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How To Get In A Full Pilates Workout Without A Reformer

"I've tried a lot of techniques and toys, but nothing comes close to the simplicity of using paper plates to bring the reformer class to your hotel room." Or town, should yours not have one.
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By Erin Magner for Well+Good

What's a Pilates junkie to do when she's on a vacay so exotic, there are no Megaformer studios on the map?

For Heather Dorak, founder of Los Angles' Pilates Platinum, it's about improvising with a tool found around the world -- paper plates.

"I travel a lot, so I'm always looking for creative ways to mimic what I do on the machine," says Dorak, who teaches the popular Lagree Megaformer method at her four SoCal studios.

"I've tried a lot of techniques and toys, but nothing comes close to the simplicity of using paper plates to bring the reformer class to your hotel room." Or town, should yours not have one.

When she says it's simple, she's not kidding -- all you need is a pair of standard paper plates, which act like gliders when you use them on a non-carpeted floor (hotel bathroom, perhaps?), and a few of Dorak's favorite moves, which she's shared exclusively with us.

"To really mimic one of our Pilates classes, do every exercise only on the right side and then go back to the beginning and do it on the left," she suggests, adding that she sometimes runs a 5K before and after doing this sequence for an extra hit of cardio. (That's one way to earn an extra poolside cocktail.)

"This is a workout that never gets easy and always gives me great satisfaction after completing it," says Dorak.

Keep scrolling for Heather Dorak's favorite Pilates Megaformer-inspired moves -- with paper plates -- in just 15 minutes.


1. Plank (30 seconds)
Place the plates under your toes and come into a plank position. You can do this exercise either on your hands or on your elbows. Keep shoulders directly over your wrists (or elbows if on your elbows), your abs pulled into your spine, your back flat, and press through your hands or elbows.

2. Bear (1 minute)
Immediately after the 30-second plank is complete, keep your body exactly the same, and use your lower abdominal muscles to slide your feet in towards your hands. (Don't lift your butt into the air!).

Once your feet cannot come any closer to your hands, push them back out.

Your back should stay as level as possible during the duration of the whole exercise. With control, keep moving your feet in and out for a whole minute.

Take a 30-second rest (if needed).

3. Bear with a Right Twist (1 minute)
Stay in your plank position with the plates under your toes; come up to your hands if you're on your elbows. For this minute, your feet are going to stay next to each other and move as a unit.

Pull your knees towards your belly button as you twist your hips to open to the right. Aim to reach your knees to your right armpit. Once you can't pull your knees in any further, straighten your legs back into the plank starting position.

Keep in mind that while you're pulling your knees in, you don't want to pop your butt into the air. Your abs should stay tight and you should remain as low in the plank as possible. Keep pulling the knees in and out for the whole minute.

4. Bear with a Left Twist (1 minute)
Perform the same exercise as the previous minute, but this time pull your knees to the left and open your hips to the left.

Take a 30-second rest (if needed).

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