core strengthening exercise moves

8 Core-Strengthening Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

From the founder of NY’s ChaiseFitness.

By: Noah Lehava
Photography: Alec Kugler

Whether you’re looking to tighten and tone, or just work on your posture and balance, a ballet-based workout checks all the boxes. It’s why we asked former ballerina and co-founder of New York’s ChaiseFitness Rachel Piskin to show us some of the most effective full-body moves to achieve all the aforementioned, and then some. Here are her eight key moves.

 


MOVE #1

Curtsy Lunge into Second Position

“Start in second-position plié, with your arms extended to your side. Take your right leg and cross it behind your left leg into curtsy position, with your right arm extended overhead. Lift up from the curtsy back into second-position plié and your arms back to your side. Do 20 reps per side.

Tip: In the curtsy position, keep your torso straight and your shoulders in line with your hips.  Really cross the right leg far past the left hip to get into a deep curtsy.”

 


Move #2

Ballet Lunges (w/ Towel)

“Place a towel (or a glider disc, if you have one) under your right foot, behind the left heel. Keep your arms down by your hips. Slide your right leg back to an elongated lunge, bending your front knee and hinging your upper body forward. Stretch your arms out in the opposite direction. Slide the towel and your back foot back in towards your left foot, and lift your body back to starting position. Do 20 reps per side.”

 


Move #3

Swan Arms

“Stand with your feet in second position, and extend your arms to your sides. Rotate your elbows into the torso, then out to your side and extend your arms. Do 30-60 seconds for three sets.

Tip: Imagine you are drawing a figure-eight with your elbows. Keep your shoulders down and chest open.”

 


Move #4

Attitude Jumps

“With your arms overhead in ballet fifth position, place your feet in first position. Jump up and lift your right leg to attitude forward, alternating sides by going through to first position with your feet. Keep your arms overhead for the entire set. Do it for 30 seconds and three sets.

“Advanced option: Do another set of 30 seconds, but skip going through first position with your feet and alternate attitude legs from a single leg.”

 


Move #5

Oblique Crunches (on a Chair)

“While sitting on the edge of a chair, bend your left leg in line with your hip and your foot on the ground. Stretch your right leg out to the side, and place your hands behind your head. Oblique side-crunch to the left, and lift your upper body back upright. Do 10 per side for two full sets.

Tip: Don’t let your hips move as you lower and lift your upper body into the crunch. As you lower and lift into the crunch, think of lengthening the spine and torso with each movement. Keep your elbows wide and shoulders down.”

 


Move #6

Pike (w/ a Towel)

“Using two small towels (or slider discs, if you have them) under your toes, walk your hands forward to plank position. Scoop your abs in and lift your hips up, sliding the towels and your feet towards your head. Hold in pike position for four counts, then slide your feet back to plank. Do 10-15 reps for two sets.”

 


Move #7

Elevated Plank w/ Toe Taps

“While holding on to the seat of a chair, extend your legs into plank position. Holding your upper body still, tap your right toe to the side, then back to center, then tap your left toe to the side and back to center. Do it for 60 seconds, three reps.

Tip: Focus on engaging your core to stabilize your torso—only let the lower body do the movement. Check your form and placement of your head: Dont let your head droop down and break the straight line your spine creates.”

 


Move #8

Balance/Posture Check with Chair

“Stand in first position (with your heels together and toes apart) and hold on to the back of a chair with a light grip. Lift your heels up to balance. Using the chair to help you find your balance, lift your arms overhead and hold for five seconds, then lower your hands back to the chair. Repeat this sequence, increasing your balance length from five to 10 to 20, and end with a 30-second balance. To challenge your final balance, close your eyes and think of your body and spine elongating and toes pressing into ground.”

 

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