Gif by Siyoung Song. Produced by Biel Parklee.
“Plan in time for exercise,” says Jenn Seracuse, 34, the pilates director at Flex Studios in New York City—the go-to pilates studio for supermodels like Elsa Hosk and Alessandra Ambrosio. “Don’t just throw some workout clothes into your suitcase in the hopes that they will make their way back out for a sweat session. Make a game plan for when, where and how you are going to fit those workouts in.”
Once you have that plan for when, where, and how, you also need to figure out what the workout will be. Since there’s often not enough time to squeeze in a run or a gym session (or, maybe there’s not even a gym near where you are vacationing), Seracuse has created some custom total body sculpting moves you can do anywhere in the world. All you need is a hand towel and a slick surface like a hard wood or tile floor.
Skater (glutes, outer thighs, inner thighs) Stand with one foot on the mat and one foot on a folded towel to the side of the mat.
Squat, sending the hips back, lifting the abdominals up and in, and reaching the arms forward in front of the shoulders. Keeping the standing leg and the pelvis stable, slide the towel out to the side, extending the other knee.
Make sure that the standing hip, knee and ankle stay in one line and the spine doesn’t move to the side with the towel. Bend the knee to bring the towel back in, and repeat for one minute on each side. (For more of a stability challenge open the opposite arm out to the side as the leg extends.)
Reverse crunch (abdominals) Start seated at the end of the mat with the legs extended out in front and heels on the towel - make sure there is floor space between the heels and the mat.
Interlace the hands behind the head. Round the lower spine, rolling back off the sits bones, keeping the chest proud and shoulders down. Keeping the spine still, bend the knees, bringing the heels towards the seat.
Press the legs back out straight, sliding the towel away without changing the shape of the spine. Be sure to maintain the scoop in the abdominals. Repeat for one minute. (For more obliques target, drop the knees to one side, slightly lifting the opposite hip.)
Oblique Pike (abdominals, shoulder stabilizers)
Start in a plank position with toes on a towel and hands on a folded mat - make sure there is floor surface between towel and mat.
Cross one foot in front of the other, dropping the same hip towards the floor so hips rotate (i.e. right foot in front, right hip drops and hips rotate to the left). Keeping the shoulders square and over the wrists and the legs straight, lift the hips up, rounding the spine towards the ceiling and sliding the towel towards the hands.
Think of connecting the hip to the rib, and keep the inner thighs squeezing so the legs aren't pulling but rather the spine is lifting to move the towel.
Lengthen the spine back to plank. Repeat for one minute. (For a challenge add a pushup between each pike.)
Cobra (triceps, shoulders, lats) Start in a modified plank with the knees on a towel and hands on a folded mat - make sure there is floor surface between towel and mat.
Keep glutes and hamstrings connected and abdominals pulling up and in so body stays in one line from knee to armpit. Maintaining the shape of the spine, slide the towel back as you lower the forearms to the mat.
Keeping the ribs behind the arms and the knees behind the hips throughout, press the arms back to straight as you slide the towel forward.
Repeat for 30 seconds to minute. (No challenge necessary as this exercise is very hard! You can modify by not bringing the forearms all the way down, but make sure not to pull the elbows back to the ribs.)