top of the left foot).

B. Maintaining plank position, draw the right knee over to the right shoulder, then cross it over the left foot to return to start. (To begin the sequence again, step the right foot outside the right shoulder and stand.)

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